Meditation can take many forms. Some of the most informal practices include breath work or finding a meditative state during physical activity like running or working out. It’s also possible to find meditation in the arts or music, athletes like surfers, skiers, and mountain bikers often find meditation while climbing a mountain or riding a wave.
Breath work as a base for physical activities that have a natural rhythm can be utilized to enhance physical performance and simultaneously achieve a type of meditation.
Breath Work for Physical Performance
Breathing provides two major services to the body: bringing in oxygen and removing carbon dioxide. Different breathing techniques either accelerate, slow down, steady, or imbalance this process, which in turn adjusts the way body and minds perform.
One common breathing technique is box breathing, which is practiced by many professionals ranging from yoga instructors to members of various special forces. Practicing this technique includes breathing in, holding, exhaling, and then holding again in a steady rhythm based off of the count.
This steadiness and the two holds on either side of that inhale and exhale, slow the process of converting oxygen and exhaling carbon dioxide down bringing the body to a natural state of calm. In times of stress, this can help override the parasympathetic nervous system for clear decisions, while in times of calm this technique offers the ability to feel “in the moment”.
During high levels of activity, the nasal breathing perfected by XPT offers a sense of steadiness and endurance. This technique eliminates the hold of box breathing and focuses on steady, controlled breaths. As a result the XPT form of breathing provides similar calming benefits of box breathing by steadying the inflow and outflow of air, but offers more breaths in and a higher turnover of oxygen. This results in more easily available energy for the body, allowing for a blend of peace and action.
Wim Hof method breathing takes an alternative approach, creating an imbalance in oxygen and carbon dioxide through rapid exhales that scrub carbon dioxide from the body. The result is a feeling of increased energy and sensation, as the body takes in high levels of oxygen and does not sense a need to slow down any processes since it does not detect carbon dioxide.
Breath work As a Form of Meditation
Despite the activity, breath work techniques often achieve two significant factors aligned with the benefits of meditation. First, just as meditation is considered to have a calming effect, breath work also has a calming effect particularly during moments of high intensity. Even in high-energy scenarios, mindful breathing techniques result in a sense of mental and emotional calm and peace.
Second, both breath work and meditation lead to heightened awareness. Practices and sports that are genuinely and mindfully meditative can make the practitioner more aware of their surroundings as well as of their body and emotions.
The mental effects of both breath work and meditation also extend beyond a particular session. The calming effects of meditation can reduce physical stress, make it easier to sleep, help settle the mood, improve mental health, and also cut down on anxiety or distractedness long after training. Awareness during meditation or breath work practice can make individuals more attuned to their emotions, provide clarity of thought, offer connection to the senses and the surrounding world, and improve empathy.
These mental effects are why many high-level professionals, performance artists, and athletes often have meditation or breath work practices of their own.
A Place to Practice
When visiting Las Catalinas, the shift to a car-free lifestyle surrounded by 1,000 acres of the tropical dry forest in Costa Rica and the Pacific ocean offers a chance to slow down to a more deliberate way of life and reconnect with nature.
The benefits of meditation, a sense of calm, and a greater awareness of self, others, and surroundings, often follow during the time spent in town.
There are many physical spaces designed to be well suited to meditate around town:
- Plaza Danta and the beachfront terraces
- The studio at Casa Chameleon
- The Conservatory at Santarena Hotel
- The rooftop terrace at Santarena Hotel
Each was built to offer unique spaces to connect with one’s self and your surroundings.
In the forest reserve surrounding town, there are several meditation platforms, which offer a personal connection.
Platform 1 | At the Peak of La Cresta
Sitting at the end of La Cresta, where the Guachipelines trail turns into Secreto, this platform has a view over the Dantita Valley, Las Catalinas, Punta Guachipelines, and the Zapotal Valley, all the way down to Playa Carmel. The steady breeze in the area, sunset over the Catalinas Islands, and a two-leveled platform offer a versatile space to meditate surrounded by nature.
Platform 2 | Principal
This platform is located just a short way up the trail at the beginning of Zapotal and Principal. It looks down the rim of the valley towards Las Catalinas, offering a view over the tropical dry forest, the town on the coast, the beach, and the ocean beyond.
It is a space that captures the harmony of natural and man-made beauty found in Las Catalinas, with a setup suited to a small picnic or any practice.
Platform 3 | Punta Penca
The Danta trail ends in a small overlook on Punta Penca, which looks out towards Potrero Bay, Sugar Beach, Punta Guachipelines, and Beach Town. By sitting at the end of the point, this platform presents a space at the intersection of land and the ocean, which combines the tropical dry forest surroundings with the misty coastal breeze. It is an area close to the heart of Town that is immersed in nature.
Sea Platform | Off of Playa Danta
Anchored in the bay a little more than 100 meters off of Playa Danta is the Sea Platform, this is a floating platform with a view from the ocean towards Las Catalinas and the forested hills.
After a short swim, the platform offers a flipped perspective of the town and the tropical dry forest that surrounds it, as well as the swell of the waves and the clear ocean breeze. It is open to the many elements that surround the town, with uninterrupted light and color well-suited to sunrise and sunset practice.
XPT often blends calming practice with physical activity, like on steady trail runs. The numerous practices to be found at the Center of Joy will factor in the breath as both a calming, energizing, and restorative factor. A walk or a swim out onto the platforms that dot the trails and the bay brings the chance to slow down or speed up surrounded by nature.
In Town, During Practice, Or On the Platforms
Sports, recreation, moments of meditation, breath work, and time out in nature, can all be expected at Las Catalinas. Whether slowing down during a walk along Playa Danta,during yoga lessons in one of the town’s mindful spaces or stopping mid-hike to contemplate the ocean at any of the platforms along the trails surrounding the town, wellbeing is a natural part of life here.