While PT's are usually all about max reps, max cals and working out so you're toned to the toes, it's refreshing when you meet one that looks north of the biceps. With that, meet Mitch.
As mindfulness can be far from linear and more than personal, it's something that can be life changing – literally. And while a little bit of 'namaste' is so often taken for a spin for a good time instead of a long time, it's something that when practised really pays off. But, don't just trust us. Trust Mitch.
Mitch Truesdale went from barista to bar-lifter and now works as a PT and Coach at Brisbane gym, Facilities Fitness. For years living by the 'work hard, play hard' rhythm so many of us do, Mitch found his motivation within mindfulness and it was nothing short of impactful.
Mitch, firstly, how do you define mindfulness?
I see mindfulness as being aware of your awareness. We are constantly aware of feelings and moods and sensations throughout the day as they come and go in and out of our consciousness, but we don't always pay direct attention. Mindfulness is the art of sitting with those sensations and bringing them into our direct awareness without distraction from subconscious thoughts.
How do you practice mindfulness & how regularly?
I practice a combination of deep breathing and meditation every morning for about 20 minutes. It's close to the first thing I do each day and my day is always a bit wonky if I skip it, which hasn't happened this year so far!
Talk us through your routine – do you layout particular times of day to focus on this, or incorporate it throughout the day?
I love to do it first thing in the morning before there are any distractions, before I look at my phone, and definitely before coffee. It's when my mind is the clearest. The salt lamp goes on, my headphones go in and I get on the floor of the office at home in my undies (too many clothes get in the way haha!).
Spotify goes on, and I start with a round of 40 deep breaths followed by a breath-hold of 60 seconds. I do this 3 more times, each time adding 10-20 deep breaths and extending the breath-hold. After the final breath hold, I sit up and resume slow, controlled breathing as I meditate.
How do you stop your mind from wandering during mindfulness?
It's tough! It's always going to wander at some point depending on how you are feeling that particular day. The trick is actually to acknowledge when your mind wanders off and bring it back firmly but gently. I love to focus on the sensations in my hands or feet, or on music. Sounds and feelings are perfect to bring yourself into your body and out of dreamland. Practice and consistency are really the only ways forward.
How has mindfulness affected your life when you think of 'pre' and 'post' mindfulness?
Haha, the difference is ridiculous. In the first weeks of meditation, you may wonder why you aren't Yoda yet and get frustrated at why you aren't having crazy visions of the future (that was me anyway) but it's something that compounds over time like interest. I am far calmer and clearer throughout the day. Things don't tend to throw my day out as easily as they used to and I have a much nicer disposition in the way I talk to myself.
People often say they can't concentrate or focus - any tips and tricks?
That's the point I guess, isn't it? We are so distracted, we have so much stimulus thrown at us each and every day from the moment we open our eyes. Meditation and mindfulness are one of the tools we can use to combat that. It's going to feel uncomfortable the first few times, you will end up thinking of a blue elephant trying to buy a coffee more than once but that's part of the journey. It's just like anything, you aren't a wizard from day one (unless you're Harry) but you get there.
People often also say they can't find the time to dedicate **minutes to doing this every day – what do you say to this?
You've got time to watch Squid Games, don't you...?
Any podcasts or guided mindfulness videos you can suggest?
I use the Calm App, there are heaps out there such as Headspace or the Wim Hof App. They are all good! It's more so about starting your journey and you will naturally be led down one path or another. Everyone does it differently and has different experiences. The moment you realise you can do it how you like, the easier it all gets! Get creative.
What're your personal lessons/awakenings in regards to mindfulness?
We know so little about consciousness and the classification of self. It's all so open to interpretation and theory. All I know is if there is a way to grasp the tiniest of insights into better understanding who I am and how I work, I am going to take it and run with it.
Any tips & tricks to encourage people to get started?
Start with guided meditation! Calm, Headspace, Youtube, etc. It helps you focus when someone is guiding you through the first few awkward sessions.
Try and practice before you consume too much of the outside world (TV, Phone, Emails, Socials) as they very much impact your state of mind.