Author: Brogan Bailey
Let me tell you about mindfulness
While we do not openly focus on mental health at 902 it is as important to us as physical health. We know being away from the gym is tough, so I want to give you an alternative to the therapy that the gym offers. The environment that the gym (and specifically 902) attempts to create is an escape or pause.
This pause offers members the chance to socialize and move through workouts without mental effort going into figuring out what you are doing and how long you are doing it for. Whether you realize it or not the gym is most likely a form of movement therapy for you.
The gym offers a chance to dial back your brains higher order functions (focus, attention, language, memory, perception) and trying to recreate the 902 athletics environment in the current situation is damn near impossible. So, I want to introduce a new practice that I am hoping might help during this
time and beyond.
Mindfulness is basically the rebranding of mediation. The powers that be felt that mediation was too intimidating and carried too much baggage (religious and otherwise) so they decided to push a “new” form of therapy, called mindfulness. Mindfulness is the user-friendly version of meditation or meditation
Mindfulness can offer big cognitive and emotional payoffs, but the catch is, much like Crossfit, it takes practice and you are not going to be proficient right away. However, if you stick with it, you will experience those constant improvements that keep you coming back for more.
Let me be clear before we go any further, I am not saying this is a replacement for exercise! I believe it can be a great supplement to your workouts. I would highly suggest trying mindfulness either first thing in the morning, or after a workout but anytime you have time works!
I am going to touch on three of the biggest advantages (in my opinion) that mindfulness can offer and
the best way to get started.
It is sometimes very easy to get caught up in the grind of the day to day and even easier to lose perspective on what is important in your life. What mindfulness trains more effectively than any other skill is the ability to be present in the current moment, which can be extremely powerful.
I believe this is a huge draw to what the gym offers each of our clients. When you are performing workouts, you are 100% present in the execution of those movements. That feeling of being clear and focused is empowering.
Mindfulness achieves this state through a different process, but the end product is very much the same. The goal is to become more present in day to day life, from my experience this is a slow process! But as the saying goes “nothing worth having comes easy”.
increased emotional stability
Dealing with difficult problems and/or difficult people can trigger some unfavorable emotional responses. Mindfulness helps you become more acquainted with your baseline mental and emotional state. The more familiar you are with that baseline the more likely you are to
recognize when you have deviated from it.
The gym offers us an avenue to blow off steam, we can exhaust the body and the mind will (most of the time) follow. When we are physically exhausted, mental tasks become more difficult for us. Thoughts and emotions become a lower priority for our brains and all those endorphins give our brains a refreshing bath, making us feel good.
Mindfulness offers us access to the same endorphin cocktail and offers practice returning our brain to a baseline state.
In our day to day there are countless distractions that can take our attention away from people or tasks that need it. Think of focus as a limited resource, you can use it up! When you do, you will often drift to “mindless” tasks (Instagram in my case). People get caught up in trying to stay focused for longer and longer periods of time. It is not the skill of maintaining focus that is valuable, it is the skill of refocusing.
No one can maintain focus for hours on end. Even in a 10 min mindfulness session is pretty easy to lose focus multiple times (For me like 10-20 times some days). Mindfulness teaches you to recognize when you have lost focus and nudge yourself back into focus (on either a breath or
mantra). I have found this to be an awesome skill for pretty much all aspects of life.
ok. how do i start?
The best way to start is through a guided meditation app on your phone or through youtube. Find a quiet place, sit on a chair or on the floor, put your headphones in and get started. You may have to try a couple to find the one you like, as they are all a little different with their language. Some are free and some charge a fee. I personally use Headspace which is very good, and you can choose a number of of focuses and voices, but it does cost money. Last and maybe most important START SLOW with a 5 or 10-minute session and build momentum.
You’ve got this.