The topic for the day was ‘balance.’ The audience included seventy women who work in corrections as medical personnel, teachers, correctional officers, counselors, and guards.
As one of the speakers for the retreat, I hoped to bring Mentastics to these women in a meaningful way.
This was my first presentation to a large group.
For weeks I wrote, re-wrote and rehearsed for a forty-five minute talk. To say I was nervous is an understatement. What daily minute Mentastics would be useful when the job is sitting all day outside a door guarding prisoners? Working in an occupation where the goal is to arrive home safely each evening. Safety depending on situational awareness at all times. The nervous system is always on high alert.
What does Mentastics offer?
Attempting to balance my nervousness about the presentation with my enthusiasm for the material, I did a lot of deep breathing on the drive. I was directed to enter the red brick building through the rear door. My hand reached for the grey steel handle. It was cold. I felt a burst of nervous energy in my body, noticed my thoughts were racing.
I laughed out loud. I was the one who needed the Minute Mentastics!
I took time to simply arrive to the present moment; feel my feet supported by the ground. I noticed the weight of the door, heard the voices inside.
Fast forward a few hours to when it was my turn to speak. My notes sitting on the podium, I knew that talking about movement meant I had to move around. Fear of forgetting something I wanted to say was lurking in the back of my mind. Hovering nearby was the thought, What will people think of me.
I paused mid-sentence, reminded myself I was sharing what I know. Mentastics is first awareness.
I asked everyone to join me standing for just one minute. I set the timer. We began by feeling the bottoms of our feet, noticing the ground supporting them, the points of contact with the floor as we slowly shifted weight back and forth from one foot to the other. Maybe there is no sensation of the feet and just a general thought about their purpose to carry us through our day. Maybe the shoes chosen today are uncomfortable. Sometimes a thought or feeling will arrive as soon as attention is given to the body. Observe this pattern with interest and curiosity, and without judgment or award.
For those who could not stand, we followed the same observations and shifting of weight in the chair.
By the end of sixty seconds, I felt amazingly supported, grounded and curious. The participants were curious, too. Sitting back down, they felt different. They wondered why.
Minute Mentastics provide a means to build curiosity, strengthen the body mind connection, and open us to the possibility of how life could be.
Before doing a presentation:
– Take time to simply arrive to the present moment. Feel your feet supported by the ground. Notice the weight of the door. Hear the voices in the room.
– Stand for one minute. Notice the points of contact with the floor slowly shifting weight back and forth from one foot to the other. Observe any thoughts or feelings.