Meditation and weightlifting – on the surface, they are very much like chalk and cheese.
First impressions of weightlifting are typically that it is all about brute force, aggression and rage – whereas meditation seems easy, calming and still.
However, they are not as different as we might think. In fact, one can have a profoundly positive influence on the other and vice versa.
Ask anyone who is passionate about weight training and they will liken it to a form of meditation and here are some reasons why:
Consciously focusing the attention of the mind is the backbone of meditation.
When lifting weights, we are constantly trying to achieve that mind-muscle connection – directing your attention to a particular muscle group to facilitate physical contraction through visualization.
We are setting our intention and focusing on feeling what we need to feel in that moment and moving what we need to move while everything else remains still and switched off.
Like meditation, weight training requires acute body awareness. A focus on how your body feels, how it moves and how far you can push it is central to effective training in the gym.
In meditation, breathing techniques are implemented to bring focus back to the present moment.
Effective exercise execution involves the proper use of breath in the moment. For example, when performing a squat, proper breathing and exhalation helps us drive up from the bottom of the movement.
Meditation is silent reflection. You set your intention to focus on a particular purpose and let your thoughts become more lucid and freer around the subject.
Weight training involves a lot of self-reflection too. After every set we rest, we reflect on how we felt, we consider changes we might make and how we can push further.
So, some people may think of meditation and picture an image of serenity, wide-open rooms, sitting cross-legged in a seated position. But meditation can come in many forms, some less conventional or obvious than others. Sometimes it is just you, the iron, and your goal.