How to Be Mindful in Motion

By February 25, 2017Leadership

mindful in motionMindfulness is often described as being present. Stillness benefits our mind and calms our soul. Our lives, however, move. Throughout a day, stillness is an infrequent gift. Mindful practices evaporate into minute-by-minute activities.

Multitasking needs to stop for our brain health’s sake. Still, during our work, certain times require several activities in unison.

Gaining a break is a luxury we need. Carving this time requires strength and, too often, we weaken.

Given the challenges of our daily responsibilities, mindfulness is challenging. Another way to empower our practices is to discover how to be mindful in motion.

Places to Be Mindful in Motion

Every Day In-Between Spaces

My guess is our in-between time each day adds up to a reasonable amount. Time exists between meetings and within meetings. Transitions present an opportunity to center.

Between meetings, taking a minute or two to close our eyes and flush the unimportant thoughts from the previous meeting and refresh our attitude for the next. Even a minute works wonders in feeling a little renewed as the next event begins.

Within meetings, intense conversations happen. Taking time to inhale all that is being said is important. Rather than reacting, slowing time to process the statements and then exhaling what doesn’t matter is essential. A choice exists to listen carefully as the discussion ensues and then use this time to sort what matters and what does not. What this enables is better responses and fewer reactions. Reactions get us caught up in the emotions rather than responding in a thoughtful way.

Finding the in-between spaces during our day centers us. Rather than scrolling through social media or other diversions, time spent to release what does not matter, and keep what does, is time well spent.

Running and Exercising

I enjoy running and strength training. I don’t listen to music. Instead, I think. I try to notice my thoughts and what doesn’t matter and what deserves more focus. While running, I run different routes and see what small beauty pops out. It could be the unique architecture of a home or something unnoticed before.

When lifting weights or doing planks, I focus on a simple mantra to distract me from the time or number count. My mind helps my body concentrate, too.

Mindful running and exercising refreshes the mind and body connection.

Walking

Like running, walking gives time to flush thoughts and renew perspective. I notice what our dog notices and try to change my perspective in the process. If something unique standouts or captivates a thought, I may snap a picture. Noticing is mindfulness in motion because it gives us pause in a thought or sight.

Driving

Some of the best mindfulness in motion time is in a car. When commuting or running an errand, turn off the radio or podcast and drive in silence. Thoughts pour through, and we begin to sort, release, and renew. We float along with our car through the streets and highways. Some of my best thinking happens in the silence of my car and daily drives.

Mindfulness: More than Stillness

Meditation produces benefits for our brain, soul, and mind health. When practicing stillness, we renew many different connections – some scientific and some spiritual. We renew the connections between our heart and mind and our spirit and thoughts.

As good as being present in the moment is, we move more than we sit still. The greater opportunity is finding mindfulness in motion. We find the stillness in-between the movements, and we restore ourselves.

When someone asks about my mindful practices, I usually hesitate. My thoughts flood to being a beginner, and I identify all the gaps in my practice. I am too hard on myself, as many mindful beginners are. When we consider our mindful moments in our motions, we feel our practice develop and how we make use of our in-between times. Being mindful in motion gives us strength.

What motions provide opportunities for you to be mindful? Let’s share our mindfulness in motion examples and practices.

 

Jon Mertz
Jon Mertz is one of the Top 100 Thought Leaders in Trustworthy Business and highlighted as one of the Leaders to Watch in 2015 by the American Management Association. He also is the author of Activate Leadership: Aspen Truths to Empower Millennial Leaders. Jon serves as vice president of marketing at Corepoint Health. Outside of his professional life, Jon brings together a community to inspire Millennial leaders and close the gap between two generations of leaders.
Jon Mertz
Jon Mertz

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Join the discussion 7 Comments

  • Hi Jon,
    This is the best definition of mindfulness I’ve ever read.

    I love the idea of mindfulness in motion and can personally attest to its benefits; i.e., I also find stillness and clarity in between my movements in the gym or on my walk-jogs to the lake, nearly every day.

    As well, some of the other examples you painted for us, such as mindful behavior while in the office, are vivid and apt. I especially like how you substitute ‘inhale’ for ‘listening’ and the palpable expressiveness of the ‘exhale.’ For example, “Taking time to inhale all that is being said … . Rather than reacting, slowing time to process the statements and then exhaling what doesn’t matter is essential.”

    Thank you for articulating so well what I expect many of us feel and experience when we carve time for our mindfulness in motion! You’ve also provided some tips/strategies to maintain a mindful day-to-day that I will be employing.

    Jacqui

    • Jon Mertz says:

      Thank you, Jacqui. I am glad it resonated. Someone guiding a meditation said you can’t do it wrong. A valid point, yet I know I felt I wasn’t doing it right or doing it as a practice. Everything was “too busy.” Anyway, I think we need to take mindful moments in-between activities. The benefits still show up, and we are practicing mindfulness.

      Glad to hear your experiences. We need to care for our mind as well as our body, and mindful practices help us.

      Thank you! Jon

  • Alli Polin says:

    I’ve always wanted to be great at meditation and there’s the problem. I’m starting with putting pressure on myself to “do it right” and a mindfulness opportunity goes poof. I find that when I’m working from my home office, I like it to be silent. A few times a day, I get up and walk around my small house to do different things that take little brainpower. I use those actions, those moments of motion to be present with myself. To hear my inner thoughts instead of putting them on pause or a permanent mute. You’re right – we have the time for mindfulness if we practice where we can and don’t beat ourselves up about how it’s supposed to look.

    Thanks, Jon.

    Alli

    • Jon Mertz says:

      Great points, Alli, and thank you for sharing your experiences. Being mindful is not about practicing it perfectly; it’s just getting started and enhancing our learning on how to be more mindful each day. I tried to be perfect in practice, too, and then never got started. I am intentional now in starting and being messy in my start is no problem at all. Thanks again for your perspective. Jon

  • Jochen Raysz says:

    Dear Jon,
    I have enjoyed following your posts for some time, thank you for your inspiring vision and mission and always inviting your community of readers to contribute with our experience. Your openhearted share today moved me to share my story.

    During a sabbatical, I came across Vipassana twelve years and did two ten-day retreats. Because I had time (I was traveling in India at the time) I implemented a few hours of practice every day. I cultivated many moments of peace in those periods of practicing by myself, but especially negative thoughts and emotions triggered me quite easily into the usual reactions. It felt like thoughts and experiences were like enemies taking the peace and calm away. I wanted a practice that was not like a bubble amidst life, but fully integrated into all of life, so that I could also take it with me into all relationships and my coaching and consulting practice.

    A year later I came across the Balanced View Training which was exactly that next step I had been looking for. I was introduced to the true nature of mind, open intelligence, that is the basis of all experience and always innately at rest. Like a crystal ball rests in itself and is unaffected by the images appearing within in. Instead of cultivating peace and calm, I learned to access the already present basic state of natural peace for brief moments, again and again, until it became obvious at all times. These short moments were really brief in the beginning, glimpses, but through the repetition, they became more frequent and longer within days without me even trying. The results convinced me so that I wanted to share this with others as well and have now integrated it into my coaching and consulting work as well. Just like it was for me, people I meet and share with today love how easily it integrates into everyday life, not as islands in-between life, but pervading all of life, like sunshine filling all of space.

    I hope this could paint somewhat of a picture of my journey. Thank you again for your great work here!
    Love and best wishes
    Jochen

    • Jon Mertz says:

      Jochen,

      Thank you for sharing your journey. Our journey, at times, is about pulling strings and seeing where they lead us. As we look back, we see how it all began to weave a bigger story we are meant to live and practice. It seems like that was the case for you in your journey of mindful living and leading.

      Your story is important. It helps us understand our own journey and gain added footing in our practices. Thank you for sharing and best wishes in your initiatives going forward.

      Jon

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