What you can achieve when your mind and your body are working as a team.
Last month, I ran a marathon. Yes, the full thing: 42 km! The sun was beating down on my two Round Table comrades and me on that beautiful Sunday, while we were running for a good cause around a field close to Bonn, Germany.
My goal was to run it in less than 4 hours, and I trained for it on a regular basis for several months. But the heat on that day put a significant dampener on my expectations. After 3 hours, it became clear that I would not finish at that pace. I felt it: My body showed several signs of weakness that I could not ignore. My mindfulness practice undoubtedly helped me here. And, in the way I responded to this new situation: calm and serene. No fear, no anger, no disappointment. My mind just acknowledged it, accepted it, and I changed the goal: just finishing the run, regardless of the time. And I did! At a slower pace, with a few pauses and some stretching exercises in between, it just took me 20 more minutes than initially expected. Mission accomplished.
Unexpected changes are frequent challenges with personal or professional goals: no matter how well you plan everything and prepare yourself to get there, in the end, something unpredictable will likely occur and mess it all up. The interesting part is how you deal with that. What is your mind’s reaction in such cases? What kind of information is your body sending you in that moment and, most importantly, do you pay attention to it?
During a physical activity, your body tells you if you are thirsty or need additional energy, if you are out of breath, or if you feel some pain somewhere indicating that a part of your body needs your attention and care. In normal life situations, your body sends you other types of signals too: feelings and emotions.
As I already wrote in previous articles, this emotional information is crucial to understand your needs and deal effectively with almost every situation in your personal and/or professional life (See: The Power of Emotions and The Right Balance). So, having your mind open and receptive for this information coming from your body is essential to take care of yourself. How do you know if you are not, perhaps unconsciously, pushing your body to its physical and/or emotional limit? Or even worse, beyond it?
My point is: There is no purpose in burning yourself up. Never. May it be at work, for a personal project, or in a relationship: Your physical and psychological well-being should always be your first priority. Remember that you can’t pour from an empty cup!
A great way to reconnect your mind with your body is by practicing certain types of meditation:
Mindful breathing: Focus your attention on your breath. Notice the sensation of every breath, in and out, in your nose, in your chest, or in your belly.
Body scan: Go through all your body parts with your attention, like a scanner. Start with your toes and end up with your head and at each stage, stop for a moment and feel the sensation.
Yoga: Through combinations of physical postures, breathing techniques, and relaxation, yoga is an excellent practice to regain control over your mind and your body and to bring harmony between them.
While practicing these exercises, remember to stay present and to focus your attention on your sensations. If thoughts appear, just acknowledge them, and then bring back your mind to your body. Do not judge yourself or the experience you are living: Let it be. And enjoy that beautiful experience of being in this moment, where mind and body are one.
I would like to underline the importance of your mind in setting and achieving your goals, and that without the right mindset, you will probably not achieve them. For me, finishing the marathon became the new goal. I was then confident that I would achieve it if I would take care of my body’s needs. I was optimistic, determined. I could instead have blamed myself for not having trained enough or put the fault on the hot weather, but I would then probably have given up.
Your mind is responsible for setting appropriate goals, based on the current overall situation. Here are a few questions you can ask yourself when you define a goal:
How is the situation right now?
What do I want to achieve?
Why does it matter to me?
Am I capable of achieving this goal?
Or perhaps do I need to reframe it to make it more realistic?
Be honest with yourself. Be humble too: Aware of your strengths, but also of your weaknesses. Be open for and aware of the circumstances, both external and internal. Take your sensations, your feelings, your needs, and your values into account and define your goal accordingly. This is crucial to create the proper mindset: determined, positive, and confident that, whatever happen, you are doing the right thing, and you will make it!
In conclusion, aligning your mind and your body will help you to create awareness and build a positive mindset. You will be amazed to see what you can reach when that happens! Setting goals and taking important decisions will become more natural, you will enjoy the journey on the way to reaching your goals, with less stress and inner conflicts, and therefore a greater peace of mind, a healthier body, and perhaps a lighter heart too.
And if sometimes it is still difficult and you struggle on your way, remember that you can always count on me to provide you with the support you need. 😉
Take care, stay aligned,