Mindful Movement – Simple Exercises to Ease the Body & Quiet the Mind
One of the challenges encountered when practicing mindfulness is that we typically don’t have a lot of experience in telling our minds (thoughts, emotions, sensations, etc.) what to do – usually it’s the other way around!
But what if you start with something that you already know how to control pretty well, something that can hold your attention, then focus on that? That 'something' is physical movement, which you’re able to do (with some exceptions) pretty successfully every day. Since we’re generally much better at controlling our physical activity than our mental activity, we can use the body to lead the mind. Who knew?
Try a short session of gentle movement done with intentional enjoyment helps the body to loosen up, feelings of stress to ease up, and the mind to clear up. It's sort of a sneaky way to tell your mind what to do without it (the mind) noticing. You’ll probably find it takes less effort to focus on movement rather than on the stream of thoughts/sensations/emotions, etc. coursing through your head.
Nothing new about this - many practices develop mindful awareness and focus via moving the body –yoga and tai chi are two prime examples. One very simple practice that anyone can do pretty much anywhere is “Ten Mindful Movements”, from the revered meditation teacher, Thich Nhat Hanh. The exercises are fairly easy to do, not complicated and don’t take long. You breathe on purpose, you smile on purpose, you move on purpose – slowly, gently, not forcing anything - enjoying yourself as you go along.