The topic of mindfulness has exploded in the media like a volcanic eruption over the last decade, but what does it mean? From my understanding, it is a form of focus that requires concentration on the task at hand. In other words, if you focus on something but your mind wanders, you have the ability to shift your mind back because you were aware of the disconnection. This concentrated effort of focus/mindfulness with practice, strengthens the connection in your brain and rewires new circuits to form new thought patterns. With practice and patience, these new thought patterns become your reality.
Bodybuilders use this analogy of mindfulness training. Arnold Schwarzenegger is a huge advocate of this training process. He believes that the mind and body are interconnected, two facets of the same thing. As the health and strength of the mind improves, the body will surely follow. Discipline is all-important to success in bodybuilding but so is the ability to concentrate. Set a goal for yourself and do not let anything, or better yet, any distracting thoughts get in your way.
Your body will never fully respond to your workouts until you understand how to train the mind. Because the mind is a vital source of energy, it will respond to your deepest desires. The mind does not know the difference between what is real and your thoughts. Athletes, who have broken barriers and set records, use the power of their mind to achieve unbelievable feats. They make use of their inner drive along with their physical abilities. People can walk on coals when they are sufficiently motivated.
Put your mind into the muscle, rather than thinking about the weight itself. When you think about the weight instead of the muscle, you can’t really feel what the muscle is doing. You lose control. Visualization ties in nicely with this thought process. When performing crunches for your core, visualize your midsection crumpling up like an accordion achieving those beautifully orchestrated muscles. Perhaps you are enjoying a stretch class to work out stored up tension your body is holding onto. Concentrate on your muscle groups elongating and releasing the energy so you can move freely and with grace. Your body will follow through with your instructions for it is your biggest advocate.
There are some steps you can take to start the process of mindfulness. I’ll use the example of the gym environment and performing a bicep curl. When picking up a weight from the rack, feel the coolness of the iron in your grip. As you bring the weights down to your sides, feel your elbows being drawn into your waist while gravity pulls the weight down. As you bring the weights up, your palms draw upwards toward the ceiling and your biceps contract while the energy confines itself in that area. As the weight is drawn closer, visualize your biceps erupting into small hills filling in with hard earth. Hold the movement up at the top and feel it explode with expansion. While bringing the weight back down, feel the elongation of the bicep movement and the force of the gravitational pull. Keep this concentrated effort for the full range of repetitions. It may seem that there is a lot to think about, but keep in mind that you are connecting your mind to your muscle group. Once that connection is made with concentrated effort and time, you will have created a new network in your brain while the old energy pathways begin to dissolve. If you are willing to make that leap into the matrix, you will be amazed at how your body responds.