So many aspects of health and fitness have a point of diminishing returns. If you over-train, you risk injury, muscle breakdown, and a drop in the production of anabolic hormones such as GH and testosterone. Cut calories too drastically and you’ll burn through muscle and your metabolism will slow down.
One important strategy of a fully-optimized fitness lifestyle is to explore the softer arts, those modalities that contribute to your health without placing more stress on your body. Meditation is the perfect example. One recent study followed a group of pharmacy students who used a popular meditation app for 10 minutes a day over a period of four weeks. Researchers found that the student who adhered to the practice experienced increased mental well-being and decreased perceived stress.1 While this may not directly contribute to a ripped six-pack, less stress can lead to improved recovery, better sleep, and a stronger immune system. All of which adds up to fewer skipped workouts and better training sessions, which will get you that ripped six-pack.
How do you start meditating? It’s easier than you think. Simply get in a comfortable position and spend a few minutes listening to your breath and feeling how your body moves as you inhale and exhale. Feel the sensation of your breath as it enters your nose, fills your lungs, and then escapes from your mouth. If your thoughts start to get pulled towards work deadlines or your property tax bill, gently bring it back to your breathing. It’s that easy.
We’ve created a short list of meditation tips to help you start a rewarding daily practice.
- Find a quiet place. The fewer distractions, the better.
- Begin with two minutes a day. Do this every day for a week and then add another two minutes. Slowly work up to 10 minutes a day.
- Do it every day. You don’t have to do it for a long session but commit to the daily practice. Five minutes every day is better than an hour once a week.
- Sit any way you want. Do it in a chair, on a couch, legs crossed, legs straight, whatever. Don’t get too caught up in the details. In the future, you can explore positions and posture. For now, just get comfortable.
- When your mind begins to wander – and it will – guide it back to the sound of your breathing. Counting your breaths can help focus your attention.
- If you use a timer, make sure the alarm is soft. Do not use the same tone that you wake up to every morning.
- Try guided meditations using popular apps such as Headspace or Insight Timer.
- You can meditate anywhere or any time, but some people find it easier to adhere to a practice if they do it at the same time every day, like when waking up.