There are many facets to the practice of mindfulness. Whether through meditation or mental visualization, the goal is to enter a state of awareness and be present in the moment. To achieve this awareness, we must reach a state of internalization that allows us to listen to our feelings, our thoughts and our body.
However, our very thoughts often keep us from being present and in the moment. With the popularization of Headspace apps that offer guided mindfulness practices, meditation has become a popular avenue to facilitate any wellness and fitness journey.
But for those who find it difficult to claim our thoughts, the introduction of technology into our practice may do more harm than good.
Mindfulness coach Viv Kan, founder of Mindful Intimacy, has connected individuals and couples with mind, body, and breath. The Sweaty Betty ambassador has offered one-on-one and group mindfulness sessions, including bringing her unique insight on the subject to TedX.
Although she is a coach, Kan says not everyone needs individual training to achieve a balanced state of mindfulness. Here she shares how beginners can approach mindfulness and what regular practice can do to help us reach our physical and mental goals.
#Is a coach essential for someone starting to practice mindfulness?
#Can mindfulness apps interfere with our mindfulness journey?
#How can practicing mindfulness help us improve our physical well-being?
#What are some of the benefits of doing this alone versus a group?
How do you explain mindfulness to new students?
Mindfulness is a practice that trains your mental muscle. It is the awareness of your thoughts, feelings, emotions and sensations in and around your body and the environment without judgment. It’s a way of life.
What are the easy ways to get started?
Spend a few minutes each day focusing on your breathing. Start counting your breath. Whenever your mind wanders, bring it back to the anchor of the breath – do this as many times as you become aware of it.
Then start doing things with your non-dominant leg – eating, brushing your teeth, opening doors, leading with the non-dominant leg while walking or hiking, etc. Disable autopilot mode as much as you can.
The practice of mindfulness only works if you practice it regularly. There are many meditation apps out there. But if you’ve downloaded them and haven’t practiced regularly, it’s time to look for a trainer who can hold you accountable.
If we intentionally use apps and digital resources to help us train our minds, then I’m all for it. But if you find yourself spiraling into the black hole of mindless scrolling while using devices, then opt for classes with live guided meditation. Meditation is one of the best ways to train the mind to be more resilient, so invest in your mind because every decision you make starts from there.
Mindfulness practices like meditation have been shown to decrease stress and anxiety, lower cortisol levels, and activate our parasympathetic nervous system (rest and relaxation response).
If you watch Michael Phelps before every race, he has a mindfulness ritual where he closes his eyes and imagines the race in his head. Mindfulness practices can help you improve whole-body awareness and mental resilience, which all athletes benefit from.
Both have their advantages. Practicing alone trains your self-discipline. Having a group setting is great for accountability and feeds everyone’s energy. Try both! Mix it up, go with the flow and see which option works best.
How important is it to be comfortable when meditating or practicing yoga? What are some of the things you look for in your fitness equipment?
Being comfortable is the most important. I encourage my clients to listen to their bodies. Modify it according to his needs and wear what feels most comfortable to him. My favorite gear for yoga is wearing Sweaty Betty’s Super Soft collection, and for meditation I’m obsessed with their Sand Wash sweatpants.
Also see: Avoid These 5 Common Yoga Mistakes to Build a Mind-Body Connection and Improve Performance