Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Living in the Moment with Mindfulness

By Brandon Cornejo M.D., Ph.D.

I hope your first week of 2012 was a good one! How are those New Year's resolutions going? If your goal is to exercise more, my "Mindfulness" two-part blog post should help you stay motivated. In part-one of my post, I discussed the concept of "mindfulness" or living in the moment.

Now I will share how you can use mindfulness to stay focused on a particular goal like exercising. Since exercise and mindfulness enhance mood, decrease stress, and improve negative thinking, these tips will benefit us all as we enjoy 2012!

Tips for staying in the present moment while exercising:

·         One of the most basic tools that you can use in mindfulness is your breathing. By focusing on the sensation of air traveling in and out of your body (just like you do during meditation), you can be grounded in the present moment.

·         You may also try a mantra to stay in the "now" (for example, runners often count out their footsteps – “1, 2, 3…1, 2, 3” – or a mountain biker or skier may constantly remind themselves to “relax”).

·         Applying either technique will keep you in the moment rather than thinking about negative thoughts and feelings that influence behavior in a non-productive fashion during your exercise.

·         Paying attention to physical feelings of your body and your surroundings as you exercise will prevent you from going into “automatic pilot” (when you act and react without conscious awareness).

·         By learning to stay present, you can accept physical discomfort as a temporary state that will soon pass.

·         As you continue your workout, you can “label” both positive and negative thoughts that occur while exercising. Labeling these thoughts will help you understand which thoughts and feelings are limiting your success and need to be changed.

Try out some of these tips and see how you start removing unwanted negative thoughts to overcome challenges that may have held you back in the past. Mindfulness matters when it comes to achieving that New Year's resolution this year.