Did you know that your brain uses a whopping 80% of the calories you consume to operate your body and to live a vital life? This information gives new meaning to mental health and the mind-body connection. Not just from a calorie-in and calorie-out equation, but from the perspective of how important it is to consider our brains as part of our fitness habits, as well as ways to include the mind as an essential ingredient to your motion and whole body care.
Mindless motion- monkey see, monkey do is what most of us do as we follow along and imitate an instructor in exercise fitness, wellness, and rehab classes. Most people consider exercising as a chance to turn off their brain and burn off the stress from a long day. However, the opposite is true. The body needs to be connected to the brain, and the mind conscious of the body for the greatest health benefits.
Motion is the ideal place to begin a practice of mindfulness. It’s about connecting to your body which in truth is your personal “divining rod” – helping decide what is true and good for you. Your body collects all of your experiences through the intricate communication of your connective tissue system (AKA Fascia) which is the body’s organ of consciousness. Together with the brain, the two systems regulate and operate as a higher level surveillance system, reporting to you all that you experience as information.
The purpose of mindfulness is to expand consciousness. Expanding consciousness is simply a process of cultivating the ability to open and widen our personal aperture of what we see, thus allowing for us to see more things inside our field of view and gain more information. With more information, it is possible to change our perspective, and this is the root of how we can deal with modern afflictions of anxiety, depression, and other mental illnesses.
Try these 4 things to connect to your body more through a mindful movement practice:
Put down your book, turn off the TV, and turn down your headphone music. These are anesthesia for your body’s sensations and the feelings your body communicates to you while moving. We have been conditioned to try to tune out the body's feelings of movement and exercise because we associate it as painful or uncomfortable. When you move to engage and activate your fascia, you will start finding additional yummy feelings that you’ve never had before that make movement and exercise actually feel really good.
As you move, focus on a feeling your body is having. Ask “how can I make that feeling expand outward and stretch to other areas of my body?"
Choose a movement you either haven’t done or don’t do regularly. We suggest rotation/ twisting the spine, which is not done enough in any exercise method but is an extremely nutrient-rich movement. As you rotate, observe and be conscious of the feeling of stretch all over your body. Then become conscious of places that feel stiff and restricted. Take the areas that are strict and restricted and try to create more feelings of stretch.
Choose a movement or exercise based upon how it feels in your body rather than what body part you’re trying to work out or condition. Similar to when you cook, you select spices based on how good you want the recipe to taste, so you should do the same thing with your movement. Movement is yummy if we start to learn to listen and feel all the sensations.