Danny’s response to NY Times Article
I really appreciated the NY Times article: To Jump-start Your Exercise Routine, Be Mindful – by Gretchen Reynolds, Feb 18, 2015.
In summary, “The message is that mindfulness may amplify satisfaction (of exercise), because one is satisfied when positive experiences with physical activity become prominent,” says Kalliopi-Eleni Tsafou, a Marie Curie Research Fellow at Utrecht University who led the study. “For those experiences to be noticed,” she continued, “one must become aware of them. We would argue that this can be achieved by being mindful.”
And I would argue that when you are mindful, it also increases your awareness of your movement and that you then adjust more appropriately to the response of your body and you tend to move “better” or with more ease or fluidity than someone who is not paying attention. And that that increase in better “performance” also adds to the level of satisfaction. This aspect of mindfulness and satisfaction is what I believe to be the most important correlation that the study does not explore.
I also liked this comment: “As she and her colleagues wrote in the study, mindfulness “facilitates the acceptance of things as they occur,” enabling us to “accept negative experiences and view them as less threatening.”
In ChiRunning® we call the “acceptance of things as they occur” non-identification. When you are being mindful, and listening to your body and watching your movement from the aspect of an observer, it is much easier not to identify with what is happening. If you are identified, if you feel pain or are not walking or running as fast as your friend, you might feel badly about yourself, that you are a “slow runner” or that you are doing something “wrong”. When you are non-identified, you can either accept “what is” or you might even be able to sense what could remove the pain, or allow you to go a little faster, without compromising your body in any way. You might shorten your stride, adjust your posture, lean forward just a touch more.
I was thrilled The Times wrote about this important topic. To me, the mind-body connection is one of the most important parts of healthy running and walking, but it is overlooked and often under utilized.
See my online response here:
The entire basis of what I teach is mindfulness in running and in walking. And, I’ve seen people who have disliked running or walking grow into looking forward to doing it as a mindful practice. The people who dislike exercise are usually the ones who find it painful, dreary, boring… or some other adjective that no one in their right mind would want. When you pay attention to what you’re doing, it engages your mind in more of an aura of fascination and discovery, than drudgery.
Also, when you pay attention and work to improve your walking or running, you actually get better at it, which in turn increases your enjoyment of the sport and your willingness to get out and do it. If you’re going to use walking or running as your main exercise, make it an internal and mindful “practice” to learn how to do it better and you will be paid back for the rest of your life. You will eliminate the mental struggle because you’ll be training your mind (mindfulness), as well as your body, in a positive way.