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In a post about recovery, we talked about various methods of improving recovery from workouts, life stress, and anything that puts a load on you. One of the techniques for recovery that we mentioned was meditation. In this post, we are going to explore deeper into the topic!

 

Meditation is taking time to be in the present moment. Often times in life, we are either reliving something that happened in the past or we are thinking about what could happen in the future. Meditation is where we take a moment to think about where we are and how we feel in the present. Taking this moment has huge benefits for your brain health, stress levels, recovery, and more!

 

Benefits of Meditation

The benefits have been studied and there is plenty of research on meditation. You can find research that shows improved brain function, slowing brain aging, better testosterone levels, lowered stress, better sleep, and more. If you want to get the most out of your brain, you want to meditate!

 

How Does It Work?

Meditation is a great way to increase your recovery ESPECIALLY for your brain and central nervous system (CNS). But how?

All throughout the day, we take stimulus into our brains. We get text messages, emails, lights, sounds, stressful events, learning new things, spouses, and workouts! Your brain needs to work and sort these out so it doesn't overload. It has to plan responses to the text message, stick what you learned into your long term memory, work through that traumatic event, forget your ex, AND improve so you have gains from your next workout. That's a lot to do. And to make matters worse, it often has to try to do that while there is constantly new stimulus coming in!

It's like trying to get your stomach to digest food while constantly eating more! There's no break for the stomach to digest. The brain doesn't get time to "digest" what it picked up. This is where meditation comes in!

Meditation is where you close off your brain from external stimulus and take some time to let it be mindful and present. This stimulus-free time let's it get a chance to sort out what it needs to do and gives it a break from the constant work. Just like your babysitter does when they come to take the kids off your hands for a few hours so you can get some sort done and organize the house. 

 

How Do We Meditate?

There are plenty of ways to meditate and it can be a bit confusing for beginners to know which to choose! But here in this post, we're going to sort that out for you. 

Remember, the point of most meditation forms is to be in the present moment. For example, you may take five minutes to concentrate just on how you're breathing. Now inevitably, your brain is going to wander off. This is completely okay and it's going to happen. When it does, you'll gently bring your mind back to your breathing. Don't worry if at first it seems like you spend four out of five minutes with your brain drifting off. It will still work and still help! With that in mind, there are different ways to start. 

For beginners, guided meditations are a great start. Guided ones are usually someone helping you focus on your breathing and guiding where your thoughts go. One of our favorite guided meditations is an app called "Headspace". This is an app we heard about from a Muscle Nerds seminar. It's a guided meditation that is perfect for beginners because it takes you by the hand and leads you through meditation. The lessons are short and take very little time, but they provide great benefit and offer a great start for beginners. 

Intermediate meditators can try doing it themselves without a guide. This is nice because next time you're at work and your coworker makes you want to throw your stapler at them, you can meditate instead and keep your job! Here, you'll do the same thing you learned in the guided meditations, but by yourself. Without the guide, things are a bit harder, but you can use Binaural Beats to make the job easier. 

Binaural beats are a sound wave that plays and creates an effect in your brain. Download the Binaural Beats App (Android Users or Iphone Users) to your phone and use headphones to play the sound to your head. Use alpha or theta waves for relaxation and mediation. It takes a few sessions for your brain to become trained to the sound, but combined with your own meditation abilities, it will produce great results. 

Advanced meditators can look into different forms. There are plenty of different forms that combine with different breathing methods. If you have interest in this, the book "Breathology" contains a lot of different types to look into and try. 

So if you haven't started, set aside 5 minutes and start a new meditation habit. You'll thank yourself A LOT in the long run. If you're more advanced, check out the Binaural Beats and look into different meditation forms. 

Either way, get meditating and recovering and hop on the gain train!