Just Practice

As  a personal trainer I often admonish my clients to put their mind into their muscles when they engage in strength training activities. It is my fervent belief that we train our muscles best when we practice putting our mind on feeling what our muscles are doing throughout each exercise repetition.

The energy of the mind is the essence of life. Aristotle

When it comes to strength, muscles or otherwise, I believe our mind is our most potent, powerful agent and ally for change in our physical body and in our life. What we think  (believe) has the potential to germinate the seeds of well-being or dis-ease. With every thought, with every belief, we grow ourselves stronger, larger. It’s just that simple.  If you want to get better at anything, then your betterment is determinant upon your practice of doing.

Your brain reflects the way that you think throughout your life. You kind of shape it by your thoughts and your behaviors. If you play violin for eight hours a day, then the parts of the brain responsible for helping you to play the violin will get larger. If you’re thinking stressful thoughts for the whole day then those parts of the brain are going to get larger and other parts of the brain will deteriorate. Jo Marchant

Your brain is like a muscle that responds (grows) by the thoughts you put into it from your mind. Your mind is superior to your brain. Your mind (your soul, your personality, your will) feeds and directs your physical brain. Conscious and subconscious thoughts  bathe your brain with input (thought for food…food for thought) 24/7. Check your thought diet! Are you consciously or unconsciously feeding your brain junk food? Junk thoughts?

If you think you are in danger, your brain sets into motion your fight or flight response. Your breathing respirations increase as does your blood pressure; all systems are on high alert, ready for action. Conversely, if you think you are in safety, your parasympathetic pathways are engaged, and your body is calmed, your breathing is slower and deeper and your blood pressure returns to normal. Your brain needs your mind to direct its resources in accordance to your body’s needs. Your mind drives your body. Have you checked whose in charge lately?

The mind is willing, but the body is weak.

Whatever virtue, trait or ability you want to improve or enlarge in your life, you must only do one thing: PRACTICE, PRACTICE, PRACTICE. This is so simple. This is why I am often fond of saying, “less is more”. It only takes one thought, one act of your will, to put into motion a healthier, happier life. You decide. So please do not be careless about what you think because it will effect what you practice.

 

The Ripple Effect

Fresh bamboo leaves over water

The other day I came across a news item in Runner’s World had which told the story of one man’s determination to finish a 5K race every month in 2015. The story began with Derek Mitchell’s last place finish at the Kansas City Big 12 5K. Some folks might not be so keen to have this sort of story told about themselves. But for Derek Mitchell, he’s a man on the move…a man who currently weighs in around 570 pounds. He was tempted to quit before he completed the first mile, but he kept his mental focus on his goal…crossing the finish line. Derek’s story reminded me of so many things that are important to keeping us on track when we set our sights on a future goal. But two things seemed most critical: practice (training) for the race event and having a support system (family, friends, peers). These two components can be boiled down to one element: Accountability.

Practice that perfects our ability involves deliberate intention…in other words ACTION is required. And purposeful action engenders accountability. In Derek’s case, he let the world-wide community know about his intentions and his monthly goal. That is a bold, brave and effective strategy for him to embrace; but this is a behavior which all true goal seekers intuitively perform. Additionally, when we make ourselves accountable to another or to others, we certify and solidify for ourselves our intentions. But there is a bonus effect…a ripple effect if you will. When we engage others in our goal setting, we have the potential to inspire those with whom we have gathered around our plan. Sometimes those inspired are curious onlookers or strangers, as in Derek’s case. Sometimes those inspired are family members, co-workers, or friends. Most times though, we never know who will be caught up in our momentum and motivated to implement similar goals for themselves.

Accountability separates the wishers in life from the action-takers that care enough about their future to account for their daily actions. John Di Lemme

In physics there is a law of conservation of energy which states that energy cannot be created or destroyed, only changed from one form to another. If energy conservation is real in the physical world, it is also true in the unseen world of the body/mind/spirit. If we consider that energy is changed from one form to another (from thought to physical action), then we realize that our physical action activates changes not only in ourselves (body/mind/spirit), but our energies also radiate to those whom we encounter in route to our goal.

Consider the ripple effect a gentle breeze has upon those things within its path. We see its consequence when we watch leaves, twigs, brush and bramble dance across open ground in the presence of this invisible energy source. Likewise, as we move with intention towards our goals, we transform energy from thought to body, from invisible to visible. Not only do we propel ourselves toward our intended goals but others may be moved by our energy in the ripple and wake of our efforts…sometimes so much so that they are caught up with us in our vision. Whether seen or unseen, our intentional energies have the potential to transform not only our lives but also the lives of others; and this begins with every determinate act we make towards the finish line.