From Oprah to Steve Jobs, Kobe Bryant to Arianna Huffington, and even comedians like Jerry Seinfeld, some of the best and brightest minds in the world rely on meditation to keep them calm, give them mental clarity and even help them focus. That’s got to mean there’s something to it, right? But, you might argue, these are people who are inherently successful — anything they do could be considered a good habit. What about the rest of us, those of us who aren’t world-famous celebrities? Here’s a little peek into my experience with meditation, which goes to show you that it can work for anyone:
As a fitness expert working in a fast-paced startup, I have my fair share of daily stress. Although I love my job, aggressive expansion can take its toll. In fact, I’ve had to deal with sleep issues, my mind was always preoccupied, and I just couldn’t relax. That took a toll on my productivity, my post-workout recovery, and my general sense of happiness. And then, someone I look up to and respect told me I should give meditation a try. I started meditating about 1.5 years ago, and now I meditate twice a day. Once in the morning, under the sun, and once at night, just before I sleep.
I’ve found that it’s helped with much more than just my sleep. I’m now much calmer and more relaxed, so I’m able to sleep much better. It has also helped make my workouts better. Although I never stopped working out because of my sleep issues, it’s that much better to exercise after a good night’s sleep. I also find that I am able to focus better during my weightlifting sessions.
In fact, one big advantage of meditation is the reduction in exercise-induced cortisol levels. Cortisol is a stress hormone that’s generally associated with weight gain, which tends to increase when we workout. Mindfulness can help reduce cortisol levels, which leads to better sleep, improved muscle recovery and overall effectiveness of workouts. Why? It’s simple: lower cortisol levels means your body isn’t as stressed out as before. For me, it helps make my recovery from sore muscles much easier, and prepares me for my next workout.
Added to all this is that my days now seem longer, and I am much more productive than before. I now find that regular meditation has helped me stay focused at work, channel my energy in the right direction, and compartmentalise my thoughts. Compared to earlier, I’m a lot less overwhelmed by the demands of a growing business. It’s helped me work better, workout better, and even design workouts better!
And that’s just my story. There are so many stories from around the world that show how meditation can help anyone — whether they’re a 9-to-5 employee or the founder of one of the world’s biggest companies. Have you tried meditating? How has it helped you? Leave a comment and tell me your story!