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How just a little exercise can help free up your mind

By Joseph Pond

People often complain to me that they feel stuck. The good news is that mindfulness is a brilliant way to begin unsticking yourself. I say this because when one pays attention to any ongoing experience, you'll always find that it's made up of several distinguishable elements.

Staying with this example, being stuck probably includes feelings in the body, beliefs about yourself, and internal dialogue. Mindfulness offers the perfect lens to take any of those components and to examine them in forensic detail. You'll find the feeling of being stuck is actual a fluid, moving sensation in the body. In addition to realising there is movement even in stillness, the simple act of examining these experiences is of course an active process, ie, the opposite of being stuck.

We've all experienced somebody trying to talk to us as we focus on a hard physical task. You may be carrying a heavy box when a friend asks a question needing a thoughtful response. You'll most likely say something like, "hold on while I set this down."

Of course your brain is not in your biceps, but physical exertion outside your typical comfort zone requires concentration. Physical exertion gathers and concentrates your attention. You may as well use this to your advantage.

That's why I'm a big fan of incorporating exercise into your mindfulness practice. If you feel stuck, do about 10 minutes of exercise, and then practice meditation. You will find it not only clears and quiets the mind but moves the blood and oxygen around your body in such a way that makes it difficult to feel quite as stuck as you did before.

Any movement is better than none if you are stuck. The psychotherapeutic model of mindfulness, if it can be said to have one, is not of major catharsis, but of micro-change: small gentle drops of equanimity that over time will seep into the deepest parts of your unconscious to promote self-acceptance. Incidentally, this emphasis on micro-change is another point of similarity between mindfulness and hypnosis.

  • Joseph Pond is a clinical hypnotherapist, an acupuncturist, and a mindfulness instructor. He is co-founder of Hypnosis Explorers NI and conducts workshops in hypnosis with PowerTrance. Reach him at or at Hypnosis/?ref=hl/?ref=hl

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