Many have heard the phrase “be mindful” before, but arguably few among us know what it means to be mindful. Mindfulness (being mindful) describes when a person focuses on only the present moment, and exactly what they are thinking, feeling, and experiencing and then to calmly explore that sensation. In some ways, mindfulness is similar to meditation. However, being mindful does not mean always sitting down with your eyes closed and saying “ohm” repeatedly. Instead, mindfulness can be experienced by simply focusing on your breath, or what your body is doing at that present moment and can be done anywhere at any time. The next time you are training at the gym is an excellent time to try some of the following practices and see how much they can improve your workout, or even your satisfaction from your workout.

For starters, think of “breathing in the moment”. Anyone who spends a regular amount of time in the gym, whether doing cardio, strength training, or any other physical pursuit recognizes and understands the importance of how our breathing impacts our exercise. Runners may try to breathe on alternating strides to avoid a side stitch, while someone lifting weights will focus on maintaining their breath through a rep on a compound movement. This breathing pattern becomes an afterthought, and is almost ingrained in an athlete after they do it enough.

On your next training session, begin your warmup focusing on your breathing. Focus on the way the breath fills your lungs and expands your chest, and how it leaves your lungs emptying them just as it filled them. Try to stay focused solely on that feeling, the in and out pattern of your breath and only that. You will find the first few attempts at this you may find your mind wanders all over, which is quite common. Once you notice that your mind has drifted, simply move your focus back to your breathing. For the duration of your warmup try to remain focused on your breathing. Prior to starting your working sets or full speed workout, take a minute and mentally check to see how your body feels. Allow yourself to feel the reduced tension in your muscles and feel more relaxed and better prepared for your training session.

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