I’ve been an enthusiastic participant of high intensity workouts for the past ten years, but in saying this, give me a mat or cushion and ask me to sit for an hour and meditate and I can EASILY tap into this rejuvenating space. You might ask what mindfulness mediation and high intensity exercise have in common, the answer is alignment of our body and mind.
I often see fellow gym-goers struggling and often giving up, or pushing themselves far too hard and failing to enjoy the experience.
Exercise should be something that we do for our body, not to it. It should be considered something that allows us growth and contentment, something that nurtures not only our body but also our mind. I have recently noted an increased awareness from the media on maintaining good mental health, which is both fabulous and so incredibly necessary. Without a healthy, constructive mindset, we will struggle to reach any goals that we make for ourselves and that also stands for goals around our physical activity. What we think we create therefore what we think about exercise has a massive influence over how motivated we are and the outcome.
To ensure that your next workout is both enjoyable and productive, there are a few tweaks that you can make to your experience. I call them tweaks because they’re not a massive overhaul of how you approach exercise, they’re simply little things that you can put in place to connect your mind with your body. The ‘tweaks that I propose will allow you to get out of your head (with all its negative self-talk, skewed beliefs, preoccupied thoughts and worries) and into the moment where enjoyment and gains are made.
Tweak one: Make the time to connect with your breath.
Your breath is your life force so naturally, we want to become BFFs with it while we are working really hard. Connecting with our breath and allowing it to be an anchor for our concentration takes our attention away from any unhelpful thoughts and allows it to find a stable rhythm for us to feel grounded and in control. And of course it also assists with a speedy recovery after an intense round of exercise. When we connect our attention with our breathing it will slow it down and we will adjust to a steady rhythm with greater ease.
Tweak two: Become attentive to your body’s clues.
When we connect with the sensations in our body we are much more aware of when we need to adjust our posture, scale back or increase our load. By noticing when our bodies are struggling we can pull back before injury occurs. Ignoring our body’s clues does us no good, they are there for a reason, so make time to connect with them. .
Tweak three: Bringing attention to your environment.
Personally I find that connecting with my environment using my senses really helps me to again, get away from any self-defeating thoughts in my head and connect with my surroundings that I love working out in. Next time you’re out for a run or a walk, take time to connect with what you can hear, smell and see. How your skin feels as the crisp air skims the surface or how your feet feel and sound pounding the footpath. This simple act of tapping out of your head and into your environment not only helps you to work smarter and harder but it also helps you to enjoy it more.
Tweak four: Employing the power of intention setting.
Setting an intention at the start of your workout is a really powerful way to frame how your session will go. Intentions are your thoughts directed towards a desired outcome – remember the mind affects the body and its performance. Next time you get ready to hit the gym, the footpath, or the mat, take 30 seconds to create a powerful intention that you can keep coming back to when you need to during your workout. Training goals give you great direction and something to work towards but if you don’t come into each training session with the right mindset you’re not setting yourself up to achieve. Start your intention with “during this workout I intend to achieve (xyz)” and really visualise it taking place. The visualisation part is important!
So go forth! Connect your mind with your body and watch as it transforms your whole experience of working it. If you would like more information around mindfulness or mediation jump over to my Facebook page – Mindful Mum Aotearoa.