It’s hard not to smile when you know it’s the weekend, especially a nice, long holiday weekend like many of you are about to kickstart. This week, we talked about alternatives for the squirmy among us (myself included) for when seated meditation just isn’t happening. Yoga, mindful walking, hiking, you name it. It’s ok to move, as long as you do it mindfully. So for this weekend’s mindfulness challenge, you have my permission to not sit still – in your body, anyway. You mind is another matter.
Yes, mindful movement is exercise, but it’s not just about your body. In fact, that part is probably secondary. In seated meditation, we connect our mind to our body through a focus on the breath. Mindful movement facilitates a similar connection, and can include an awareness of breath, but also allows for your focus to shift to the experience of the movement in your body. Stretching, bending, taking a single step in a walk or stride in a run causes different sensations to occur throughout the body. Simply noticing them can bring us into the present moment and what’s actually happening right now…which sometimes means, “This feels great” and sometimes means “I probably need to do this more often,” aka, your body isn’t so used to moving anymore (or ever). It’s ok, you can change that.
Our modern lives give us plenty of excuses to be disconnected from our bodies. We focus on screens and earbuds and everything external, waiting for the next thing to entertain or inform us. We hunch over our phones and squint at our laptops, craning our necks and turning our shoulders into earrings. We use our bodies to experience all of it, yet we are often unaware of how we’re doing so. We stop hearing the messages it’s sending us in exchange for being hyperaware of those we’re receiving from every other direction.
Mindful movement can give you the tools to change that, even for just a few minutes at a time. Redirecting your awareness to your body brings you back to home base – the place through which you experience every moment of every day in the external world. Like seated meditation, it trains your brain to recognize stimuli and the impact they have on you, and to intentionally choose how to respond to them. It reconnects you to right now, which last I heard, was a beautiful Friday in May. You wouldn’t want to miss that now, would you?
Get out there and enjoy your weekend!
Photo credit: Lindsay Henwood