Wayne Jencke is the product development manager of Innate Intelligence, an Australian based business that specializes in resilience programs based on his PERFORMance Resilience model.
Wayne's articles for PPND are here.
the ABCDE approach.
Despite the research, very few people ever make a meditative practice part of their daily lives. The most commonly offered excuse is lack of time, which is understandable given that the proponents of most meditative practices suggest a minimum of 30 minutes practice per day.
Two Birds with One Stone
I’d like to offer a solution to time constraints. You can combine a meditative practice with another powerful positive intervention – exercise. At first glance you might think that I’m crazy. Surely you have to be in a quiet room to meditate – not a smelly noisy gym.
So the magic ingredients of meditation seem to be mindfulness (awareness of thinking without judgment) and focus.Lifting Weights Mindfully (One Example of Mindful Exercise)
So let’s look at how we can apply these ingredients to a weights program at the gym. Most people do their repetitions as quickly as they can – almost mindlessly. Typically people raise the weight more slowly than they lower the weight. I get my clients to do each repetition over a 10 second cycle, spending roughly the same amount of time raising and lowering the weight. Their focus is on the movement of the weight, making sure that it is smooth and rhythmical. When they lose focus and their thoughts start to wander (for example, “Look at how much that guy is lifting!”), they acknowledge the thought, without judgment, and move back to focus on the movement of the weight.
The movement of the weight is just one focus. Others might include reciting an affirmation in time with the movement of the weight (for example, “I’m getting stronger and healthier!”) or perhaps synchronizing breathing to the movement of the weight.
In between sets they can focus on slowing their breathe down to a 10 second cycle. This maximizes the activation of the physiological calming response, which has many physical and psychological benefits. Read more about the benefits of the calming response.
On the Way Home from the Gym
One of the best times for meditation is after exercise, as the physiological calming response has increased to allow you to recover from exercise. The calming response makes it easier to be mindful. So on the way home from the gym, you can continue your meditative practice. The easiest way is to scan your body slowly and to notice the afterglow that most people experience after exercise – this feeling is particularly intense after a weights program. Focus on this sensation, and when your thoughts start to wander, guess what you do? That’s right! Acknowledge them and go back to focusing on the afterglow.
Author’s note: Readers be aware. Some of the following studies may not be applicable to the general population if they are based solely on psychology students or have not been replicated.
Barnes, S., Brown, K.W., Krusemark, E., Campbell, W.K., Rogge, R.D. (2007) The role of mindfulness in romantic relationship satisfaction and responses to relationship stress. Journal of Marital and Family Therapy, 33 (4), 482-500.
Bishop, R., Lau, M., Shapiro, S.,Carlson, L., Anderson, N., Carmody, J., Segal, Z., Abbey, S., Speca, M., Velting, D. & Devins, G. (no date). Mindfulness: A Proposed Operational Definition. Retrieved May 10 2009 from http://www-psych.stanford.edu/~pgoldin/Buddhism/Mindfulness%20A%20Propsed%20Operationa%20Definition%20Revised%20May%202003.doc
Brown, K.W., Kasser, T., Ryan, R.M., Alex Linley, P., Orzech, K. (2009), Journal of Research in Personality, 43 (5), 727-736.
Chambers, R., Lo, B.C.Y., Allen, N.B. (2008), The impact of intensive mindfulness training on attentional control, cognitive style, and affect. Cognitive Therapy and Research 32 (3), 303-322.
Chiesa, A. (2009), Zen meditation: An integration of current evidence. Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine 15 (5), 585-592
Fredrickson, B.L., Coffey, K.A., Pek, J., Cohn, M.A., & Finkel, S.M. (2008). Open Hearts Build Lives: Positive Emotions, Induced Through Loving-Kindness Meditation, Build Consequential Personal Resources. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 95, 1045-1062.
Garland, E., Gaylord, S., & Park, J. (2009). The Role of Mindfulness in Positive Reappraisal. Explore, 5, 37-44. This article Links meditation to ability to reframe negative events.
Howell, A.J., Digdon, N.L., Buro, K. (2010), Mindfulness predicts sleep-related self-regulation and well-being. Personality and Individual Differences, 48 (4), 419-424.
Smith, B.W., Shelley, B.M., Dalen, J., Wiggins, K., Tooley, E., Bernard, J. (2008) A pilot study comparing the effects of mindfulness-based and cognitive behavioural stress reduction. The Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine, Vol 14(3), 251-258.
Books with Meditation Recommendations
Ben-Shahar, T. (2007). Happier: Learn the Secrets to Daily Joy and Lasting Fulfillment. New York: McGraw-Hill Professional. Pages 28-29 describe a meditation exercise.
Fredrickson, B. (2009). Positivity: Groundbreaking Research Reveals How to Embrace the Hidden Strength of Positive Emotions, Overcome Negativity, and Thrive. New York: Crown. Along with several references to research related to meditation, this book includes Tool 8: Meditate Mindfully (pp. 207-208) as a recommended way to increase positivity.
Lyubomirsky, S. (2008). The How of Happiness: A Scientific Approach to Getting the Life You Want. New York: Penguin Books. One of the Happiness Activities is called Taking Care of Your Body and Soul and includes Meditation, pp. 240-244.
Use of picture of woman lifting weight purchased from Shutterstock by Wayne Jencke. Reuse in a reprint of this article not covered.
Meditation / Sacred Spaces courtesy of mscaprikell
Candle courtesy of firemedic58