In this episode of the Feel Good Effect, we are talking about the key to adding a mindfulness habit to your workout routine with Kait Hurley. Kait talks about the benefits of mindfulness and simple ways to bring mindfulness and meditative practices into your life
Add a Mindfulness Habit to Your Workout Routine with These Simple Tips with Kait Hurley
Meditation for self-compassion
Kait’s own transformative experience with mediation led her to create the move and meditate method.
Despite doing all of the “right things”, she still struggled with anxiety and feeling like something was wrong with her.
Meditation gave her a fundamental sense of being okay with who she was, though, and permission to accept all of herself.
A changed relationship with exercise
When Kait was a collegiate athlete, a distance runner, one of the main messages she internalized was, “the thinner I am, the faster I run, therefore I am successful”.
In short, that “thin = success”.
She loved distance running competitively, and it was where she learned how to fail, to be a team player, to handle disappointment with grace, to pick herself up and try again despite self-doubt.
Along with these deep lessons, though, came harmful internalized messages, like not being good enough and needing to push for more.
Those feelings didn’t go away after she graduated and stopped running competitively.
In fact, they intensified in their new form, showing up in her professional and personal life, leading to panic attacks.
Despite being successful as an athlete and runner, she couldn’t accomplish being enough as the bar for “good enough” continued to rise.
“I felt like what I could achieve was what defined me. I put all of my worth into something that was conditional and external to myself”.
Falling off the wagon
Consider your own relationship with exercise, what the purpose is, and the narratives you have around it.
Most of us have internalized some message about it similar to Kait’s, that you’re never good enough.
Pitfalls of that are stress, burnout, anxiety, and not being in your body to experience the effects of physical activity that go beyond feeling some kind of standard.
We’re told to go hard, to dig deeper, to ignore the pain, be brave and tough.
When you start to push away experiences, put your head down and grind, it will cause harm not just in your sweat session, but in the other hours of your day.
This plays into that narrative of all or nothing thinking and feeling like you’ve fallen off the wagon; it’s not sustainable.
This isn’t to say you can never push yourself, go hard, or sweat and get your heart rate up, it’s about an awareness of what is the kindest choice for yourself.
In regard to falling off the wagon, with meditation, there is no wagon.
It’s all our own expectations of how we think our body should move, should look, or should be achieved; it’s all just an idea.
For many of us, exercise is a dreaded chore or something that we feel like we can fall off the wagon, or it’s not enjoyable, or we lose touch with the physical experience of being in our bodies.
This is an actual solution to all of those problems.
Mindfulness, meditation, and movement.
It’s hard for many of us to just sit; we only feel productive when we are busy and doing something.
Going from the grind of our daily lives to sitting in stillness is a stretch for many of us.
Before Kait found meditation, successful exercising meant having her whole body on fire, “working”, tied to a result.
Once she started meditating, she realized that there were all of these moments in-between those “working” moments that are meaningful, too, like how it feels to extend your leg back, the wind on your skin, the transitions between moves.
It was a movement from worrying what a plank looks like to focusing on the breath while holding the pose, noticing the thoughts she has about herself during that, noticing how the mind responds when the body feels a certain way.
It became an internal exploration.
Starting a mindful movement habit
You don’t have to meditate to implement more mindfulness into your workouts.
Start by resting your attention on the breath (it’s always here)
Breath is an anchor to the present moment; you don’t have to control the breath, just let it be free and easy and let your attention rest on it as you move.
How does it change as you build intensity? As you take a step back?
Let your breath be an entry point for your own inquiry.
Mindfulness is just paying attention.
Mindfulness, meditation, presence, whatever you want to call it, it requires absolutely nothing and it is always here. It asks nothing of us, it rejects nothing, it’s just always here.
Attention and self have a wave-like function: it rises, it vibrates, it dissolves.
Our minds are neurologically driven to have attention pulled toward the strongest sensation, toward the most prominent thing happening.
If you hear a loud sound, your attention will wander there, if you’re stressed about work, you’re going to attend to that.
Your mind naturally wanders in service of your wellbeing.
When you notice that your attention has wandered, it is like doing a squat, but for strengthening your mental muscle.
The deeper you get in your mindfulness practice, the more often you will notice that your attention wanders.
Without judging it (because judgment is rarely helpful) just come back to the breath.
You’re more likely to adopt a new habit when you pair it with something you’re already doing, so if you add mindfulness to movement, it’s more likely to stick.
Meditation and attention
Meditation isn’t about being calm or achieving a certain state of being.
When we start to focus attention on the breath, for example, the thinking mind can quiet and the nervous system settles down, but that doesn’t mean that the experience is calm.
When the nervous system calms down, it makes space for bigger emotional currents to move.
For example, when Kait first started meditating, it seemed like her anxiety was getting worse, but she actually just hadn’t been paying that close of attention to it before.
Adding a mindfulness habit can be as simple as resting attention on your breath while you’re moving, knowing that it’s not easy, and knowing that if you don’t feel good in that moment that that’s okay– you’re not doing it wrong.
The first step to becoming more mindful is learning to stabilize attention.
The more we can do that, the more ease we can experience, because truly, attention is our most valuable resource.
The mind is doing its very best and it’s set us to protect us.
If we feel threatened or concerned, the mind will do everything it can to fix it
Mindfulness and meditation can help us take a seat behind the mind and to become an observer and to notice
Move + Meditate
On Katie’s app and website, there are over 90 classes that combine movement and meditation, ranging from high-intensity sweat sessions to more restorative options like yoga and even to guided runs.
Combining mindfulness and movement aims to help you connect to your inherent worth, to rest in presence, to really feel what it’s like to be embodied.
In the process, we see some of the habits that may be causing the mind harm.
That feel of the feel good effect is not in the future, that’s all here now
Many of Kait’s subscribers are new to meditation, others are more seasoned practitioners
But regardless, feedback is consistent in that adding mindfulness and meditation to movement brings profound change.
Even if the practice is only a couple minutes a day, radical consistency without perfection brings change.
Practicing more and building self-compassion doesn’t mean you won’t experience negative self-talk, but it will help you develop skills to respond to those thoughts smarter so that we don’t believe those.
“Presence is kind, it’s open, it’s receptive”.
One of the teachings in ancient wisdom is that the nature of presence is kind, because it accepts everything and rejects nothing
Your ability to simply be aware of whatever is happening now, even if it’s not easy or comfortable, is a gesture of kindness and compassion for yourself.
Try it out: next time a negative thought comes into your mind, try fighting it and see how it feels in your system, versus noticing it, acknowledging it, and letting it come and go on its own.
If you can soften and be present with whatever’s here, you can start to notice more beauty, abundance, or peace of now.
On what it really means to be healthy:
“To show up, fully present, here, now. That’s all you need to do to feel healthy and alive”.
Kait Hurley is a student, teacher, and digital entrepreneur. Her online training offerings and apps for iOS and Apple Watch combine movement with meditation and help people care for their body, mind, and heart. Classes range from high-intensity sweat sessions to guided runs to yoga and meditation. Kait is honored to share the teachings and practices that have been so deeply transformative for her.
Use this link for 20% first 3 months of Kait Hurley Move + Meditate online.
Connect with Kait on Instagram @kait.hurley
Move + Meditate for Android (coming soon)