Picking up from last month's post on meditation and training, Didier Kan returns this month with some insights into how mindfulness can also help us – not just with training, but every day life. As he says: "Mindfulness is the practice of being present, and fully accepting that we are enough and complete right here, right now".
Mind over matter
Time travelling and insecurity are the untrained mind default set-up. We analyse the past, worry about the future, and typically compare ourselves constantly with everyone and anyone. As a result we are rarely here in the present, and we need others to validate our worth.
I am what I am
Numbers and goals quantify and structure whatever we do in a gym, which reinforce the bad habits we all suffer from – we put conditions on happiness. I will be happy when I've lost a stone, when I squat twice my bodyweight, when I win that fight, or when I reach 0.0001% of body fat…
When we place happiness in the future we are confirming at a subconscious level that we are unhappy now, therefore beating ourselves up emotionally. We must remind ourselves that we come to the gym to elevate – and not aggravate – our physical and mental state.
Fight, or flight
Many commonly associate negative stress with good energy to fuel their work out. Venting anger or frustrations of the day on the punching bag, the weights, or through extreme exhaustion by attending multiple classes, actually creates addiction. Studies have demonstrated that even though it feels satisfying at the end of a work-out, they will start the next session with a little more anger and frustrations than the time before each time, as they are allowing to indulge into the dark side…
Subsequently a prolonged exposure to stress and negative emotions triggers a sympathetic state (emergency fight, flight or freeze mode) that reduces the IQ by up to 50% which impairs our judgement and affects our performance and safety. Clarity of mind is essential at any stage of training.
The best energy we can use to stay safe and progress, whether at a recreational or competitive level, comes from a place of happiness – calm, confidence and control. Mindfulness teaches us how to get rid of the white noise in our head and create a laser mind focus.
Switch off and switch up
Your mind is like a computer's hard disk drive. You need to switch it off-and-on every so often to ensure it doesn't go into overdrive and stays sharp, using flash meditations. Like a physical warm-up we want to introduce a mental warm-up by meditating 5-10 minutes before training. Once the mind is ready, the body will follow.
Next time you train weights remind yourself to focus on one repetition at a time. Think '1' at your first rep, then '2' at the second – instead of thinking 10 when you're only at 3.
Next time you're in the boxing ring, focus on hitting the pads one strike or combo at a time, instead of worrying about how you look.
Next time you attend a class focus on what you do instead of what others do.
Your best is good enough
Numbers and goals are just that – numbers and goals. They don’t define us and we can never win as there will always be more. We want to use them as flexible guidelines instead of extra pressure in an already demanding life, to enjoy and optimise the very experience of training.
You are enough in this moment. Do your best at being mindful of that and whatever you do will always be good enough, one moment at a time.