The Insider's Guide to Healthy Hawaii: De-Stress with Mindful Movement

Meditation is more than sitting still; various exercises incorporate meditation and mindfulness.

Medically reviewed in February 2022

Imagine yourself calm. Imagine you have total mental clarity. Your stress levels subside and the tendency to flash into anger simply melts away.

I’m not talking about heaven or enlightenment. I’m talking about mindfulness, being fully present. Here. Now. You can take steps toward a more mindful life every single day. And every step counts, even baby ones. No huge life overhaul, just mindful moments.

In a mindful moment, you’re fully engaged in what you’re doing. You’re aware of your body. You’re aware of your emotions. You watch thoughts pass without letting them take control. They become part of the scenery.

We’ve all heard that meditation is good for us. But how many of us have the self-discipline, patience and time to sit silently on a cushion, seemingly doing nothing?

And yet I’m telling you mindfulness is just a breath away. For every one of us.

Yoga and martial arts have long been recognized as forms of moving meditation, precursors to the deeper practice of sitting meditation. For my husband, outrigger canoe paddling and distance running are moving meditations. Many forms of exercise can be done mindfully, giving us a break from worldly concerns. When we finish, we are at ease. Our emotional palate is cleansed.

For me, moving meditation means Nia and it’s part of my medicine. Focus is effortless when I’m in motion. It’s like riding a bike­—always easier to balance when I’m moving. 

Nia is a fusion of dance, martial arts and yoga set to soul-stirring music. It gives me a dip into the ocean of joy. We set a focus at the beginning of class and we hold it for the whole hour. When I’m practicing Nia, my mind settles, and I can see in every direction. Body-aware, every step, every gesture, is done in a way that feels good. I ease into my joints, stretch and sway, glide across the floor, kick and shout, then slow down gently. I leave the dance floor sweaty, exultant and the world sparkles. Whatever bothered me before class seems insignificant, even gone. I feel as if I love every single person in the world.

When we find our mindful movement practice, we’re able to breathe more deeply and consciously every day. And, we can just remember to breathe when we need it most. Our bodies feel alive and our minds are free to think clearly.

Seven years ago, I opened Still & Moving Center, convinced that mindful movement is effective in changing people’s lives for the better. I’ve seen the results time and time again in thousands of students. Join a weekly class to start moving mindfully or walk just ten minutes a day, device-free. Baby steps.

This content originally appeared on Well-Being Hawaii.

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