A part of being healthy is having a healthy state of mind. Sometimes things happen beyond our control that causes us stress, but we learn and practice mindfulness techniques to help us stay grounded.
As an NPC Bikini competitor, part of enjoying a competition prep process is staying mindful during fasted cardio (a moving meditation), and while lifting weights (mind-to-muscle connection). I put on my headphones and focus on my movements and breathing. I try to enjoy every bit of food, and take joy in the craft and creativity of cooking and prepping my meals. And I observe how my body looks and feels – all the changes it makes.
I’m sure some people at my gym have noticed I don’t like being interrupted during my workouts for chatty conversations.
When I put on my headphones, I’m blocking out external disturbances and entering different state of mind. In yoga, it’s called the Dharana.
Instead of just focusing on winning on stage (or, worrying about what if I lose), I really want to stay grounded during the remainder of this prep, fall in love with the process, and just try to win each day. Ultimately, I just want to have fun, be proud of the work I’ve put in when I step on stage, share the experience, and pass on what I’ve learned.
Sunday is my spiritual practice day, and I like to take time to reset and refocus. I take this one day of the week to spend it focusing on my mind, body, and soul.
What is Mindfulness?
It’s a state of mind. The basic human ability to be fully present, aware of where we are and what we’re doing, and not overly reactive or overwhelmed b what’s going on around us.
It’s a practice. You can cultivate it through different techniques as:
- Seated, walking, standing, and moving mediation;
- Short pauses we insert into everyday life;
- Merging meditation practice with other activities, such as yoga or sports.
It’s good for you. When we’re mindful, we reduce stress, enhance performance, gain insight and awareness through observing our own mind, and increase our attention to other’s well-being.
But it’s not all in your head. Meditation begins and ends in the body. It involves taking the time to pay attention to where we are and what’s going on, and that starts with being aware of our body.
When we practice mindfulness, we’re practicing the art of creating space for ourselves – space to think, space to breathe, space between ourselves and our reactions.
What you need to know before practicing mindfulness:
- Your mind will wander.
- Your judge brain will take over.
- It’s all about returning your attention again and again to the present moment.