The number of people that suffer from depression in the Indian subcontinent is increasing rapidly. Recent studies show that India and China lead, with nearly 50 percent of their population suffering from depression. This is an alarming figure; hence it is imperative that we have a population with not just better physical, but also improved mental health.
To keep our body functioning for a long time, we ought to exercise. Similarly, meditation is the exercise for the mind and is just as important. Meditation is the state of awareness, to decongest the mind, relive it of stress and helps you relax. Exercise on the other hand helps decongest pent up energy in the body, releasing it and hence creating an ease in the flow of blood in the body. Both meditation and exercise are very healthy habits in their individualities, however both combined offer a far better result than if performed individually.
Your next question would be how do I combine the two then? Here are two ways to combine exercise and meditation, to ensure complete care of your body, on the inside as well as outside.
Diving your time between exercise and meditation
Well, the simplest and the most obvious way is to divide the total workout time you have allotted to yourself into meditation and exercises. Start with a 20 minute meditation session, followed by your workout routine or aerobic exercises like walking, running, cycling and swimming.
You can also include meditation in between your sets. There are different types of meditation that you can experiment with. You can check the following example of a one-hour routine.
- Breath Awareness Meditation (10 Minutes)
- Stretches (10 Minutes)
- Mindfulness Meditation (10 Minutes)
- Sit Ups (10 Minutes)
- Zen Meditation (10 Minutes)
- Squats (10 Minutes)
This is a powerful technique where the meditation sessions rejuvenate you for the next sets, while keeping you calm and relaxed the whole day.
Merging exercise with meditation
What if you’re someone who cannot sit still? There are lots of people who don’t get into meditation because they just don’t see themselves sitting still for 15-30 minutes. We have good news for you, too.
Meditation is essentially being mindful. Being mindful about your body, your breathing, your surroundings and the thoughts in your mind. You can practice meditation by being mindful while exercising.
What does this mean?
Let’s say you’re on your morning run. You can be mindful while running if you pay attention to your body, pace, breathing, resistance, tension in the muscles, the contact of your foot with the ground. You can be mindful when you notice the surroundings and appreciate what’s around you – the trees you pass by, other people who are taking care of their body just as you are. But, stay positive in your thoughts at all times. Stop comparing yourself to them, they’re doing their best and you’re doing yours. Stop caring about how you look when you’re exercising, just feel relaxed and see how beautifully your mind and body work together to give you a sense of peace.
This is not just applicable to running or walking. You can be mindful when performing any physical activity – swimming, stretching, weight lifting, dancing, playing sports even.
Here are a few tips to be mindful when exercising:
- Unplug your earphones/headphones and don’t watch any videos.
- Focus your attention on the activity you perform.
- Notice how different parts of your body participate in the activity and the effect the activity causes in them. For example, the stretching of certain muscles.
- Re-focus your attention when you see your mind drifting to other thoughts and things.
- Be grateful for that moment in your day where you can experience oneness between your mind and body.