Most of the time, when we think about what it takes to get into shape and meet the fitness goals we’ve set, we focus on physical exercises, activities, and routines that will help us become stronger, faster, or more flexible.
In other words, we focus on action.
But, did you know that you can also use meditation to help you improve your physical body?
Often thought of as a purely mental habit, meditation has also been shown to help improve physical health and well-being, in more ways than one.
In this post we’ll look at three ways meditation can help you to become healthier and reach your fitness goals.
One of the biggest, but often overlooked impacts of meditation has to do with weight loss.
While most weight loss programs focus on dieting and exercise as the primary components of their programs, losing weight is as much of a mental game as it is a physical one.
While dieting and exercise are indispensable, looking at those two factors alone overlooks the fact that obesity often has a mental cause.
Our eating and exercise habits stem directly from our thoughts, opinions, and beliefs that we hold about ourselves.
This is easy to see if you think of the example of snacking in front of the tv. Imagine you’ve had a long day at work, and you just want to relax. So, you put on your favorite show, open up a bag of chips, or grab a pizza and a beer, and sit down for the evening.
You’re eating unhealthily not because you want to, but because its a habit. You snack without really thinking about it, and, as a result, consume more calories and do less physical activity.
The same can be applied for so many of our eating habits. When we are not mindful of what we consume, we tend to eat poorly, and gain weight.
This means that meditation helps you to lose weight by helping you to become more aware of your habits, and make deliberate, conscious decisions about what to eat, and how much exercise to do.
Learn more about how meditation helps with weight loss at The Joy Within.
Another way meditation helps your physical goals is by improving your muscle memory and response.
In studies by Dr. Joe Dispenza – a leading meditation and consciousness researcher – mental practice periods can be just as important as physical practice.
Dr. Dispenza performed a study in which participants were instructed to learn the piano, by dividing their practice time into time spent playing the piano, and time spent visualizing themselves playing the piano.
Amazingly, the participants who spent time visualizing themselves playing, feeling into the movement of their fingers on the keys, were just as effective as the control group, which spent more time practicing.
The same is true for sports and other physical activities. Studies in which participants simply visualized doing yoga for 10 minutes a day, without actually exercising, still showed a measurable improvement in muscle mass and flexibility.
Lastly, meditation helps you reach your goals by improving your motivation, and your ability to follow through with your plans.
This is because meditation releases a cocktail of “happy hormones” into your brain, which help you to think more clearly, and take action on your goals without subjecting yourself to negative self-talk and limiting beliefs.
This means that you become more certain of your ability to reach your goal, which in turn makes the actions leading to that goal seem easier, and more fun.
This kickstarts a positive spiral. As you stay with your goal longer, you begin to see more and more success. You become more excited, and motivation comes naturally.
All of this, from just taking a few minutes a day to clear your mind.
Kyle Greenfield is the founder and lead instructor at TheJoyWithin.org, an online school for meditation, happiness, and personal empowerment. He teaches that joy creates prosperity, and is an advocate for the power of meditation to have a dramatic impact across every area of your life. Learn more at TheJoyWithin.org.