How to develop MindfulnessHeidi Hadley
Mindfulness is the ‘in’ word at the moment. It has become trendy to tag the word mindfulness on to virtually everything! In today’s blog we are going to actually look at what it means to be mindful and see how we can apply it to our daily life.
Working from Within
If you practise mindful somatic movement or have recently started reading my blogs and intrigued by what it is, you will know that I often talk about mindset and our internal dialogue or self talk. Part of developing a somatic lifestyle includes noticing how our emotional and mental health are travelling. From one of my previous blogs which discusses repressed or stored emotion (CLICK HERE TO READ), we know that our mind has a huge influence on how we sense and feel from the inside out. If we are highly anxious, stressed or have suffered with severe trauma, we may find it hard to actually notice what is happening from within. You may say that this sounds strange. However let me explain why developing an understanding of how we feel from within is important.
Mindfulness expressed within our body is known as interoception. When we practise somatic movement, we are noticing what we sense and feel from the inside. It may include a heaviness deep within our ribcage. Maybe a tightness within our abdominals. It could be a level of tension felt though our lower back. Maybe a difference in sensation between the right and left hand side of our body as we practice our soma scan. Often it is only when we close our eyes and notice the subtle feedback from our body that we start to understand why we have been feeling a certain way. It is a time that we get to fully connect with how our inward environment is travelling with the ongoing outward demands.
I love hearing clients comment after a somatic movement class or a clinical somatics session how quickly time passed! They became so focused and stopped to notice what was really happening from within, that time and other thoughts were irrelevant. That is one of the top advantages of mindfulness with somatics, we are able to tone down or switch off the self talk which can be negative or dis-empowering. Instead, by truly listening to what our inward environment senses and feels, we can use somatic movement and techniques to soften, release, lengthen and relax tight muscles, fascia and nerves.
When we become heightened to our internal environment and notice what our mind and body (soma) are relaying to us, we become curious and inquisitive noticing sensations and yet not allowing ourselves to become focused or fixated on one area or sensation. We notice the sensation and then move on, not allowing ourselves to become absorbed by one area, dulling our internal awareness elsewhere. Another aspect of becoming curious means that we never go into our practise with predictions of what will happen. Instead we use each movement, breath and pandiculation as an exploration. We may start with small, subtle movements, allowing our internal (interoceptive) awareness to begin to sense and feel natural movement without over-working or over-exerting.
The Importance of Mindfulness
Mindfulness is what complements and makes Somatics truly effective. Without mindfulness and developing a deeper understanding and feeling for what our internal environment is telling us, somatic movement becomes purely a mechanical exercise. We could be performing movements thinking about the washing we have to put on, what we need to add to the shopping list and whether we paid the power bill! This creates a mindless practice. Before we know it, we are no longer noticing the sensory feedback from our movements, where our natural end range is before we turn it into a stretch. When we are truly mindful with our practise, we feel the difference before and after a somatic movement sequence, allowing our soma (mind and body) to integrate the changes.
From my blog mentioned earlier (CLICK HERE TO READ), repressed or stored emotion causes many illnesses such as inflammatory bowel disorders, anxiety, depression, eating disorders, insomnia, musculoskeletal issues and many more. These illnesses create an altered awareness to how we feel internally, creating something known as disembodiment. If you can recall from a recent blog I wrote entitled How our Mindset influences the Perception of Pain, People who suffer with chronic pain or have had an traumatic period of time which involved pain and limitations, can often hold on to the mindset of predicting a possible outcome by performing a certain action. They can allow the expressions from health care professionals such as “you have a frail back” or “avoid that movement” to become like a broken record and terrified to move freely again. Their internal speech and repressed emotion or fear becomes a self fulfilling prophecy and rest assured 9 times out of ten, their symptoms will become intense because they have allowed their nervous system and stress levels to become highly sensitive.
However considering this, we know that if we can sensitise our nervous system, we can also de-sensitise it by working with the opposite approach to how we created pain and limitations. We know that by developing mindfulness or interoception with our somatic movement practice, we can start to increase a healthy functioning immune system, develop a growth mindset, create luscious movement back into a very tight body and improve our emotional and mental health. Mindfulness or interoception increases activity within the prefrontal cortex, so the more we thicken this area of our brain, the more responsive we become to life and challenges, rather than reactive and sensitive. We increase our focus, awareness, concentration, decision making and emotional intelligence, just to name a few.
Practical Steps to develop Mindfulness
To increase your mindfulness skills, I have created mindful somatic movement audios which can be found by CLICKING HERE. You will notice my cues encourage you to focus on what is happening internally and to heighten your awareness to how you sense and feel movement. This allows you to gain greater insight to how you have been functioning and possibly allowing you to see why you have been getting recurring injuries or issues.
The rib release audio is an excellent way to heighten your awareness to how much movement you have through your rib cage and whether one side moves more freely than the other. I teach you how to release tension through this area and within your lower back, so you can start to increase fresh oxygenated blood into your cells, tissues and muscles. You will also be able to reduce the neck pain and discomfort which is linked with limited rib movement.
To learn in greater detail about Mindfulness with Total Somatics and understand the principles with practical application, check out The Total Somatics Approach to Health & Wellness Online Program at www.TotalSomatics.com. With videos, audios and other support material, I will teach you how to developing a somatic lifestyle which centres around mindfulness.
I look forward to teaching you skills which will help reduce pain, improve posture, increase mobility, develop mindfulness and allow you to return or continue pursuing the activities you love to do.
Heidi Hadley xx