Mindful movement instead of exercise?
Do you associate exercise with notions of pleasure, self-expression and personal fulfillment?
Experiences of exercise
Most experiences of moving our bodies have tended not to embrace the mind body connection. Over the years it has been common in our culture to exclusively focus on the physical outcomes associated with movement. This approach has happened at the expense of the emotional and mental possibilities that can be intrinsic to moving our bodies. (1)
The reasons people exercise have been changing. In 2021 many people in the Western world were exercising as a means to manage their body weight and physical appearance. In 2022 this began shifting as people were increasingly motivated to exercise as a means of managing their stress. This year more of us are exercising for our longevity and quality of life. This reflects a real cultural shift and new awareness in our society.
Mindful movement creates fluidity. A stream of personal experiences which ebb and flow. It explores our sensations, emotions and boundaries. Making time to move mindfully invites stillness and space into our lives.
This helps bring our emotional, mental, and physical wellbeing together into unified personal experiences. Mindfulness helps us cultivate the ability to be present and notice what is arising in our field of awareness at any given moment. Integrating this mental attention into our movement imbues our experiences with more presence and connection.
Medical research across sports science, neuroscience and psychology are beginning to link ‘Mindfulness-Based Interventions’ with increased performance in terms of physical and psychological performance. (2) Moving mindfully helps strengthen the mind-body connection and helps bring our attention to and grow our awareness of our body, its posture and form, helping us move with presence, stability and balance.
We have harnessed mindfulness to help ritualise our practice of movement into something that invites space into our lives. Helping us connect not only with our body physically but also tuning into our emotions and thoughts, helping us release and let go. Moving our bodies in this way has the potential to lead us into greater states of pleasure and understanding.
Reimaging how and why we move, helps us become more connected and present.
(2) Wang, Yan, Si-Man Lei, and Jingjing Fan. 2023. "Effects of Mindfulness-Based Interventions on Promoting Athletic Performance and Related Factors among Athletes: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis of Randomized Controlled Trial" International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health 20, no. 3: 2038.
Scott-Hamilton, J., & Schutte, N. S. (2016). The role of adherence in the effects of a mindfulness intervention for competitive athletes: Changes in mindfulness, flow, pessimism, and anxiety. Journal of Clinical Sport Psychology, 10(2), 99–117