The San Francisco Marathon promoted it. One of the New York’s finest physical therapists, Michelle Rodriguez, recommended it. But, fitness trends are pretty much like superhero movie sequels. Approximately, you’ll get a new one every six months, but not all of them are worth your time. Some trends could even do more harm than good to your body. So, before you rush to find your Zen, let us break down the facts for you.
How Does Meditation Work?
Doesn’t meditation involve closing your eyes, emptying your mind and relaxing your body? Wouldn’t sleeping do the job? This is one of the most common misconceptions people have about meditation.
From physicians to experts in mental resilience, they all agree that meditation works not by turning off your mind. Living in a loud, frantic world, you’ll drive yourself crazy trying to think of nothing. Meditation teaches you to be aware of these thoughts instead and slow them down. When a thought emerges in your mind, you simply focus on other things, such as your breathing or an image. As you do this, you lengthen the space between thoughts. This space, also referred to as ‘the gap’ is a state of peace of mind. The catch is for many beginners, this state of complete silence and consciousness lasts only for microseconds. That’s a blink of an eye. As you meditate more, you’ll get to enjoy longer ‘gap’.
How Does Meditation Help to Improve Running?
Meditation Helps to Calm Your Nerves
Many of you who have run a race before would agree: pre-run jitters is a real deal. Your mind is swarmed by many thoughts: pace, time, records to beat, past injuries. They keep buzzing in your head – you get exhausted even before you start running. This is where meditation can come in handy.
A study explains that meditation helps to calm the mind by grounding it in the present moment. Anxieties occur because your mind wanders to the disconcerting past or future. By focusing on your breathing or your body movements, you bring your mind back into the present, releasing all your worries. Meditation allows you to start on the right and calmer foot.
Meditation Motivates You to Press On
Amy Conway, a teacher at Shambala meditation centre that’s popular among runners in the US, said that meditation is a form of training for the mind. “The mind becomes stronger and stronger with consistency…the mind becomes an ally and a tool in our running,” she added.
That said, this doesn’t mean your mind could block all the pain and heat you’re feeling. What meditation does, however, is to grant you a peace of mind that helps to prevent these feelings from dampening your self-confidence. You don’t start doubting your ability to complete the run because you feel your lungs are closing in, or your feet are burning. You can count on your inner strength to keep you going.
Meditation Helps to Get You ‘In the Zone’
Getting ‘in the zone’ is all about finding your rhythm. Psychologist Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi has a more scientific explanation of ‘the zone’. It’s a sense of euphoria when you strike a balance between your maximum ability and the level of challenge you’re taking.
Meditation improves your body awareness as you focus on your breathing, the rhythm of your feet or your heartbeat. This heightened mindfulness of your body helps to determine the right pace when you run. You’re less likely to burn out from forcing yourself too much or to slack because you’re not pushing yourself enough. That’s right; it gets you ‘in the zone’.
“Meditation improves your body awareness as you focus on your breathing, the rhythm of your feet or your heartbeat. This heightened mindfulness of your body helps to determine the right pace when you run.”
So…Does Meditation Help You Run Faster?
The million dollar question. There is no evidence that meditation can improve the speed of your running. Not directly, at least. But experts believe meditation can make you a more motivated, confident and calmer runner. That’s still a win.
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