Workouts can go beyond sweat, fatigue, and endorphins. By engaging our whole self (mind, body, spirit), the physical workout transforms into an experience that impacts real issues and improves the quality of life.
I went to BodyCombat this weekend, which is something I do every now and again to mix it up. I left with a fresh perspective. It’s often when doing something out of my norm that I am more concentrated and contemplative. Fresh thoughts appear.
During our workout, I stumbled across this thought:
My body is my home. It’s the place that my heart, mind, and spirit dwell.
I held onto that truth as I moved in unison (somewhat) with the room pretending to fight my anonymous opponent. What I was doing at that very moment mattered to my body. This was an opportunity to improve. Every jab, hook, knee, kick, roundhouse, shuffle became relevant. They were no longer pretend, but instead real and meaningful. I felt deeply engaged. I was overwhelmed with gratitude for a healthy body and the privilege to exercise. I was refreshed.
What about you? Have you tried this sort of mediative workout? Go ahead, give it a whirl!
During your workout enter a mediative state by engaging your mind and breath. With effort and intention, focus on something (a challenge or blessing or problem or dream) to work over in your mind. Let your physical energy power your emotions and thoughts. Connect your physical effort to the thought you are working through. Be confident that your physical work is moving your whole body forward. At the end of the workout, you may have clarity, fresh thoughts, or perspective on the issue.
While that straightforward process may seem like nothing special, I am confident that when engaging in a physical effort the body creates a unique environment for the mind and spirit. As we stretch ourselves physically, our minds resolve and focus. At the same time, the physical challenge creates an emotional vulnerability that allows us to evaluate our thoughts and feelings at a different (perhaps deeper) level. At the intersection of physical fatigue, mental resolve, focus, and vulnerability we learn something new.
The whole body work does not have to be of the majorly profound sort. While that type is always welcome, it may not be very common. Instead the productive thoughts can be as simple as planning the rest of the week, reviewing short and/or long term goals, planning how to bless someone you love or appreciate, dreaming of the future, or re-working a problem that you can’t seem to find a right solution for. I try and steer clear of judging my thoughts when I am in the zone. Instead, I let them come just as they are and focus on the ones that seem the most interesting at the moment.
Do you practice this in your workouts? Have you any insight to share?