The Art of Mindful Movement
Can Movement Be Meditation?
It Doesn't Have to Be Tai Chi
- Sensing refers to the idea of taking a moment before your workout to sense you. What is your physical state? What is your emotional state? What are you experiencing? Can you sense your breath? Can you sense the ground? Taking 2-3 minutes before the start of your workout to ask yourself these questions makes you present. It sets you up to be mentally engaged in the task at hand.
A great way to do this is during joint mobility work. If you actively move your joints through various ranges of motion before your session, use this as an opportunity to check in and see how you are feeling and moving. And if you don’t do joint prep work, adding five minutes of it might be a worthwhile endeavor.
- Feeling is the observation of how you are doing a movement. As you move through your warm-up, for instance, can you feel yourself using unnecessary force? Or maybe if you’re hypermobile, you don’t feel like you’re using enough control. What can you do to make the movement smoother, more fluid? Can the quality of the task be improved without sacrificing ease?
This can also be applied during the workout itself. If you are struggling with a specific skill, significantly decreasing load and moving through the exercise slowly is a way to connect with the movement. One theory behind how this works is through the effect this has on the central nervous system.3 The central nervous system is comprised of two branches: the sensory (afferent) nervous system and the motor (efferent) nervous system. Self-awareness comes from the information we receive from these two system.
- Adjusting means using the information you learn from sensing and feeling to make a skill more efficient. If, for instance, you are moving slowly through a light deadlift and you notice (sense) during the concentric phase of the movement you shift your weight slightly to the right to finish the lift, you can correct this by telling yourself to stay centered as you perform the next few. Your brain sends information to your motor (efferent) system via feedback you received from sensing your weight on the floor using your afferent system.