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Mindful movement meditation: Stretching without striving

Photo by BR on Unsplash

The mindful movement meditation helps you to reconnect with your body in a way that anchors you in the present moment.

You’ll learn that the body is sensitive to emerging unsettling feelings when you’re becoming too goal-focused. This meditation allows you to see how tense, angry, or unhappy you are when things don’t turn out the way you want.

This is the third week of the Mindfulness Program! If you’ve missed the previous two sessions, you can read about them here:

Please note that all exercises and meditations are from the book Mindfulness: A Practical Guide to Finding Peace in a Frantic World by Professor Mark Williams and journalist Danny Penman.

Let’s dive into Week Three!

Overview: Week Three Mindfulness

Week Three builds on the previous sessions with some non-strenuous Mindful Movement practices based on yoga. These movements help you to discover your mental and physical limits, but you’ll also learn how you react when you reach them (which, in my experience, can be just as insightful).

In short, these simple stretches allow you to reconnect with the body.

The main idea: Stretching without striving

Movements can have a profound and soothing impact on the mind. You may have noticed this already during The Body Scan Meditation, or when you’ve taken a stroll in your neighbourhood.

Put simply, mindful movement meditation helps you to anchor yourself in the moving body. It gives you a playground to explore your mind while in motion.

The Mindful Movement Meditation consists of four stretching exercises, and they take place over a few minutes. These stretches release tension and stress in your body by realigning many of its muscles and joints.

Are you feeling a bit clunky as you do these exercises? You’re not alone! This is only natural when you decide to move your body slowly. Instead, allow yourself to explore these sensations, but it’s important to always be gentle with yourself.

You need to look after yourself during these stretches. Let the wisdom of your body decide what is OK for you: how far to go with any stretch and for how long to hold it.

You’re not trying to get anywhere or achieve any special result. You’re not pushing yourself beyond the limits of your body, you’re simply paying attention to your body as you do these mindful movements.

Important: If you have a physical problem with your back or any other part of your body, consult your physician or physical therapist before embarking on even these simple stretches.

Mindful movement is about cultivating awareness as you do this practice. It’s not a competition with yourself or anyone else. Remember: Mindfulness is about re-orientating your life, so you can enjoy it to the full.

– Mark Williams

Habit Releaser: Valuing the Television

Valuing the TV
Photo by Nicolas J Leclercq on Unsplash

Watching TV can be a particularly strong habit, so you can easily take it for granted and stop valuing it. It’s all too easy to come home from work, sit down, turn on the TV and watch it. And watch it. And watch it…

Do you ever start criticising yourself for watching? You know there are more interesting things to do, but for some reason, you can’t bring yourself to do them.

Instead, you let the inner critic wreak havoc: you tell yourself how bad you are for being a couch potato when you could be doing something worthwhile.

Can you make the TV more valuable, and respect it more than you do?

Decide on a TV day

One day this week, decide which programs you’d like to watch: ones that are interesting or enjoyable or both.

On your designated day, only watch the programs that you have chosen to watch and consciously switch off the TV for the times in between.

You could read a book or magazine, call a friend or relative you haven’t spoken to for a while, or perhaps catch up with a few minutes of watering your plants. You could even do an extra eight-minute session of meditation (or make up for one you’ve missed out on).

Remember to consciously switch off the TV as soon as the chosen program is finished, turning it on again later if there is something else that you particularly want to watch.

Keep a journal

At the end of the evening, record how it went. Not only whether it felt good or bad, but notice what thoughts, feelings, body sensations and impulses were around.

Remember that the intention is to help dissolve old habits that have often grown up slowly over many, many years, so don’t expect miracles.

But if, as a result of any of the practices you undertake this week, you catch a glimpse of another, free way of living your life, you may be taking the first step to discover something new.

You don’t have to change much of what you do from day to day, but instead, learn to do the same things differently; to surround your tasks with the fresh air of awareness and choice.

– Mark Williams

Week Three: The Mindful Movement Meditation

Mindful movement meditation with Mark Williams

Remember to listen to your body and be gentle with yourself while you do these stretches.

Practices for Week Three

Over to you

That’s it for the third week of the Mindfulness Program.

I know it may look like a lot, but remember to be kind to yourself during this process. Approach these exercises with self-compassion and curiosity.

Got any questions? Want to share your progress? Simply reply to any of my emails or comment on this article below. I’m happy to cheer you on. We’re in this together.  

Have an amazing week with Mindful Movement, Breathing Spaces and valuing the TV!

I am watching Bridgerton right now, mindfully of course, and it’s so good. What will you be watching next week?

Take care, and stay safe.

Thanks for reading.

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