I used to think meditation was for monks and yoga hippies. It’s funny how much I’ve changed my tune to a lot of things in the past couple of years. I’ve benefited greatly from yoga over the past couple of years and more specifically, yin yoga. That is where you hold poses for long periods of time, making it one of the more mentally challenging forms of yoga. For me, I think my weekly yin session has been vitally important in letting go of any stresses and clearing my head of any thoughts and simply trying to “be”. I still have times where I have a hard time letting go of stress (don’t we all), usually when I have not done a yin session in a while. My wife has been on me for a long time to try some meditating to help let go whenever I feel the pressure of all the stress.
It wasn’t until I recently read the book Eleven Rings by Phil Jackson that I finally decided to give meditation a try. If you don’t know who Phil Jackson is, he coached the Chicago Bulls to 6 championships and the Lakers to 5. He has more titles than anyone and has a very different style of coaching. I mostly bought the book to get a glimpse of the behind the scenes view of how Michael Jordan and Kobe Bryant trained (Phil coached both). However, in the book, Phil touches on how important it is to have a clear and strong mind and how that can be an incredibly powerful weapon to have in your arsenal, especially as an athlete. Phil had all of his teams try meditating, yoga, tai chi, and more. The only thing that stuck and the players would thrive at would be the meditating. Usually they were too tired or sore at the end of a practice to do yoga or anything like that, but meditation is something they could do anywhere at anytime. At the top, most athletes are on the same level and the only thing that separates the winners from the losers is their mindsets. I love this stuff and could spend all day reading about it!
I’ve decided to dedicate one week to meditating starting on March 3. I will try to do breathing exercises 3 times a day- morning, noon, night, or whenever I feel like I need it. The past week I’ve tried it a few times but haven’t been adamant about doing it everyday. So far I’ve been impressed at the effect doing a simple breathing exercise can have on me. It’s very calming and can focus me if I have to concentrate on the task at hand. I tried meditating a few days ago when I went for a run to do some kilometer repeats. I did my warmup and before I started my repeats, I went to the side of the road, closed my eyes and focused my breathing and cleared my head. When I opened my eyes I was laser focused and ending up crushing those kilometers.
Here is what I plan on doing when I say breathing exercises. Breath in slowly through my mouth to a count of 4, hold for a count of 2 and exhale through my mouth to a count of 7. Repeat the whole process 4 times and that’s it. As far as what am I going to think about when I start meditating? Basically I sit upright with my shoulders relaxed and eyes closed. Thoughts are going to come flooding in when you try to quiet your mind but that is okay. Eventually I hope to be at the point where the thoughts pass just as quickly as they have entered and I can be very much in that moment. I’m excited to discover how meditation can change me, help me unwind, and have a clear mind to be able to focus on the things that actually matter.
I would love for you to try a week long meditation challenge too. If you want to try it out and support each other, let me know and we can help each other get through it. If you are up for it, send me a message and let’s do it!