How Mindfulness Meditation Could Improve Balance and Coordination

Maybe you’ve been here before: Late for a meeting, rushing up a flight of stairs, cup of coffee in one hand and a folder in the other . . .

. . . and your foot catches something. You sprawl on the stairs, and you’ve got to spend the rest of the day with coffee-soaked clothes and sore shins.

Sometimes our clumsy moments lead to more than embarrassment, too – even injury. So wouldn’t it be something if mindfulness meditation could improve our balance and coordination?
Mindfulness and balance
Ying Kee, PhD and his colleagues at Nanyang Technological University’s National Institute of Education figured it might, so they conducted some research to find out.

They gathered 32 men and randomly assigned them to two groups. First, researchers had the treatment and the control group balance on one leg on top of a force plate.

Next, both groups placed their hands in a basin of water.

People in the treatment group were told to consider how their hands felt as they moved them slowly across the basin. This was meant to quickly induce a mindful state.

Members of the control group were told merely to move their hands at their own pace.

After the water task, researchers instructed both groups to stand on one foot again. All participants then completed some short surveys about mindfulness and balance.

Mindful awareness might actually improve your ability to balance and control your motions.

Here’s what they found – and it’s good news, especially if you’re already a mindfulness practitioner.

For participants who already showed higher attention and awareness levels (according to the surveys), the treatment significantly improved their balance. Meanwhile, members of the control group with the same traits saw no changes.

In other words, paying mindful attention to your body doesn’t just change how you experience feelings flowing through it. Mindful awareness might actually improve your ability to balance and control your motions.

This study starts small – just standing on one foot.

But imagine the implications of mindful awareness to improve balance and coordination for athletes, soldiers, or the elderly.

And wouldn’t it be nice to never trip on the stairs again?

If you want to read the full study, it was published in the October 2012 Journal of Exercise and Sport Psychology.

This research shows one unique potential benefit of mindfulness – but there are so many more ways that mindfulness can make a difference for our clients. To find out more, check this out.

Have you ever used mindfulness to help a client with a physical health problem? Share your story below.

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3 Comments

  1. Chris Zagelow says:

    I am a pioneer in the fitness industry, started in 1979. I have blended Somatic Experiencing training (Peter Levine) with my fitness background and I personal train and lecture. I have worked with many populations including combat veterans with ptsd. I made a board filled with information on the brain wave patterns and teach how to identify where they are (awareness) and how the electrical pattern works. It has taken personal training to a whole new level as mindfulness is included in the whole workout . They understand the difference between feeling receptive or resistive and how the physical, mental, emotional, spirit must work in harmony to keep the whole system in balance. The muscles tighten up when the brain wave is fed with adrenalin and this leads to out of balance and coordination. We do this on all exercise equipment and at the end they leave the gym in a very relaxed state.

    • Kathy says:

      Hi Chris!

      I found your paragraph very interesting! Was not familiar with Peter Levine’s work until now. I am completing a doctorate in nursing practice (DNP) in Integrative Health and Healing. I am a retired military nurse with a masters in psychology and when finished with my DNP program plan to work with Veterans and their families. Your combination of professional fitness training and interest in Dr. Levine’s work sounds promising. Would love to get more information on your program with combat vets and would like to know about your successes with this population.

      Kathy Steele

  2. margarita reyes says:

    Yesterday lecture was good, but I could not hear it well, it was stopped many times and it was an interrupted conversation difficult to follow.

    Anyway, I am interested in mindfulness a lot, as a yoga teacher and for my wellbeing.

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