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Invite Success Into Your Life By Learning To Listen

success focus maze

If you’ve had even the barest semblance of a regular exercise regime this year than you’ll know working out effectively is not always as easily done as what you might like. There are days when you might hit the gym feeling as fired up as possible only to deflate at the mere sight of a dumbell. When you struggle to summon up even a hint of energy and strength as you push yourself toward something like the shadow of a ‘real’ session. And then there’s the times when you might be feeling pulled apart by everything else in your life, when you’re exhausted and haven’t eaten enough, and feel pretty darn awful and yet you somehow pull off one of the most memorable and pumped sessions ever. There’s really often no way to predict what’s going to happen once you don the runners, is there?

But the most annoying occasions of all are those when you simply meander through some sort of workout middle ground. You’re not quite just going through the motions, but you know you’re not at your best either. These sessions are the ones that come back to bite, aren’t they? They leave you with a little niggle of guilt or frustration, the knowledge that – for whatever reason – you simply couldn’t or wouldn’t motivate yourself to get the most out of it.

I had such a session a couple of days ago in my Bikram yoga class. It wasn’t that I was exhausted, or distracted, or anything really. I just felt – blah. And I couldn’t seem to snap out of it. By 20 minutes in I’d pretty much resigned myself to the fact that (super sweat aside) I was wasting my time.

And then I had an epiphany of sorts.

standing-head-to-knee

As I robot-ed my way through standing head to knee pose something clicked inside me and I began to really listen to what the teacher was saying. Not that I usually ignore the instruction of course, but it’s easy to take just the parts that are easy to do, or that you feel like doing, or to let the words just wash over you as you give it a ‘good enough’ go. But this time I truly began to focus. To follow every little step, from the positioning of my eye gaze, to the angle of my torso, to the way my weight was distributed through my feet. And as the class continued I forgot all about the notion of wasting time and went into almost a daze as I gave 100% of my attention to what was being taught. It ended up being one of the best classes I’ve ever done, not just physically, but mentally.

And it made me think. What if we were to employ the same approach to every aspect of life? Or even just to every workout session. When it comes to exercise, to eating well, to positive thinking, to anything that you do or try to do regularly, you’ve probably had enough detailed instruction or done enough reading over the years that you could teach someone else how to do those things. Which means that whether or not you physically have a teacher or a coach telling you what to do, it takes nothing more than a little deliberate focus to hear that voice inside your head telling you what to do, guiding you through each step.

So if you’re serious about changing your body and strengthening your mind then the question is this – are you willing to consciously put aside your day, your to-do list, your constantly jumping thoughts to simply focus on the process of doing something? To truly tune in to your body and to engage in every little detail of your chosen activity? It will probably take some practice but from what I’ve experienced this past week I’d go so far as to say it could completely revolutionize your training. Maybe even your life. Speaking of which –

Life is Now. Press Play.

Kat

PS

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2 Comments

  1. Jo says:

    Kat, I really love this piece. It indicates exactly what we as Bikram yoga teachers are ultimately trying to get you to achieve – staying completely present! One posture at a time and using your breath as the bridge to connect your mind & body. Once you feel it in a class and once you get it, you start to understand and bring yourself more into the present moment in every day life just like you said. Have you read the book ‘The miracle of mindfulness’ (Thich Nhat Hanh)? There is a section about ‘washing the dishes to wash the dishes’ which I think really speaks for itself. I think you would luv this book. hope you are well hunny, I miss seeing you at Fitzy….xx

    1. Kat says:

      I haven’t heard of the book, but I’ve heard of the concept … miss your sunny presence as well! I will def have to visit you in the new year!

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