Just about every person in the world knows the importance of exercise. I could make a list about 100 pages long but I’ll save that for another day. So lets stick to this topic for now.
I consider myself to be a fairly atletic guy. I exercise 5-6 times per week and I really enjoy it (although my hamstrings tend to disagree). About 2 years ago when I started getting interested in how peoples’ mind worked I came across something called mindfulness. Here’s a link to my other blog on mindfulness Mindfulness for the everyday person. In a nutshell mindfulness teaches you how to watch your thoughts as they come and go throughout your mind.
As I practiced being more mindful on a daily basis I noticed it was carrying over into my gym routine. Instead of nervously looking around to see if anyone was watching me or worrying about how bad I smelled I no longer cared. I was in my own personal zone.
This was a huge change for me. Normally I would be so amped up on super-dump, N.O. X-plode (which is false advertisement by the way) or whatever my pre-workout of choice was that month that I would be all over the place like 9 year old kid jacked up on mountain dew. But now I was calm. I was focused. I was at peace.
The best way I can describe Mindful Exercise is to slow the hell down. Focus on each breathe as you slowly raise and slowly lower your dumbbell curls. Really pay attention to the movement of your arm. Squeeze that bicep at the top of that curl and feel the blood flowing through your veins. Observe every sweat droplet as it runs down your arm onto your hand.
This goes with any exercise. I love to run on the treadmill so I’ll go with this example: Before I began to mindfully exercise I would just run. Step after step after step after step. But there was a problem with what I was doing. I wasn’t focused on what I was actually doing. I was just going through the motions. Not only would I be running but my damn mind would be running as well. Now there’s nothing wrong with that due to the fact that I was running my ass off on the treadmill, but when my mind runs constantly throughout the day it also needs time to relax. Not just during sleep.
I began counting every step I took (not on my fitbit). I began to feel the sensation of my tennis shoes as they repeatedly lifted one after the other onto the treadmill. I was concentrating on my breathe as it came into my nostrils, filled my lungs and then exited my mouth. I could feel my arms pumping back and forth as I ran. I was exercising mindfully.
This made exercise more enjoyable to me. I was calm, relaxed and at peace while I was exercising. My heart rate was elevated. My body was covered in sweat. Yet I was still able to maintain the present moment and not get lost in my thoughts.
So before the next time you talk yourself out of going to the gym just remember this. Slow down. Take a breathe. And be mindful of your exercise routine. It’s truly a great feeling. Your body and your mind will thank you.
Humbly written by Chris McDaniel