You’ve probably heard it before — the advice to move your body when you’re thinking irrationally about something.
Why is this advice shared so often — like when you’re trying to quit smoking/sugar/carbs or trying ease a fit of anger? Because it’s the notion of distracting your own thought process. When we get stuck in our head, we can take ourselves to some pretty far out places. This is where mindfulness comes in. When we talk about mindful eating, for example, we refer to consciously choosing the right foods to eat, the right time to eat them (e.g. when you are hungry) and the best portion size for that particular moment. Cultivating mindfulness is a practice, and all too often it ends in succumbing to what feels like an impossible to and fro within the mind. One block of chocolate later and you feel regretful and out of control.
I’d like to share a tool belt of options for when these types of anxious conversations get all too loud in your head. And really, this is a discipline that you can use not just while mindfully eating but to combat several overwhelming thought patterns. All you need is:
Your body & breath.
During the journey of creating new lifestyle patterns, you are going to come up against challenges, and it takes discipline to enforce a change for the better. So, we want you to get used to utilizing your breath and simple, small movement to help keep you focused and on track.
Next time you feel yourself running off with a story you’re telling yourself, repeat the following mindful movement exercises:
- First, take yourself to a space that is semi-private — somewhere where you can have dignity about doing some body movement and deep breathing. Examples include but are not limited to a bathroom stall, private office, bedroom, car, etc.
- Feel yourself consciously grounded with your feet or seat to the floor. Settle here.
- Either close your eyes or steady your gaze.
- Begin to carefully and mindfully follow your breath, start to manipulate your flow of breath in a way that will serve you. Deeper, slower inhales through your nose, longer, complete exhales through your mouth.
- If you have the space, open up your body. Reach your arms up high on the inhale and then slowly sweep them wide and by your side on the exhale.
- Repeat this movement a few times, being super aware and connected to every sensation or thought that arises. Remind yourself that you are not either of these things, and carefully witness them leave the forefront of your mind with every exhale.
This type of movement is very simple and uncomplicated (as much as you give it permission to be). If you are able to, take the movement to the next level and flow through a few sun salutes or simple breath with movement poses. Before you know it, after you connect and open to something bigger than the contemplations you are having with yourself, the urge to inhale 17 chocolate bars has passed, and you are left with a little more clarity and a lot more focus.
Repeat as often as you need to.