In an ideal world, every day would be spent surrounded by beautiful scenery and perfect weather, but even when that's not possible, you still can practice meditative physical activity. Whether you find yourself in the middle of a busy city or at the foot of a picturesque mountain, you can accomplish the same outcome of meditation while working out. It's not about where you are as much as it's about learning to focus on your surroundings, breathing deeply and learning to live in the moment, and meditating without being seated.
Step One: Get Outside!
Walking out the front door is the easiest first step. Put on a pair of shoes and go! As you start to walk notice your surroundings, each yard is different, people are walking their dogs, different cars go by, the ever-changing cloud patterns can become a focal point. As you continue to walk, try walking at different speeds, find hills, include a jog once in awhile, and be aware of what your body is doing.
Focus on Your Breath
Try slow deep breaths through the nose, and then try faster deeper breaths, though not too fast, through your mouth. As you settle into a pattern and focus on your breath, your walk will become meditative. Breathe in, breathe out… over time you become increasingly aware of every step, every breath, every blade of grass, every tree, every cloud.
Even a cardio workout at the gym can be meditative. You step onto the elliptical trainer, set your time, resistance and incline, and you start to move. Right, left, right, left, breathe deep, find a cadence. If you listen to music you can keep time with the beat. Try breathing in time with your feet, every right and left is one breath, or slow it down to every two or three revolutions. Follow the cadence of someone next to you while you take in your surroundings, all why focusing on your breath.
Stay in the Moment
Staying in the moment is critical for meditation. As you hike, be aware of each breath, each footstep as it lands on the ground and notice each twig that breaks as you look at the vegetation that has changed from green and lush to sparse and dry in the winter months, and back to green in the spring and summer. You can hike the same trail ten times in three months and see something different each time. The world is amazing - pay attention to everything!
I love to support my students and clients in being mindful and present. We work on breath, focus and mindfulness in addition to strength, cardio, nutrition and general fitness. Our lifeline is our breath. It does take a sustained commitment to a meditative practice that ultimately supports us in becoming more patient and peaceful - thereby providing benefit in many aspects of our life. So no matter where you are, head out the front door and breathe in the day!
Mindy Caplan is an ACSM Certified Exercise Physiologists®, Certified Advanced Yoga Instructor, Certified ACE Fitness Personal Trainer, Advanced Health & Fitness Specialist, and Group Fitness Instructor, and has been in the fitness industry for over 30 years. She currently serves on the ACSM Health & Fitness Summit Program Committee.
Her passion is teaching yoga in groups and individually, and when she isn't teaching she loves hiking the mountains of New Mexico, interior design, and planning her next yoga adventure.