There’s one benefit to intense training that is powerful but often overlooked.
Of course, we’re all familiar with many of the benefits of exercise. Look better. Feel better. Stay leaner.
Those are the surface. When you dig a little deeper you find things like:
- Ability to do more activities in day to day life.
- Aches and pains of aging are improved.
- Injuries heal faster.
- Increased endurance is noticed when playing with kids, or going on that hike.
- Increased mental clarity.
This list goes on and on but there’s one thing that I think deserves the attention that no one seems to ever talk about.
Living In The Now
About a year ago, I began a meditation practice. This article isn’t going to go over that whole story, but I bring it up because it’s had a profound effect on my day-to-day life.
You see, most of my life I’ve been a time traveler. Always looking to the future and dreaming of how life could be. Or wistfully looking back at the past with fondness or regret. But I left little room for living in the now. No time to be present.
The benefits of meditation are probably as numerous as the list for exercise, but one huge change in me is that I tend to be much more present. Yes, I still have goals and dreams, but the daily meditation practice is like exercising your brain to get stronger at staying in the present moment. You don’t have to be a slave to the endless wanderings of a restless mind. But it takes practice.
A lot of practice.
And learning to live in the now is worth it. Because now is really all we have.
Exercise For Your Brain
If you’ve been training with us for a while, you’ve probably experienced the anticipation of the workout. Sometimes it’s hard to convince yourself to even get to the gym. And once you’re there, the warm-up can get you feeling better- but if you’re like me, it doesn’t always. Once in a while, I find myself dreading the workout, even while I’m warming up.
Man, I’d rather be sitting at home drinking a beer right about now.
The funny thing about this is that it’s basically time traveling again. Dreading the workout to come, as if I’m trying to talk myself out of it. But then something happens…
At that moment, all dread is gone. I’m not thinking about the lay-z-boy chair. I’m not wanting a beer. I’m not stressed about that thing I didn’t do. I’m no longer nervous about the workout. At that moment – I’m present. I’m there. The only rep that exists is the one I’m doing.
I don’t think this is a substitute for meditation. But it’s absolutely an exercise in living in the now. When you train this way consistently, you’re not only doing reps for your muscles and bones, you’re doing reps for your brain as well. You aren’t just improving cardiovascular endurance, you’re also training your mind to be more present. You’re not just getting stronger, you’re also getting focused.
I’ve heard people talk about the endorphin response and how exercise makes them feel better. But I think there is much more going on than just chemicals. Working out in such a way that requires all of your attention is an exercise that strengthens your “focus muscle”. It lasts a lot longer than just the temporary hit of hormones.
I’m sure this has a carryover into your daily life, just like the physical effects.
So if you’re a time-traveler, consider meditation. But also get yourself into the gym. You might just find yourself present. And that’s a priceless gift.