The Mind-Body Connection
Is Exercise Enough?
It’s long been known and accepted that physical activity releases endorphins, which can help increase a person’s sense of well-being. This is especially true for Baby Boomers. Having a fitness routine focused on building muscle tone not only builds your body, but helps your mind. The more I worked on improving my body, the more I realized that I needed to work on my mind as well. When I first considered the idea of meditation, while sitting in the sauna after a work out, I thought it would be just a matter of sitting still and shutting down my mind for ten minutes or so, boy was I mistaken.
I was totally dismayed with myself, not only could I not sit still for even 5 minutes, but my mind refused to shut down at all. I remember just trying to count to sixty and not being able to do it. It’s then that I realized that meditation was going to be a lot harder for me then I anticipated.
Quiet the Mind
In order for me to start getting a handle on meditation I had to think of times when my mind was relatively quiet. I thought it was when I was sitting in the sauna or alone in the park, walking my dogs, but as I started watching my thoughts while doing these things, I realized that my mind was constantly jumping from one topic to another, and going into the future or revisiting the past, over and over again. The more I started looking at my thinking the more evident it became that not only couldn’t I control it but I spent very little time in the present, I was never in the now. It was either in the past or the future.
In doing some follow up reading about staying in the present, I stumbled on the role of the ego. I came to find out that it was my ego, that loves to replay the past, wishing it could be different, or dreading the future, with all its what if’s, and hope it don’ts. But I don’t want to digress into a discussion about the ego, I’ll save that for a future blog.
But I really had to think about a time when was I present. And it dawned on me, that the only time I was really in the present was when I was playing golf. I had known for a long time that if I didn’t maintain concentration on what I was doing while playing, I couldn’t hit the ball. You have to be centered and focused on what your doing, totally in the now, in order to play well.
Thinking about what it is that your do, where your have to concentrate on the now, is the first step in learning how to quiet the mind. If your can find that, your have your starting point.
It Starts with Awareness
Once I started to be aware of my thinking, a whole new perspective opened up for me. I realized for the first time that I had an undisciplined mind. A mind that jumped from thought to thought, without any regard for how I felt, I was just along for the ride. This awareness, this change in perspective was Hugh, and its from this beginning, that I’ve been able to start getting a handle on my thinking.
Realizing that a majority of my thoughts were just repetitive and often problematic, has allowed me to take control of them, now when they come up, I just let them pass, saying to myself, I’ve already thought about that enough, its only my ego at work. This little trick has improved my mood immensely.
I also started paying attention to my negative self talk and started to be aware of how self-defeating and non-productive it was. I started to think about the saying, “If your had a friend that talked to your the way your talk to yourself, would they be your friend?/” and realized that the answer would be no.
This awareness gave me a new attitude and it all started with exercise. By working on your body, you start paying attention to your mind. They go hand in hand, body-mind, as your start feeling better, your start thinking better. The experts are going to tell your that it takes hard work and dedication. I’m here to show your how just starting a simple exercise program, to regain muscle tone, can lead to an awareness that anything is possible. Take care of your body and the mind will follow.