What is mindfulness?
Mindfulness, defined by meditation teacher Jon Kabat-Zinn is “awareness that arises through paying attention, on purpose, in the present moment, non-judgementally”. Simply put, it is focussing your awareness on whatever is taking place in the present moment.
Mindfulness is often practised by placing your attention on your breath. However, any physical activity can also become a mindful practice when you move with purpose and focus.
The Basics of Mindful Movement
Mindful movement is a great tool to support your wellbeing. It can help you to shift from feeling busy and distracted to cultivating focus and calming your mind while you move.
Mindful movement involves:
- Noticing how the body feels as it moves
- Paying attention to the sensations created by each movement
- Synchronising an action with your breath to help you move intentionally
- Making each movement deliberate
How Can You Practice Mindful Movement?
Here are three simple exercises you can practice to incorporate mindful movement into your day:
- Breathe and Move: Sit up straight and place your hands on your thighs with your palms facing up. When you inhale next, begin to slowly open your hands to spread your fingers wide apart. Exhale and slowly close your fingers until you form a tight fist. Try and make each opening and closing action fit the length of your inhale or exhale. Repeat as many times as you like, moving in time with your breath.
- Mindful Neck Rolls: We often perform quick neck rotations to release tension, but can you do it mindfully? As you exhale, lower your chin towards your chest. Then on your inhalation, rotate your head clockwise using the full inhalation to perform the rotation. Exhale and rotate your neck anti-clockwise, performing the movement in the time it takes to exhale.
- Walk Mindfully: The next time you want to stand up from your desk, try this. Position yourself towards the edge of your seat and place your feet on the floor directly below your knees. Observe the physical sensations of your body as you press into your feet to stand up from your chair. As you take a few steps away from your desk, pay attention to how you walk. Notice the action of your feet, observe the sensations in the soles of your feet, and sense the shifting of your body weight from side to side as you walk.
Mindful movement can be a simple way to bring more physical activity into your workday, while providing the added benefits of:
- Calming your mind as you move
- Boosting your mood
- Reducing stress
- Improving your wellbeing1Yang, C., & Conroy, D. (2018). Momentary Negative Affect is Lower During Mindful Movement Than While Sitting: An Experience Sampling Study. Psychology of Sport and Exercise, 37, 109 Doi: 10.1016/j.psychsport.2018.05.003
Why not try moving mindfully today?