What do crossfit and meditation have in common? They both strengthen the skills that make us healthier people: mentally, physically, and emotionally.
Each day when I show up at Crossfit Rowlett, I know I’m going to be one of the least fit people there. But, that’s to be expected. After only a month since joining, I know trainers will encourage me, I will receive support and encouragement from other participants, and, slowly, progress will be made. And all the while, just by showing up and doing my best each session, I will be addressing the five competencies outlined by the Collaborative for Academic, Social, and Emotional Learning (CASEL):
- Self-awareness: Remaining aware of my strengths and limitations, yet continuing to be confident and optimistic that, with time and commitment, I will make progress
- Self-management: Managing my emotions and thoughts and, instead of impulsively trying to jump to using heavier weights so I’ll be “like the others”, I slowly work toward achieving my personal goals, reminding myself that my best is good enough
- Social awareness: Moving beyond thoughts of myself, and looking at those around me, and being grateful that I was raised to know that others from diverse backgrounds and cultures are equal by any standard of measurement that truly matters
- Relationship skills: Taking the initiative to introduce myself to others, as others have done with me, especially knowing that Crossfit Rowlett promotes growth and support in a community atmosphere
- Responsible decision making: Making decisions, while taking into consideration personal space, an awareness of others, and the goal of well-being for all, knowing that poor choices could negatively impact the safety of any person in the group
Then, when I come home, I will sit through a formal listening meditation practice. For 20 minutes, I will sit outside with my eyes closed, listening to the breeze rustle the leaves on trees, chimes gently playing their notes, birds calling to one another, traffic in the far distance, and neighborhood dogs playing. And, all the while, I’ll know I’ll obtain the scientifically proven benefits of meditation:
- Reducing stress
- Higher work efficiency
- Healthier blood pressure
- Lower risk of heart disease
- Healthier relationships with greater empathy for myself and others
- Improved intelligence, as in, the ability to successfully reason in new situations, process information more rapidly, and balance cognitive, affective and volitional domains like comprehension, analysis, curiosity, synthesis, and risk calculation
Both of these activities have maintained or increased in popularity in recent years, and, when considering today’s high-tech world where we have constant access to information, it is no wonder. According to Statista, a portal that uses information from more than 18,000 sources, Americans spent more than 11 hours per day using technology as of March 2015. Meanwhile, the Center for Disease Control (CDC) said that, as of 2009, sleep deprivation had become a public health issue, resulting in an increased number of accidents, impaired cognitive processes, and increase in health problems.
Now might be the best time for people to put down the technology and turn to activities that have been shown to improve your emotional, mental, and physical health. Join the fitness world and develop not only your physical health, but your social-emotional skills, as well. And, then, add in a dose of meditation. Simple, secular and scientifically supported, you will appreciate the benefits you begin to see in your life.
Photograph by Jordan McQueen