Mindful movement can be a vague phrase. What does this really mean? To me, mindful movement means that you are moving your body in a way that there is a particular intention with it. One of those intentions being, how does my body feel while I am doing these movements? What does my body need right now and what is it telling me? Also, the movements are intentional for what you are looking to achieve, pain-free movements that make you happy.
There are many ways that one can perform mindful movement. One way is to go for a walk and have a mindset of being present during that walk to feel your body as you are moving. Feel the hips rotate forward and back, use the arms to swing and propel you, feel the quad and gluteal muscles engage as you shift your weight from one leg to the other and feel how great the rhythmical walking movement feels to you.
I also love to perform mindful movement while dancing. Dancing allows for us to feel our bodies move in whatever way we choose, and is very rhythmical and flowing. Being mindful while dancing is feeling each movement and how the different parts of the body articulate together to produce that movement. The added benefit of the music to dance to allows for us to add the sense of hearing to our experience as well.
Touching base with yourself while you are moving is a great way to get to know your body. Many people experience pain or stiffness, and this can often be eliminated or improved with movement. When you touch base with yourself about where you feel pain or stiffness, you can use your mindful movement to gently eliminate this. This is the idea of mindful movement for where you need it in your body. For example, if I have low back pain then I could perform gentle movements in my low back, pelvis and mid back to help with the sensation of pain.
The goal is to go gently and listen to your body- if it is getting better then maybe you can go a little further each time. If it makes it worse, then you try something else instead. This is the idea of being aware of “how do I feel while I am doing these movements?” Your body will often tell you what it needs to feel good, and you will get more in tune with your body and senses as you practice this.
The mindful movement approach is great for any and all of us, but especially great for people who have had persistent or chronic pain. With persistent pain, the brain actually changes to tell the person that they have pain when they normally would not. As the person is able to move freely with mindful movement and show the body and brain that there is no injury and it isn’t getting worse, we start to re-train and re-build those connections to lessen the pain we feel. In this case, it can be extremely helpful for these people to help overcome their pain.