Transform your Strength and Fitness Training into a Meditation
This is a concept I teach and repeat all the time to clients.
Let me explain.
Too often we make strength training or any type of fitness endeavor just another thing on our to do list. Or even worse, as a means to an end.
When we go about training in this way we are not present within our training but unfortunately still stuck on what happened in the past or worried about what's to come in the future. We are missing out on so much that happens within the actual training process.
Each repetition is a moment to connect the mind to the body and solidify the spirit.
Focusing on the breath, technique, and skill/movement at hand strengthens the neuromuscular connection and compounds the effects of training.
Below I have slightly modified Merriam-Webster's definition of “meditation” to make it relevant to todays message.
Meditation : to engage in mental exercise (such as concentration on one's breathing or AND repetition of a mantra) for the purpose of reaching a heightened level of spiritual awareness
When you consistently make your training a meditation, you heighten not only your awareness and connection to the activity but between the mind and body. In return, increasing overall mental and physical development.
If you're stuck in the stress of work or life and unable to connect to your internal process in training, your ability to access this level of awareness is greatly inhibited.
In fact, the quicker you return your focus to the breath, the calmer, more focus, and the better adapted your mind (and body ) becomes to stress. As your attention turns away from a situation you potentially have no control over and towards positive thought, awareness, and further development the happier and more resilient you become.
If you're constantly focused on the sweat, calories burnt, or the tone in your arms you're missing the chance for a higher level of growth.
Merely focusing on output or the work being produced tends to lead to burnout and injury.
Switching your focus from a purely “how much I can do '' to “ how well I can perform” within the given activity can make all the difference. You see, It's not inherently bad to have goals to lift more, lose weight, or look good. But, when that's the primary driver to your training, you end up losing yourself in the process and burning the candle on both ends.
As a health and performance practitioner, I see both sides of the story. I help clients within their training and I also see clients when they come in for an injury.
From the coaching perspective, I see my clients make the most progress when they start from the inside-out. Although results differ from each person, when the focus is placed on skill development and mind-body connection, training becomes sustainable and more powerful long term.
You are able to train more consistently, with less adverse reactions, steady growth, and sustainable results.
From the therapy perspective, I see clients at their most frustrated points. In pain, missing training, and worried about further injury. Most often then not, the cause for getting to this point is not purely based on any one single event (or trauma). In fact, the inability to regulate training volume (doing too much too soon), poor recovery methods (both within and outside of training ), and/or improper technique is often the culprit. Most clients at this stage have placed most of their attention on the “how much” vs the “how well” approach mentioned earlier.
The remedy: build the connection to the internal process (Mindset, Breath, Technique, etc) as you steadily build a strong foundation for training through compensation & development.
When you consider strength training as another form of meditation, this does not make it easier or any less intense (in most cases more challenging). It turns your focus towards building heightened levels of awareness and development, internally and externally. You start to move away from “how much” and instead focus on “how well” you can consistently perform.