Mindfulness and the power of the body to heal itself through physical excercise

Exercise is very good for the brain. As a personal trainer I am always emphasising the benefits of physical exercise to mood and brain functioning. People are used to balancing; standing on one leg, walking up steps, or even standing on a ladder we balance our bodies without even thinking. However, just balancing the body requires large amounts of brain power. One study suggested that balancing our bodies through complicated movements required as much brain power as learning a second language. It is the intensity of brain activity generated during exercise which seems to be so good for the brain, very similar to exercising the muscles. However, there are ways to gain even greater benefits for the brain from exercise.

A personal trainer has a responsibility to ensure that the client is doing the appropriate exercises correctly, but the personal trainer must also be aware that the client is fully engaged with the exercises. This means that the client is fully concentrating on the exercises, the client is not thinking about work, what they are going to do after training, in short they need to be mindful. Mindfulness is about being fully focussed on what you are doing now and, by implication, being aware to a level that is not usually obtained. An example helps. Often we can operate on automatic pilot, you might be driving a car and be completely oblivious of changing gears or changing lanes. As an exercise in mindfulness I will ask people to eat an apple and describe not only the taste, but the texture of the apple, the smell and the sound of biting into the apple, to fully focus on the eating of the apple.

When someone is exercising it is a little bit harder for them not to conscious of what they are doing, however extraneous thoughts can still intrude. So as a personal trainer I ask people to concentrate on all aspects of their experience, if they are running the feel of the wind on their skin, the rhythm of their breathing etc. This is mindfulness.

The final stage is called flow. In a state of the flow the person is completely oblivious of time and their surroundings; they are fully committed to the exercise and are performing at their maximum. Now it is difficult to obtain flow and remain in flow. However once a person has achieved flow it is a wonderful experience.

The advantage of mindfulness obtained through exercise is that once a person understands the concept of mindfulness it can be applied to many aspects of daily living.

Can Peace of Mind Assist With Longevity?

An old Sufi saying is, “Trust in Allah but tether your camel first”, which means it may be impossible to control everything in life but it pays to take care of your basic needs. Doing what is within your means to do, in terms of securing your existence, is still the best policy when it comes to peace of mind and longevity. You don’t know what your fate really is but you work with what knowledge and expectation you have in life. If possible you do not want to wake up in the desert and find that your camel has wandered off because you didn’t properly secure him or her (actually, according to the great TE Lawrence the female camel is by far the superior riding beast).

Deserts, like our lives, can span great distances and we are best served by securing our essential requirements when journeying through time and space. We all know that a worry free trip is a much more enjoyable one. There is nothing worse than being on holiday, or away from home for work, and being anxious about something. Worry can eat away at you over time and the old wives’ tale tells us that it causes grey hairs. Traumatic experiences have been known to send the hair of even youngish people grey, seemingly overnight.

What does the camel represent in our modern lives? I would say our ability to look after ourselves, and our families, for those with dependents. For some that may mean property accrued or savings, like superannuation, the investments we have worked hard for in our lives. Have we planned well for the future? If we utilise the best of our knowledge and abilities to strategically provide for our retirement, and families, we can create that peace of mind. Self-managing your superannuation funds can assist with achieving this outcome.

Peace of mind, due to financial security, can assist with longevity because we are happy and happier people want to stick around for longer. We cannot control everything in our lives, unforeseen tragedies can strike, but we can be as prepared as we possibly can. We can find that balance in our lives by putting away some funds for tomorrow, not everything, we still want to be able to enjoy things today. A big part of living a long life is planning for one, making sure that you will have enough funds to pay for a wonderful retirement. Is that camel securely tied up?