As a physio I get the question of how meditation or mindfulness is relevant to my line of work or how it could help as someone recovering from an injury, health maintenance or even an increase in performance. We are learning more and more each day on how important it is and all the benefits that you can achieve from just fitting in 10 minutes everyday.
Meditation is a scientifically proven method of gym work for you brain, and by flexing this brain muscle you will create a happier, healthier and more functional mind. When people think of meditation we can get caught up in the notion that it for a bunch of spiritual individuals sitting around a campfire chanting and singing all dressed in tie-dye outfits….. but in reality it is for absolutely everyone and anyone. There is not a single person on this planet who would not benefit from meditation and at the price of only 10 minutes per day, we would be silly not to reap the rewards. It has been highly recommended by individuals such as Russel Brand, Ray Delilah, Oprah Winfrey, Hugh Jackman, Miranda Kerr, Rupert Murdoch, Jerry Seinfeld and Tim Ferriss who all proclaim to meditate daily.
“There is not a single person on this planet who would not benefit from meditation and at the price of only 10 minutes per day, we would be silly not to reap the rewards.”
Matt Barker – Musculoskeletal Physiotherapist
Physically, meditation has been proven to boost our immune system and helps align your body and mental state together through breathing and a shift of focus. This alignment is a calming of our nervous system and scientifically speaking, is a stimulation of our parasympathetic nervous system which is responsible for our “rest and digest” response. In such an over stimulated world with so many varying forms of media and information, this is a massive must to help us maintain our health and wellbeing.
For athletes, no matter the sport, or what level they compete at, meditation can be a competitive advantage or that X-factor they are missing. One factor we aren’t overly prepared for, no matter how much physical practice we perform, is the high stress situations we encounter. Think back to that important penalty kick you missed that you had hit 1000x in training or that exact match point serve you had been over with your coach just the day before. It helps prepare us for these situations by keeping us in the present, keeping us focused on the important parts of the situation and again connecting our mind and body so we perform the skill to the best of our ability.
Meditation and mindfulness come in many shapes and sizes, from seated to lying, differing breathing techniques, a shift of focus inwards (using breath or certain phrases) and can be done at any time of the day. It is an awareness state where the mind is calm yet alert, with our attention solely focused on the task at hand.
My advice if you are a beginner is to start simple. There are plenty of great apps out there, such as Headspace, Calm and Smiling Mind (links below). These all have a free trial period as well so you really can try before you buy!
As always, be patient with yourself in learning new skills and meditation is no different. Everyone has good and bad days no matter what activity we are doing. Some days it will seem impossible to quiet your mind and feels like it was a waste of time. I really urge you to stick with it. Meditation is like exercise and you need to start at the right level for you and gradually build yourself up from there, and like exercise, it needs practice to evolve and for you to continue to develop the skill.
I am in no way proposing that I am an expert in any of this and in my eyes, I am still a complete beginner. I feel like I have largely benefited from my mindfulness practice and am much more confident in dealing with my everyday life stresses and given our current circumstances why not roll out the yoga mat and give it a go.
Please comment below on your own experiences or any questions you might have!
“In moments of madness, meditation has helped me find moments of serenity” – Paul McCartney.
“Meditation is all about the pursuit of nothingness. It’s like the ultimate rest. It’s better than the best sleep you’ve ever had. It’s a quieting of the mind. It sharpens everything especially your appreciation of your surroundings. It keeps life fresh.” – Hugh Jackman