The American Heart Association is celebrating April as Move More Month, as a part of the Healthy For Good movement. The drive is to inspire people everywhere to make lasting changes in their health and their lives, one small step at a time.
As we focus on the importance of incorporating regular movement into our lives for our physical health, the mental and spiritual benefits we receive from movement often settle as an afterthought. We should look at regular movement from a rounded perspective and incorporate this habit into our daily lives for more reasons than just physical health. This month, rather than discussing movement solely for the physical benefits, we would like to introduce you to the concept of mindful movement and how you can experience life-changing value by adding this into your lifestyle.
What is mindful movement?
Mindful movement is essentially moving purposefully, and it is a great way to check in with your body, mind and spirit to determine what it is that you actually need in the moment, both physically and mentally. Movement that focuses on a set intention can help you harness your inner strength, gain clarity, increase your mood and strengthen your closeness with God.
We often force ourselves into physical movement, and although exercise is essential for a healthy physical well-being, it is also important to be conscientious of our bodies’ readiness for movement. At times, we all feel stress or fatigue and varying moods or feelings. Mindful movement opens the space to uplift our spirit while also working on our physical wellness.
Ways to incorporate mindful movement into your day.
There are many ways to incorporate mindful movement into your day. Like anything else, if you want to create a healthy habit, you must make a conscious effort to practice it regularly. You may also find it beneficial to practice mindful movement at the same time every day as way to integrate the act more seamlessly into your daily routine. Aside from your schedule, you can also incorporate varying styles of movement to keep yourself engaged. Mix it up and make it your own!
To start you off, here are some ideas to get you going on your journey of moving with purpose:
- Prayer or gratitude walk – If you desire to become closer to God or deepen your spirituality, taking a prayer or gratitude walk could be the perfect way to combine the elements of nature and spirit. When you start your walk, set your intention and ask God for whatever it is you need during that time. Maybe you need clarity, understanding, peace, or renewed motivation – ask for whatever it is sitting on your heart. You can spend your time in silence while being attentive to the nature and scenery around you, or you can spend your walk in prayer or listening to a podcast by your favorite pastor. You can even try bringing someone along with you to discuss biblical topics or scriptures for new perspective and deeper understanding.
- Set an intention before your workout – You can think of this as moving meditation. If you are the type of person who has a hard time sitting still and calming your mind, focusing on your intention during your workout could be a great way to start exercising mindfulness. You could focus on your breath, being patient with yourself, moving more precisely, or stretching areas of your body that need a little more attention. While doing this, make sure to be aware of the way it feels to give yourself what you truly need.
- Do something lighthearted like dancing or playing outside with your kids or dogs – This seems simple enough, but more often than not, we become stuck in adult mode and forget the joy that comes from being playful. Try turning on your favorite music after work and spend time doing a little dance. Get outside with your kids and pets and allow them to remind you the power of curiosity and silliness. Show gratitude for the fleeting times of lighthearted fun and give yourself the opportunity to rest your mind.
- Try something new like hiking, yoga, cycling, or swimming – New experiences often bring us new challenges and rewards, and are great for helping us to feel empowered. When deciding on which new activity to try, think of what you are missing or would like to gain from the experience. If you need time to reflect and recharge, try going on a hike – or if you are feeling stuck, try the challenge of a new cycling class. Whatever it is you choose, remember to focus on how the experience will best serve you.
These activities will help you become more positive and have an overall healthier journey, beyond the physical – but mental and spiritual as well.