Let’s read that one more time.

Slowly. Mind full. Mindful.

It’s amazing what one space and one less “l” can do in the english language!

Today we’re going to talk about the mind and how we can keep it fresh, sharp and functioning through various forms of training and practice. Mindfulness is a crucial part of your health and fitness and it needs to be prioritized. Cultivating an improved sense of mindfulness will have a huge positive impact, both in your fitness and in the rest of your life.

I like to think of mindfulness as a heightened state of awareness, a sense of slowing down and becoming more present.

Author Jon Kabat-Zinn sums it up nicely here:

“Mindfulness means paying attention in a particular way;
On purpose, in the present moment, and non judgmentally”.”

So it’s all about slowing down and focusing your energy on the present moment. It’s about turning off that voice in your head that constantly chirps in your ear – most likely about something that happened in the past or some kind of anticipation about something that will occur in the future. There is very little power in attempting to change something that has already occurred.

The present moment is the strike zone – it is in this moment where we can find great peace, tranquility and power.

Think about the last time you were fully engaged in an activity that you loved. For me, surfing is the ultimate exercise in being present – nothing else seems to matter while I’m surfing on a wave. Time seems to slow down. The idea of self vanishes away. The focus is so intense on the task at hand that all else becomes insignificant. It is this state of “flow” that produces great amounts of joy in my life.

But with a busy, chatter filled mind, these states of full engagement become more difficult to achieve. Think about most people walking around in any given morning – most of them are just going through the motions, doing what they did the day before because it is what they are used to. Many of them are complaining about their lives. Does this sound familiar? Remember, your mind has 100 % power over your reality. Don’t let negative thoughts hinder you. If you have a problem, go out and do something about it, be in action and be the change you want to see in your life.

So how do I work on my mindfulness?

just-breathe1Start with your BREATH.

Practice mediation. Go to a yoga class. The point is to slow down and focus on your breath. The breath is the life force of our body and mind. It powers everything that we do.

So even if you are busy, take a few moments throughout your day and find a quiet place away from noise, people, or outside distractions. Sit down in a comfortable position and start to breath slowly. I like to do some rhythmic breathing where you count both your inhale and exhale.

Here is a good exercise: Start by inhaling for 1 second, and then exhale for 1 second. Inhale for 2, exhale for 2, try to get up to 5 seconds. Then work your way back down to 1. Repeat for 5 mins.

By focusing your mind on the counting of breath, we start to let go of that chatter and we start to become a little more present. It is this sensation that we want to repeat. The more time we practice breathing, the more present we become. The more aware we are of this state of mindfulness, the easier it is to repeat. Mindfulness is a skill just like the other pillars of fitness that can be trained, improved and strengthened.

Unfortunately Mindfulness training can often be left out of mainstream fitness training. But what is the point to build a strong, powerful body if you don’t have the mental capacity to utilize it? If you look at elite athletes in any sport, the physical skills are all but similar – it is the mental strength that separates the great ones. And this mental strength is powered by a sense of mindfulness that cannot be ignored.

Summary

The mind is the engine that powers the body to operate. Without a fine tuned engine, how can your body possibly perform at a high level?

Do some yoga, meditate if you want – it doesn’t really matter what you do as long as you slow your mind down, focus your energy on your breath, and try to be more present. This will give you more joy in whatever physical activity you choose to do.

It will also provide a clearer mental state to tackle life challenges.

You will see things from a slightly different angle and you will be more open-minded.

This is all good. This is mindfulness.

And it’s far far away from a mind that is full.

Hope you enjoyed today’s post. What are you planning on doing to work on your mindfulness? Let us know in the comments.

Nick

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