Are you the sort of person who does not want to sit and meditate? Do you hate sitting still and trying to focus on your breath? Do you feel guilty that you are missing out on the benefits of mindfulness meditation?
Would you rather like to use your workout time to include some easy mindfulness as well?
Why not? There is a simple technique that I can suggest which will bring mindfulness practice into your workout routine. You might be doing your Yoga, or you are out on your daily walk, or even working out in the gym. Enjoy the blissful harmony of mind and body and get your dose of physical and mental fitness through mindfulness during gentle workouts.
So how to include mindfulness practice into your exercise routine? No, I do not have a mindfulness walking script that you need to by-heart and utter out like a mantra. Instead, just remember the IPOD method.
IPOD what?? No, no, I am not referring to the dusty old music player you used to have. But rather this mindfulness acronym below:
I – Intention to pay attention to the body movement
P – (Focus on) Predominant sensations – legs, arms, chest, etc..
O – (Pick) One of the sensations and notice them deeply
D – (If you get lost, try again, perhaps with a) Different part of your body
Let me explain further this mindfulness workout technique: What are the 4 steps in a mindfulness workout?
Intention – Let your intention before and during your workout be to stay focussed to your body and its movement. I know it is too easy to think of that annoying email, or the missed call from your client during your walking or Yoga session. But by letting your mind to wander, you are losing out on the true joy of your activity. Instead, gently tell yourself that this exercise time is devoted to self care and self love; to nurture your body and soul. And, you shall not let any external thought come and take this time away from you.
Predominant Focus – During your activity be it Yoga or walking, you shall focus on a specific body part, its movement and the predominant sensations. For example, lets say you are practicing Triangle pose during your Yoga session. Then you could perhaps focus on the hand that is extending to touch the floor and its sensations. Or if you were cycling, then you could focus on your legs and their movement and related sensations. Or if you were swimming, then focus on how your arms are moving and stretching in and out of the water.
Pick one of the sensations – Now that you have focussed on a specific part, it is time to observe that part deeply. In the Triangle pose example, you can perhaps feel the arm bone straighten to extend, perhaps feel the elongated fingers reaching out to the floor, or perhaps the touch of hardness and coldness of the floor at your finger tips. In the cycling example, focus on the movement of your knee-joint as it goes up and down, or on the tightness of your calf muscle as it exerts pressure downwards to pedal, or on the part of the foot which is pushing down the pedal. Try to feel the joints, tendons, nerves around your focussed parts. Can you imagine the flow of blood during your movements..
Try different part of the body – It is indeed natural for your thoughts to go astray. You might be distracted by the thought of an upcoming appointment, or a pending activity, or an argument that you recently had, but gently remind yourself of the intention to take care of yourself and to devote this time to your body and mind. Get back to observing the sensations. You can now focus on a different part of the body. Maybe this time, on how your chest expands and contracts, or on how your arms move during your work
Simple, yet so effective, this technique will let you have your share of mindfulness on the go.
The author, Veer Varma, is a wellness and business coach, and founder of www.coachdirect.in. He runs various wellness programmes such as Mindfulness, Yoga, Stress management, Health – Work Balance, etc.. He is a certified Yoga trainer and has a diploma in physical fitness. He holds an MBA from University of Cambridge, UK and also is a NLP (Neuro Linguistic Programming) Master Practitioner. Prior to his entrepreneurial journey, he worked globally with top tier investment banks.