If You Want It, Think About It
If I ever had to put my training on the Mind:Body scale, I would say that I’m 5% mind, 95% body. I am a hyperactive person, I have zero patience, and I cannot stay still, unless I’m physically asleep.
As an Athletic Trainer and a Personal Trainer, I have always been aware of the benefits of meditation and rejuvenation. I would constantly preach it to my clients and would “plan” to walk into a yoga class or open a meditation app during my busy schedule.
My journey into yoga was not traditional. My body was beaten up and breaking down, my stress level was through the roof, and I was burned out in every way possible. I needed a change.
At this time, I was actively training to throw my hat into the ring for the Massachusetts Golden Gloves tournament, while also ramping up my OCR racing. My boxing coach would beg me week after week to focus on my rejuvenation and recovery. Finally, one day, he told me sparring would not happen again until I committed to taking yoga; I only had to go once. Two and a half years later, I am on the same mat every week; Wednesdays at noon.
As I progress deeper into my discovery of mindfulness, I started talking with a friend about the benefits of meditation and breathing. I was intrigued. We would toss around ideas of different breathing techniques, and meditation tanks. We would discuss the effects each technique has on the body and what we’d notice when we’d fall off our routine. We approached mindfulness through science and application. Everything was finally falling into place.
This offseason was a rough one. I had no clue where I was heading in my professional life and I had a non-existent social life. Even my normal off-season training was curtailed by my new running schedule. My yoga practice stayed the same, but my meditation fell off. Suddenly I felt like I was just going through the motions. Even down to this past weekend, my head has not been right.
“Spartan Race Jacksonville is this weekend. This is the first race of my season. I need to get my head straight.”
As my pre-race taper began, I re-evaluated what I was missing in my race preparation.
Last year, my best races came when I sat down, focused in on my breath, and visualized my racing. I would spend 5 minutes before each race breathing. As I breathed, I would see the race; I would see myself come up to each obstacle, and I would let my mind fall into autopilot. I’d stay mindful to my preparations, to my techniques, and to what my head sees me doing on race day. I’m not going to lie, there have been days when I see myself failing twister, or I don’t see any possible way of nailing the spear throw. Those days are the days when nothing goes right.
In preparation for the first race weekend of the season, I am making it my mission to get my head straight. I’m going through the same pre-race preparations. I drink my coconut water and my electrolyte water, I focus in on my nutrition, I taper my training, and I spend time in daily stillness.
After spending the last day focusing in on my meditation and my yoga, my head is finally feeling right. My breath is stable and effortless, my mind is clear, and my yoga poses feel natural. I’ve been riding the post-rejuvenation euphoria for hours, unfazed by the typical stresses of my day.
Meditation is what you make of it. It starts with just sitting with your eyes closed and your mind focusing on each breath. You pay attention to every inhale and every exhale. You clear away any outside stresses and you just breathe.
As meditation becomes a more regular practice, you can start to listen to your body more. You will become mindful of aches and pains, focusing your breath into each area, slowly allowing your body to release that tension. You can start to visualize your races. You will see yourself run the course, practicing your techniques, silencing any self-doubt you may be experiencing. Meditation is all about giving your mind what it needs at that moment.
I will never push rejuvenation techniques on any of my clients. I make the suggestion to attend a yoga class, try a pilates session, or just sit and breathe in each and every session.
People will find rejuvenation when they are ready.
There is never a right or wrong time to start your practice.
Whether you’re preparing to race in Jacksonville this weekend, or you’re just having a stressful week of work and training, set aside some time to sit and just listen to your body. Give yourself a few deep breaths in stillness, clearing your mind, and allowing your body to reset. Never underestimate the power of rest.