Monday, July 6, 2015

Mental Fitness: Meditation & Mindfulness - Why you have time to practice it daily and don’t even realize it!

               Let me start by admitting that I suck at meditating.  In fact so do most of my colleagues and peers.  Ask a working father if he has time to meditate and most will simply laugh:  “Yeah right, you mean sit around and do nothing for 30 minutes? - not a chance!”  And even those of us who are willing to try often find that we are so busy, suffering from attention-deficit or obsessive-compulsion, that we find it nearly impossible to not let our ‘to-do’ list creep into our mind, that is supposed to be void of thoughts, or at least witness to our thoughts.  Or, we are so chronically sleep-deprived, we simply fall asleep 5 minutes into it.  Did I mention that even finding a quiet space to meditate in is often impossible?  But ironically, those of us who seemingly can’t find a spare second to meditate in our hectic lives are usually the ones who could benefit from it most.  Because it is proven that meditating even just 10 minutes a day can reduce anxiety, sharpen focus, help control impulsiveness, plus a myriad of physical health improvements.  This is even measurable through brain imaging & MRI scans, and simple brain wave monitoring.  Trust me, if there wasn’t tangible proof I wouldn’t be getting involved with it.  I’m not into glib gurus.  I’m into results.

               As you may know, I am a big advocate of holistic health.  Yet, like most Trainers and fitness enthusiasts I spend 90% of my effort and learning on the physical component of fitness.  Improving lean-body mass and optimizing body composition.  Building muscle, burning fat, sculpting abdominals and strengthening the core, and improving mobility and athletic performance.  These are my go-to areas where I thrive, and honestly it is what most of my clients are concerned about.  But holistic health inherently implies the whole-body, mind and spirit, so mental fitness is at least a third pillar upholding ideal health.  Ask any warrior, professional athlete, Yogi, or Special Operations soldier and they will all agree that mental fitness is more like 80% of the success formula.  They will tell you with complete certainty that training and preparing the physical body for ‘battle’ is the easy part.  Preparing the mind for challenge, risk and adversity is where the real effort is required.  And as far as Nature-versus-Nurture is concerned, it is our minds that can be nurtured, or altered and improved the most through training, as there are less genetic limitations.  The mind is where our greatest potential exists, virtually untapped by most of us.  Many of us are born with an impressive level of baseline motivation, resiliency, competitive-edge and focus capacity.  But no matter where you think you’re at with you mental game, the act of meditation will take you to the next level.  A level you didn’t even know existed.
The 'Amygdala' is the also known as the mind's 'fear-center'.  Meditating regularly can help quiet the Amydala from hi-jacking the more thoughtful Pre-Frontal Cortex.