Meditation is a topic on many people’s minds lately. We’ve been hearing that a common thread among the most successful people is their ability to meditate. Podcaster and author, Tim Ferris,talks about this often, and Huffington Post published an article listing some extremely successful people who meditate.
I thought to myself, “I must learn this practice that enlightens and helps people!” I made a commitment to try and meditate on a daily basis for 3 months.
Meditation is the skill and practice of focusing attention in order to clear the mind.
- Reduces stress and anxiety.
- Improves concentration and makes us more centered.
- Encourages a healthy lifestyle.
- Increases self-awareness.
- Helps cardiovascular and immune health.
My Efforts with Meditation
I tried learning to meditate using the site, Headspace. It didn’t go great. I was meditating every morning first-thing while using the site. I started at the recommended 5 minutes and worked up to 15, skipping only a few days. I did this consistently for 3 months. But I found over time, instead of enjoying the practice more, it started to feel like a chore.
Instead of beating myself up about this failed effort, I decided to adjust my meditation to make it work for me. I mean, who made the rules about meditation anyway? The effects can be achieved through a variety of ways.
Meditation Can Take Various Forms
I read in this article, there are 6 general forms of meditation:
- Mindfulness meditation
- Spiritual meditation
- Focused meditation
- Movement meditation
- Mantra meditation
- Transcendental meditation
Mindfulness and Movement meditation sounds like a good combo for me!
“You pay attention to your thoughts as they pass through your mind. You don’t judge the thoughts or become involved with them. You simply observe and take note of any patterns. Each time your mind wanders, just let it come back, and try to focus. This practice combines concentration with awareness.”
I feel most calm and peaceful during and after a good run. Don’t get me wrong, many times I run, I feel crappy and want to stop after 10 minutes. But more often than not, after about 15-20 minutes I enter a zen state where my mind settles and I feel like I can just “be”. Many of the feelings I get from running are synonymous to feelings people feel during and after meditation.
So I thought, why not make an effort to meditate during my runs?
8 Steps for Cardio-Meditation
The following are 8 steps I’m taking to explore mindfulness & movement meditation.
- Think about a light cardiovascular activity you enjoy. Running, walking, biking and the elliptical are all good examples of repetitive movement we don’t need to think much about while practicing.
- Commit to 30 minutes. The first 10 minutes will be to get into your rhythm after rolling out of bed. The 20 minutes following will be your cardio-meditation.
- Listen to yoga or meditation music with a steady beat or think of a mantra you want to repeat during your practice.
- Go slow. This activity needs to be fairly easy and pleasant or you won’t be able to sustain it. You should work up a sweat, but you shouldn’t be pushing too hard.
- Focus on your breath. Take deep breaths and be consistent in your rhythm. When your attention strays from your focus, just guide it back. Don’t attach feelings of negativity to your mind’s wandering.
- Be consistent. Make cardio meditation the first thing you do each morning. Have your clothes ready, set your alarm and go to bed earlier.
- Remember, the priority is to benefit your mindset. Physical benefits are secondary, but a bonus.
- Do this every weekday (or 5 days a week) for 4 weeks. Assess and modify as needed.
I am on my third week in practicing 30 minutes of cardio-meditation. It’s going great! I’m finding it interesting how my body is just automatically getting up now at 5:45am and knows it’s going outside (well, for the most part). I’m hoping this will become a lifelong habit!
My Experience with Cardio-Meditation
- Consistency is key. Once your body gets used to doing this, it will get easier. I noticed when I took the weekend off, Monday was hard. Try to do it as many days as you can so it becomes just part of your routine.
- Make the activity manageable. Go as slow as you need. Be comfortable, but try to be outside and get your heart rate up. Days after I do Cross Fit, I find my body does not want to be running at 6am the next day. I’m usually sore from that work out, so I will be gentler on my body and jog at a slower pace or walk on those days.
- Focus on something. I try and focus on the rhythm of my feet hitting the pavement and my breath.
- Some days you will not want to do it. You will want to hit snooze and sleep for that extra 30 minutes! These are the days you must force yourself to get up. In order to train ourselves with new habits, we must commit.
- If you skip a day, try again the next. Try not to skip more than 1 day or it will be harder to do the next. But don’t be hard on yourself if you do! Remember, this is a positive activity meant to improve the quality of your life.
- Music makes a big difference for me.
Music for Cardio-Meditation
Last fall, I attended a women’s empowerment retreat fundraiser based on Naam Yoga. I found this practice to be similar (but more current) to Kundalini Yoga in that it uses physical exercises with breath work, movement, singing and meditation.
At this retreat, I was introduced to Naam music which works with binaural beats and sound technology to manipulate our brainwaves to help shape our experiences. Say what? In short, the beats of the music help us get into and stay in a meditative state.
I’ve been listening to these two songs during my cardio-meditation runs on repeat and they’ve helped me get into the zone!
Tera Naam Har Har
It is known as a mantra to attract prosperity and support endurance. “Vibrating har, the naam of the supreme being, all poverty and problems are eradicated.” iTunes song “Har Har” here.
The mantra “Sat Nam Wa-Hey Guru” in this song is believed to strengthen the nervous system and balance the brain. Download free copy here.
Ok. Are you ready to do it? I love the way I feel each morning after I’m done with my cardio-meditation. It helps me set my day and I feel rejuvenated. I hope this post will inspire you get this feeling too!
Let me know if you try it? We can support each other.