Mental Agility and Mindfulness for Personal Health

Mental agility is important for a number of reasons.  Taking from top performing athletes in their regimented approach to body fitness and awareness, several studies have suggested that the same techniques are helpful in promoting mental agility.  The goal is to train your brain to anticipate but not overreact to unexpected stress. In the physical realm this means pushing through the pain on those last weight sets or for a kayaker anticipating whitewater transitions and staying calm an accurate in strokes to stay afloat.

In the realm of mindfulness the approach is similar; however, includes training for the mind.  Some simple techniques are:

Body Scan- Lie on the floor and focus your attention to the top of your head.  Feel the warmth of the sun as it enhances your energy and general sense of well-being. Then take that energy and let it slowly trickle down to the various parts of your body.  Feel the warmth in your chest, and arms, then fingers and finally down to your toes.  This can take anywhere from 5 to 45 minutes.  If you are new to meditation, take it slowly at first.  Try to expand the minutes of this exercise until you have reached a time allotment that is comfortable for you.

Breathing- Sit in a comfortable position on the floor or comfortable chair.  Focus on your breathing without changing the pattern or depth of your breath. Count breaths while focusing on a favorite color or visual space.  Count to 10 breaths and then repeat.  Do this for as long as you would like, wherever you would like.  Breath practice both energizes and calms the body creating a joyful state of grounded-ness.

Standing Yoga- You don’t need a mat, a specific time or place to practice yoga. Yoga can be practiced anywhere and in spurts of time.  Try simple poses like the tree, standing on one leg with the sole of your other foot on your inner thigh.  Or create balance by sustaining a two-legged squat, as if seated on an imaginary chair.  Try holding each pose for 30 seconds and then either move on to another area or simply move on to making dinner or doing laundry.

Calm can be attained anywhere including at a red light, in the grocery line or in 5 minute increments in the morning or at night.  The more you train your natural response for calm the less likely you will be to experience intense stress when times of crisis occur.



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