Mindfulness meditation is a learned skill which allows you to be present to what you are doing more of the time, rather than distracted. As you begin to develop more mindfulness in your life you start to become more focussed, calm and effective in everything you do. These days with so many distractions around, it’s become more essential to train our minds to keep up with the demands of life. Mindfulness exercises can be powerfully brought into your fitness training.
In addition to improving your mental capacities, research has shown that in fact by practising mindfulness meditation regularly you are reducing your stress response and therefore positively impacting your physical health too! Research has shown that mindfulness exercises when practised regularly can reduce your blood pressure, improve your immune system, reduce factors that contribute to chronic illness and make your brain grow in ways that help you to be more focussed and happy.
Apart from meditation there are many other ways you can practice mindfulness. Basically, it just requires you to intentionally bring your attention to the present moment and focus on your direct experience, rather than be carried away by your thoughts.
One way of bringing mindfulness into everyday life is to integrate the practice into your exercise regime. It’s a time efficient way of training your body and mind at the same time!
10 steps to bringing mindfulness exercises to a spin class
- When you start your spin class make a mental note that you are intending to have a mindful spin class.
- Designate a certain amount of time on the bike to practice mindfulness, start with small periods like five minutes.
- Mindfulness means you are tuning into your experience in the present moment and you are bringing your attention to all of your senses, as your senses are a reliable doorway into present moment experience, whereas your mind can hijack your attention to the past or future.
- Tune in first to the sounds in the room, listen to the music, notice how many different instruments are in the track, notice your preference around the type of music playing – do you like it?
- Then bring your attention to the sensations in your legs. Scan your attention from your toes, up to your feet, ankles, lower limbs and upper limbs. Notice what it feels like to work your legs. Notice the sensations in your legs – notice tingling, heaviness, whatever you feel, just take notice of it.
- When your mind gets distracted and you notice you’ve been lost in thinking, be that in your to do lists, or recalling past events of the day – quietly label the nature of the thoughts ie planning, remembering, worrying etc. and then let go of the thought and bring your attention back to the sensation your legs pedalling.
- The key here is to stay focussed on sensations rather than get lost in thinking.
- As the exercise gets harder you may notice the types of thoughts changing
- It’s an interesting experiment which illuminates the way that our body and minds are so interconnected – when pain or difficulty arises in the body the mind can quickly start reacting with resistant thoughts like “I’m too tired” or “when is this class going to end”. Through mindfulness we can become better at releasing these thoughts and getting on with the task at hand.
- At the end of your practice bring to mind a sense of gratitude for your body and it’s ability to work to this level of intensity
For a limited time join the 4th Mindful in May campaign and learn from the world’s best mindfulness and well-being experts.