So far, so good! At the end of three weeks I have successfully completed at least 20 minutes of mindful meditation every day! Within that I have also attended a mindfulness class and practiced yoga at least 4 times per week. I’ve also set up a small accountability group to make sure that I maintain the practice. So far so good!
What I have learned thus far.
- Primarily, that if I want to do something badly enough I can do it – motivation isn’t an issue.
- That exercise doesn’t have to be target driven! Until now my exercise has been based around challenges, distance, or times. Speed sessions, interval sessions, long runs, tempo runs. None of that matters with yoga. Yes, you need to watch your alignment if you want to prevent injury and yes, there is quite a lot of structure to it – but thereafter it’s entirely up to you. There is no way to measure this week’s performance against last. Already I can see some improvements in some postures – for the first time in forever I can actually nearly touch my toes! What a delightful way to be measuring progress! All that matters is how you feel in your body today and what it can achieve today and if it’s not as good as last week, then never mind!
- Exercise can be fun! I tried Zumba this week. Looking at the range of lessons on at the gym at a suitable time, I was left with the choice of Zumba. Never been my first choice – obviously being a choice of older ladies. Oh, how wrong I was. After 10 minutes I wanted to collapse! But as with the yoga – there is no target. I can’t possibly measure my performance this week against that of subsequent weeks – other than will my arms and legs ever be co-ordinated with each other. One thing I also found at Zumba was normal sized ladies, of a certain age, exercising for fun – followed by a cup of tea and a natter. I may have finally found my tribe! And socialising is definitely a key aspect of exercising. I will definitely be going back again.
- That I walk much further than I anticipated. I’ve set myself the challenge of walking 1000 miles during 2018. I thought I would just count all the steps / miles on my FitBit. By the end of three weeks I have walked 100 miles. This would make in the region of 1700 miles in the year, I either need to just count miles where I deliberately take a walk, or increase my target to make it a challenge.
- That yoga – or mindfulness meditation – I’m not sure which, gives you energy! Only a few weeks in I am already feeling more enthusiastic and full of life than I have in many years. It’s also been surprisingly easy to fit it in to my daily life. I’ve been using two apps – Headspace which is subscription based, very accessible and very straightforward; and Insight Timer, which has the advantage of being free and has a huge range of different meditations to choose from.
- That it doesn’t take long to feel the benefits of yoga and / or meditation. As I started both at pretty much the same time I’m not sure which is the creator of the benefits – but already I creak less when I get out of bed. Already, I am more aware of my posture when I am walking and sitting. Already, I am more aware of my surroundings and appreciating them far more.
- The gym has an empty twilight zone at 8:00 am in the morning. The workers have left and the ladies that lunch have yet to arrive. It’s just bliss!
As part of this journey I have come across a couple of really interesting Mindfulness courses. The first is Positively Mindful which I have been attending at Breathe Bristol yoga studio. This is an hourly drop in session with a mixture of meditation and self enquiry. I’ve also started a more formal Mindfulness living course at My Awareness yoga in Montpelier. So far I’ve only attended one of nine sessions, so I’m interested to see where that journey will take me. The key thing I have picked up is that this is a journey – one to be taken at a pace that best benefits me. In my head I look like a super sleek toned yogi – the reality the image is as far removed from that as it is possible to be – however, already I can see that I have made some progress on postures and this gives me hope.