How to Meditate
What up Jump Rope Fam? Our main goal here at Jump Rope Dudes is to help you get in amazing shape so you can have that lean, muscular physique you've always wanted.
With that in mind, today we're going to switch it up a little, but for good reason.
Instead of giving you jump rope workouts, we're going to teach you how to meditate.
Simple meditation can do wonders for your mental and emotional well-being. That, in turn, can have a dramatic impact on your physical health and your ability to accomplish big goals like losing weight.
Think of it like this: meditation helps you take control of your life. If you want to improve your daily life, finding a good meditation practice is a great place to start.
What is Meditation?
You probably have some idea of what meditation is. Maybe you're picturing Buddha sitting Indian-style in a traditional meditation pose. Let's get on some common ground here. We see meditation as a form of relaxation where you think deeply or focus your mind for a period of time.
There are many different meditation techniques out there. Some are guided meditations where you follow the guidance of a teacher or practitioner. Others are very particular about the steps you have to follow.
Those can be great, but we want to focus on teaching you how to develop a solid meditation experience that you can learn quickly and do by yourself wherever you are, even if you're just getting started. Basically, we want to draw some easy but powerful techniques from this ancient tradition so you can apply them to your lifestyle no matter what that looks like. So don't worry, you don't have to move into a Buddhist temple. You can do this is New York, New Zealand, or wherever your heart desires.
How Meditation Can Improve Your Life
Meditating can change your life in many ways, but it depends on how you use it, how much you need it, and the reasons you're using it.
You won't lose weight just because you start meditating for five minutes every day. However, if you've been trying to lose weight for a while but have struggled to make lasting changes to your diet or exercise regimen, meditating could help bring clarity into your thoughts and plans, allowing you to make the proper adjustments to your life so you can accomplish your goals.
One of the main roadblocks to accomplishing goals like getting lean is that people are too reactionary in their lives rather than intentional.
As Nat Eliason says, “In the attention economy, if you don’t control your attention, someone else will gladly do it for you.”
Think about your life for a second. When you wake up on Saturday morning, is your day already planned? Do you set an alarm, wake up early, do a thirty-minute workout, shower, eat breakfast, then go spend a few focused hours on a goal of yours?
Or, do you wake up whenever your body is ready and figure out what you're going to do once you wake up? Maybe you watch a little TV, browse the internet or check social media while you decide what you want to do with your day. You suddenly realize that it's already noon and all you've done is take a shower, eat breakfast and brush your teeth.
Are you intentionally executing on a plan for your day? Or are you reactionary by going on social media, reading articles whose headlines catch your attention, only to realize you don't really get much out it?
Becoming intentional in your life is one of the main benefits of developing a consistent meditation practice, but it's not the only one. Here are some of the biggest perks meditation can offer you:
- Intention - As we just discussed, meditation will help you become less reactionary and act with more intention in your life. This is very helpful for setting and conquering difficult goals.
- Clarity - We live in a busy world filled with endless distractions. This has made us addicted to feeling busy and productive, even when we're not. It why we are constantly checking our phones when we get a couple free minutes. This prevents us from thinking deeply about our problems, goals, emotions, and feelings. Meditating will help you slow down and think clearly, which makes you more aware of the important issues in your life, giving you a better chance at solving them correctly.
- Focus - Because of the distractions I just mentioned, people lack focus. You need to be able to focus if you want to improve at anything, from jumping rope to playing the piano to writing. This is also known as being present in the moment. It's when you can focus specifically on the task at hand, rather than having your mind wander all over the place, that you get the best work done. Meditation is great for improving your focus. Not only can it help you accomplish a lot more, but your relationships can improve dramatically because you're actually giving people the attention they deserve, which is, unfortunately, becoming rarer these days.
- Problem Solving - When you have more clarity, you are able to think through your problems better. With meditation, you'll notice that you have many more "aha moments" where you suddenly find an answer to a problem you've been having. You'll be stuck less often and your ability to work through emotional issues and hefty goals will improve.
- Stress Relief - With everything we have going on in our lives, we start building up stress and pent-up emotions. Unfortunately, if this stress isn't dealt with in a manageable way, it can be released at the wrong times. Maybe you lash out someone who doesn't deserve it. Or you hold it this negative energy inside you and it eats you alive. Meditation is a safe and efficient way to relieve yourself of this negative energy and stress.
I can't think of any type of person who doesn't meditate who wouldn't benefit from starting. The only ones who might not have a big upside are those who are already doing some of the meditation and mindfulness practices without knowing they are. Meditation doesn't have to be extremely formal. There are many different ways to do it, and finding the method that works best for you is the goal.
How to Meditate
A lot of people struggle with getting started because they want to make sure they meditate properly. There are innumerable different meditation practices out there, so instead of stressing out about which one to chose, you just need to find one that works for you.
So, to make this easier, we’ll walk you through some of the most popular forms of meditation that you can get started with. Then, we'll go through how you can incorporate your chosen meditation technique or techniques into your lifestyle.
Mindfulness meditation is probably the most common form used by the average person. It's great for improving focus and ability to be more present. Mindfulness meditation is basically a breathing exercise that clears your mind and calms your body.
To begin, you want to get into a comfortable position. Most people do this while sitting, but feel free to lay down (or, as we will discuss in a bit, while standing, walking or running). If you're sitting, keep your back straight so your lungs aren't restricted.
Then, close your eyes and take deep breaths. Breathe in through your nose and out through your mouth. You really want to get most of the air out during your out-breath. As you breathe deeply and calmly, count each in and out breath (breathing in and out equals one breath).
Counting your breaths forces you to focus on them and helps to clear your mind. However, if you notice your mind conjuring up unwanted, wandering thoughts, don't worry. Just gently bring yourself back to focusing on your breathing by acknowledging the thought and letting it go. “Gently” is the important term: people get mad at themselves and think they are screwing up when they have trouble focusing, but just like anything else, it takes time to get good at meditating. Besides, the point isn't to do it perfectly: it's about learning to focus on your breath, which involves regaining your focus when you lose it.
Being Okay with Mind Wandering
This is another form of mindfulness meditation. You start off just as you would with the typical mindfulness meditation by focusing on your breathing. However, once your mind starts to veer away from thinking about your breathing, just let it go. You want to pay attention to it as if you are two separate beings. There's you who is listening, and the other you who is doing the thinking.
There are a few reasons this is a beneficial practice. First, you'll remain in a meditative state despite the fact that your mind has wandered, as long as you follow your thoughts consciously.
Secondly, it's good to let the thoughts deep inside of you come out. Although the first few thoughts you have during this meditation will often be random and insignificant, you sometimes find important thoughts and memories bubble up.
We don't mean you're going to come up with the next billion-dollar business idea. Instead, we mean that you're going to uncover the things that are really eating at you that you were either ignoring or repressing. You might discover fears that are holding you back that you didn't even know you had. Or you might figure out that you have strong, pent-up emotions that were completely hidden from you and are causing you to act against your best interests.
Other times, you'll come up with different ideas and a new way of seeing the world. Visions you never had before because you're seeing your thoughts from a new perspective.
Here's a good way to think about it: When you don't meditate and constantly have distracting thoughts running through your head, you get tunnel vision. All you see are those distracted thoughts bubbling on the surface. When you meditate, you take a step back, see all the different thoughts in front of you, and calmly figure out how to best deal with them.
Self-learning is all about going to a deeper level of your self to search for answers. It's really about finding that special place where you aren’t thinking of the right answer -- you are feeling it.
Start out in a state of mindfulness meditation and then ask yourself a question like "What does it feel like to be me right now?"
When you ask this, you want to see what types of thoughts come into your head. You may even discover a physical pain that you ignored before and realize it's something you want to work on.
You can also ask questions specific to you. Maybe during a mind wandering meditation session you had some thoughts come up that confused you or even made you nervous. You can use a self-learning meditation to ask yourself why you were having those thoughts and see what you come up with.
You don't always come up with amazing answers to your questions that solve the issues immediately. But it does allow you to dig much deeper and think through the problem with the focus and clarity it deserves. You'll be surprised how enlightened you can feel after a good meditation.
Again, start off with a mindfulness meditation, but instead of following your breath, tell yourself how you want to act or what you want to accomplish. Then, visualize the goal you are aiming for with as much detail as possible.
For example, you might say, "Today, I'm going to bring high, positive energy into all my interactions." Then, you'll visualize what a few of those interactions could look like. Be as vivid as you can: think of the specific clothing the people in your interactions are wearing, their facial expressions and the tone of voice.
This meditation is about intentionally choosing the person you want to be, and creating that person in your mind first so that they can articulate into the physical world.
How to Incorporate Meditation into Your Life
Be playful. Yes, you heard me right! Be willing to test out different meditations and different times. Try doing some quick meditations and do some for longer periods of time. Try sitting one day and try standing the next.
Here are some examples of what actual people do, including some meditation techniques from the Jump Rope Dudes themselves.
Both Dan and Brandon have different ways of incorporating meditation into our routines. For instance, Dan used to do the traditional mindfulness meditation for about five to ten minutes where he'd let his mind wander and just pay attention to his thoughts. However, lately he's been taking long, 5-mile walks where he practices his breathing meditation, doesn't listen to any music, and gets intensely present. He'll still count his breaths, but he doesn't judge the thoughts that run through his mind. He just lets them happen.
Brandon, on the other hand, likes to set an intention for the day right when he gets out of bed. So he'll wake up, tell himself what he wants to focus on for the day, then sit there and meditate while thinking those thoughts and imagining how it will look when done right.
Author Ryan Holiday likes to run every day and uses that time as his meditation.
He even challenges his readers, "Don't let the mind wander. Don't let it think or do anything. Just be. For a second, or a minute or as long as you can, be present. Fully present."
Where to Go From Here
Maybe you want to find some inner peace. Maybe you want clarity of thought and goals. Maybe you want to relieve some stress.
You don't need to be a Buddhist monk. An experienced teacher isn't necessary. You just need to try a few different meditation sessions and see what works best for you.
You might discover you prefer having open eyes rather than closed ones. Do you prefer focusing on your breathing or letting your thoughts wander?
Figure out what works best for you.
You got this dudes and dudettes. Start small and see if you can make a habit of meditating. Over time, you can start meditating for a longer duration.
Get that body you want by taking control of your life. And don't forget: