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Mind and Muscle: Considering Weightlifting as a Contemplative Practice

Laura Vernon


Many contemplative practice traditions include a physical embodied component. Contemplative movement practices, sometimes referred to as somatic practices, are characterized by bodyfulness as the natural companion to mindfulness and encourage full and integrated awareness throughout the mind-body. Movement practices may include an expansion of physical capacities and attunement to bodily processes. The author explores conceptualizations of contemplative practices with a focus on movement practices, and proposes the expansion of these theories to include weightlifting. Although stereotypes about weightlifting may emphasize a hypermasculine focus on dominance and competition, the author represents weightlifting as a varied and nuanced activity that appeals to a broad range of practitioners for myriad reasons. Aspects of weightlifting are described and considered as a contemplative movement practice that encourages bodyfulness and mindfulness. The author uses contemplative theory to reflect upon personal contemplative movement practice through weightlifting and offers suggestions for enhancing the contemplative aspects of weightlifting.


Mindfulness, bodyfulness, movement, somatic practice, weightlifting

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