I think before people start exercising, they should first start meditating. Now, before we start freaking out, meditation is not specifically some Buddhist practice where you’re praying to an Asian God and denouncing your religion. Meditation is a physical practice, like walking or playing frisbee. Except, instead of your body, you’re exercising your mind.
Meditating doesn’t simply mean sitting on a pillow, and contemplating the Universe. Meditation can be done anytime, anywhere. It’s the act of being mindful, and being mindful means being aware of the world around you.
Why is this a big deal though? Life is very short as it is, but most of the world lives it’s life totally asleep, and not just at nighttime. Have you ever driven in a vehicle and wound up at your destination without even realizing you were driving? How many times do you catch yourself daydreaming and staring off into space?
Probably the biggest fear in the world is the fear of death and dying, but most of us are already dead— we just don’t realize it.
The worst thing you can do for your life is to dream it away. Being mindful helps bring yourself back into the present moment so that you may live life as the driver, not simply the passenger.
There are a lot of practices of meditation. There are walking meditations where you watch your breath and be mindful of your step. There’s the more common sitting meditation where you constantly bring your attention back to your breath. It’s not about “not thinking,” it’s about not daydreaming and losing yourself in time and space. Focus on your breath, your body and the world around you— try to really be in the moment.
One of the best ways I’ve learned to be mindful is the visualizing idea of the ocean and the waves. Our thoughts are like the waves, constantly forming and crashing in our minds. But in our minds there is also the deep calm and quiet, that of the ocean floor. Whenever you find your mind crashing and pounding with too many feckless thoughts, bring your mind down to the dark and calm ocean floor. You’ll be able to relax yourself, focus better and bring yourself back into the reality of the present moment.
I believe meditation to be vital to learn before starting exercise because without it, we’re just moving in circles, acting on whims, and not making any progress.
Not just for exercising our bodies, meditation and being mindful is how to keep the mind healthy. And if you only have a healthy body, you are only winning half the battle.