My wife often tells me that her way of meditating is working out. I used to scoff at this a little. How could a workout composed of pushups and squats be like meditation?
I’ve given this some thought over the years and concluded this:
Anything is meditation if you intend to make it so.
Again, it’s the intention that matters. You can jog around the neighborhood mindlessly, or you can jog mindfully. As you lace up your running kicks, take a bite of granola bar for some energy, and begin your workout, you can say to yourself, I intend to stay present for this workout. How do you stay present? One strategy is to center your attention on your body. Each time you notice your mind wandering, refocus on your legs, arms, heartbeat or breath as you perform each exercise.
(I should mention that I have no official authority on this matter, as I’m the Homer Simpson of fitness. But I’m fairly certain that concentrating on the body during a workout strengthens mindfulness).
In the same way, I often set the intention of focused presence for a block of time. For instance, I ride the train home from work everyday, and sometimes I resolve, I will stay present for this whole train ride. Many times my mind strays. But each time it does, I refocus on my body, listen to the train rumbling along, and feel my breath moving in and out. In this way, riding the train becomes a meditation.
And believe me, my mind wanders many, many times. But the core is intention. There are few things in the human mind more powerful than that.
What are some ways that you “meditate” in everyday life?