Getting Your Zen On – How to Meditate While Exercising
By Kelly Dean
There are many things I should do that I seldom have the time to actually do. One is exercising and the other is clearing my mind through meditation. If I do each separately, it can eat more than an hour out of every day. That’s not a big thing, unless you cook healthy meals, read to stay up on current events, sleep, spend some time with family – oh — and work.
Both exercise and meditation are beneficial, of course. Exercise keeps you healthy and alive while boosting mood-upping chemicals. Meditation keeps you from losing your mind among the clutter of day to day mental-junk-collection, which causes you to fixate obsessively on the mundane.
To accomplish both healthy tasks, I must accommodate and economize. My daily budget allows only about 45 minutes for both.
To do this, I walk as my primary exercise. I used to run, but wear and tear on my joints has made this uncomfortable. Walking still makes a huge impact that I can feel: my walk is quite brisk; it raises my heart rate; and it burns calories. I get fresh air and sunshine walking 25 to 35 minutes per day.
To meditate while I’m walking requires emptying the mind entirely — to the point I’m not really aware of anything but still on course. There is no clutter because I am not thinking or concentrating on anything at all, but rather, giving my brain a lot of wonderful nothingness for a while. Blank. Nothingness.
This not only rests the mind, it speeds up the exercising task.
But it requires a little mind trick.
When I step out the door, I start my tracking app, put on my shades, and go to the end of the driveway. I start my traditional route. Then, I focus on one thing at roughly eye level at a considerable distance away. It can be a tree, the backside of a sign, a post or pole. It must be non-descript, have no writing on it, and unlikely to have something passing in front of it. Being at eye level helps me keep my posture straight and military-like. These targets are typically one-half to one block away. I lock my eyes on the object thoughtlessly until I reach it.
Once I reach it, I move my eyes to the next specific target and fix my eyes on that one — unconsciously. In other words, when I make a turn, I pick the next object and fixate on it. I purge my mind of all thoughts. I do not listen to music. I do not divert attention for passing cars, bikes or neighbors, because they don’t exist.
Rest for the eyes
The focal item has no writing on it; therefore, I’m not inclined to read it over and over again while walking. The point is to think about nothing.
Because it is at some distance, it tends to relax the eyes as well. I spend all day focusing on nearby objects, such as a computer screens, so this is a restful treat for the eyes.
I’m sure this trick would work for runners as well.
I know my neighborhood well enough that I don’t feel any danger requiring much situational awareness. And there are days I want to be more sociable or look around for wildlife and scenery. That’s great on the days I have time. I like to enjoy birds, wildlife and scenery on those special days and it’s usually in the woods or at the beach.
But frankly, most days, I just want to get the exercise accomplished and free my mind while doing it. The sunglasses shade my eyes and my neighbors just think I’m in the zone. They are right because I am. If I run into another neighbor on foot, I salute. They accept that.