02 November 2010

The trick is to keep breathing

I don’t meditate regularly, although it is something that I’d like to do eventually. I don’t have much practice at meditation, and have only read a little about it. The times I have meditated, I found it to be quite relaxing and energizing at the same time, and a good way to clear my head of the constant chatter.

One thing that I do regularly, however, is exercise. I do strengthening exercise, I walk, I run, and I swim. When I walk, run, and swim, I find I can get into the same mental state as a good meditative session. I think cardio exercise really lends itself to this. When I run or walk, especially outdoors, I find myself at first looking at my surroundings. This might be houses, cars, cats in driveways, etc. Then I start to think about my pace and my distance. Eventually, I find myself focusing on my breath.

The same thing happens when I swim. When I start out, my mind is usually skipping from one thought to the next, but quickly, I start to focus on my pace. I count laps, strokes per lap, and sets of laps. And, eventually, I find myself focusing on my breath, much more than in running. In running, you can breathe however and whenever you want. With swimming, you need to breathe much more regularly, synchronized to your strokes.

All of this mental focus on breath brings to me a relaxed, attentive state of mind. It could also be the endorphins created and the cortisol burned. But I believe that my mind and body are connected in more ways than chemical and hormonal reactions. And breath benefits both my mind and body in astounding ways.

No comments: