Meditation has been all the rage lately. Everyone from the average bro to Lebron, Arnold, and Tim Ferriss has practiced and touted the benefits of meditation. Not that it’s actually anything new. After all, meditation is something that’s been practiced for thousands of years across the globe. It’s just gaining a bit more mainstream popularity nowadays.
I’ve personally struggled with implementing meditation. To be honest, the shit is uncomfortable to start with. The whole quieting your mind thing sounds easy, until you actually give it a whirl.
I also couldn’t get over the idea of I need to be a monk hidden way the fuck up in the Himalayas who walks across hot coals to meditate.
When I actually did start practicing more consistently, I really started to notice a change in all aspects of life. I was more mindful of what I ate and I was a hell of a lot more productive day in and day out.
I also trained more intensely in the gym.
Meditation and gains in the gym?
In the world of bodybuilding, the mind muscle connection is nothing new. It’s basically focusing as hard as possible on feeling the contraction of the muscle as you work it.
For example, when performing a bicep curl, you’re lost in the moment of trying to feel your bicep contract as hard as possible.
People like Arnold swore by it. Others wrote it off as some hokey bullshit that doesn’t work. Nowadays science is on board with the mind muscle connection, and even says that it can help you make more gains in the gym.
The magic happens because activating a muscle requires neurons firing. Those signals are sent straight from your cranium, down to your muscles, which causes the contraction we’re looking for. Focusing more intensely produces greater neural output, which leads to harder contractions.
Hell, it’s even been shown that flexing alone can lead to more strength gains. Or in other words, flexing in the mirror as hard as possible can make you stronger.
What is mind muscle connection similar to? Meditation.
Meditating requires some pretty intense focus. Like I said, it isn’t easy to just clear your mind. You let a thought drift in, and then let it drift out. Very similar to what happens when you’re working out and actively working on your mind muscle connection.
Other thoughts will drift into your mind. That’s natural. But you’ve got to have the discipline to let them drift out, and return your focus to the contraction of your muscle.
Put simply, training can be a form of meditation when the mind muscle connection is strong enough.
This is where practicing meditation comes into play.
You can’t just walk into a gym and immediately be a badass at zoning out while doing your curls. Go ahead and give it a try if you want. At some point your mind will drift to some obscure thought.
You’ve got to practice in order to maintain that focus, and therefore get more out of each set and rep.
Which means practicing every single day when you wake up.
First thing in the morning, spending 2-3 minutes where you focus on nothing but your breathing can be an incredibly powerful experience. You don’t need a special floor cushion with incense and hot coals to walk on. You just need a comfortable seat, and a working timer.
The only thing you focus on is feeling your lungs fill with air as you inhale, and feeling yourself exhale. Rinse and repeat for 2-3 minutes.
It’ll be boring as fuck at the start, and that’s the point. In today’s world we’re not used to slowing the fuck down and focusing on our breathing. Stopping to center yourself, recalibrate your thoughts, and meditating can do wonders for your mental state. And your gains.
If you’re looking to give meditation a try, and you’re a total newbie, I’d say use an app like Headspace. It’s how I started, and that made all the difference in the world for me.