Movement, Music and Mindfulness

Professor Mark Williams, former director of the Oxford Mindfulness Centre, says that mindfulness means knowing directly what is going on inside and outside ourselves, moment by moment.

“An important part of mindfulness is reconnecting with our bodies and the sensations they experience. This means waking up to the sights, sounds, smells and tastes of the present moment. That might be something as simple as the feel of a banister as we walk upstairs.”

When moving, mindfulness could mean noticing the air around you, how it feels on your face, how it smells or moves. It could mean noticing more what you are passing as you move, the landscape, the trees, plants, seating, residential areas, signs, the architecture of buildings.

Practice mindful walking paying more attention to how you actually walk, noticing your steps, the movement of your body. Expand your attention to the sounds around you but notice them as sounds not as pleasant or unpleasant. Then notice smells whether good or bad. Next turn your attention to the sights, the colours and objects around you. Come back to focussing on your walking, your body’s movements.

Practice mindfully listening to music. Choose a quiet space and your piece of music, song or album. Become aware of your body sensations, your breaths, your points of contact with physical services (such as your chair or the floor), and allow yourself to deeply listen to the music. Observe anything you notice without judgement. Notice any thoughts or feelings or memories you may have. Then gently bring yourself back to listening to the sounds of the music. Become aware of the quality and condition of your body, heart and mind now. Do you feel calmer and more relaxed?

Research has shown that listening to music can: reduce heart rate, blood pressure, anxiety, improve sleep quality, mental alertness and memory, increase production of dopamine (the feel good hormone), decrease production of cortisol (the stress hormone) and help you explore your preferences and associations

As you hear different music over time, create playlists for different situations, for example: when you are working, when you are relaxing, when you are happy, when you are sad. Look for music which can enhance your mood, help you explore the feelings, which you can use to uplift your mood. Look for music to move to. The Mental Health Foundation with DJ and presenter Edith Bowman, have put together a playlist to move to Spotify – Mental Health Foundation.

Image from Freepiks

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