Over a 24-hour period we can process up to 70,000 thoughts, even as we sleep. Each day contains 86,400 seconds, so that equates to a different thought every 1.2 seconds – your brain never stops! Left unchecked, this incessant chatter can turn to the dark side and become an chorus of self-criticism and blame. Negative thinking can become much more dominant than the positive and supportive kind. These thoughts tend to become stuck and repetitive — leading to anxiety, depression and burn-out. Only by freeing ourselves from them can we grow calmer, more focused, more present and happier
Meditation tends to get a bad rap. While it’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 ‘do it right’. And, be honest, you really think all that stuff is a bit airy fairy and strictly for the Hare Krishna, hippie crowd, don’t you?
But, meditation is worth a serious look. It can bring you reduced stress and amazing healthbenefits. It can even help in your fat loss and fitness efforts
One problem is that most of us, while understanding this conceptually, simply can’t find the time or discipline to make it part of our life
Enter High Intensity Meditation Training (HIMT)
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 fat loss and fitness efforts you ask? Read on, Macduff
HIMT has no set in stone rules, only guidelines, so it’s difficult to screw it up. But, not screwing up isn’t the same as becoming good at HIMT. Just like all other learned skills, HIMT takes patience and practice to master. Don’t expect huge benefits the first time out. But don’t rule out instant benefits either. Keep an open mind
Here are the guidelines for HIMT so you can do your first ‘workout’ straight away if you like
The objective of HIMT is simple - to break current pattern of behaviour to one that is more favorable to your sanity, fat loss and fitness
1. Stop and breathe ; Wherever you are stop all activity and breathe in as deeply as possible through your mouth and nose. It doesn’t need to be perfectly quiet and no incense or flowing robes are needed!
2. Don’t get hung up on technique ; There’s no correct position for your hands, legs, feet or any other body part. However, decent posture with your back straight will probably make HIMT more effective. You can be standing or seated, you can even be moving, as long as 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 – NOT ALL THE WAY – guide your eyes slightly towards the ground but don’t focus on anything
4. Thoughts - don’t fight them ; Typically, thoughts will be racing through your mind. Let them, but don’t focus on them. Picture them as clouds that float across the screen and keep moving farther and farther out of sight and out of mind
5. Exhale slowly and relax your body ; 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 – REMEMBER GUIDELINES NOT RULES!!!!)
7. Focus on a smooth, easy exhale ; While you’re exhaling, your efforts should be to focus calmly on a smooth, relaxing exhale pace, and trying not to see anything specific with your 90% closed eyes. (keeping them slightly open greatly reduces your mind’s ability to create images that could easily dominate your thoughts)
8. Exhale - just a little bit more ; 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 – but
Never to the point of straining. You’ll exhale longer as you improve at HIMT
9. Repeat guidelines 1 – 8 five 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? That’s allowed in HIMT too.
Fat 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 is less likely
- Can do HIMT before eating something that’s not good for you
- Can do HIMT after eating something that’s not good for you so you’ll stop!
- HIMT interrupts feelings of guilt about fat 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
- Use HIMT before exercise sessions 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 “zone” where you can just perform without thinking
- HIMT right before bed can greatly improve quality of sleep which is good for pretty much everything
- HIMT is great for circulation, blood pressure and general health
So there it is - HIMT in less than 5 minutes a day. No more excuses - get breathing!
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