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The term mindfulness is used a lot these days and it seems to be touted as the panacea for all that ills the modern world. This maybe true, who knows, and the practice spans so many areas of life that it could well be the missing link for personal happiness.

One area in which mindfulness plays a very important part can be seen in the various movement classes I teach, from Systema to kettlebells, and Yoga to Tai Chi. Whilst each are slightly different in form and content, they all rely on mindfulness to bridge the gap between the mind and body which changes them from simple exercises into something meaningful.

For example, the arm movements used in Qi Gong, (the breathing exercises taught as part of the Tai Chi class), can seem very simple and could be described a just waving the arms in the air, however when practiced slowly and with correct breathing and mindful focus they change and become more than that.

The Qi Gong moves are carried out slowly and with mental focus at all times, which means you feel your body moving and you experience moment by moment the movement of your muscles and tendons, bones and ligaments. Any internal tension becomes apparent during the moves and it is possible to self-correct posture and change the movement to suit your own structure and abilities, especially if you are dealing with injuries or joint and movement issues so common these days.

In many forms of exercise we just push on through the pain, never really tuning into what our bodies are doing and how much possible damage we are causing for the future. We only have the one body and we should learn to treat it properly and with respect if we want it to last a lifetime! We have all damaged ourselves in pursuit of our goals and pastimes, and we will have to live with the consequences of those actions going forwards. This is part of life, but mindful movement and awareness going forwards will help us get in touch with our bodies again and help prevent further damage and possibly even heal some of those old injuries.

So next time you are exercising slow things down and feel what is happening in your body as you carry out the task. If you feel a spark of pain, slow down and be aware of what is causing the pain and don’t just push through it. You might be able to change the movement and make it non-painful, however you will only be able to do this if you try it slowly and mindfully feel the movement, putting your awareness into the area in question and feeling what is happening.

Good luck in your pursuit of mindful movement , it can be a difficult process but it is always worth it!!

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