“Meditation is all about the pursuit of nothingness. It’s like the ultimate rest. It’s better than the best sleep you’ve ever had. It’s a quieting of the mind. It sharpens everything especially your appreciation of your surroundings. It keeps life fresh.” – Hugh Jackman
“In moments of madness, meditation has helped me find moments of serenity” – Paul McCartney.
Why am I so interested in meditation being a physio? What’s the relationship to physio?
Athletic performance – the amount of elite athletes I see that get seriously sick leading into a big race or an event is insane. Meditation has been demonstrated to improve your immune system and boosting your immune system leads to better performance and less missed training days.
A stronger immune system means that damaged joints and muscles heal faster with better quality scar tissue and better repair of new tissue.
On a personal level, I’m a dad of two kids under 4, I run two businesses, I live an hour away from work and there aren’t enough hours in a day. I’m distracted by Facebook notifications, have a penchant for checking my emails every five minutes, Instagram posts and my brain can become quite scattered when I have a lot to do. Oh and in the clinic i’m always running late (as my patients can attest). I would love to be more present in the moment, to be more present with my kids, to be a better husband and to be more productive at work – and being sick sucks. Man flu can be catastrophic.
If I can dramatically improve all of the above in my personal life with a scientifically proven technique that takes just 10 minutes a day, I’m pretty much sold.
If patients can get PB’s with a clear focused mind and an efficient super charged body then that is definitely something to integrate into a training program.
A great study I read of lately showed that people who meditated were more present in their work tasks, they were happier, while people who didn’t meditate were distracted during the same tasks even if they were thinking of happy thoughts and were more unhappy.
Brains of long term meditators under functional MRI studies are healthier ! They have less degeneration and are not as thin. I had a lot of fun in my 20’s so this certainly appeals to me. I’ve seen the effects of dementia and this is a good motivation to keep your brain healthy.
We depend on our brains, our mind to stay focused, to stay calm under pressure, to make logical decisions that affect our personal lives, our business and everything else. Yet, what do we do for our minds? We look after our cars, we do regular maintenance on our bodies, but what do we do actually do for our mind? In a world that has more distractions than ever, with social media, with constant emails, with more traffic, with stronger caffeine it’s very rare that that we are in the present moment.
The fact that we would spend more time maintaining our cars and our homes is a worry, why aren’t we maintaining our minds?
Meditation is a scientifically proven method of mind gym work or mind cardio, of having a happier and healthier mind that only requires ten minutes a day. My initial impression of meditation was people sitting around a camp fire, in tye dyed clothing singing Kumbaya, or South East Asian men with bald heads and orange robes. However, contemporaries like Russel Brand, Ray Delilah, Oprah Winfrey, Hugh Jackman, Miranda Kerr, Rupert Murdoch, Jerry Seinfeld and Tim Ferriss all proclaim to meditate daily.
The meditation I’m interested in is mindful meditation. Mindfulness is not being overwhelmed distracted but being in the present moment. People think it’s about blocking thoughts. It is not about blocking thoughts – this is impossible. Well, I’ve had meditation sessions where I was pretty much thinking the whole time. Maybe I had 3 seconds without thinking. I think it’s observing thoughts and observing thoughts without a pre-conceived judgment, with a relaxed and focused mind and a clear headspace.
My favorite strategy for meditation is Headspace. Why I do like it? It’s only 10 minutes out of my day. I just have to sit on a chair with my iPhone on flight mode and my headphones and Andy takes care of the rest. Andy has a couple of great TED talks on meditation and his detailed explanations make you feel relaxed about trying something new in a non judgemental way. He literally tells you exactly what to do and what you will feel from day 1. You don’t need to think or do any research. Simply get out of bed and sit in a chair. There’s a lot of research behind Headspace and he’s a likable guy. Anyone can meditate so no excuses.
“But I’m too busy. I don’t have time for another 10 minutes in my busy life.”
Get over yourself. It’s only 10 minutes per day. Stop watching TV, get off facebook and stop checking your emails every 5 minutes, get up 10 minutes earlier. You can always find 10 minutes a day. My recommendation is use the first 10 minutes of the day. You will be amazed at how quickly your productivity improves and how quickly you start to respond to problems in a more positive way.
Download Headspace from the App Store, put your headphones on and listen (in flight mode!!!!!!).
Other options: if you feel you need a top up during the day, I would recommend downloading an app called Buddhify. Buddhify is awesome. It has meditations for walking around the city or waiting for the bus, in times of stress and if you are having problems sleeping. I prefer headspace purely because it is a daily structured system that helps build it into a habit.
I am still a newbie to this whole meditation thing and the thought of these complete silence retreats does scare me. If anyone has more experience on where to head next send me an email at nick@localhost.
I’d love to hear your stories.