So what exactly is the mind – body connection? The mind and body are really inseparable but most people I find are not as in tune with their bodies when they train or work out as they should or could be. This is a topic that I feel is very important when it comes to working out and getting optimal results from your fitness program.
Use Your Art or Hobby to Connect the Two
As a martial artist, the mind – body connection becomes very evident during training and especially during sparring. If you are not in the moment so to speak and are not aware of your body position, your breathing, your environment, your opponent’s position and movement and are caught up in some random thought process, it’s going to cost you… in many cases with a kick or punch (or several) to your body & that is going to hurt.
That’s what I always loved about martial arts, because they almost force you to link your body and mind into one harmonious unit or otherwise your martial art will never evolve to higher levels. The human mind is super powerful, in my opinion quite frankly probably one of the most powerful forces we have at our disposal as human beings.
It has allowed us as a species to attain magnificent achievements in technology, architecture, medicine etc. It also allows us to do incredible things with our bodies. If you ever heard the term mind over matter, this is only possible if you have a strong awareness of your own mind – body connection…. the body follows the mind.
But going back to the basics of how the everyday person can use their mind to not only enhance their workouts but achieve levels of fitness and attain their personal goals much quicker than most think possible. I’ll give a quick example of how one can do this right away.
Be ‘in’ Your Body
When I go to the gym, I see many people on treadmills watching TV as they run. This is not very productive because what you are essentially doing is putting your mental focus on external stimuli and your results will suffer for it. You should be focused on your body and your breathing and the signals/feeling your brain is sending to your body. Also what you can be doing is visualizing how you are improving your body’s shape and tone as opposed to being caught up in some pointless television show. Of course if you are watching an exercise video or training course that is a different story.
I’ll get into visualization more in another post, but suffice to say you should be ‘in’ your body when working out, whether it’s running, lifting, doing squats etc. Your internal focus on the type of results you are achieving while doing the actual exercise itself can speed up the actual time frame you get those results dramatically.
Be aware of your thoughts; are you thinking to yourself how difficult the exercise is or when it’s going to be finally over? Or are you thinking how much stronger or leaner your are getting, or visualizing your ideal body shape you desire? Also if you are really pushing yourself and are in pain, focusing on your breathing is so important to not only pushing through but also calming your mind and oxygenating your muscles properly.
Staying Aware Keeps You Safer
Also if you are running outdoors in public, I always tell people to not wear headphones as this decreases your awareness of what’s around you which you really should be aware of. I am a big advocate of music and how it can enhance your workouts and practically give you energy but it should be done in the right place like the safety of your home or studio.
I will get into the mind – body connection in deeper levels in the future, for example moving energy internally and chi kung. This requires that you are intimately aware of your thoughts and breathing while training.