EXERCISE AND COVID - PART 4: MINDFULNESS
by Eric Leskowitz, MD, David Meggyesy, Greg Warburton, Barry Robbins and Scott Ford | Sep 30, 2020
Meditation has entered the American cultural mainstream, and millions of Americans (including many top athletes) now use mindfulness practices as part of their health regimen. In fact, mindfulness may be the common denominator of all approaches that use physical exercise for healing. The clinical literature documenting its efficacy for a range of conditions, including immune enhancement, is large (Black, 2016) and growing, as well.
Former NFL linebacker David Meggyesy here describes a simple way to become mindfully present in each moment of time, on the gridiron or on the couch.
“Being Here and Now” is the prescription for dealing with our human condition and living our lives. Simple to say, profoundly difficult to do consistently. What we are doing with our ‘monkey minds” is slipping off our present, oily ‘Here and Now’ rock, with thoughts, images, feelings, remembrances, thought forms, etc. This is ‘the full catastrophe’ of everyday life, as Zorba the Greek put it.
As athletes, being fully present opens the door to what we call the experience of ‘Flow’ or ‘the Zone’, often to enjoyment, and frequently to stellar performance. And many humans are looking for this Holy Grail of just being Present, Here and Now, in our lives.
Doing a ‘Being Present’ routine takes practice, which may be just a short routine - a minute or so during the day, longer if wanted. Consistent daily practice is the key. Just a few conscious feeling breaths, connecting with your body during a short body scan, can drop you in.
- An exercise to achieve this state of consciousness is ‘Getting Here and Being Here’.
Sit down, feel your butt on the chair, feet on the floor, then take and release a breath or two . Close eyes. Spend a minute or two in this state. In your mind’s eye, remember where you were three hours ago and what was happening. Enrich this memory with some detail: the situation, place, people you were dealing with, thoughts feelings going through your mind.
Then go a half-hour forward in time from that memory. What is happening now? Then another half hour later, what is happening now? Then another, until you see yourself walking into this room that you now physically occupy, sitting down, being aware of thoughts, feelings, expectations. Now that you have arrived here, you can let them go.
Next, sense your butt on the chair and feel yourself in your body. Be aware of your breathing as you take and release a couple of breaths. Open your eyes, look around at your surroundings.
Here you are! This feeling is you being Present. Being present brings many benefits. Taking this feeling of being Present into your athletic practice, your sport, and your daily life is the essential point of this exercise.
* This article was originally published in The International Journal of Healing and Caring, Volume 20, No. 3
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