4/9/15 A Mindful Exercise
The other day, I witnessed a moment of pure enlightenment.
A pupil was training with a light barbell. He’s in his mid-thirties,
successful in his field, and articulate.
He was deep into the session, well warmed up, hitting a stride. At the end of a set of arm curls, he’d put the bar down, and was staring, mesmerised.
He kept looking, staring, hands on hips, panting lightly, sweat rolling down his forehead, onto chin, dripping onto the floor.
‘You ok?’ I asked.
I asked again, more forcefully.
He looked up, as if emerging from a trance.
‘Yeah. Fine’, he said.
He nodded, ‘Absolutely’.
Then he took a deep, long breath, as if releasing whatever it was that had halted him, and he was returning to the present.
‘I see what you mean’, he continued. ‘When you talk about putting your mind into the action, becoming it, not just doing it, but BEING what you’re engaged in.’ He went on, ‘It really IS how you do it, isn’t it? It’s the feel, the thought, the force of the mind in the motion. That’s what makes the difference. It transforms the exercise into a kind of muscular choreography.’
He stopped, a little surprised at himself.
Having worked with dancers, athletes, artists, I knew exactly what he was talking about.
Now it’s called Mindfulness. Great word, expresses exactly what that young man was experiencing. They’ve been doing it in Yoga, Tai Chai, Chi Kung, for thousands of years, using the mind and body in co-ordination to bring rhythm, flow, calm, and a quiet force to the whole process.
Schwarzenegger used to refer to it as his time of peace, when he shut out the world and immersed himself in the physical, mental, and yes, emotional, trip of contemplated exercise.
This can happen simply. You go to your training session, prepare your mind on the way, get yourself changed, and as you go on the floor, or the road, or the class, or whatever it is, let the mind become totally involved in the simplicity, the flow, the rhythm, the motion.
It alters the value of every centimetre of every repetition you perform; for that’s what it becomes, a performance.
And that’s what this man was experiencing, the transcendence of an exercise to another level.
To some it may sound farfetched.
If it does, think of the time, the effort, the amount of trouble, that athletes go to get themselves ‘in the zone’. And that’s exactly what it is.
That level of presence in any undertaking, is what allows us to access the resources we know we have.
It’s that moment when all the practised skills, the endless repetitions, the thousands of hours, the relentless thinking about ANY act, project, undertaking, can come together and raise the performance in anything to the level of artistry.