Zen & The Art of Intuition: The Process Model

shifting mental states

My mindfulness story began in a climbing harness.  Indeed, the first place I ever noticed my mind and body being in the same place at the same time was while rock climbing.  Sure, it had happened before, but I hadn’t ever realized it.  It was a profound shift in my physical rock climbing technique, and even more in my mental and emotional life.


Mindfulness is defined as “the state of paying attention to one’s internal and external experience in the present moment, with an attitude of openness and curiosity.”  When we step into that state, we adapt more efficiently, learn more deeply, and make more effective choices.  Beautifully, this can be applied to any activity in any part of our lives!

The adaptability, learning, and decision-making improvements from mindfulness have been found to improve our mental and physical longevity.  The mental part may be more obvious, since “mind” is part of the word, “mindfulness…”  But, physical?  Allow me to explain…

First, it is helpful to think of physical agility as a process, not a trait.   While it may seem like some folks are “natural athletes,” they have also invested incredible amounts of time and energy into that process and skill development.  For all of us, though, relaxed attention is a super power in physical ability and durability.

the process model

We’ll use the Process Model as a framework.  Let’s reflect on its four stages specifically for learning, adapting, and making movement-decisions biased toward long-term health…

1. pay attention

Notice how your body feels before, during, and after movement. Turn off auto-pilot and tune into potential cues and lessons. What hurts?  How do you need to prepare?  Where do you feel strong?  Weak?

2. get curious

More than noticing, it’s crucial we turn the data we collect into understanding, even and especially if it challenges our comfort zone.  This means giving yourself permission to change and maybe reroute course if it means actually taking care of yourself and your body.

Photo: Sav Cummins

3. experiment

Take that insight and try it out, change it, and try it out again!  Staying attentive and curious means these experiments result in movement and activity that will feel good because the body is prepared and cared for every step of the way.  Get excited about some uncertainty and change.  Our bodies (like everything else) are changing; embrace that reality rather than cling to the past. This is how we serve a healthy, aging, moving body.

4. reflect

Settle back into attention and curiosity.  Step back, see the context from some distance and review where you have been, if it’s working, and where you’d like to go from here.

These four stages exemplify the heart of real-life mindfulness in that they take us from initial experience all the way to integration we can bank on in the future.  When we pay more attention – with curiosity and flexibility – we create more choices in our lives.  When we have more choices, we find the space we need for work, play, and all the rest.  This simple (and not always easy) perspective can help ensure we’re able to keep our bodies and minds “in shape” for the long-haul. 

Blake Cason

Blake Cason

Blake Cason MS, Healthy Habit and Lifestyle Coach, is a smile-out-loud kind of woman. A lot of joy and passion in a small package, she chases what inspires her in a big way. Her coaching practice, Pivot Wellness, is a direct result of her love of climbing and she credits both for much of her real-deal life experience. Blake's approach to life coaching is equally weighted in evidence-based positive psychology and neuroscience while remaining client-driven and approachable. Her favorite thing? Listening to people talk about what they love. Second favorite? Morning snuggle-meditations with her pup, Barley.

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