I get it.
You’re too busy to meditate. I am too. You’ve got too much shit going on to train. Me too. Working on kickass posture, obtaining the highest quality animals and veggies to eat, it all sucks up bandwidth.
It’s not that you don’t aspire to. You trust all the benefits. From NAU.edu, reporting on a 2011 study about mindful meditation:
- It strengthened immune system and physiological responses to stress and negative emotions.
- It improved social relationships with family and strangers.
- It reduced stress, depression, and anxiety and increased well-being and happiness.
- It increased openness to experience, conscientiousness, and agreeableness and reduced negative associations with neuroticism.
- It led to greater psychological mindfulness, which included an awareness that is clear, nonconceptual, and flexible; a practical stance toward reality; and present attention to the individual’s consciousness and awareness.
Combining some of these tasks is pretty appealing, but multitasking and optimizing for health and well-being aren’t traditionally harmonious. This may be because we just aren’t creative enough. Contrary to popular belief, meditation doesn’t have to be performed in the lotus position. Meditation is simply focusing on breathing. Recently, I’ve been playing with ways to squeeze everything in, and I’ve seen some pretty powerful and noticeable changes.
If you’ve followed the blog, you’ll remember how my squats have suffered for quite some time. This has, at times, been discouraging, particularly because I believe squats are the king of all weight training movements.
Lately, I’ve been combining two minutes of breathing, posture work and recovery between my squat sets. I’ve noticed a marked improvement in my squat since incorporating this change. This morning, I had my best day under the bar in recent memory. This may have to do with testosterone production. From a 2010 study:
The results of this study confirmed our prediction that posing in high-power nonverbal displays (as opposed to low-power nonverbal displays) would cause neuroendocrine and behavioral changes for both male and female participants: High-power posers experienced elevations in testosterone, decreases in cortisol, and increased feelings of power and tolerance for risk; low-power posers exhibited the opposite pattern. In short, posing in displays of power caused advantaged and adaptive psychological, physiological, and behavioral changes, and these findings suggest that embodiment extends beyond mere thinking and feeling, to physiology and subsequent behavioral choices. That a person can, by assuming two simple 1-min poses, embody power and instantly become more powerful has real-world, actionable implications.
Meditation is a loaded word. Some believe it’s about contemplation; for others, it’s a religious practice. For me, it’s just about paying attention to how I’m breathing naturally, and I can sure as hell do that standing up with my shoulders back, standing tall between sets.
All in, 5 sets of squats with 2 minutes rest between sets nets knocking out 10 minutes of postural work, elevating testosterone, lowering cortisol and meditating. Now, in an hour, I’ve managed to strengthen both my mind and my body, leaving me more aware, focused and physically and mentally primed to tackle my workload.