Part 4: The Mindful “HiiT”
Over the last few years, I have been asked numerous questions about how to get steps in, especially in a work environment stuck at a desk.
Or how to fit mindfulness into a busy day?
Or how to best keep to the physical activity guidelines that now strongly favour all-day movement?
As the founder of One Million Steps, and with the tiniest of teams, I often find myself working for extremely long hours, stuck at a desk and under immense pressure to get the project going.
The stresses and fears can mean that it’s hard to focus. And I have a Monkey Mind that is definitely on the wilder side.
And I struggled to answer those questions.
Until about two years ago, I stumbled upon an idea that answered those three questions. Steps, mindfulness, and all-day movement.
Ok, I do have an admission first.
I have called this routine a Mindful “HiiT”. I admit fully that I can’t come up with another name for it, even after two years!
But it’s a gentle yet invigorating refresher that can really clear the stresses, get the blood flowing and get you moving through the day and away from that desk.
It’s a combination of
- Focused Meditation Practice: A meditation practise where you focus your gaze on a picture or object, exploring the colours, shape or textures.
- Awareness of the Breath as the Anchor: This is your standard mindful breathing exercise.
- Gentle Jogging on the Spot (with short intervals or bursts of speed IF you feel the need)
Why this is perfect for the busy, stressed and stuck at a desk.
- Just 3 to 5 mins will suffice
- It really is a full focused exercise. It’s actually hard for the mind to wander for too long or too far away.
- It requires no special gear or equipment and almost no space. You can stand my you desk if needs be.
- And it can be done once every hour and you will be done without much fuss at all.
How to do a Mindful “HiiT”
- Find an image or object you want to focus on. I actually have a simple X marked on the wall with a pencil which I use for my focus (yes it can be as simple as that)
- Ensure you have suitable footwear for the jogging on the spot. Heels aren’t good for jogging on the spot in a vigorous manner. If you don’t have the right footwear, just pretend jog. You can lift and lower your feet just a few centimetres of the ground in a jogging motion
- Place your attention gently onto the object or image. And start to explore the colours, shapes and textures.
- Gently begin to jog and keep to a good rhythm
- Make sure to swing your arms in a natural movement, following the rhythm of your steps.
- Keep your gaze softly on the object or image. And focus on the details, its shape its colours
- Now gently bring your focus also to your breath. Your breathing maybe a little faster because you are jogging on the spot. That is perfectly fine. Bring your attention to the breath flowing in and flowing out.
- Focus on the breath as you continue to look at the image or object exploring its textures and colours, all the whilst maintaining your gentle rhythm of jogging on the spot.
- For those who want to, keep that focus on the image/object and your breathing and make short bursts of speed and then come back to your normal speed. You don’t have to do this, it’s just for those who want to break up their jogging on the spot with a little extra
- Do this for three to five mins and then gently come to a rest.
- Finish off with a few moments of gentle breathing
- And finally, thank yourself for taking the time to do this exercise to refresh yourself and your mind.
I sometimes do this Mindful HiiT exercise with the sound of a metronome in the background.
It helps me keep a regular jogging-on-the-spot pace, and I switch my focus from the image or object to the tick tick tick tick of the metronome and back again. You can find a wide range of beats per minute in this YouTube metronome series.
And there you have it. A Mindful HiiT.
I know how this combination of three focus points can fine-tune the mind and its wondering thoughts. It reminds me of the multiple focus points that mindful brushing brings too.
And it certainly is an amazing way to refresh yourself every hour for most of your working day.
And just imagine, for as little as three minutes every hour, you could have almost 400 steps each time.
And don’t forget, you can also do it in the house.
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