Meditation and Mindfulness

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The impact of meditation for triathletes

Meditation and Its Effects on Metabolism


Did you know your individualized triathlon training program could benefit greatly from meditation? For many triathletes, the goal is to keep going and going - practicing endurance, daily training, mastering new skills and techniques. Is it really smart to slow down? Survey says . . . yes. Turns out routine meditation can play an important role in helping you self-actualize and become more mind-body aware, de-stress, and even boost your metabolism.


What Exactly Is Meditation?


When you hear ‘meditation’ you may envision Buddhist monks, legs crossed, chanting or sitting for hours on end with their eyes closed, seemingly off in another world. This almost cliche example has survived the millennia because meditation is in fact grounded in Eastern tradition and has been sought after, practiced, and exercised especially in Buddhist culture for thousands of years.

Meditation simply put is a state of thoughtless awareness which transforms your mind - where effort, concentration, and control wash away to open the door for tranquility, emotional positivity, and profound awareness. Meditation is the clear silence that follows the cessation of the millions of thoughts which seem to fill our minds daily. Just as you strengthen and sharpen your physical skills buy building muscle, bone, and coordination with exercise, meditation nourishes, energizes and sharpens your mind.

Different forms of meditation can affect your mind and body in different ways. Meditation practice which involves deep breathing techniques might vary from a loving-kindness meditation or a transcendental meditation. Meditation can involve repeated chanting, guided visualization, a specific focus on goodwill, or simply an unfocused approach which simply relaxes the mind.


How Does Meditation Affect My Metabolism?


Metabolism is the process by which your body converts what you eat and drink into energy. When you consume food, your body absorbs the nutrients, vitamins, and minerals it needs, filters out toxins, and converts calories into stored energy to be expended later. When your metabolism changes with age, changes in lifestyle, diet, or environment you might notice physical and mental effects. Effects of slow metabolism might include chronic fatigue, inability to lose weight, sugar cravings, dry skin, hair loss, and headaches. So how can meditation help?

Directly, scientific research is proving that meditation positively affects metabolic function in a variety of ways. A 2013 study focused on the gene expression associated with a relaxation response, or the physiological state of deep rest brought on by practices like meditation. The counterpart to the body’s stress response, the relaxation response was shown to elicit altered gene expression in biochemical processes including energy metabolism, insulin secretion, mitochondrial production, and even fighting inflammation.

Indirectly, meditation and a mindfulness approach to healthy living in itself can lead to healthy behaviors that boost your metabolism naturally. Increasing the amount of high quality sleep you get each night, modifying your diet to include health-promoting foods rich with vitamins and nutrients, even relieving chronic stress with meditation can help your body resync to a proper balance of hormones and biochemical reactions that fuel a stronger metabolism. A 2005 study illustrated the consequences a chronic stress response can have on the body including an overproduction of cortisol and a deregulation in insulin production. The production of the hormones which regulate metabolism are directly connected to this stress response and can be alleviated in part with stress-fighting practices like meditation.


How Do I Get Started?


Just like training and competing in triathlons, meditation can fuel your own personal development in addition to boosting your metabolism and fighting stress. Don’t forget these top pointers for transforming your life with routine meditation:



  • Make daily meditation part of your training plan, just like your workouts and nutrition

  • Download helpful apps like Headspace or Sattva that keep you motivated, inspire meditative thinking and lead you in guided meditation

  • Set aside a specific area of your home that brings you peace and calm and which can serve as your meditation zone

  • Find a chair, cushion, or bench on which you can sit to meditate daily

  • Start small and give in. Just like sports, meditation takes practice - be gentle and compassionate with yourself as you try this new venture.


Not quite ready to take the deep dive? Consider other mindfulness practices which involve meditative components like yoga or tai chi. Your triathlon success may not be based on your ability to meditate, but the self-realization and tranquility which comes with meditation can certainly make your triathlon experience even better!


 

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date: May 31, 2017

Team BT