Exercise Addiction Meets Meditation
“Meditation is like giving a hug to ourselves, getting in touch with that awesome reality in us. While meditating we feel a deep sense of intimacy with God, a love that is in explicable.” -Paramahansa Yogananda
When I was in 7th grade a boy I REALLY liked didn’t like me because I was too skinny. In 8th grade, my sister told me my thighs were growing together. What’s a girl to do?!
The second comment lead me to start compulsively exercising for years, running six miles a day, rain, snow or shine. My mind was wired tight, like a dictator, allowing no room for excuses. By the time I was 22 I had chronic knee pain. My physical therapist said everyone is born with an allotted number of miles in their knees and I had exhausted all of mine. Someone later in life I asked me, “Who were you running from?” Myself.
Instead of running, I switched to working out on cardio machines obsessively, such as the treadmill, the ellipitical, the stair master and the dreaded step mill gauntlet for 60 minutes a session, followed by another 60 minutes of weight training. This lead to a bulky body type and a ferocious appetite. I would work out for 2 hours and want to eat for the rest of the night! I saw this often when I was working as a personal trainer. People sweating for hours at the gym, but never losing weight, due to the excessive cardio and the unwillingness to look at their diet.
When yoga and meditation found me in my 20’s it was my saving grace! They helped me stop the insanity and find balance with movement, food and stillness. They gave me the consciousness to quit the gym, alcohol, caffeine and adopt a vegan diet. Meditation is a gift you give yourself. It is a recess for the mind from obsessive thinking. It restores the mind with hope and optimism for the future. It gives you discipline with food, exercise, dreams and goals. Most importantly, it helps you to know God better and to love yourself as God loves you, unconditionally. This will help you be more loving and compassionate towards yourself, others, your body and your life.
Make meditation a part of your daily sadhana, spiritual practice. It’s equally as important to exercise the mind in stillness as it is the body with physical activity. We need both to lead balanced, productive and peaceful lives.