“Sometimes we need to stop sitting in one place and start to move around… to bring
awareness and enjoyment into our bodies.”
 Hanh, N. (2008). Mindful Movements: Ten Exercises for Well-being. Berkeley, CA: Parallax Press.

Buddhist monk Thich Nhat Hanh believes that mindfulness is enhanced by body awareness and that body awareness strengthens mindfulness.  This belief is supported by a growing body of research on “body awareness” and “body harmony” therapies and the positive impact they have on concentration and peacefulness.  The 3-minute stretch is an opportunity for you to develop your awareness and tranquility in your body.

Instructions

Consider creating a cue to remind yourself to take 3 minutes to stretch your body in the middle of your work day, such as right after lunch or before a meeting.  When you stretch, breathe slowly and deeply, with calm and ease.  Enjoy connecting with each part of each movement.  Once again, if (or when) your mind wanders, smile with awareness that you’ve had a mindful moment… and gently guide your attention back to the micro-moments of each stretch of your arm, leg and neck muscles.

  • Stretch your arms to their full capacity, at arm level, above your head, and down by your sides. There is no right or wrong way to stretch, though it helps to keep your movements slow, relaxed and calm. Experience the sensations associated with movement in your shoulders, elbows, wrists, hands and fingers as you lengthen your arm muscles.
  • Stretch your legs to their fully capacity, perhaps even raising yourself up and down on your toes.  Experience the sensations in your back, hips, knees, ankles, feet as you lengthen your leg muscles.
  • Stretch your back and neck to its full capacity, experiencing the sensations in your neck, shoulders and  back as you lengthen your back and neck muscles.
  • Move your neck, back, hands and feet… and smile as you move them individually and together.
  • Now be still and notice the sensations in your body, the after-effects of your movements.
  • Take three conscious and deep breaths and smile as you go back to work, taking your calmer body and more alert mind with you.
© Copyright 2013 Maria Hunt
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