How to Use Moving Your Body to Clear Your Head & Move Through Resistance
It wouldn’t be right to start this article without telling you about how I’d actually decided upon the words to write, because it proves the point exactly that this works. I use this technique for so many things now and just know that getting into the moment and moving will really help me to come up with ideas that might not have flowed before. So, before this article, taking advantage of what I have around me, I’ve just been for a snorkel in the crystal-clear waters on the Northern coast of Ibiza. Moving my body whilst swimming in the warm water and exploring the sea bed and all of the creatures that were not obvious from above the water got me into such a beautiful place of relaxation. I found as I was following those fish and swimming alongside them; lost in the moment of how beautiful they were, I started to notice that the thoughts, ideas and concepts were starting to brew to allow me to write this piece.
In total, I probably swam for twenty minutes. Twenty minutes was all it took for me to sit here, now writing frantically to try and get all of the words out!
How does this work? We’ve heard many times over that exercise is good for you and releases a lot of feel good hormones. We all know that even if it doesn’t seem like it at the time, getting out for some exercise can do us the world of good. But have you actively thought about moving your body to help you make decisions, remove blocks and work in the flow more?
I was never really a big fan of exercise (as you know because I’ve made that very clear in previous posts) until I found hiking. Hiking became a gateway drug for me where I started to think, ‘hey this is great, what else can I find?’ I found swimming as my main thing aside from hiking, but climbing and the occasional yoga session also give me that buzz. I really quickly started to see the benefits of exercise to help me feel better in my body, but I didn’t realise what a difference it was going to make on my mindset and mentality. I remember reading a book by Gabrielle Bernstein about adding more ‘ing to your life and I found that had a big impact on how I started to see exercise as a tool to move through life in an easier way. The idea in her book was to add more things that ended with ‘ing to your life in order to help you move through situations that were perhaps a struggle, or needed clarity. As I worked through the book, I started to see that hiking, swimming and moving my body in general we’re all helping me to find answers to the things that I needed.
The problem I’ve found in life, and the same goes for so many people I’ve spoken to is that we get stuck in our heads. I think we’ve all heard the phrase ‘I’m going to go for a walk to clear my head.’ For me, I don’t think it really sank in what exactly that meant until I started looking at exercise in this way. As you know I’m a great fan of meditation, and things really opened up for me when one day I decided to do a walking meditation. This was something i just found on YouTube and pushed play as I walked through a local park. I’m not sure what I was expecting at the time but I later loved the results. In the meditation I was asked to take in my surroundings and really look at them in a way I hadn’t before. This was a fantastic experience and found myself coming back from that walk feeling so incredibly refreshed and creative, ready to take on the afternoon of thinking that needed to happen in order to bring a project we were working on into reality. I really noticed how my thoughts were crystal clear and I was able to come up with ideas so much more clearly than I had really done before. So I started to think about how I could start to combine this into my thinking, how I could observe this more and see the benefits it would have.
The thing is, when we feel resistive or are hot and bothered because we can’t come up with a solution to a problem, our natural reaction isn’t to want to step away from it and go outside to move our bodies. Our natural reaction is to want to stay there staring at a proverbial blank page getting more and more frustrated, willing something to happen and then getting more frustrated when it doesn’t.
In that sense, it’s about developing a habit of realising what is actually helping and what isn’t in any given situation. The thing is, the movement itself doesn’t even need to be a massive adventure (although those are great too) it can literally be a twenty minute walk in your local area. It isn’t exactly about what you do, it’s about the intention behind it. It is about really concentrating on what is around you.
The idea isn’t to go out with the intention of finding the solution to the problem. The idea is to become mindful. Almost like being in a meditative state to allow you to clear your mind and allow the answers to come. If you decide you need to find the answer whilst you’re doing the activity, you most likely will not find the answer as you’re in your head. The same place you got stuck to start with. If you feel resistive to this, ask yourself what you have to loose in giving this a go? And, ask yourself how well sitting there battling with your thoughts has worked in helping you to make the decision or come up with the idea that you need? And what difference will that twenty minutes, two hours or eight hours of moving make really?
It isn’t completely compulsory to do this outside, but I truly find that being in a setting where there are lots of things to get mindful with and loose your intention to are going to really help with keeping you more mindful. I find, try as I might, that going to the gym just doesn’t stimulate me in the same way. But this might be different for you.
The next thing is to find the exercise you truly love or really enjoy and do that. What have you been doing that you really, really enjoy? What gives you that happy feeling? If you haven’t found your ‘ing thing yet, this is a perfect opportunity to start. Start by experimenting with a few things and concentrate on how you feel. This is a great way to find something you truly love, by meeting it with almost child-like curiosity. Plus, you’ve then found a great thing you enjoy doing to boot.
The thing to build on is the trigger, where, when you feel that resistance and that stuck feeling to automatically get out there and do the ‘ing thing. When you head outside, start with the intention of clearing your mind and being mindful of what is around you. If you find this difficult it might help you to search out a walking meditation, or something similar. If you’re new to mindfulness and don’t fancy that, just concentrate on what is around. When I go for a clearing walk in my local park, I’ll concentrate on my senses. What can I see, hear, smell, taste in the air? The intention, as I mentioned before isn’t to go with your idea in mind, it is to release it and allow in some space and perspective. To really feel the moment in your body. If you’re concerned about time, just make it short. There is no right or wrong here, just a way of being. You’ll most likely start to find that you quickly find ideas coming to you. Do not push these away. You can always allow those thoughts and then reset the intention to become mindful again once you’ve done your ‘brain dump’. My favourite thing to do is to take a notepad and pen or even phone, Dictaphone or whatever works for you so you have some way of writing down any ideas you may have.
The idea is to let the creative thoughts flow, and then fall back into mindfulness. Don’t worry about the ideas for now or even if they make sense, you can look at this later.
You might find it useful to take a note of how you felt both before and after your clearing ‘ing time. I can promise you; this really works, and you’ll find that the ideas you have through this way of being will be stronger, coming from a place of confidence rather than fear and be much clearer. You’ll probably find that your ideas for the rest of the day will also be a lot clearer too.
1. When you feel resistance, look at what can you look at to trigger you to move rather than stagnate. Is it a case of adding a post it note to your desk telling you to move? The first time is always the hardest.
2. Find your ‘ing thing. Once you’ve found the thing you’re going to do, and you can of course have more than one, commit to using this to help yourself feel better.
3. If you feel resistive to doing this, remember to ask yourself how well what you’re currently doing is working out for you.
4. Take notes of how you feel both before and after to really help you see just what a change it makes.
5. Make sure you document your thoughts in your clearing sessions, so you can refer back to these later.
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I’m obsessed with late evening sun, big mountains, swimming and meditation. I’m a personal development junkie and love all things mindset. I love soy lattes, spicy food and am a sucker for a shot with lens flare.
My favourite places are currently:
Joshua Tree, California
Kodachrome Basin, Utah
The Dolomites, Italy
Berchtesgaden National Park, Germany