What is mindfulness?

Mindfulness is the practice of simply being in the present moment. Focusing on your breath, the sound around you, the feeling of your body in touch with the earth. 

This may seem simple, but we spend most of our time in "doing mode": thinking about the future and worrying about our busy lives rather than enjoying or experiencing where we currently are. Mindfulness helps to lead us into the "being mode". It is about stepping back and noticing your own thoughts to eventually enable yourself to RESPOND rather than REACT in certain situations.

For me, the most helpful aspect of mindfulness is learning to draw attention to how much habitual negative chatter we have going on in our brains. It is useful to see these thoughts as mental events as opposed to actual facts.

How do we use mindfulness in Train Body Brain?

After our 30 minutes of HIIT combined with positive affirmations, we cool down with a mindful meditation. I encourage you to focus on the anchor of your breath, drawing attention to your inhale, exhale, inhale exhale. This is about non-judgement, self-love and inner peace. 

I know it can sometimes feel uncomfortable and awkward A) to practice mindfulness with other people - investing our energy in something so abstract can even feel a bit silly - and B) to try and be loving towards ourselves, especially because that isn’t something that society usually encourages young girls to do! I know how often you are bombarded with ideas about how you should look, feel and behave. BUT, I promise that if you let go of embarrassment and commit to the mindfulness part of the class, you truly will begin to feel better in yourselves!

On a Friday before my weekly class I am drained from school and exercising feels like a drag. But when I get there, everyone’s enthusiasm rubs off on me! I like that I get to push myself while being in a relaxed environment among friends.
— Grace

The science behind it...

Mindfulness is the basic human ability to be fully present, aware of where we are and what we’re doing, and not overly reactive or overwhelmed by what’s going on around us.

Studies have shown that 8 weeks of adult mindfulness practice thickens the cerebral cortex - the area associated with attention and emotional integration. 

It increases the density of the hippocampus which is responsible for learning and memory.There is is a decrease in the grey matter of the amygdala responsible for depression and anxiety.

How do you make time for it?!

Ok, so that all sounds good on paper, but if you are anything like me then the negative chatter in your head is saying 'I don’t have time / energy / I won’t stick at it / it’s not working.'

But with mindfulness there is no right or wrong.

You don't have to sit in the lotus position. It is not a breathing exercise (although breath is an anchor while you are training your mind). It is not a relaxation technique, nor a quick fix cure It is true that you may not see a difference immediately, but if you keep going every day or three days a week you will begin to feel better and you will see a difference.

Mindfulness is about freeing yourself from self-judgement. It is about accepting yourself as you are in the present moment, and observing the thoughts that arise as you sit, lie or stand in stillness, and letting them pass without judgment. Spending just 5 or 10 minutes per day practicing mindfulness is all that you need to do to see its effects. I know it requires effort to commit to those 10 minutes out from your busy day, but that effort is a small price to pay for the benefits that mindfulness brings to you and all those you engage with.