06 Nov Introduction to Mindfulness: Starting the journey
Qualified psychotherapist, academic and dance educator Brenton Surgenor believes in the power of combining mental focus with body conditioning
Mindfulness. I’m sure you’ve heard the term, but perhaps you’re wondering what it means? Who does it? Will it work for me, and what has it got to do with Pilates? These are great questions and I’m going to try to answer them in 400 words or less!
Mindfulness can be defined as the practice of focusing fully on your current experience. It’s essentially the opposite of automatic pilot mode during which your mind just wanders. Mindfulness is about being fully present and experiencing the world firmly in the ‘here and now’.
The benefits of mindfulness
Mindfulness offers a way of freeing oneself from automatic and unhelpful ways of thinking and reacting. Mindfulness based therapies have been thoroughly researched and have been shown to reduce stress and anxiety, develop relaxation skills, and improve quality of life.
How to practice mindfulness
Mindfulness can be done by anyone; it includes the practice of observing, describing, participating fully, being non-judgmental and focusing on one thing at a time.
Mindfulness is a skill that gets better the more you do it, and can be taught in a number of ways through a number of aligned activities. Meditation is one technique; however, mindfulness can also be learned through Pilates, yoga and other somatic movement methods.
Mindfulness through Pilates
If you have a meditation practice. that’s awesome. But for many people, meditation is a challenge. Practicing mindfulness through an activity like Pilates might be the answer for you. Imagine, a rocking body and a calm and centred mind. Now who doesn’t want some of that action?
Joseph Pilates designed his method of training to create harmony between body and mind by combining aspects of mental focus and breath awareness with the physicality of body conditioning. The core principles of Pilates (centering, concentration, control, precision, flow and breath) not only apply to our physical practice, but can also be an effective way to develop mindfulness.
Mindfulness can be practiced in everyday life and through everyday activities, so once you have mastered mindfulness through your Pilates practice, you can start to apply it to other areas of your life.
Getting started: Brenton’s advice
So next time you’re practicing Pilates, focus on each exercise at a time, be curious about how you are moving, and work in a considerate and non-judgmental way. Approach your practice with mindfulness and notice the holistic development of inner and outer strength.
Brenton Surgenor is a qualified psychotherapist, fitness coach and Yoga instructor. He has a bachelor’s degree in Physical Education (1990) and Master’s degrees in Dance Studies, Dance Science and Counselling. Brenton is currently a Senior Lecturer at the Hong Kong Academy for Performing Arts where he leads the Dance Science programme.
Catch Brenton’s Mindful Pilates Workshop on Saturday, 23 Nov 2019 from 3:45–5:00 PM at Flex Studio One Island South Shops 308-310, One Island South 2 Heung Yip Road, Wong Chuk Hang, Hong Kong (852) 2813 2212. Click here for more information.