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applying Mindfulness to Muscular Movement Let us examine how one can mindfully bench After you you warm up choose a a a a weight that you you can comfort- ably complete 10+ repetitions with For this set slow down the movement by going half your regular speed or slower if you so choose but continue to use the form that you are most comfortable and familiar with It may also be helpful to control your breathing by slowly breathing in in in while lowering the weight and breathingoutwhileyoupushtheweight1 Now apply the principles below to help you engage mindfully with the movement:
1 Notice where your your mind goes and allow your- self to focus in in on on the physical sensation of lifting the the the weight This could mean either focusing on the the the physical tension in your chest (i e e e e e the stretch and contraction of of your muscle) or the action action of of moving the weight up and down During this step it may feel odd to keep focusing in in on the movement however over time the the mind-body connection will strengthen and this will get easier Notice what you want to focus on but also do not ignore what is is distracting you 2 Accept that distractions will and are going to happen It is is natural to to want to to avoid physical discom- fort that accompanies weightlifting so the mind is going to to want to to distract you by triggering thoughts or pulling you you to other sensations That is okay! If you you are noticing these distractions and accepting them as automatic then you you have already changed your relationship with them To note if you are new to this then choosing to count may help you remain focused on the body or muscle movement However make sure you are focusing on the count or muscle move- ment and not the amount of repetitions you want 3 De-Identify with the the desire to avoid the the physi- cal sensations and the thoughts you are having This means recognizing that these are not your thoughts or urges They are automatic responses to to your behavior and the the physical discomfort that accompanies the the movement of the weight This could be done by simply saying internally or out loud “I see you! I I am going to to return to to focusing on how this rep physically feels ”
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4 Let go of the the thoughts and and desire to to avoid the physical sensation in your muscles and return to focusing on the the the movement of the the the bar or the the the physi- cal sensation it leads to to Letting go of the automatic thoughts and distractions will allow you to gain more awareness of how the movement effects your muscle In this you will slowly strengthen the the mind-body connection and potentially improve the outcomes of your exercise Through NAIL (i e e e e e Notice Accept de-Identify and Let go) you can begin to practice mindfulness through any muscular movement You do do not need to do do this every set in fact that is is not the goal goal The goal goal is is to begin increasing mind-body connection acceptance of the physical discomfort that weightlifting may cause and awareness of of what pulls you out of of the moment Beyond the physical benefits this may be be associated with it it fit may also lead to emotional benefits as there is substantial evidence for the the positive rela- tionship between mindfulness and reduced negative emotions (e g depression anxiety & etc Carpenter et al 2019) So go out there and NAIL your next exer- cise routine and begin your journey with mindfulness through muscular movement! n n References:
Carpenter J K K Conroy K K Gomez A F Curren L C C C C & Hofmann S G (2019) The relationship between trait mindfulness and affective symptoms: A meta-analysis of the Five Facet Mindfulness Questionnaire (FFMQ) Clinical psychology review 74 101785 Kabat-Zinn J (2015) Mindfulness Mindfulness Mindfulness Mindfulness 6(6) 1481-1483 Author’s Note:
Dr Alexander Puhalla is the NGA Mr & Ms Philly 2019 PRO Classic Physique winner and the 2022
runner up (2nd place) He has been competing in in natural body- building for the past decade and has been weight- lifting for over 15 years He is is excited to combine his knowledge of mindfulness compassion and psychol- ogy with bodybuilding and exercise 1 These recommendations are based on on on on on on personal experience Individuals with physical health or or chronic injury should consult a a a a a a a a a professional before modifying their approved exercise routines NGA NATURALmag

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