Photo: armour Down
Before the war I worked out to Metallica. Battery, Master of Puppets, and Hero of the Day, helped me disregard the screaming of my muscles and work harder.At the gym at Forward Operating Base (FOB) Loyalty I continued to push past my limits.
No Pain. No Gain. Hooah!
I tried to exercise the same way when I got back, but it wasn’t happening. The pain I felt every morning when I got up and before I went to bed was too much even though I had a huge tolerance for pain.
My military mindset that served me so well in theatre was wearing me down in the free world.
The first time I wasn’t in pain after exercise was after a yoga class. Sleeping soundly for the first time in years was an added benefit as well.
I ended up taking a yoga class once a week, but I realised that I didn’t have to just practice yoga to derive yogic benefits.
Yoga is mindfulness in motion. Mindfulness is being completely in tune with your present moment. Being completely in tune with what you are doing can happen at any time. All I had to do to combine the two was start really paying attention to what I was doing while working out instead of just paying attention to how much I was lifting.
The first thing I noticed was the way my shoulders hiked up towards my ears whenever I pushed or pulled anything.
The reason it took me so long to notice this was because I was always focused on how much weight I was lifting instead of how I was lifting it.
The shoulder clearing exercise I showed you last week is what led to my changed understanding of the Lat Pulldown.
I realised that since my shoulders and neck were jacked up from wearing body armour, chances were that it was messing up my ability to pull effectively.
Sure enough my shoulders popped up every time I did Lat Pull Downs. This weeks exercise is how to begin keeping your shoulders down when you pull.
The way you do this is by synchronizing your breathing to the up and down motion of the Lat Pulldown. I like breathing in when I go up and breathing out as I pull down.
In the beginning, the main goal is simply to connect your mind to your breath and your breath to your motion.
When you connect to your breath in the gym you are practicing connecting to your body, not overcoming it. This does not mean that you can’t lift heavy, it does however mean that you have to monitor how you lift heavy.
Zoning out to Metallica and tapping into the powers of range to overcome weakness only works for so long.
Practicing mindfulness at the gym is training to thrive as a civilian.
This post was guided by the 36th stanza of the Art of Peace, a book written by Morihei Ueshiba
armour Down now has a website. Check it out.
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