Concentration. Joy. Relaxation.
Scientific studies support dozens of health benefits from meditation: improved concentration and sleep, reduced stress and feelings of calm, compassion, peace, and joy. There’s a broad variety of practices and techniques for meditation making it accessible to everyone. Many of the techniques do not involve sitting. Walking, washing dishes, painting, Ti Chi and QiGong are all forms of moving meditation. As a triathlete, running on a trail, swimming and biking often is my vehicle for meditation.
Anyone who’s completed an Ironman or century ride knows what it’s like to be inside your own head for up to 8 hours on a bike. Sometimes my inner voice is preoccupied, solving something going on in my life; other times I’m simply talking myself through a tough workout. When I’m able to quiet the inner voice, remaining focused and achieve calmness, are the moments cycling becomes meditative for me. I’m aware of my breath. I see the road or trails well. When I’m running on the trails I hear the water, my foot steps and the wind but without judgment. I simply notice. I don’t have negative thoughts about how much further I need to go. It’s the moment when a meticulously defined swim workout becomes blissful gliding through the water. It no longer feels like an agenda. It’s joyful and rejuvenating.
I had the pleasure of exploring and collecting evidence-based research on the benefits of yoga and meditation with my fellow yogis in our teacher training with Jenn Prugh. If you’re new to meditation, the biggest take-away is that there is evidence that even a beginner can realize immediate benefits to practicing meditation.