Mindfulness - just another buzzword?

Be mindful

Be more mindful.  Think of your mindfulness.  Don’t do anything without being mindful first.

It seems like every blog and podcast recently is full of the buzzword “mindful”.

What does it actually mean though?

Can it relate to you and your everyday health and fitness or is it just the current trendy phrase for people talking about health?  Do you have to give up your job and spend 12 hours a day meditating?

Mind.org.uk define mindfulness as:

“a technique which can help people manage their mental health or simply gain more enjoyment from life. It involves making a special effort to give your full attention to what is happening in the present moment – to what's happening in your body, your mind or your surroundings, for example – in a non-judgemental way. Mindfulness describes a way of approaching our thoughts and feelings so that we become more aware of them and react differently to them.”

Before we get too off track, let’s move this back into a gym setting with barbells and chalk and loud music.  When you approach the barbell loaded in the rack with more weight on than you’ve ever squatted before are you thinking about what you had to eat last week?  Are you thinking about the possibility of getting stuck in traffic on the way to work tomorrow?  Are you pausing the even think about how little you care that as you stand this squat back up you may make some kind of animalistic noise?

If the answer to any of those is yes, then you’re not focused on the task at hand.

Does your field of focus narrow down once that bar is on your back?  I hope so.  Are you making sure you know exactly how far apart your hands are on the cold steel?  Are you deliberate in your choice of foot placement?  You’d better be.

What’s more, you probably are.  You are totally invested in making progress towards your health and fitness goals.  For those short seconds and minutes, you are totally mindful of what you are doing and if it is moving you towards or away from your goals.

But you’re only in the gym for 5-10 hours a week.  What about the other 158-163 hours that are left in the week?  You spend 94-97% of your week away from a barbell, away from your friends in the gym and away from that accountability.

Do your behaviours outside the gym move you closer or further away from your goals?

If your goal is to put 20kg on your back squat and you're slaving away with a bar 5 days a week, but you don’t go to bed until 0100 everyday, why not fix the thing that you’re doing 7 days a week?

If you’re working tirelessly in the gym to burn off some bodyfat but every time you go past a coffee shop you have to go in and buy a large latte, how do you think you could adjust your behaviour to get to your goal quicker?

No-one is watching when you open the fridge.

No-one is sending you to bed.

No-one is telling you to put on your seatbelt.

But if you’re aware of what you’re doing in the moment then you may just find your health and fitness levels going up faster than you thought they could.

So maybe being mindful of what you're doing isn't such a bad thing after all...