Like playing an instrument, or engaging in activity that requires intense focus, exercising can induce a “flow” state of mind. Flow Psychology has been studied for many years and sport and exercise are popular ways to get “in the zone” and enter this flow state. Flow psychology or being “in the zone” is what Buddhist’s refer to as mindfulness. Being in the zone shifts your mind into a new state of mind. A sense of vibrant aliveness, connectedness and peace infuse your being. You feel in tune with life, moving with a precision and poise you don’t fully understand but at the same time greatly enjoy it. You’re in the zone. You’re in flow.
Exercise is not the only way to get into that sacred state. Artists experience it when intensely focused on a creative project. Writers and readers experience it when getting caught up in the story. Some of us experience it while listening to music, holding a deep and meaningful conversation with a friend or when making love.
The activity takes the person’s undivided attention so that the mind is completely engaged in what they are doing. All actions seem to move and work together harmoniously. You forget yourself and experience heightened perceptions and awareness.
Studies show that people in this state of flow or “in the zone” produce brain waves that operate similarly to the brain waves of those in meditation. So next time you find yourself completely absorbed in exercising remember that you are giving your mind a healthy dose of meditation (play on words intended).
Besides practicing mindfulness, exercise is also good for our mental health. It’s one hell of a mood-booster as well. You don’t even have to engage in rigorous physical activity to reap in the effects of this mood-booster. Just a simple walk around the block can already leave you feeling much better. Feeling like you’re in a crappy mood? Rest assure knowing you have exercise to help you out.
Don’t take my word for it though. Try it out for yourself.
Happy exercising everyone!