This is the third in a series by Brawlstar skater Sass Magic, continuing each month of 2016 here in the A2D2 blog.
Many of us set lofty New Year's resolutions that are forgotten by March. This year, I'm hoping to change that by taking on a different health challenge every month in a series I'm calling "12 Months of Wellness." The health challenges can be cumulative, so that you continue doing the challenge from month one into month two, and months one and two into month three, or you can just focus on each different challenge as it comes along. Either way, I welcome you to join me for a healthier year! In this third part of the series, I will be focusing on meditation.
What is Meditation?
The word “meditation” often causes people to conjure an image of a Buddhist monk sitting cross legged on top of a mountain, palms up and eyes closed. This is a very limiting concept of meditation! The basic idea of meditation is to clear your mind and stop the mental chatter that is always going on in your head. When you first start meditating, it can be difficult to completely clear your mind, which is why many traditional meditation practices will have you focus on your breathing, or concentrate on a single word or object. Focusing on a specific thing tends to be much easier than clearing the mind completely. However, you don’t need to be sitting cross legged counting your breaths to enjoy the benefits of meditation! Yoga is often used as a moving meditation. Some people use washing the dishes or art, or even petting their cat as a meditation! There are tons of different ways to meditate, and with so many to choose from, there is bound to be something that works for you. The important thing to remember is to clear your mind, let go of the stream of mental chatter, let go of your worries about the past or future, and focus on the present moment.
Benefits of Meditation
There are many benefits of meditating, ranging from mental, to emotional, to social and physical.
- In Erlenmeyer Smash’s excellent blog about mental toughness, she talks about how she clears her mind during roller derby practices and games. Meditation can help you build this important skill so that you remain calm and focused during game play.
- Are you ever worried about the germs you are exposing yourself to during flu season when you and your teammates are rubbing your sweaty bodies all over each other at practice? Meditation has been shown to both increase your immune system function and decrease anxiety.
- Meditation can help with your creativity and problem solving abilities, making blocking that crafty jammer a breeze!
- Meditation can also help with your memory and recall. Did you already get that blocker’s point? Is the jammer coming out of the box on her initial pass? What was the score for your last bout? Remember all these important things and more!
- Better communication is a side effect of meditation, as well as creating more positive social connections, which is vital for this team sport.
- You may experience an increase in your energy level if you begin meditating. I don’t think any roller derby player would argue with having more energy!
This is only the tip of the iceberg. There are dozens of scientifically documented benefits to meditation, all of which can help you gain an edge in your game play.
Tips for Starting a Practice
- Meditate daily around the same time of day. This will help you build the habit.
- Start with five minutes (or less for short attention spans) and build up from that to 15-20 minutes or even longer!
- Pick a meditation style that works for you. If you can’t sit still for five minutes, then try a moving meditation, such as yoga or Qi Gong.
- Use candles or incense and meditation music to create a relaxing atmosphere when you are first starting. Eventually you should be able to meditate anywhere, but it can be helpful to limit distractions when you are learning to meditate.
- Turn off your phone. You will survive without it for five minutes.
- Try meditating with a friend or in a class. Having multiple people meditating with you can increase all that positive energy you’re creating!
Good luck on your third month of wellness!
Sass Magic is not a doctor, but she is passionate about healthy living and how it relates to roller derby.