It’s Not All in Your Head
How You Can Tap Into Your Body For a More Mindful Life
That’s right, Over-thinkers, I’m talking to you.
No judgment here. I count myself among you. My brain has always had a hard time letting go of a problem when I haven't found a satisfactory solution.
This is a great power. I’m a girl that gets things done. I’m tenacious and NEVER give up.
Of course, every great power has as a constant companion: an equally great weakness. And this one’s is rumination.
I guarantee you that for every real problem your whirring mind grabs onto and solves, there are dozens of regretful replays of the past or fearful forecasts of the future that go absolutely nowhere.
These drain your spirit, sap your energy, and feed on themselves creating the all too familiar negative thought spiral.
Over the years, I’ve developed a number of really effective thinking tools to shift myself (and others) back into a place of power. You’ve learned many of them here in this column
Lately though, I’ve figured out something new about our ilk…
Thinking is not the only way.
If, like me, you are primarily a head that drags its body around behind it – (and I’m not talking about whether or not you exercise – I’ve done some of my best thinking on an elliptical) – pay very close attention.
Your body can inform you as much as your mind.
This bears repeating.
Your body can inform you as much as your mind. AND you access this wealth of information by not thinking.
You get there through experiencing, through detaching yourself from expectations and outcomes, and most importantly, by being present.
3 Ways to Tap in to Your Body
Like all contemplative and mindfulness exercises, these feel great any time you do them, but produce their intended results when you practice them regularly.
Try to make one of these a daily habit…
Use stretching as a mindfulness anchor.
Get up every 20 minutes or so and stretch. Begin with three deep breaths. Then choose a muscle you like to stretch. (sides, back, hamstrings, even your fingers will work)
S l o w l y stretch your body in sync with deep cleansing breaths. Keep your mind focused on the sensations of the body. If it wanders, gently guide it back to the body.
Repeat 3 – 10 times
Sit with sensation.
Two to three times each hour, look up from your computer. Close your eyes and breathe. Focus your attention there for about three breaths.
Next, allow your attention to expand slowly outward from your focal point until you notice sensation, tension, or discomfort somewhere.
Avoid addressing the sensation (i.e. by shifting, scratching etc... ) simply direct your attention to it with curiosity, without judgement.
Notice your breath in relation to the sensation. Does it aggravate it? Alleviate it?
After a couple of moments, gently direct your attention back to your breath and open your eyes.
Try this free app by Body Brain Yoga.
It allows you to schedule one minute of directed, specific physical exercise each hour. You can choose one focus (core, weight, brain, stress) or you can customize and mix and match.