Out of Your Head, Into Your Body

Happy New Year! It’s already the 5th of January (the 6th by the time you’re reading this), and I feel like this year is off to a quick start. I took some time before the end of the year to reflect on 2021 and set some intentions for 2022. If you read my last post, then you know 2021 was a rough year. I spent a lot of time stressed and struggling, up until the last couple of months. As much as I hated the struggle at the time, I’m grateful for it now because it did what struggle always does – gave me perspective and taught me some things to take forward.

A few weeks ago, I signed up for a free Peloton membership via my health insurance company. I fell in love with it immediately, and have been using it almost daily ever since. One of the mantras I’ve heard repeated often during the workouts is “out of your mind, into your body”. It resonates with me so much, I’ve decided that will be my mantra for 2022.

Of course the Peloton coaches use this to get us fully engaged in our workouts – and it works! Follow their lead, listen to what they tell you to do, and set aside the discomforts and limiting thoughts that prevent you from performing your best. But for me it goes much farther than a workout.

I think we all are guilty of spending a lot of time in our heads – worrying, stressing, doubting, second-guessing, wishing, or thinking “what if?”. Something I learned in therapy once, were various techniques to get me into the present moment. My favorite of these techniques coaxes us out of our thoughts and into the present moment by focusing on our senses. To practice it, you use your senses to focus on your present environment. Five things you can see, four things you can hear, three things you can feel, two things you can smell, one thing you can taste – or whatever order you’d like to do it. It puts your focus into your body by using your senses to ground you into the present.

Meditation does the same thing. I particularly enjoy body scan meditation, where you focus on sensations throughout the body, scanning from the head down to the toes, to shut out thoughts and get present in the moment. So for me, “out of your head, into your body” is about being present. About not overthinking, over-planning, or over-analyzing. And I love it!

There are a few things I would like to tackle this year, like fine-tuning my finances, starting to plan for future vacation trips, increasing the number of books I’ll read this year (I’ve already knocked out three thanks to audio books, and am starting my fourth this evening), and getting my wardrobe more fine-tuned to my taste (I’ve been working on this for about a year already since I started working from home, so I’m just continuing). I’ve also found a workout routine that I’m committed to.

I’ve always gone for a walk every day on my lunch break, but since getting the Peloton membership I’ve been mixing it up. I get bored quite easily with repetition, so doing the same workout day after day will never work for me. I started a 4-week core class and a 2-week boxing class, and have been doing different HIIT cardio sessions on the days in between. I’ve been doing some sort of movement daily, and since there aren’t a lot of repeats I end up looking forward to each day’s session because I don’t know what to expect. This keeps me engaged, and keeps me from getting too much “in my head” because I don’t know what is coming.

I’ve been discovering muscles that I’m not sure have ever been sore before. I also managed to pull a lower abdominal muscle and had to take a couple of days off, which was a good lesson learned about paying attention to proper form during workouts. It’s mostly healed, albeit still a bit tender so I have to modify some moves, and I’ve been keeping up the pace. In fact, I’ve enjoyed it so much that while my audio book was paused for my phone to charge last night, I decided to do a yoga session instead of watching TV.

I realize that I can use the mantra for nutrition, too. The holidays always teach me that, no matter how healthy I eat the rest of the year, just a few days of sugary, fatty foods will send me right back to having cravings for the bad stuff. My body knows what it needs to be healthy. The trick, as they say, is to silence the mind. Spending too much time in my head, focused on unhealthy cravings and letting them take over, is not honoring my commitment to myself. To stay out of my head, is to develop discipline.

So this year, in the battle between the body and the mind, I am going to lean into the body and let it win. Stay grounded and present, and at the end of this year I hope to look back with joy at the moments I didn’t miss by not being engaged. And to have a whole new mindset to show for it.

Wishing you the best in your intentions for the year, and a happy 2022!

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