There are two ways we get exercise naturally without going to the gym. One type is the exercise we do during the course of the day. Such as walking or cycling to work, walking the dog or going to the shop, mowing the grass, cleaning the house ect… The other way is where people discover the intimacy that nature has established between awareness and physiology. This type of exercise is very reassuring and delightful, particularly for us, who have given up on exercise and have become strangers of our body.
When we usually exercise, we set ourselves goals too loose weight or tighten up our muscles. We spend hours talking to people and researching ways we can reach our end goal and then we decided our best form of action. We tend to then, go into top gear, pushing our body more and more each day and even some days when are bodies are hurting and all we want to do is rest, we push on. Often we become exhausted, mentally and / or physically from our work out and slowly start loosing interest in exercising by finding reasons why we can’t fit our exercises routine into our day.
Being mindful while exercising is extremely different because it’s about being friends with our body and listening to it. Listening to how our body moves, how our muscles feel and react during exercise. By listening to our body, we can set goals that are more in alignment with our body. The other significant difference is, being mindful while we exercise, we are fully present and completely aware during our exercise routine, which is another form of meditation. This way we are fully engrossed in our process of the exercise we are taking part in, instead of just focusing on the end goal we have set ourselves.
Or to put it another way, when we exercises just to reach the final goal, no matter what pain or suffering we have to go through, we have to distract ourselves from what we are doing by plugging our selves into music. By distracting ourselves our mental state becomes separated from our physical activity. We need to ask ourselves, do we need to distract ourselves when we are doing something we love to do? No we want to be fully present in the moment, soaking up every second of what we are doing. If we think about it like this, its no wonder why we give up on exercising and beat ourselves up from not reaching the goal we have set ourselves.
Mindful exercising is explained really well in “Body, Mind and Sport” By John Douillard. In his book John follows a form of health and mind-body connections taken from the preventative medicine and health care called Maharishi Ayurveda. Ayurveda dates back more than 5,00 years in India and comes from 2 Sanskrit root words. Ayus (life) and Venda (Knowledge or Science). Which is usually translated as “The Science Of Life”. According to the Ayurvedic writings, exercise has 3 main functions.
- To rejuvenate the body and cultivate the mind.
- To remove stress.
- To develop mind-body co-ordination.
Rejuvenate the body and cultivate the mind – We should feel rejuvenated, not drained and exhausted after completing some exercise.
Remove stress – During moderate exercise if we are paying attention to our body, the stress disappears and our immunity (Immune system) is boosted.
Development mind- body co-ordination – When our mind and body are acting in sinc, great things can happen, than if the two work in opposition from each other. When they are working in harmony, we experience the same zone that athletes often call “a runners high” because we achieve our end goal successfully with out wanting to give up.
The mind exercises program is about enjoying the process of exercise.
If we truly enjoy each motion of exercise we are more likely to continue. If we continue and pay attention to our bodies, we reach higher states of fitness, both mental and physical, than if we stick to the traditional goal oriented style of exercise.
This following program will help you get into the habit of being holistically healthy and fit. If you can’t follow this program for a who week, not a problem, don’t beat your self up, just follow a couple of days at a time. The purpose is to simply help you get into the habit of exercising and taking care of your self mindfully as well as physically. I hope you feel rejuvenated after completing a week and that you don’t go back to your old style of exercising or life style.
Simply be aware of your body as you exercise, paying full attention to everything your body is doing. Such as your breathing and how your muscles are reacting.
Holistic health is about taking care of our mind and body before they fall apart and giving us a better life. While exercising is no miracle cure, it helps our body systems to operate more efficiently, maintaining healthy organs and cells, increasing circulation, improving digestion, making us more mentally alert and ensuring physical stamina.