In the Seventies-set movie, “Anchorman 2: The Legend Continues” main character, Ron Burgundy, takes up the new fad of jogging. His friends thought he was crazy. There was once a time when everyone would ask, “Where’s the fire?” at the sight of someone running past. Decades later, taking a jog is a perfectly acceptable way to exercise.
These days, meditation is listed as part of the wellness bandwagon taking over our inbox, but it won’t be truly accepted as mainstream until every yoga studio and gym puts a meditation class on their schedules. Here are three realistic reasons to consider a regular class at the same place we exercise our bodies.
- A Workout for the Brain
Just like jogging, science has backed up all the health claims for meditation, proving it to be fitness for the brain. There are over 3,000 scientific studies proving meditation is good for us. There are too many to list here, but the following life enhancing benefits would be more than enticing to any fitness club member who is interested in health, beauty and longevity. Among them: increased vitality, lower blood pressure, increase in the anti-aging enzyme Telomerase, growth in the thickness of the pre-frontal cortex, increased immunity, lower heart rate, strengthening of neural connections, better sleep, and boosts to relaxation and happiness. Meditation is flexing the brain like a muscle that gets stronger with use.
- The Perfect Place
Not many are comfortable entering a Zen center or ashram to try meditation. Classes need to be more accessible for the average person. A place where it doesn’t matter what your beliefs are or what you wear. Meditation is for everyone and everyone can do it, even the type-A gym junkie.
It is a myth that meditation needs a perfectly quiet environment. Alan Watts, Western philosopher and author of The Way of Zen wrote, “If you can’t meditate in a boiler room, you can’t meditate.” A yoga studio or fitness center can be the perfect place to join a class of curious followers of all things healthy.
- Stress Management
All yoga classes give that extra element of inner peace, but clients may need additional stress relief at other times too. According to the American Institute of Stress, numerous emotional and physical ailments are linked to stress. Even the fittest and most flexible amongst us may be suffering from anxiety, insomnia, fatigue, or headaches and skin conditions to name just a few stress-related disorders.
Unfortunately, the endorphin high doesn’t last very long for the type-A gym junkie. Stress starts to build as immediately as trying to find the car keys in the bottom of the gym bag while the phone is ringing. The to-do list appears and starts to get longer as the morning progresses. Meditation is the ultimate stress reliever anytime of day, making it an essential life skill.
So why aren’t more fitness studios offering clients a meditation class as part of their healthy lifestyle options? Are the gyms and yoga classes doing enough to create not just a lean, healthier physique, but a happier and whole person inside and out? Too many advertise a holistic, wellness approach, yet do not offer meditation classes.
Truth Be Told
If asked, clients are vague and negative on the details of meditation and believe the myth that it is shutting down the mind or having to concentrate really hard on something. They may also think it is a religion or its just paying to take a nap, or boring, and don’t think they will be able to do it.
It is the job of the studio to educate the public on the realities of a meditation class. The truth is that a class with an instructor that guides them gently to a peaceful, relaxed state, where they are in touch with their imagination, intuition, thoughts, and emotions is a wonderful experience of self-awareness.
To truly appreciate the amazing effects of meditation, it takes motivation like a weekly class of like-minded souls, positive and encouraging feedback, and a little light-hearted guidance in the safe and secular environment of a yoga studio or gym.
Clients will come back because their family and friends will start to notice the difference even if they don’t. Life will seem more relaxing and they will be calmer in situations that used to trigger stress. Steve Ross, yogi and author of Happy Yoga, and Owner of Maha Yoga in Brentwood, California, teaches weekly meditation classes and says:
“The peace from daily meditation flows into the rest of your day and transforms your life.”
Meditation classes create the perfect balance of inner work that only enhances whatever outer physical exercise the client enjoys. Healthy living is not just for building muscles so we can look hot in a bikini. Self-awareness is so much more than getting on the scales. Transform and set the trend with meditation. Taking equal care to balance the outer body with the inner is the formula for life-long happiness and health.
Editor’s note: This is a guest post by Kathryn Remati, creator of the popular Tranquil Spectrum meditation app that fills a need for uncovering peace anywhere, anytime, for anyone. Kathryn is a San Francisco-based certified meditation instructor, world traveler, yoga enthusiast, and writer with a BA in Psychology and an MA in Organizational Behavior. She brings decades of meditation experience into her classes and workshops. Follow her on Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest, and Instagram.
Photo: via @AmazingYoga on Instagram