Mindfulness in Physical Therapy

I am sure we have all heard the new buzz word: mindfulness…. What does it mean? How does it relate to our everyday lives? What is more, how does it relate to Physical Therapy?
These are the questions I asked myself on the snowy September morning…Well, I went to one of the big box stores and bought a book on mindfulness, and was pleasantly surprized: according to Jon Kabat-Zinn, mindfulness means paying attention in a particular way: on purpose, in the moment, and nonjudgmentally. Big words and ideals, but as I tried to practice it, it became easier.
Let me go on: Mindfulness provides a simple but powerful route for getting ourselves unstuck, back into touch with our own wisdom and vitality. Does this not sound like Physical Therapy and healthy living?
Further, it is simply a practical way to be more in touch with the fullness of your being through a systematic process of self-observation, self-inquiry, and mindful action. Another way to think of it would be “heartfulness”. This reminds me of what Physical Therapists do when we assess a client and ask them questions, guiding them to think of their injury, the cause of the injury, and what changes they can make to prevent it from happening again.
Meditation is about stopping and being present, stopping all our activities and running around and just “being”. Sometimes an injury or accident forces us to take time off, stop what we are doing, therefore providing us the time to do some reflection. So it can be viewed as a positive event, and be useful in its application. I like to provide my clients the time and space and quiet location to do some reflection. Offering them a chance to get away from their busy lives and listen to their bodies.
Things suddenly become simpler. Try this at home: stop, sit down and become aware of your breathing once in a while throughout the day. It can be for five minutes, or five seconds. Don’t try to change anything, just breathe and let go.
Breathe and let be. You will be amazed how relaxed you feel and even pain and discomfort may ease. Become ready to face whatever your body is trying to tell you. Do not resist. What you resist, persists. Let go and let be.
So next time you go into a Physical Therapy office, and you are asked to lie down and receive some heat treatment, use the time to practice mindfulness or meditate. It will make your treatment session more beneficial, and you can tell your friends: I meditated today!

Karin Kaufmann,

*Karin Kaufmann works at OWC Airdrie Associates and OWC Macleod Tr.