I used to get to the gym, plug in my headphones and then start my workout. While I was at the gym, I would be focusing on all the stuff I needed to do for the day or if it was at the end of the day, then all the stuff that happened at work and what I needed to do when I got home. I was able to blow a little of the stress and steam off at the gym but I never felt as though working out gave me this huge relief of stress that everyone seemed to be talking about. I felt tired after the gym. I know that I needed to find a solution to this dilemma and make the experience of working out better for me to enjoy.
At the time, I had also started doing some mindful and breathing meditation classes. In fact, I first started using this technique while out on an outdoor run. I absolutely did not enjoy running before this but with the mindful meditation techniques, it gave me a deeper and more intrinsically rewarding experience that I have ever had. I then brought this into the gym. What I did to get started was simple:
- I began to focus solely on my breathing. I began to visualize air filling my lungs to the fullest capacity and then going out of my body through my nose. I focused on this aspect alone for a couple weeks until it came naturally to me.
- The second thing I did during my warm up on the cardio machine was get ready for my workout. I planned each workout ahead of time to mentally prepare me for what I was about to do. I would then visually go over my workout in my head to rehearse how I was going to complete each workout. I imagined giving all my energy to every set and every rep I did. I would feel the strength that entered my body as I did this and it brought a huge sense of motivation to start my workout.
- To take it to the next level, I began to focus on the muscle that I was working out. For example, if it was a bicep curl I was doing, my complete focus would be towards my bicep muscle. I would visualize the muscle getting bigger and pumping up. I would see the blood and oxygen being delivered in order to supply me with more energy to challenge myself. I continued to do this with every exercise I was doing.
I would complete the workout as I visualized it, leaving only room in my mind to focus on exactly what I was doing AND nothing more. What I gained from this, besides bigger muscles, was the ability to develop a deeper level of concentration and peace. When people speak of the mind and body connection, this is what is meant. It not only delivers you more peaceful mind with less stress and anxiety, but you can expect your results to drastically improve. After all, whatever you focus on grows and becomes stronger.