Thursday, June 27, 2013

3 Ways to Practice the Mental Healing Power of Movement

3 Ways to Practice the Mental Healing Power of Movement


You know that eating an apple a day will keep the doctor away—as well as the cancer, heart disease, and diabetes. Our bodies were designed to consume nutrition and then burn off those calories. But in this computer-based, sedentary world, many of us continue to eat but don’t move nearly enough – and we may pay a price in forsaking the healing power of movement.

Your digestive system uses movement to assist in moving food through passageways. Movement increases blood circulation, which increases oxygen to cells, which may help detoxify the body. But movement isn’t just healing to the body. The power of movement can also help heal the mind.

The Healing Power of Movement – Fast or Slow the Benefits Are Many


The art of mindfulness, or living “in the moment,” is thought to reduce stress and assist in developing clarity of thought. Living mindfully can help you cut back on calories, keep you calm when others rage, and when practiced along with slow deliberate movement, help improve your overall sense of wellbeing. Exercise has long been known to release mood-boosting chemicals in the brain, so while you’re improving your strength & endurance, you’re also creating more feel-good neurotransmitters. Movement can also be an important part of a weight management program, and losing a few excess pounds may make you very happy indeed!
Here are three ways, through simple exercise, to use the healing power of movement for improved mental & spiritual health:
  • The slowest walk you’ll ever take: One principle of the practice of mindfulness is to be aware at all times of your body and mind, your position in space, and your location. But how can you get used to staying in the moment – not thinking about a conversation you had earlier, what’s on TV later, or tomorrow’s meeting? The answer may be to take it one step at a time, literally.  Use deep, meditative breathing to set your pace. As you inhale, take a small step with your right foot. Hold the air in your lungs and just focus on where you are, how you feel, and what your body is doing. As you exhale, take a step with your left foot. Let your empty lungs relax completely for a moment as you focus on the here and now. When you need to inhale again, do so gently, as you move your right foot forward. It may look odd to outsiders, but mindful walking is an extraordinary experience for the walker. Consider practicingTai Chi which in many ways epitomizes the artful blend of mindfulness and movement.
  • The oddest shapes you’ll ever make: Yoga is a popular mind-body exercise that has been around for centuries.Yoga incorporates meditative breathing with fun stretches and positions that tone your muscles while releasing your stress. For yoga to be beneficial the mind must be clear and you must be focused in the present moment.  Yogamovements are thought to have healing powers for many ailments. Certain positions are designed to improve different organ functions, including lung capacity and circulation. The mindfulness aspect of yoga allows you enough time between positions to truly feel your body: which muscles are contracting, which are stretching, and how it feels. You’ll be more in tune with your sense of balance and your body in space.
  • The best groove you’ll ever shake: Dancing is a popular and delightful mind-body healing exercise. Dancing is fun because dancers can get lost in the music. You might not even realize you’ve been getting a full cardio workout! Dancing has been part of rituals in many cultures and continues to be popular in clubs and studios around the world—but you can “dance like there’s nobody watching” in the privacy of your own home.  You may want to select instrumental music so you won’t have words to distract you. Classical, electronic, or tribal music are excellent dance music. Don’t focus on any specific dance “steps” at first—just move your body in whatever way feels most natural. Even if you find your mind wandering and you struggle to stay in the moment while you dance, you will still reap the healing rewards of physical movement. Move serenely, eyes closed, to classical or jazz songs—or put on some happy tunes and shake it like you stole it! If you feel completely clumsy and clueless, find some online videos that show you beginner steps for aerobic dance or Zumba and follow along to get started. Be sure your healthcare provider gives you the go-ahead to do anything aerobic.
Remember, you can’t resolve the things that are worrying your mind if you just sit and stew about them. There is a healing power to movement, so get moving! Take a walk, whether fast or slow the benefits are many. Take a yoga class, or crank out the jams. If you stay in motion, movement may heal your mind.

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