If you're anything like me, you might feel like meditation sounds a bit...new agey.
You know, reserved for people who live high in the mountains of the Far East. Or Glastonbury.
But when Amy (my soon-to-be wife) told me she was taking part in a 100-day meditation challenge last year, I decided to do some research. Then I decided to take part in the challenge myself.
So, for at least 5 minutes a day, for 100 days, I meditated.
Here are 3 things I learnt.
1. I hold my breathe. A lot.
One of the common themes throughout various styles of meditation is learning to pay attention to your breath.
Now, while that's fairly simple to do when you're sat down comfortably in a calm, peaceful environment, it's a lot harder when the stressors of everyday life come flying right back at you.
Nevertheless, I started trying to pay attention to my breath throughout the day, just wherever and whenever I remembered.
And I realised something:
I wasn't breathing.
Like most of us, I have sh*t to worry about. I run a business, I have a family I care about, and a cat that keeps scratching the freaking carpet and sofa every time she wants our attention. Which is a lot of the time.
And the more I reminded myself to think about my breath, the more I realised that I was holding my breath every time I thought about my breath.
I was holding all of that tension inside of me.
And when I simply let the breath flow out of the body? I felt better.
Which brings me on to my next point...
2. Being present is important.
Have you ether thought about how much time you actually spend in the present moment?
We're human. Which means we spend a lot of our time weighing up our current decisions against what we can reasonably predict will happen, and what we know already has.
It's a bloody useful skill. But it has it's downsides.
I noticed that when I could seperate what was really happening in the present moment from what I feared might happen, or what had happened previously in my life...
...things got much better.
I could make better decisions. I got better at coaching. Hell, I even became a better partner.
I was actually thinking about it this morning, and I won't lie - it kind of breaks my heart to realise how much of my life I've missed out on by worrying about what would happen, and regretting or being angry about things that had already come to pass.
5 seconds later I had to snap myself back into the moment because I was daydreaming about how I might put together this blog, and about how I wanted to be better at writing.
Again - human.
3. A lot of people are "secretly" interested in meditation. Especially guys.
To create some accountability for myself during the challenge, I posted regular video updates to my Instagram story. It was kind of fun to share my experiences, and it gave me a space to clear my head a little after a meditation session
I cannot tell you how many people commented, messaged me or pulled me over quietly in the gym to talk more about it.
And we're not just talking about the hippy, vegan, love-the-earth kind of guys here. We're talking about former marines, competitive bodybuilders and big, bearded burly men who can squat 2.5 times their bodyweight. Proper "men" men as some might put it, haha.
It turns out they were kind of interested in meditation, but figured it wither wasn't for people like them or that they had to do weird stuff like light candles and sit it stress positions to "do it properly".
(By the way, I kind of thought the same before I started).
Naturally, they never did it.
Talking through something with somebody, and inspiring them to add a 5-minute practice to their day that gave them great benefit, made me feel awesome. And it made them feel awesome.
The important takeaway...
Meditation doesn't have to be all...weird. You don't have to be a certain person, dress a certain way or follow a certain type of practice. It's individual, and unique - just like you, you special snowflake you.
It's about just being.
Accepting yourself as you are in that moment.
There are some great guides out there. Bliss More by Light Watkins was a really helpful book that I read (well, listened to on Audible) during my challenge. I'm also becoming more and more familiar with the work of Andy Puddicombe at Headspace - their content is great and their app has very good reviews. Oh, and Fabrice Midal. He's awesome.
Oh, and naturally meditation and mindfulness features heavily throughout the coaching program used here at APH - so you can always check that out.
But, honestly, if you can sit with your own thoughts for 5-10 minutes per day and recognise them without judgement, while paying real attention to how your body feels?
Then you probably don't need anything more.
All you have to do is get started.
ready to start learning how to love food, movement and yourself?