It’s Time To Tune Your Bodymind
Begin right now to tune your bodymind. This pandemic has given you the time to do it. The roadblock is your mindset. Learn what to do overcome limiting thoughts and a listless body.
I was just talking to my neighbor, Debs. She was on her deck. I was on mine. Down the hill, Richardson Bay sparkled in the sun, but at that moment neither of us noticed it.
Most days I marvel at the beauty of my surroundings, and feel fortunate to be able to sequester during this coronavirus pandemic in Sausalito, where there are ever-present water views, hills to hike, and everything I need is in walking distance.
That said, Debs and I were whining about how small our lives have become; meaning, we’re not doing enough to make ourselves joyful, to bring new experiences into our lives, to make known the unknown.
For me, the tone of that conversation set in an hour earlier when I received a picture via WhatsApp from a college friend who lives in Zurich. It’s a pic of her and her husband, with whom I went to graduate school, standing before a pristine lake, next to a soaring mountain somewhere near their home.
That scene tugged on an emotion. I miss travel, and my life feels constrained these days.
Can you relate?
The thing is, although it’s natural to have these sentiments after months of so-called “sheltering in place”, where many of us are living lives upended, there is plenty we can do with our newfound time.
For instance, who couldn’t use a physical and emotional tune-up?
The rest of this post is about how to tune your bodymind, sorta speak. I offer some inspiration and resources that, if you’re willing, can help you ease the burden of this pandemic by offering something valuable to focus on. After all, this window of time that’s available to improve ourselves may not happen again to this degree. (Hopefully, not via a pandemic anyway.)
Let’s begin with the old bod, and then turn to the mental/emotional construct, which together are, of course, the components of this bodymind tune-up.
Time To Tune Your Body
If you need a bit of inspiration to “get the lead out” and begin moving your body, let me introduce you to Joan MacDonald. She’s 73 years young, used to be 50 pounds overweight and frumpy, and is now a fine example of what you’re capable of.
Here’s a before and after of Joan:
When she began lifting, she was overweight and unfit, and yet there must have been something in her mind that knew about the physical transformation that was possible if she diligently applied herself to making it happen.
What the “before” pic doesn’t reveal is that prior to exercising, Joan was on medication for high blood pressure and acid reflux. She also suffered from edema, painful arthritis, fatigue and had trouble walking down the stairs.
All that’s in the past for her now.
What follows are a few select comments Joan made about her journey. Note that she had to become aware of the body/mind interplay to make the necessary mindset adjustments to reinvent herself.
When I first started out on my transformation journey, I hated trying on clothes, and in fact most of my clothes barely fit me any more so I had just a few bottoms and tops to choose from. Baggy shorts and over-sized t-shirts in boring colors were my go-to. I didn’t love myself back then and that’s how I dressed myself.
[When I] understood that that mindset wasn’t working for me… I could see that my inner dialogue had to go… Even though it might seem like something superficial like clothing can’t have a big impact on how we see ourselves it absolutely can my… If I can learn that lesson in my seventies you can too.
Please don’t wait til you’re “perfect” to take pride in yourself. You have to already see your perfection, your effort and your courage today. Love yourself enough to change, and show yourself that love daily.
Yes, I know that in many parts of the U.S. and elsewhere, gyms aren’t open. But you can still:
- Walk quickly, preferable up hills
- Do body weight exercises that can be modified to accommodate your ability.
I placed a couple of links below for you to check out that offer specific exercise suggestions. But in case Joan wasn’t enough of an inspiration, here are several more:
Click links below for exercise suggestions.
|Get Functionally Fit Forever With These Six Body weight Exercises||Short Home Workouts You Can Do Now With Surprising Results|
OK, so maybe this inspirational stuff about how to tune your bodymind is nudging you in that direction, but there’s one big roadblock — your mindset!
Let’s dig into that.
Reset Your Mindset
Your mindset is the key behind achieving anything new that’s hard to accomplish, and is the most important thing you need to get straight to tune your bodymind.
The right mindset has to be cultivated before you can dispense with the doubts, laziness, excuses and interruptions that will inevitably arise to knock you off course.
This is especially true during this coronavirus pandemic. SARS-CoV-2 (the virus) and COVID-19 (the disease(s) the virus ignites) has shut down the world, and has provided ample reasons for us to be anxious, stressed, confused.
So, in light of this, what do you do?
A recent New York Times article suggests five things to reset your mindset:
- Reduce stress with music meditation
- Cool off debilitating intense emotions
- Pace your breath
- Anchor yourself to now
- Practice physical anxiety
I’ll briefly describe each.
1. Reduce stress with music meditation
Make a playlist of the music that is comforting and cathartic for you. Here’s a sample of meditation music from Youtube. Use headphones for the best effect.
Recognize that music can induce varying mood states. More uplifting soundtracks can improve our experience and help lift us out of depression.
2. Cool off debilitating, intense emotions
Are you feeling so emotional about something that it feels debilitating?
You can subdue intense emotions by doing an “exercise” popularized in dialectical behavior therapy. To do this, lower your body temperature thrusting your face into a bowl of very cold water. This activates your body’s dive response, a reflex that happens when you cool your nostrils while holding your breath. You should feel a release from physiological and emotional intensity.
Here’s how to do it:
- Fill a large bowl with ice water
- Set a timer for 15 to 30 seconds
- Take a deep breath and hold it while dipping your face into the water.
- Make sure you respond to the timer
This facial water plunge will slow your heart rate, allowing blood to flow more easily to your brain, and if this seems absurd, think about how absurd it is to stumble through life beset by emotional upheaval.
3. Pace your breath
Mindfulness expert Jon Kabat-Zinn says:
“As long as you are breathing, there is more right with you than wrong with you.”
This is a good lesson in perspective, and also gratitude (you’re still alive).
Try this exercise to slow down your breathing to six breaths a minute:
- Get comfortable
- Inhale through your nose slowly for four seconds
- Hold for four seconds
- Exhale through your nose for four seconds
- Pause for four seconds
4. Anchor yourself to now
Yesterday is gone. Tomorrow has yet to happen. All you’ve got is now. Your point of power is now!
So, if now is all you’ve got, get intimate with it. Become mindful of the beliefs and emotions that form the attitudes you’re wrestling with right now.
Do they serve you well?
Can you reinterpret whatever is happening in your life that distresses you?
Our interpretations of events supercharge the intensify of our emotions, both good and bad.
If those emotions are “bad’, thinking that, “This will go on for years!” will only inspire more hopelessness. It’s a vortex designed to pull you down. Don’t go there.
Anchor yourself to the present by doing this:
- Become aware of your body and its sensations
- Take off your shoes and socks, spread your toes and feel rooted to the ground
- What am I thinking, feeling in my body, doing?
- Is any of it helpful, or aligned with my values — or is it related to past problems or future worries.
- Bathe in what’s self-affirming; dispense with what’s self-sabotaging
5. Practice physical anxiety
Ha! Yes, it seems I’m doing an 180 here, but hear me out.
Anxiety doesn’t just stay in your head, but is also felt in your body. When anxious, you can feel physical sensations like muscle tension and shortness of breath.
It’s counterintuitive, as this technique seems to go in the opposite direction to calming yourself down, but it doesn’t.
What you do is practice having anxiety, so you can intentionally, mindfully become familiar with it, and by doing so realize it’s not going to harm you.
The idea is that learning to repeatedly welcome physical symptoms enables you to stop experiencing them as catastrophic.
Dr. Jenny Taiz, the author of the article from which I’ve summarized much of these five mindset resets, instructs her clients to become familiar with the physical sensations of anxiety with this technique:
- Get a thin coffee straw
- Set your time for one minute
- Pinch your nose
- Try to breathe through the straw.
Yeah, sounds silly, but if you’re anxious — and you feel it — what do you have to lose, except that undesired feeling? Grab another anxious friend and make a play date out of it.
Your Tune Your Bodymind Takeaway
I’m going to go out on a limb and presume you found some of this interesting, but you won’t do any of it.
Prove me wrong!
Don’t be the person who finds something that might be beneficial to try, but doesn’t.
The difference between having information about something, and doing it is called knowledge. You gain knowledge from doing; otherwise, it’s just info, a hypothetical, that doesn’t move the needle.
You do nothing, so nothing changes.
Change is hard, but if change is what you need, find out how to take some first steps.
Here are some resources to spark your journey:
Remember the proverb:
A journey of 1,000 miles begins with the first step.
May you take step one. Then repeat.