Meditation gets a bad rap. While itâ€™s spiritual cousin, Yoga, gets all the love for being a great way to reduce stress and get fit, meditation just sits in the corner, looking slow, boring and even a bit painful to pose in that contorted position so you can â€œdo it rightâ€.
But, meditation is worth a serious look. It can bring you reduced stress and amazing health benefits. Plus it can even help in your weight loss and fitness efforts.
Your humble author, Mr. EET (Eating and Exercise Training Fitness Plan), has always understood the power of traditional meditation, but simply could not find the time or discipline to make it part of his life. In the exact way conventional dietingâ€™s counting calories and endless exercise were a disaster for me, conventional meditation techniques were not sustainable either.
So, I created EET High Intensity Meditation Training (HIMT) or as I like to call it:
5 Really Good Breaths
Much like high intensity interval training (HIIT), HIMT is designed for maximum benefits in a very short amount of time. An effective HIMT session takes only 1-2 minutes TOTAL and can restore your sanity at those times when you are sure stress is about to destroy you. And what about those weight loss and fitness efforts you ask? Weâ€™ll get to those benefits later, but trust me, the sanity benefit alone is a life saver.
And, just like the EET Fitness Plan , HIMT has no set in stone rules, only guidelines, so you simply canâ€™t screw it up, although many of you who live your lives thinking there is only one way to do things right will think you can.
But, not screwing up isnâ€™t the same as becoming good at HIMT. Just like all other learned skills, HIMT takes patience and practice to master. Donâ€™t expect huge benefits the first time out. But donâ€™t rule out instant benefits either. Keep an open mind.
Before you review HIMTâ€™s guidelines, let me add that EET HIMT comes from Mr. EETâ€™s years of studying and practicing failing at a variety of mediation techniques, and is heavily influenced by the teachings of legends like Huston Smith, Alan Watts, Thich Nhat Hahn, Shinru Suzuki, and others. Youâ€™ll find a small list of recommended reading at the end for anyone interested in more information.
Here are the guidelines for HIMT so you can do your first â€œworkoutâ€ right now if you like. EET hopes you learn and apply HIMT or some form of meditation that fits your lifestyle because it will definitely improve your quality of life. Oh, and those weight loss and fitness benefits? Keep reading!
OBJECTIVE OF HIMT:
Break current pattern of behavior to one that is more favorable to sanity, weight loss and fitness.
HIMT Technique Guidelines
1. STOP AND BREATHE
Wherever you are stop all activity (example: pull over if driving!) and breathe in as deeply as possible through your mouth and nose. It doesnâ€™t need to be perfectly quiet and no incense or flowing robes are needed.
2. DONâ€™T GET HUNG UP ON TECHNIQUE
Thereâ€™s no correct position for your hands, legs, feet or any other body part. Â However, decent posture with your back straight will likely make HIMT more effective. You can be standing or seated, you can even be moving, as long asÂ there is no danger of injury (to you or others) ;-)
3. CLOSE YOUR EYES – ALMOST
Before you start to exhale, close your eyes 90% of the way â€“ NOT ALL THE WAY â€“ guide your eyes slightly towards the ground but donâ€™t focus on anything.
4. THOUGHTS â€“ DONâ€™T FIGHT THEM
Typically, thoughts will be racing through your mind. Let them, but donâ€™t focusÂ on them. Picture them as clouds that float across the screen and keep movingÂ farther and farther out of sight and out of mind.
5. EXHALE SLOWLY AND RELAX YOUR BODY
6. Start to exhale slowly and evenly through your nose only. Let your muscles fully relax while you exhale as well. Consciously relax your shoulders and neck especially. (a little breathing out of your mouth is fine â€“ REMEMBER GUIDELINES NOT RULES!!!!)
7. FOCUS ON SMOOTH, EASY EXHALE
While you are exhaling, your efforts should be to calmly focus on a smooth,Â relaxing exhale pace, and trying not to see anything specific with your 90% closed eyes. (keeping them slightly open greatly reduces your mindâ€™s ability to create images that could easily dominate your thoughts).
8. EXHALE â€“ JUST A LITTLE BIT MOREâ€¦.
When you start to feel the urge to inhale again, EXHALE MORE by using the muscles in the lowest part of your abdomen to push out the air in the lowest parts of your lungs. Keep gently but firmly pushing for as long as possible â€“ but
Never to the point of straining. Youâ€™ll exhale longer as you improve at HIMT.
9. Repeat guidelines 1 â€“ 8 5 times.
Want to do more than 1 HIMT session a day? Go for it. Want to do more than 5 breaths in a session? Go for it. Want to do less? Thatâ€™s allowed in HIMT too. Want the benefits of HIMT with NO good breaths? Mr. EET says you can get there after 30 years of practice of 5 good breaths or more, but thatâ€™s another story for another article.
Weight Loss benefits of HIMT
- Allows you to reduce stress related eating as you will be less stressed!
- Helps reduce cortisol levels which makes fat storage less likely.
- Can do HIMT before eating something thatâ€™s not correct for your plan
- Can do HIMT after eating something thatâ€™s not correct for your plan so youâ€™ll stop!
- HIMT interrupts feelings of guilt about weight loss efforts and lets you regroup.
Fitness Benefits of HIMT
- Excellent activity for strengthening lower stomach muscles as you work on longer exhales.
- Reduces risk of injury as you relax your muscles at least once each day
- Can use HIMT before exercise session so you can focus better and improve quality.
- Great for sports or other pressure situations where you need to relax (golf and distance running are two good examples). Helps you find your â€œzoneâ€ where you can just perform without thinking.
- HIMT right before bed can greatly improve quality of sleep which is good for everything.
- HIMT is great for circulation, blood pressure and general health
- The Religions of Man
- Huston Smith
- Alan Watts
- Out of Your Mind (audio book)
- The Zen Way to Martial Arts: A Japanese Master Reveals the Secrets of the Samurai
- Taisen Deshimaru
- Thich Nhat Hahn
- Being Peace
- Shunryu Suzuki
- Zen Mind, Beginnerâ€™s Mind
- Journey of Awakening
- Ram Dass
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