Shane Dowling : Performance gains by altering your routine

In the mornings I had a very structured routine. The first thing I would do is meditate as for me, all other habits flow from this. Then after my meditation I would either go for a run or do some dumbbell based strength exercises. The reasoning being that as exercising was also a quiet periods, I could try extending the mindfulness and clarity gained from meditation into my exercises and have a better chance of remaining mindful throughout the day.

Typically, this routine has worked out exactly the same every time. Meaning that I would always feel somewhat tired while meditating and a niggling doubt would re-occur that I was too tired to perform my meditations effectively. You get a lot of space to dwell on these doubts while meditating.

As a response, for a few days I started to exercise before meditation and I must admit the effect were dramatic. Meditation after running is akin to trying to focus after taking a pile of happy pills. The meditation feels better, it seems easier and I'm very positive throughout the whole experience. I also discovered that meditation following exercise is a great way to generate ideas. Especially with writing, I permanently feel like I'm going to run out of ideas but when you fill yourself with positive energy and then try to sit and think, the ideas just seemed to flow. It could be simply a mixture of endorphines being positivity and physical tiredness taking away fears of having bad idea, whatever it is it seems to be the ideal mental state for idea generating.

Now, this all sounds very positive but I must admit this alteration of my routine will only be used sparingly. Firstly, I got distracted quite a lot with ideas during the meditation, forcing me to write them down and effectively breaking my focus. Some my my hand would be completely covered in pen marks after a meditation. That's great, every so often but it got frustrating pretty quickly having to break focus over and over. Secondly, it's wonderful to watch your breath while you're full of positive "I love life" energy but that's not exactly reflective of my mood throughout the day and when your hope is to extend mindfulness to the rest of your day you want to develop an expectation that you're only mindful when your very positive.

Now, I do fully intend to use this ordering when I'm running low on ideas but I shall limit it only to then. I'm glad I made the discovery and intend to continually try new alterations and note the consequences. So if you've got some daily rituals or routines, mix them up and see if you can gain some unexpected performance gains.