“The mind shapes the body.” – Joseph Pilates
So What Shapes the Mind?
Part One: Clarity of Purpose
How does repeatedly pushing and beating up the physical body to the point of failure, injury, breakage, or loss prove anything other than perhaps a compulsive tendency of the mind? If you let the mind goad you into over training and abusing your body with the belief that enduring pain will somehow teach you to be tough, then you will certainly endure pain… and maybe you will get tough.
The body is often the first target for proving mental toughness. Yet, proving something is not the same as owning it. You’re not necessarily tougher than the next person because you suffered, pushed, or forced more than they did. What if there was a way to build mental tenacity without engaging in so much bullying and brute force? What if you had a way to possibly enjoy the doing instead of having to “gut it out”?
To care for the body as a loving, attentive parent would care for a young child is to acknowledge the spirit that resides within. Investing the time and effort to listen to your own needs and understand the reason you chose to do something pays big dividends. All worthwhile goals stem from this fundamental research.
A word of caution about clarity of purpose: Avoid the temptation to add, mix, or adopt the motives of others. This can bring less than stellar results because you just can’t change yourself for somebody else, not over the long-term. An example of adopting another’s motive would be deciding to take up running because your spouse noticed you’ve gained weight and suggested you run to lose it because that’s how they lost weight. Contrast this with deciding on your own to take up running because you want to feel better, increase your ability to recover from other activities, or have some fun with a friend. In the first part, you didn’t decide you needed to lose the weight. Someone else did. You just decided to run to stop being a target for their judgment. Not a motivation for great results because the motivation did not come from you. The second part is an example of decisions that are clear and personal. These are great motivators.
The most important part of shaping the course your training will take is choosing a purpose that truly inspires you.
This is the key. The mind does shape the body, and the spirit keeps it. Check in with yourself regularly. Authentic personal desire provides the wellspring for developing and refining clarity of purpose. This is the first step toward owning the gift of mental tenacity