Exercise - My Meditation
People have known for centuries that exercise is a good and necessary thing for their well being. If you think of it from a paleolithic standpoint, what did people do all day, everyday? They moved. Whether it was chopping wood, carrying rocks, running after deer, making spears, or picking berries. There is no record of people any earlier than several hundred years ago sitting for 8+ hours straight, not to mention every day.
The human body is designed to move. There is a giant fluid system within the body. One part is called the circulatory, the other part is the lymphatic. The circulatory system carries the blood and includes a pump called a heart. The lymphatic system, which has more fluid, carries waste and has no pump. Each and every one of your cells gets rid of it’s waste through this lymph. How does the lymph exit the body? It needs to be moved around by musculoskeletal contractions. This means you have to contract your muscles in order to pump the fluid. How do you contract your muscles? By moving!
The human body not only gets rid of waste during times of exercise, it also produces many chemicals. Many mood boosting and balancing substances are released such as endorphins, or other cannabinoid affecting compounds. This is literally the reason for a “runners high”. The runner is literally getting high on their own supply, or chemicals supplied by their own body. This is also a time when your body is able to metabolize any stress hormone build up. The only way the body is actually able to rid itself of these stress hormones is by metabolizing them which is greatly sped up during exercise.
There are many reasons to exercise; weight control, feeling good, or getting rid of waste. However, so many people do not exercise. Why is this? One main factor that comes into play is sitting at the desk for hours a day. This leaves one feeling lethargic and unmotivated. This combined with a society rooted in instant gratification pushes people toward grabbing a cold one and sitting on the couch after work in order to unwind. This compounds the negative effects of sitting all day, as alcohol is inherently a poison. This then makes sleeping patterns worse and feeds back into a never ending cycle of decreasing energy.
I have experienced all of this first hand. I know that after a long day of sitting, when I feel the most tired, that is my body screaming at me to get out and go for a run. There has yet to be a time that I have felt tired, exercised in some intense manner and regretted it after. I always feel better. How can you get yourself into a similar pattern? You need to associate how bad you will feel if you don’t exercise, with being more painful than the exercise itself. If you read the article about being process oriented, then you will understand that you can actually come to enjoy the process of exercising instead of being constantly focused on the end goal that you have to push toward. By enjoying the act of exercising and reiterating in your brain how good this is for you, you will become drawn to exercise instead of having to drag yourself through yet another bed of glass.
For me personally exercising increases my energy, mental focus, clarity and even creativity. When I am running my head becomes so clear and calm. I have to focus on the moment or else I will trip. If I am lifting weights, I need to focus on the muscle being trained, otherwise I risk injury. I focus on the present moment and become mindful of each step. This is how I make my exercise my meditation. Meditation does not need to be you sitting quietly in a room for hours on end. You can move very mindfully, that is to say you feel the pressure all along your foot when it strikes the ground. You are aware of each breath coming in and out of your body. You notice the tightness in your chest from your heart and lungs working hard to move your body through this space and time. You take note of your surroundings, noticing things you never have before. You become so incredibly in the moment, that you lose yourself. Exercise, like meditation is my medicine. I takes a little bit every day, and then I can see the results - mental and physical. Just remember, there is no trying, there is just doing and if you can’t do this for you, who would you do it for? Make them the reason, and then forget any and all excuses.