The best kept post-workout secret.
As humans living lives on this planet called Earth, we’re constantly in motion. We’re going to work. We’re off to a meeting. Our fingers are moving across the screens of our phones. Our eyes moving from this article to that. We’re going to lunch. We’re going to the gym. We’re going to bed. We’re going to do this and that and this and are in a constant cycle of forward motion.
This is nothing against us. In fact, all we’re doing is mimicking the perpetual motions of the Universe. Even when we try to be completely still, we’re still on top of a globe rotating its way around a star. In our minds, this looks like striving for things like richer:
+ Financial income
Imagine, however, if every time you ate, your body didn’t digest your food. You’d soon not have anywhere to put it. You’d literally be stuffed with food to the top of your head. Food wouldn’t be enjoyable anymore, it’d be painful.
We seldom remember that just like our bodies need to digest food, they need to digest all of our daily action, movement, energy output and input, etc.
One of the biggest frustrations I hear from clients is an overall feeling of being mentally scattered, overwhelmed, frustrated, and out of balance. In reality, this doesn’t mean anything is wrong with you. It’s simply an indicator that you’re not setting aside the proper time to do your daily movement digesting.
Which is where this post-workout secret that will maximize not only your results in the gym, but your capacity to go out of the gym and lead a more balanced, fulfilling life comes in. Because in truth, that’s why we exercise, right? So that we can go out into the world with more confidence, ease, power, and grace.
The practice: meditation. (you totally knew that was coming, didn’t you ;))
Meditation can be a touchy word. And there quite a few reasons why, but I think a large part of it comes from the upsetting reality that everyone preaches it to be this thing that is soooooo great. It's made out to be this mystical experience that takes you away to another world and leaves you feeling calm and peaceful. But nobody talks about the shitty reality of meditation. The truth that most of the time you’re sitting there, legs falling asleep, uncomfortable as hell and waiting for your mind to shut up and the illusive peace to set it.
Hate to break it to you, but that’s 99.9% of what meditation is. Because just like you can’t get a six pack in one session in the gym, you can’t score a lifetime of inner peace in one meditation sitting. You've gotta show up. Do the work. And keep going. Think of all of the thoughts like little wobbly bits on your body. And with each time you sit down to meditate after a workout, you're zenning them out. And slowly over time, the startling awareness of all of the upsetting noise in your mind begins to fade as you let thoughts go, one by one.
Because I love you, I’m going to let you in on my favorite meditation secret. If there was a “hack” to meditating, this is it: meditate after a really intense workout. When you’ve used your body to push your mind beyond what they both thought possible, a special sort of magic happens. After you’ve sweated and pushed your muscles to the max, you’ve also pushed your mind enough that it’s really tired and doesn't want to cycle through all the usual annoying anxious thoughts.
To me, nothing beats a meditation fueled by endorphins pumping through my body.
Our modern lives are driven by this esoteric idea of balance. And while I’m still not sold that balance really exists as perfectly as the Instagrammed, Western world has made it out to be, I do know that just like we need night and day, we need movement alongside stillness. Because, ironically, I find it is in the movement we find stillness, and the stillness where we feel the movement most.
Physiologically, meditation is important so that your muscles have time to digest the new experience of capability you gave them. The more you meditate after pushing through limits, saturating every cell of your being with the reality of what you just overcame, the less limits you have. I’ve long believed that with physical exercise, it’s 99% mental. And the less chatter you’ve got going on mentally saying, “You can’t do this,” the easier things become. We train, not so much for our bodies, but to show our minds that we can do it.
All that swimming around in your mind, here’s how to drop within and meditate:
Set a timer for 5 minutes.
1. Sit comfortably. Doesn't matter how. Do you.
2. Close your eyes.
3. Bring your awareness to your breath.
4. Imagine your body digesting all that it just went through.
5. Feel your blood pumping through your bones.
6. Feel the sweat dripping down your face.
7. Feel your socks in your shoes on your feet.
8. Bring your inner gaze between your brow point.
9. Imagine your mind like a movie screen.
10. Let whatever thoughts come to your head, come.
11. Let them dance across the screen, and continue out.
12. Observe, with curiosity.
13. Release judgement. You are physically still so that you can see where the mental movement is taking place.
15. When the time goes off, gently bring awareness back into your body, open your eyes, and go forward.
BONUS: If you read last month’s post on brain dumping, this is the IDEAL time to do that. Click here to read more.
Just like it is in the night sky we see the stars, and the sun that casts our shadow, our happiness is found not just in our minds, but in the beautiful dance of the body.
P.S. If you'd like me to walk you through meditation on a deeper, audio level, you'll love my e-book The Unapologetic You. Click here to grab a copy. Comes with a guided meditation you can do anytime, anywhere!