‘Mindfulness basically means maintaining a moment-by-moment awareness of our thoughts, feelings or bodily sensations, and our surrounding environment; we want to try and do that from a gentle nurturing awareness,’ said Clayton Sizemore, founder and senior instructor at Mindful Movement Florida.
By J.A. Jones, Staff Writer
ST PETERSBURG – Clayton Sizemore is the founder and senior instructor at Mindful Movement Florida (MMF). Mindful Movement uses a holistic approach to help adults and youth become “their most well-balanced, educated, and healthy selves.”
Sizemore’s belief — and constant refrain — is, “Health is wealth.”
“Mindfulness basically means maintaining a moment-by-moment awareness of our thoughts, feelings or bodily sensations, and our surrounding environment; and we want to try and do that from a gentle nurturing awareness,” he shared.
Mindfulness plays a significant role in mental health because it also involves acceptance – which means paying attention to our thoughts and feelings without judgment. Without judgment, explained Sizemore, means without believing that there may be a right way or wrong way to think or feel in a given moment.
Practicing mindfulness means only tuning into what it is you’re sensing in the present moment, “rather than rehashing the past or imagining the future,” he added.
A large part of practicing mindfulness is learning how to use meditation to support our mental wellness. For Sizemore, meditation is an essential tool in learning how to self-regulate or gain control over our thoughts, feelings, and, ultimately, actions.
Psychiatry Review published a study that found that individuals with a generalized anxiety disorder who participated in a Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) program had a more significant reduction in stress markers than those who didn’t.
Sizemore said teaching people how to meditate is “probably one of the most important things we try to do for people. Meditation is a very simple but life-transforming skill to help you relax, enhance your understanding of yourself, and develop your inherent potential.”
While he acknowledged that meditating can be challenging in the beginning, the network-TV-producer-turned-certified yoga instructor insisted that meditation is “a life-transforming skill.”
“The first time I meditated, I was like, ‘oh my God’… just trying to slow the brain down,” he relayed, admitting it wasn’t easy.
But there are some simple and basic steps to help prepare for meditating. The first, Sizemore said, is carving out the time to do it – which, in our fast-paced and hectic lives, is challenging enough.
Carving out the time to do it goes hand in hand with finding the perfect place, which will be different for everyone. Right in their own home may be ideal for some people, while others may find fewer distractions in a quiet area in a nearby park.
Next, it’s figuring out the most comfortable position – some may want to lie down, while others may find it easier to sit while meditating. The important thing, Sizemore noted, is to be in a place where you can “just be still, not have any outside distractions — and just connect with your breath.”
Among the many benefits of meditating, Sizemore said gaining a sense of inner peace is at the forefront; additionally, an increased sense of self-awareness comes from slowing down and centering on oneself and the breath in the moment.
This leads to other huge benefits – including helping us feel more calm, present, and aware in our daily life. Calling it a sense of being “grounded,” Sizemore noted, “When you’re grounded, you’re more present to your reality.”
Another plus that meditation brings is increasing our ability to live in a state of consciousness: being aware of what we are doing, saying, feeling, eating, and all the behaviors we can easily act upon without thought. “Meditation is an important tool in living consciously,” he relayed.
Sizemore noted that meditation could also help us feel rejuvenated by helping us sleep better.
“A lot of folks have issues with insomnia, and one of the primary reasons for insomnia is the bombardment of thoughts,” he relayed. But meditation brings self-awareness — “a sense of who you are and what you’re about” — that Sizemore said helps alleviate anxiety and aids one in better managing the stressors that come with daily life.
Meditation can also increase our spiritual connection, becoming a source of inspiration.
“The most important thing I think meditation does is increase your fulfillment of life. It just really helps you live a better life,” Sizemore stated.
MMF offers classes that teach beginning and advanced yoga postures, meditation, breathing techniques, and positive affirmations. For more information on mindfulness and mental health, visit mindfulmovementflorida.org.