Category Archives: Mind Articles

The Mental aspects of fitness. The motivational and raison d’etre of everything we do and why we do it. I believe fitness is manifestation of our thoughts in creating a better us.

Mind Article : Fitness and Kindness

I think the two really are like chalk and cheese. Fitness and kindness are quite different things. But are they ? Recently i was listening to a French Monk (Matthieu Ricard) talk about happiness. He was talking about basic philosophies of happiness or well being, it seems no one wakes up thinking they want to suffer the whole day. Consciously or not, whatever we hope and dream its related to a profound desire for happiness. There is incredible diversity in happiness, fleeting or vague and each of us to define it in our own terms. But if its something to determine our destiny and what we feel , then we need to know what it is, when we seek it we want to know we are running to it.

Matthieu Ricard, philosopher on the state of happiness.

Is happiness pleasure ? Pleasure depends on an object, its very fleeting and it always diminishes in value, i mean its fun if you do it once, exhilarating, and a cheeseburger or chocolate cake would seem to be less pleasurable as time passes. So as much as we think that junk food makes us fat, it stems from an innate desire to be happy but this happiness is short lived and expensive. Conversely, a fit body would only be as beautiful until we begin to point out flaws no matter how perfect it would be. We need a deeper sense of fulfilment than just looking good and being fit, we need to push boundaries and be better versions of ourselves in mind and body.

I think that happiness is a deep sense of fulfilment, called Eudemonia. A sense of well being, a sense of kindness. Matthieu Richard says the mind translates things into pleasure or pain, and we would do well to train it. Because if we do not build the inner conditions, no matter what your outer conditions are, you would not be happy. We have heard of people who have auxiliary happiness but their mind is unable to translate this happiness to them, they have the nicest house or best spouse and children and health but they are not happy. They are successful but not flourishing. If you give them paradise, they would probably find a way out of it because they cant translate this paradise into happiness.

I feel happiness is a sense of calmness, a way to transform our mind, a way to change the destructive emotions into constructive ones. We need to proceed with positive emotions, finding inner freedom, exercising loving kindness towards hatred. Finding a general cure for our problems inwards. If we spend a large portion of our lives to study and exercise to get successful and fit, then maybe we should take more care of what matters even more, the way our mind functions.  A way is by being completely open and kind towards ourselves and others. By making someone happy without recognition, having a sense of integration with our deep nature.

Being aware, or in Buddhism, being “mindful” or in a state of “mindfulness”. Being more cognitive, and understanding of our own emotions is important, because if we could not identify our emotions, then what different are we from a stone. When we look around we see people obsessed with how their body looks or performs, if you can lift 100 kg and if I lift 110kg I am stronger than you therefore I am better. If I win, you lose, if i can’t hit my goals i lose.

You life is a miracle. Why not make the best use of it ?

We must be aware of such destructive thoughts and emotions that seek to break our calm, telling us we are “less than” and giving us a lot of pressure, allowing us only meagre happiness when we achieve our goals, we must be kinder to ourselves. We should proceed in life with mindfulness with a kind of happiness and sense of duty with deeper sense of happiness in who we, what we are becoming and where we are moving towards, that is the only thing that can sustain and withstand the hardships and adversities in life, having a stronger frame of mind.

What I am saying is that we should look at our rules and make things kinder for ourselves, we never lose per se, but we do become less calm and confident and when we are not mindful. Goals push us, but only in being better people and not just being better at things. Maybe the reason why you run is fighting a battle with yourself, putting pain and discomfort on the line, pushing boundaries, for YOURSELF. You are not lesser off by not having the dream and athletic body you prefer, but rather you would be poorer off if you gave up being a better person because it was hard to achieve.

In the end, it’s not about winning or losing, it’s about reaching your limits. Being kind to yourself, playing for the ultimate victory, the victory over yourself, becoming the best version of yourself. Being the kindest, calmest, most confident and ultimately the happiest version of yourself.

Mind Article : The Perfectly Imperfect You

We are constantly bombarded by perfection, we see bodies of models who had undergone serious diets or steroids paraded as though it is the norm. And told that a herculean or lean and toned body is the way to go, that the only place to get fit is an expensive gym and that the admiration and acceptance of others can be earned by a rock hard body, that being beautiful on the outside would make us beautiful on the inside as well.

Valeria Lukyanova, a real life person who painstakingly built herself to be a real life Barbie through plastic surgery, makeup and photoshop.

Well its a bitter pill to swallow but in this age of mass media creating a wave of aneroxia and self obsession creating a singular goal which is that of a beautiful body by the standards of the media. Not by our OWN standards but by other people’s standards. If there is a single muscle that we could train to make ourselves happier, its not the muscles on the outside that matter but the world on the inside.

Anthony Robbins once said : “The only true security in life comes from knowing that every single day you are improving yourself in some way, that you are increasing the calibre of who you are and that you are valuable to the people around you”. This is what I feel is the key to true happiness, by stilling the surface of a pond full of ripples can we than actually know and feel what we really want.

Ask any person who has undergone a serious makeover (with or without plastic surgery. And most of the deepest reason why the would do it is because they want to gain acceptance. Acceptance from themselves to some arbitrary idea of beauty of acceptance from friends or family or a potential spouse. The largest and most compelling reason why people would want to improve their bodies resorting even to go under the knife or drug use is to gain acceptance. But what use is acceptance of others when we don’t accept ourselves ? 

If there is one thing i would like you to remember if you forget anything else on this website or article is that we need to accept ourselves for who we are. If we don’t take that first step, then the best fitness plan or plastic surgeon could never make us happy. We have to accept the perfectly imperfect us first before we take steps to make changes. Once we achieve that any upside would be pleasure and joy and the journey would be an educating and fulfilling one. On the flipside, if we don’t accept ourselves and subject ourselves on some far flung and media portrayed standards on what is beautiful then every step is a downside, with each painful step leading you to realise how far you are from your goals, filling you with frustration and self denial.

Inspiring and motivating people, with a heart bigger than most

Nowhere is this more clear in the book by Nick Vujicic “Life Without Limits” when he illustrated his experiences in public speaking when he said these simple words to kids who listened to him speak in schools, who do not know him at all. Who like all of us have their little imperfections. He said a few simple words:

” I love you just as you are. You are beautiful to me”.

And the reaction he got was described as ” a muffled whimper or a smothered sniffle… Then the powerful emotions would sweep across like a contagion. Tears will flow down young cheeks. Shoulders will shake from stifled sobs. Girls will huddle together. Boys will leave the room to hide their faces”.
All this he got from a simple and honest and heartfelt word to them. God forbid that we be able to say this to ourselves, but what if we could. What if instead of having a stranger tell us that we are beautiful. We allowed ourselves to tell ourselves these few words:

” I love you just as you are. You are beautiful to me”.

How would our lives change. And how would we see ourselves ? You have to stand up for yourself love yourself for who you are and live the life that you feel is right for you. Beauty is blind, Vanity is Hilarious, but you are REAL. So take what’s real in yourself and make it better. WE are all perfectly imperfect human beings, with all our painful flaws and histories. But having a perfect face wont bring you happiness, being admired wont do that either. You already have what it takes to be loved and valued, and it just takes a bit of reaching deep inside into the wells of strength, to find that kindness, love and accepting ourselves for who we are and working our way up from there.

 

 

Mind Article : Its OK to fail (But not OK to give up).

One Question if you are a parent or if you have been a kid before .

“How many times does a child need to fail at walking before you let him/her give up learning to walk ?”

How many times do your have to fail before you gave on learning to walk ?

Highly rhetorical. But ponder a while. When you were a child, at no point did your parents let you stop walking just because you failed once or a hundred times. They knew it was important that you learn to walk, and you knew it was important then. And back then, you never gave up, giving up was not an alternative.

So when it comes to something we know is innately important, we know never to give up. Because its ok if we fail, to fail is to be human, to fail is to learn to succeed. To fail is to plant seeds and stepping stones to success. Failure is feedback and learning to fail , learn and dust yourself off for a second round is being one step closer to succeeding, making success that bit sweeter.

Learning to walk is no different from learning to be fit. Its necessary in life if you want to lead a fulfilling one, and that it doesnt matter if you fail as long as you keep trying. We succeed because of the tremendous amount of satisfaction we get from sucking a little bit less each time and getting a little bit further in life.  It’s fun to fail in different ways, trying different paths and strategies until we finally discover the challenge and joy of having a fit body.

Getting in shape is no different from learning to walk – if you sucked at getting healthy last time, you dont give up on life and stop living and smoke a pack of cigarettes a day while snarfing down Big Macs. If you tried to count calories and starve yourself while running on a treadmill to get in shape and failed miserably, then try again and try something else.

The only true failure is not trying. And you would be ashamed that those who are born with lesser genetics or lesser privileges are succeeding not because they are better but because they are not afraid to fail . But like in learning how to walk, they never gave up because failure is not an alternative, and we have it in ourselves to do it.

We all have times we fail, but to truly fail is to give up. We can walk without legs but we cant walk without trying.

Mind Article : Believe in Belief

Its a tongue twister of an title , but its something quite dear to us and something we hold on to very very tightly and sometimes are willing to give up our lives for, its called belief. Have the right belief and life wont be able to knock the wind out of you. But have the wrong belief and your next half of your life might be more unbearable than it can be.

Whether you can or cant depends on you.

Why is belief important in fitness. Can you just believe yourself to fitness ? Obviously there has to be action. But belief drives motivation and motivation drives action. Riddle me this

“Which person would lose 10 kg in a year and keep it off for the next 10 years ? A person who believes he is a currently fat person trying to lose weight. Or a person who believes that he is actually out of shape and that he is not actually a fat person but someone who has gained that amount of weight from neglect and wants to do something about it. “

There are important distinctions in this, and this is not mere wordplay, if you believe you are a fat person trying to lose weight, its very likely you would put it back on because you believed that you are fat to begin with.

And all the rattle in your brain would be resisting the fitness plans that you make – wanting you to remain true to your nature, which is that of a fat person, so you would most likely give up when a twinky or Snickers Bar appears at the end of your runs or walks.

If you believe you are a person who gained an enormous amount of weight by neglect, than you are admitting to yourself that you have let neglect get the better of you. So whatever you do when you plan would be further reinforced by yourself gaining back your original identity.

You are what you believe in, and when you start planting the seeds that you can do more and believe that things are possible, then its when fitness would do its magic. Adopt the right and healthy beliefs about fitness, and realise that you are a sum of your beliefs, and beliefs come from choice, and you have much greater power in deciding what you want to be and how you turn out than you think.

Related articles

Mind Article : Run Your Own Race

I previously read an article on something called “The Rat Park“. Its about a group of scientists doing studies about rats and their “lifestyle”. It was a famous study done in 1970 about addiction and its insidious effects.

Read more: http://www.oprah.com/spirit/How-to-Overcome-Fear-and-Break-Free-from-Old-Routines#ixzz1ux820iTV

“The term comes from a study conducted in 1981 by psychologist Bruce Alexander and colleagues. He noted that many addiction studies had something in common: The lab rats they used were locked in uncomfortable, isolating cages. Testing a hunch, Alexander gathered two groups of rats. For the first, he built a 200-square-foot rodent paradise called Rat Park. There a colony of white Wister rats found luxurious accommodations for all their favorite pastimes—mingling, mating, raising pups, writing articles for newspaper tabloids. The second group was housed in the traditional cages. 

Alexander offered both groups a choice of plain water or sugar water laced with morphine. Like rats in other studies, the traditionally caged animals became instant addicts. However, the residents of Rat Park tended to “just say no,” avoiding the drug-treated sugar water. Even rats that were already addicted to morphine tended to lay off the hard stuff when in Rat Park. Put them back in their cages, however, and they’d stay stoned as Deadheads.

You probably wont be a happy camper if your brain just functioned in these two areas

This draws a parallel into our lives as well, well maybe mine especially but also  a large portion of the cubicle rats that our society produces known as office workers. We all live in times when we are told to make a living, doing something as mundane and office work and told to stick it out and give our all working late hours to get that “promotion” and “pay raise” as a recognition of our efforts and talent.

It works fine if we are doing something we like and benefiting from it but like most work, we are more like cogs in a cog wheel, easily replaceable and in an competitive environment that forces us to fight hard to gain that promotion competing against others and being thrust in a stressful environment. So like the rats in the experiment, we would then be more susceptible to numbing ourselves (hopefully not with heroine) but other things, like compulsive eating, escapism by watching far to many drama serials, compulsive gaming, gambling, smoking, endless hours of face-booking to see other leading the life you want and other pointless and destructive behaviour so that we can quickly fight that sense of numbness and feeling of being “caged” that we feel at work or failing to see a point in life. Being powerless and doing things because we HAVE to and not because we CHOOSE to.

Are you running a Rat Race or your Own Race

I guess this is the crux of the rat park experiment. Do correct me if I am wrong. But its should not end this way. We all need a productive and open environment. It might not be as the author said

“A paradise called Rat Park. There a colony of white Wister rats found luxurious accommodations for all their favorite pastimes—mingling, mating, raising pups, writing articles for newspaper tabloids”

But it has to have the qualities of what we WANT instead of what we END UP WITH. The truth is that we choose our own destiny, but if we don’t exercise this power, we give up our ability to choose. There is seldom things like no choice or being forced to (which is a choice in itself, you can choose that’s why you can be forced to choose as well, but theres seldom such things as “no choice” there’s another way or there’s a way you can create).

We all have the power to choose. Thereis this phrase that jingles quite true for me, which goes “If you dont choose for yourself, people around you will make that choice for you, and it might be far from what you want”. Well meaning people might want you to follow in certain footsteps that they once were on and think that you should do it too, but they are not you and can never be you. They cant make the best choice for you (for eg, parents). You have to make you own choices and engineer your own jailbreak from a rat race and into an environment that nurtures you, with a body that you want, with people you love and respect and doing things that elevate you as a person and not denigrate yourself.

You should not simply take life at face value and be carried with the tide. Many things that are worth doing are not easy, but it far beats taking the unhappy and easy way out and numbing ourselves silly with consumerism and binge eating or drinking. Take time to build up your body, build up your mind and take some time to listen to yourself, take some time to listen to the soft but steady voice in your head that tells you most likely what you love to be doing, and engineer that escape.

Wikipedia 

rat race is a term used for an endless, self-defeating or pointless pursuit. It conjures up the image of the futile efforts of a lab rat trying to escape while running around a maze or in a wheel. In an analogy to themodern city, many rats in a single maze expend a lot of effort running around, but ultimately achieve nothing (meaningful) either collectively or individually.

The rat race is a term often used to describe work, particularly excessive work; in general terms, if one works too much, one is in the rat race. This terminology contains implications that many people see work as a seemingly endless pursuit with little reward or purpose, albeit this is not true for many workers. For example, self-employment contributes to an increase in job satisfaction and the self-employed may experience less job related mental strain.

Mind Article : The Art and Deception of Excuses (Excuse Me for Not Being Fit)

No More Excuses

Excuses, we all have them. They are our own way of defending our actions or inaction, that usually we think we should do (And end up not doing). Nothing ever gets accomplished by excuses, and it’s a way of saying that “it’s ok” to not try. Excuses shield us from the consequences of our action and try to paint a false and perfect light of what happened so that we can come to terms with it. It is like covering up for the mess you made on the floor with a carpet, it looks better but its solves nothing and sooner or later you would have to face it one day.

An excuse is a way to give up the control you have on a situation, and give that power and blame someone else. Excuses mask the odor of our mistakes but doesn’t solve or try to address the mistakes. Excuses can sometimes be sinister, like the way people react to hideous crimes by saying that they had no choice but to do it, and that it was the “best” course of action at that time. “Collateral damage” was used as an euphemism and an excuse during wars to describe civilian causalities, or to put it in realistic terms, accidental slaughtering of the innocent.  Excuses can be used to mask great errors, but as long as we don’t come to terms with why we made the mistake we will continue making them and not learn from them.

As long as we don’t ask ourselves hard questions like “Why am I not getting fit, and making my life better ?” , “Is my job more important than my health ?”, we will never progress personally. What’s your excuse for not exercising, is it that it’s too tough (but looking back at life nothing that we achieved without trying hard for was meaningful), or that you don’t have time (Michelle Obama runs a tough fitness program while being a first lady and running many other humanitarian campaigns at the same time), or that you just don’t like it (the perfect excuse, for a life of mediocrity and unhealthiness).

We all know the importance of our own bodies and fitness, yet we do nothing about it because its seldom as urgent as the file of papers in our in try when we are at work, or that call you have to make or the email that you have to send. Maybe it’s time we examine our excuses using a microscope and see them for what they are, “comfort food” for us to wallow in our current situation because we don’t enjoy the pain of changing. Excuses are a comfortable way to self destruct, they are the voice in our head that wants us to keep where we are because we are afraid to take charge and make changes that will be beneficial to us. But take just one step and examine your excuses, find that they do not hold, take small steps towards fitness and you will find out that you could do more and expand yourself in many other ways and do more, be more.

Mind Article : The Psychology and Heart in Running

Mind Article : The Psychology and Heart of Running

According to Christopher Mc Dougall, the author of the best selling book “Born to Run“, he mentioned that people set targets – a marathon to run and that they were running in a performance arena. In a race, there is only one winner.

So many people run with this kind of attitude – that if you don’t win, you lose. Then began the metaphor that life was a race, a rat race and that we have limited resources in. Life becomes a competition, and in a competition there are only other competitors and no friends.

We often take the competitive spirit and use this psychology to push us far, really far. And sometimes this makes us stronger but then we end up strung out and on our toes. Life is a race, but in the end this race is only with ourselves. We do not need to make up enemies to charge at in our pain and discomfort , to hardwire ourselves for a struggle when that is not the case.

Running your own Race – The Secret of the Tarahumara

One thing i found very interesting is that the Trauhumara tribe who were actually insanely good runners (super athletes to be exact), do not run to win – they run as a way of life. They run in groups not to race but to work (hunt) and play together, maybe life is not so much about seeing people as competition but rather working with each other to put our best foot forward.

Maybe that’s what makes them such great runners because they have a sense of joy and from that sense of joy there comes greatness, and when we stop screaming and start listening we become kinder and gentler to people and kinder and gentler to ourselves. They run not for victory or a list of accomplishments to boast of but for camaraderie and the sheer joy of using their bodies for a basic, essential purpose. And therein lies the secret power of the super athletes.

Run not to win but to be happy

I see some people run casually in the streets, they have this grim mask, that says “I must do this I must compete and beat myself, I must win” or “Not again, not another run”. They run with a certain kind of intoxication that’s dangerous (an intoxication with themselves), they usually are focused on the results so much so that the reason and joy of running is lost to them , they run not with a clear headed purpose and playfulness but drop dead seriousness as though this is a life and death run. That its part and parcel of their “discipline”, “must-do” and checklist of achievements.

In this kind of running there could be either two outcomes, that you fail to achieve or that you finally conquered yourself and you feel disappointed because the next guy beside you ran a 3 hour 59 minute marathon while you ran a 4.5 hour marathon.

Live life on your own term - Stop Comparing

There are no “must-dos” in life, but rather a choose to do. When you resign yourself to must-dos you resign yourself to giving up the self awareness and the joys of making choices that matter, instead you assign yourself a hard script which you have to follow.

In the end the race is only with yourself, are you going to enjoy the process of running are you there just for the results ? Do you approach your health and fitness (and life in general) with reverence and awe or as something that has to be accomplished and crushed under the sheer force of your indomitable will ?

Running with Heart

There is strength in compassion and a greater strength in ourselves than we believe in. Chris MacDougall recounts this story about, an Ethiopian woman named Derartu Tulu who turns up at the starting line in a race she would unlikely be able to win.

She kept up with the lead runners and was pitted against Paula Raddcliffe who won the New York Marathon four times. Paula had a hamstring injury crop up but Derartu encouraged and waited for her, while the lead pack blazed forward. While Derartu finally ran, she won the marathon, with alot of heart and compassion. The true epitome of victory.

Finishing Strong

The video above is that of Derek Redmond, an Olympic runner. He posted the fastest time of the first round in the Olympics, and went on to win his quarter-final. In the semi-final, his hamstring snapped. He hobbled and stopped and fell to the ground in pain. Medics rushed to help him, but he wanted to finish the race. He began to hobble along the track and was joined on the track by his father. When they crossed the finish line, the crowd of 65,000 spectators rose to give Derek a standing ovation.

A Hero in all of us

Kristen Koh

Never Give Up - Be Inspirational

The above picture shows Kirsten Koh. In a freak accident when she collided with a truck and was dragged underneath. She  fractured both ankles and femurs. Her pelvis was shattered. Her left shoulder, fibula and shin bones were broken. She went on to have 19 operations totaling more than 80 hours and was bed-ridden for 2.5 months.

Yet, she never gave up. The doctors did not give a good prognosis about her ability to walk, not to mention run. But she persevered, and in the article, she mentioned that it was very hard to keep going, when life everyday was a pain.  She drew her strength from stories people who have survived from accidents and come back stronger, but essentially i guess she drew power from herself – her inner hero. She would be in the Adidas Sundown Marathon, 42 km, completing the event from sheer heart and an ability to take life on its own terms and come out stronger and better – In short , she’s coming out a hero.

“Everybody loves a hero. People line up for them…cheer them…scream their names. And years later, they’ll tell how they stood in the rain for hours just to get a glimpse of the one who taught them to hold on a second longer. I believe there’s a hero in all of us…that keeps us honest…gives us strength…makes us noble…and finally allows us to die with pride”

Aunt May – In Spiderman

We all have that inner hero, the guy who tells us not to give up, it’s the hero within us that ultimately tells  us to live our lives brave and strong, and though it is not the easiest path but it is the most rewarding.