When you eat, eat
When you walk, walk
If not for being mindful in everything we do, then walk the path of mindlessness we will. That’s perhaps how Yoda would put it…Whether we are sitting; conversing; eating and training, how often do we ‘switch off’ and go about the ‘routines’ as if they are a house choir? What about cleaning for that matter? Do we throw that into the ‘mindless’ category and so force ourselves to do something we absolutely abhor?
Mindfulness is about being present to the moment and increasing our awareness to the present moment.
The tantalising question is can we incorporate mindfulness into movement? And to that I say ‘yes you can’! Think of yoga; rock climbing; Kung Fu. What do these all have in common? They are as much an art form as they are a style of movement our ancestors have been doing for centuries. Yet how often have we performed this modern word we call ‘exercise’ much like cleaning our toilet: a revolting prospect?
Now to the coach in you. How often have you taught or made aware to your client, athlete or student to be in touch with what they are doing? Firstly, let’s define what this means…
Being in touch is about focusing the ever-wandering mind on the type of exercise or task you are performing. Rather than simply ‘lift weights; throw the ball or run to the cone and back, we employ, ironically enough, a simple strategy of bodily awareness to the mix. The key is not to have the client struggle too much lest they grimace in pain and give up too early. Instead, set a sufficient enough challenge so they can be engaged enough to follow your simple commands to connect mind and body and thus be mindful as they go about the drill or task you have given them.
Tips to increase mindfulness with clients:
Focus on the breath. With physical movement, the breath is paramount not merely for oxygenation but creating a focus on how you inhale and exhale. Breathing is something we take for granted but without it we die. Effectively breathing as we perform a physical task will increase mindfulness.
Feel the ground beneath you. By spreading our toes and pressing the whole of the foot into the ground when we are standing, greater awareness and stability is created. In technical terms, we call this the ‘ground force reaction’ where force stems from the foot and up through the kinetic chain. Others like to call it earthing. Take your shoes off when you are next out in the park or beach and feel the texture of the grass or sand as you take each and every step. You might add 10 meters then gradually build that distance up. What do you feel? Specifically, focus on standing, spread the toes and then press each toe, one after the other into the ground. What happens when you do this?
Don’t take what I say for gospel, go out and try it for yourself...
Reference or further research: Centre of healthy minds.