Benefits of Meditation
Athleticism isn’t just about what you do in the gym, what you do outside of it is just as important, and meditation is a fantastic, well proven tool to help in many ways.
- Focus: this has obvious applications to performance. Being able to focus your mind on hitting that basketball free throw, timing that perfect counter in boxing, or getting that PR in a powerlifting meet is key. In addition, improved focusing skills will also help you make the most of each training session, maximising gains even when you arrive at the gym after a stressful day. Being more focused in other areas of your life will also you be more productive with work, relationships, hobbies etc. helping you organise your time to fit in training sessions more effectively.
- Pain Tolerance: Meditation can help reduce sensitivity to pain thanks to developing a ‘thicker cortex in the dorsal anterior cingulate and bilaterally in secondary somatosensory cortex’. This could be useful in particularly gruelling workouts.
- Reduces stress – improving recovery: meditation can reduce stress levels, lowering cortisol levels and so improve recovery from training leading to faster gains (as well as longer life, better general and mental health, decision making and overall happiness)
- Emotional control: as well as furthering focus and reducing stress, this will reduce the time it takes to get back on track after emotional events.
- Empathy: this skill not only makes you kinder, but also more effective at building relationships and diffusing conflict, making you more successful in pretty much all areas of life.
- Cognitive flexibility: another useful skill that makes you better at thinking, helping you switch tasks, see things in a different way and problem solve, particularly when dealing with change or complex concepts. Again this can make you a better person and more successful in your goals.
- Fear modulation and self awareness: on the quest to become a better, stronger, faster, smarter, more moral person it’s often the case that fear or deeply rooted unhelpful beliefs can be a barrier. Meditation can help deal with this too.
- Memory, visuo-spatial processing, intuition and morality: again very useful stuff.
It’s been shown that meditation practice even over just a short period of time can have great effects for many of the above, and committing to a long term habit of regular meditation can bring enormous benefits to the above. Similar to training a muscle, repeated, focused practice will bring about the benefits of meditation. You don’t need to do a huge amount of meditation, 10 minutes a day can work wonders.
For a fantastic book on learning to meditate, check out the Mindful geek by Michael W Taft. An interesting read that goes through the many benefits of meditation backed up by science, without and of the mysticism or religious aspects, and gives clear, useful, practical advice on meditation practice.
Yoga is another gateway into meditation, Karina is our go to yoga instructor we recommend in Bristol.