Movement: Effects and Examples
5. Training for essential movement.
By adhering to a programme involving medical care, meditation, diet, counselling and crucially, exercise including yoga and daily walking, patients with advanced heart disease under Dr Dean Ornish reversed their conditions in a trial in 1989. It’s a good idea to consult some of the many studies demonstrating the wide range of healthy effects exercise produces, but there’s really no need to , since everyone can do their own personal experiment by observing how they feel after going from little or no activity to moderate exertion. Watch especially those, including animals, who love to move. Note the glow of unblocked fresh energy available to them. This is the reward of regular voluntary physical activity, which releases mood-enhancing endorphins that lift athletes into the proverbial ‘zone’. People involved in creative work consistently report on breakthroughs that come while taking an active break from their craft. Mental and emotional gains are as significant as physical ones.
Intrinsic also to the long-running Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction programme initiated by Dr Jon Kabat-Zinn in Massachusetts are light and slow stretching exercises. Many chronic conditions have responded with measurable clinical improvements to that programme. Providing opportunities for the body to move signals confidence that it can do what it was designed to do, proving a trustworthy vehicle to accomplish goals and desires. Shutting down and sliding into couch potato mode unconsciously lets it know it’s not needed any more. Remember the motto: use it or lose it!
Derived from yoga, mindful exercises increase musculo-skeletal strength, balance and flexibility, improve circulation and lead to a trimmer, fitter figure. The states of greater awareness and relaxation they bring about help to reduce and heal disease. No special equipment or setting is required, and careful experimentation is recommended. Rather than straining to push past them, limits are to be explored in present-moment consciousness, aided by full breathing. This advances the skill of acknowledging and working with messages that the body is giving, of knowing when to stop to prevent risk of injury. For some lovely examples with clear instructions, try the practice manual from The Community of Interbeing.
Intentional attending to experience and sensations, and following the breath, are also integral to mindful walking. Doing this often leads to a realisation of how absorbed in thoughts people are, instead of appreciating what’s going on inside and outside them. It is normally done slowly especially in training phases when the wonderful process of walking itself is contemplated and savoured. It can be done indoors in areas of very little space, or outdoors where nature and the environment can be admired at the same time. Clear, simple instructions for walking meditation are provided courtesy of Mindful Magazine. They are worth trying to get moving again or as an extra to your regular exercise routine. Whether a little or a lot, keep moving!