The benefits of mindfulness can be integrated into exercise especially the aerobic variety. Since the early 1990s there has been a rise in mindful exercise also known as mind-body exercise. There have been many studies on the benefits of mindfulness and physical exercise. By using aerobic exercises to cultivate mindfulness, people can reap both the physical and mental benefits in one.
5 key components
According to a 2005 study, there are five key criteria for a form of exercise to be considered mindful. These are evolving principles, but can serve as helpful guidelines when considering mindful exercises.
The key component to mindful exercise is that it cultivates a mindset of mindfulness. It needs to incorporate a present moment and nonjudgmental state of self-awareness. The process itself must be the center not the goal or exercise outcome.
The simple Google definition of this aspect is: “relating to stimuli that are produced and perceived within an organism, especially those connected with the position and movement of the body. ” For an exercise to be mindful it can’t be heavily strenuous. So low to moderate level muscular activity that allows for mental focus on the muscles and movement.
One of the most centering activities to cultivate mindfulness is breathing. Besides various breathing exercises, activities like yoga that emphasize breathing with movement are beneficial for cultivating mindfulness. Even in the term “aerobic” it is implied that these exercises involve or relate to breath.
This means the physical activity must foster greater spinal alignment or a specific movement pattern.
Exercises for mindfulness
There are a variety of exercises that can help cultivate mindfulness. Yoga might be well known, but there are many varieties to it as well as other options.
Traveling to a new destination can be worthwhile new experience and often times seems to go by too quickly. But the memories made while vacationing can last forever. The practice of mindfulness can help people develop their memories deeper.
Fast 5 Journal Prompts
What do you see here that is different from home? How would you describe it without a picture?
What does it feel like to walk down these streets? What is it like touching the sand, the rocks, cable car railing or other applicable items? Or think of the temperature or emotions anticipating a new experience.
What does it smell like where you currently are whether being out in nature, by a different ocean or in a new city?
What are you hearing right now the hum of traffic, the waves of the ocean, ect?
Did you try any new foods? What was it like?
For a more in-depth look, see the my video on travel journaling below!
Mindfulness can be described in various different ways, but the same themes tend to appear in the literature on it.
Jon Kabat-Zinn is a professor and the creator of the Stress Reduction Clinic and the Center for Mindfulness in Medicine, Health Care and Society at the University of Massachusetts Medical School. He has published many books surrounding the topic of mindfulness and is well established authority on the topic.
Kabat-Zinn describes mindfulness as paying attention to the moment in a non-judgemental way. To be mindful is to know what is happening while it is happening. Another word to use instead of mindfulness is awareness.
The practice of mindfulness has it’s roots in Buddhism. The Buddha’s practice of mindfulness is what brought him to the point of being the “enlightened one.”
Mindfulness can also be seen as a skill which can be improved with practice. Applying mindfulness principles can increase self awareness and give people heightened mental insights.
To sum it up in Kabat-Zinn’s own words, “Wherever you go, there you are.”
When it comes to traveling, the where actually proves to make no difference to the effect of the experience. The main effect people attempt to get out of traveling or vacationing is typically more happiness. Professor Jeroen Nawijn from Breda University of Applied Sciences studied happiness as it relates to travel.
According to studies on happiness cited by Nawijn, humans can control only 40 percent of their happiness. The other 60 percent breaks down with 50 percent being genetically pre-determined and than 10 percent unintentional activities. So choosing to go on a vacation can have a significant impact on a person’s happiness levels.
Taking trips or vacationing can affect happiness through the process of the anticipation, the event and the post-trip afterglow effect. Even months later, the memories of the vacation can increase happiness.
Research is inconclusive as to whether or not people who choose to vacation more are simply happier people than people who don’t choose to go on vacations according to Nawijn’s research.
One of the ultimate conclusions to Nawijn’s study is that vacationing only had a minor affect to people’s happiness. A possible explanation for this is that in Western societies tourism is seen more as the norm and no longer consider particularly special.
Taking this research into consideration, when it comes to traveling the best way to reap the most benefits is to improve the memories made during the trip. While sustaining the positive memories of the trip, it is also important not to fall into comparison with every day life because that can lead to diminished happiness over time.
The process of reflective writing in a journal daily can help with processing negative events and create a frame for positive thoughts to flourish.
According to M. B. Williams psychology techniques book, reflective writing helps people better understand things in life. The key to journaling is found in consistency in taking the time to write thoughtfully with a purpose each day.
Daily writing is important because patterns of behavior and thought can be captured and then later reviewed to help people predict and advert negative behaviors. It also helps to have an established record of happy days to reflect on when life gets stressful. Write for quantity not quality; journals don’t need perfect spelling, grammar or writing style.
To journal effectively is to practice mindfulness. This calls people to be engaged observers in documenting what they see.
One way to be an observer while traveling is to look for the differences between there and home. Is the language different? Does this place celebrate different holidays? Does it differ in shopping habits, meal times, currency, accents and dialects, ways of showing respect or more?
A travel journal when done mindfully can bring out people’s creative side naturally. The work of capturing ideas, impressions, experiences, emotions, events and information can easily fall into poetic prose.
In Linda Dini Jenkins “Journaling on the road” article, she discussed the various ways travel journaling helps improve memory and enhance creativity.
“Place is a powerful force, and we’re all drawn to different kinds of places for different reasons,” Jenkins wrote.
Place indeed is a powerful force and a journal helps bring the memories of that place closer even after leaving.
A good mindful journal should not simply be a recap of the travel itinerary. It should capture scene and the essence of the most inspiring moments from the day.
One of the tips that Jenkins gives in her article to make the most out of travel journal writing is to use the five senses each day. When writing a journal treat it like detective work and investigate the new surroundings.
As Kabat-Zinn wrote, the mind is like a mirror and mindfulness allows the mind to contain, encounter and know things as they are. It is a deeper level of wakefulness during experiences that allows for a better understanding of the human condition.
Jenkins’ stated the goal of a travel journal is to primarily “capture who you are in the moment.”