Tim Goessling shares the secrets of floating lotus, stretchy limbs and the health benefits of resting your mind.
I first learned about meditation from the most famous monk of all time: Dhalsim from Street Fighter II. Not only did his super stretchy limbs make him a fun character to play as, but his victory pose was an intriguing floating meditation.
Since I was kind of a Street Fighter II addict, I believed for a long time that monks could actually stretch their limbs and float-meditate. How rough it was to learn in middle school that float-meditating and limb elongation during combat against multiple ethically diverse fighters wasn’t actually possible. Although my dreams of scoring insane goals on the soccer field by stretching my legs were diffused, I remained fascinated by the promises of meditation.
By the time I got to High School my video game preference had evolved to the N64 variety, but my interest in meditation remained. When my High School biology teacher Helen Rainoff told us we’d be meditating as a way to lower our stress levels after exams, I was thrilled. This was my opening!
As she lead us deeper and deeper into a relaxed state, I did what any over-worked High School male would have done: face planted onto my desk and fell asleep. While falling asleep isn’t the end goal of meditation, I was hooked on the way meditation made me feel and I’ve been (trying) to do it ever since.
For men there is a focus on conditioning our bodies. Both health professionals and the media present an ideal image of what a healthy man looks like and as much as I love mainlining Three Musketeer stuffed chocolate chip cookies (you don’t even know about that do you?) I understand the importance of being fit and healthy.
Yet, with our physical focus, we lose much in terms of conditioning our minds. I’m not talking about being able to destroy at trivia night. I’m talking about really training our brains to be better equipped for the grand adventure of life.
In an effort to learn more about the benefits of mediation, I decided to track down my old teacher to see if she had any further insight. I hit the jackpot when I learned she had actually retired after 35 years of teaching and opened Getting Centered Meditation a company that does on-site meditation programs in the educational, healthcare, and business sectors.
Re-connecting with any old educator is awesome (that’s assuming you were a good student), but this was particularly enlightening because since her class I’ve been really amping up my meditation routines. I’m moving from meditating every time I’m on a hike to more of an everyday practice. So far, I try to find about 20 minutes a day to just let my rest, but I still have a long way to go. Helen told me that meditation is becoming more mainstream as people learn the benefits which it provides. Here are some that she lists on her site:
- Reduces the physical effects of stress by lowering the levels of stress hormones.
- Reduces anxiety and depression.
- Improves concentration.
- Promotes an overall sense of contentment and emotional well-being.
While talking to her I couldn’t resist asking if a lot of people fall asleep (like my High School self) when starting out meditating. She confirmed that I was just a tired High School kid but added that many people do fall asleep when starting to practice, particularly when laying on their back. She also pointed out that like athletics, meditation takes practice to get good at meditation.
“It’s not just sitting and doing nothing. It’s causing some positive changes. It’s helping to calm the body, relax the mind. It’s getting to know yourself a little better,” said Rainoff.
So I encourage all of you to throw in some meditation into your workout routines, here is a very simple suggested way to incorporate it into your routine. As Helen puts it, meditation is “another equally important workout” and while it most likely won’t lead you to be able to float like Dhalsim, the increased focus and mental clarity will benefit you greatly.
That being said, if your meditation journey does lead to you learning how to float PLEASE LET ME KNOW!
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