Think about all the things you do to get ready for the gym. Finding the right pair of shorts or leggings, making sure you have your Hydrojug. What about all the things that are often overlooked because they happen so often?
Brushing your hair, putting on your shoes, sipping water…these are all opportunities where you can practice mindfulness and opportunities you can encourage your clients to practice mindfulness before coming to your personal training session or group class.
Our brain is very good at doing familiar activities on auto pilot.
Imagine if it didn’t?! How mentally taxing would it be if you had to figure out how to tie your shoelaces all over again each time you did it!
Working on autopilot, is your brain’s attempt to help you conserve emotional and cognitive resources for more pressing tasks.
Our ability to do something on autopilot is also a good gauge of how competent we are in that skill, and can be a useful reference you can use as an instructor to assess whether someone may be ready for a more challenging variation of an exercise.
While this auto pilot is helpful a lot of times, it can also backfire in two ways: It can detract from enjoyable or fulfilling experiences if they become too automated (e.g., eating a tasty meal while distracted and not noticing it’s flavor), and it can also free up mental space to be taken up by something unpleasant (e.g., worrying, ruminating, criticism or harshly comparing ourselves to others).
By becoming aware of when we are functioning on auto pilot we can make more conscious decisions about whether we want to take in our present moment experience or let the auto pilot take over.
Try it out for yourself:
Is there an activity you always do while getting ready to workout?
Try selecting an activity you usually do on autopilot, but doing it intentionally. Here are some ideas:
· A routine hygiene activity (brushing your teeth, getting dressed, brushing your hair, putting on shoes)
· A routine self-care activity (eating a quick meal, drinking water)
Try to focus on each of your senses as you do the activity you selected. You might focus on one sense each time you do the activity or focus on each sense in turn every time you do the activity. You can also observe the thoughts and feelings that come up as you do the activity, but make sure you gently refocus on the activity itself and do not let get “lost in thought “ (i.e., autopilot).
Share your thoughts:
What happens when you slow down deliberately and try to only focus on doing this one thing? How does your experience of the activity change (if at all) when you approach it mindfully rather than on autopilot?