I know a lot of you guys don’t know this about me, but I did Karate for over 10 years. A big part of traditional martial arts practice includes meditation. Meditation has a lot of benefits chief of which are the ability to clear your mind, tune out distractions and focus on the present.
Meditation has been in the news a lot lately and I wanted to write about it, mainly because I know firsthand how it helps not only with calming your mind but keeping your body lean and healthy. It used to be a hippy thing to do but now everyone seems to be catching up and talking about it. Here is my take on it:
7 Reasons Why Meditation Is Good For You
- It can help your heart. That’s right! Several studies show that meditating twice a day for at least 15 minutes can lower your blood pressure and slash your risk for heart disease.
- It can reduce stress. There is tremendous benefit to shutting down your thoughts from time to time. You get a similar effect from hard training – you can’t think about other things while doing it. Many people have trouble quieting the mind (you can look at it as shutting down programs running in background mode). Mental stress causes oxidation of cells, just like physical stress.
- It can empower your workout. Practicing meditation increases your focus, helps your sleep at night and amps your energy levels. Interestingly, studies found similarities between the brain waves of athletes and those who meditated.
- It can keep you looking younger. People who meditate rate younger than their age consistently.
- It can help you lose weight. You heard it! It’s actually quite simple, when you are not stressed, you eat less. Plus your body doesn’t produce as much cortisol, a chemical responsible for keeping the weight on.
- It will improve your immune system. Meditating boosts antibodies in our system and that neutralizes viruses and bacteria, and create a healthy immune system.
- It can help with cravings. Mindful eating is nothing to laugh at. Most of the time we don’t even think of what we are putting into out bodies. Meditation helps us control cravings and overeating
- It can help you achieve goals. Whether it’s losing weight or being more spiritual, meditation pushes the worries of the past and the future away, and allows you to be aware, and in the present, which in turn creates a more fulfilled existence.
How To Meditate
You can do an internet search about “how to meditate” and you’ll get plenty of results: some simple with few a few steps and some more in depth with multiple steps and helpful (or confusing) info.
What I’m going to provide is how we used to meditate in Karate practice.
We would normally practice meditation from kneeling position. I know it’s uncomfortable. Shutting out the discomfort enhances your ability to “tune out” distracting thoughts.
Next we would focus on our breaths. The sensei referred to this as belly breathing. Inhale bring the air fully down into the abdominal cavity, rather than the just the ribcage. To be clear, we are expanding both the ribcage and the abdomen on the inhale and fully explelling our breath on the exhale, pulling the abdominals back in. You can focus on pulling your belly button towards your spine on the exhale.
The timing was generally 3 seconds inhale and 3 seconds exhale. You can edit the time as you see fit but faster isn’t better.
If you haven’t tried mediation, I suggest to give it a try. I believe it will change your life and at least help you with your fitness goals.