Calm Down Part III: Mindfulness, Movement and Connecting to Nature
By KimLien LaFitte
Mindfulness is about being present and centered. Being in and with the moment.
Fully paying attention and noticing. Being mindful allows me to laugh when something is funny and cry when something is sad. It keeps my mind from taking over and spinning out of control with obsessive thoughts.
If I’m in a situation where I feel my anxiety rising, I start to look at my surrounding and I give myself facts about what I see.
For example, I might look at the trees and start to describe the shape and color of the leaves. Or I might just start naming colors I see. This is the most basic way to begin being mindful. Thich Nhat Hanh has a wonderful short story about mindfulness called Washing Dishes.
I have never, ever wanted to exercise…until Pilates Especially the Reformer. I love the Reformer.
Pilates helped create a strong and flexible body and mind for me.
I am able to do athletic maneuvers in pilates that I could never have imagined I could do. It makes me feel strong and capable.
It wasn’t always that way, there were times I felt weak and pathetic when first learning roll-up!
Because I don’t have access to a reformer right now, I find myself not doing as much Pilates, but I am doing some mat-work that feels good. It’s ok because Pilates will always be there for me.
Mindfulness in Pilates is kind of built-in. If you’re in the moment, fully and pay attention to your body. You can do any level exercise with ease and grace from practice.
I also love Yin Yoga. It takes my whole nervous system down a few notches and allows a clarity of mind.
Connecting to nature
I’m outside everyday because I have two Border Collies who are now 2-years-old. They do need to get out and run or else they get very antsy. So I walk on farmland about one mile twice a day.
Two miles a day is plenty for me. Sometimes I just take 5 min and I’ll do a walking meditation while they play.
There’s so much that happens on farmland. The heat rises and settles upon you with the humidity. The summer sun is blazing and instinctively the pups play in the shade of the trees.
We hear frogs and cicadas singing and a variety of flying insects buzzing about. We can hear the leaves being gently moved by a breeze too high for us to feel, but we can see it. Natures natural rhythms are very calming.
For some connecting might mean walking outside and taking in a big whiff of fresh air or going trail running or sitting on the beach. Even if you aren’t consciously connecting, you are interacting and in turn being interacted with.
I’ve spent nearly 15 years cultivating these and other practices. I came late to the game compared to many, but it’s never too late.
I’ve had people roll their eyes at me and one of my clients called me “charmingly flaky”. I love that!! I listen to what my heart tells me is right for me. Some things I’ve tried and I didn’t like. Pema Chodron says “start where you are”.
Yes, do that.