Mindfulness in Motion

Often, people think of mindfulness as meditation, a clear focus on our non-physical being, removed from physical action. But mindfulness is a state of crisp presence that can be experienced in anything we undertake. This video beautifully demonstrates mindfulness in motion, executed with power, grace and flow. While his movements may appear nearly effortless, and even serene, the performer’s Russian kettlebells weigh 44 pounds each, a total of 88 pounds.

Mindfulness is the state of bringing one’s complete attention to the present experience, in the present moment, with pure acceptance… and therefore without resistance or reaction.

The Buddha advocated that one should establish mindfulness in day-to-day life, maintaining — as much as possible — a calm awareness of one’s body, feelings, mind, and dhammas (loosely defined as the nature of things, or how things are).

Psychology Today describes mindfulness as “a state of active, open attention on the present. When you’re mindful, you observe your thoughts and feelings from a distance, without judging them good or bad. Instead of letting your life pass you by, mindfulness means living in the moment and awakening to experience.”

One way of expressing mindfulness through action is flow, an experience of being so absorbed in your action that you lose track of everything else around you. Distractions cannot enter your attention. You focus so intensely on what you’re doing that even time itself become subjective. You become the action.

Writer Jay Dixit explains it this way: “The first requirement for flow is to set a goal that’s challenging but not unattainable—something you have to marshal your resources and stretch yourself to achieve. The task should be matched to your ability level—not so difficult that you’ll feel stressed, but not so easy that you’ll get bored. In flow, you’re firing on all cylinders to rise to a challenge.

“To set the stage for flow, goals need to be clearly defined so that you always know your next step. ‘It could be playing the next bar in a scroll of music, or finding the next foothold if you’re a rock climber, or turning the page if you’re reading a good novel,’ says Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi, the psychologist who first defined the concept of flow. ‘At the same time, you’re kind of anticipating.'”

“You also need to set up the task in such a way that you receive direct and immediate feedback; with your successes and failures apparent, you can seamlessly adjust your behavior. A climber on the mountain knows immediately if his foothold is secure; a pianist knows instantly when she’s played the wrong note.

“As your attentional focus narrows, self-consciousness evaporates. You feel as if your awareness merges with the action you’re performing. You feel a sense of personal mastery over the situation, and the activity is so intrinsically rewarding that although the task is difficult, action feels effortless.”