I’ve always been a huge fan of mind-body activities, or exercises that teach you in physical form what is to be learned in the mind. It can be argued that anything in life can teach the mind lessons, but there are a few activities I’ve found that foster mind-body learning unlike anything else. As someone intensely interested in personal growth/philosophy and movement, I thought I’d share a few of my favorite lessons.
Archery: Trust and follow your intuition. Don’t think. Just point your body in the direction of what you want. Stay humble. Shoot before your mind takes over, because overthinking will cause you to make mistakes. Your mind is more powerful than you think. Trust your first gut reaction, and trust your instincts.
Hiking: Trust the process. Always remember to look back and see how far you come. Remember to stop to enjoy the view and your surroundings – it’s not just about the work. Savor the small things. Find someone walking on the same path. In life there are valleys, peaks and summits. Find someone who will walk with you through it all and give you a hand or a lift when things get hard, and do the same for them. Enjoy every minute of life because it’s not just about the summit, but the journey. There is no destination.
Yoga: Trust the signals your body sends you. Life is not a competition – you are on your own personal journey. When the body is moving, it brings the mind into the now. Be where you are. Be compassionate with yourself, and be compassionate with others. Be humble and open, and stay curious. Sometimes there is a muscle you can move that you might not have known even existed – if you listen and stay open to instruction, you’ll find it. The more open you are, and the more curious, the more you’ll find. Relax and breathe into difficulty. Trust yourself, give yourself what you need (and so, so much more.)
Climbing: Being in the present moment allows you to be free of anxiety about the past and anxiety about the future. It allows you to enjoy life exactly where you are at (and prevents you from falling.) Staying present and focusing on something with the body can force the mind into a state of flow and intense presence, which helps you enjoy life more. Be where you are. Don’t look down or back at where you came from, focus on what’s ahead and where you are going. It’s all in the mind. Trust that you will get there. Know you will. Refuse to give up. Keep trying. Encourage and support others. Take risks. Know you can. Have fun.
Don’t overthink this, either. Write every day. Write from the part of you that sits beyond the mind and the ego. Write from your creative energy. Writing is like driving through the desert at night with just your headlamps on – you can only see 4 feet ahead of you, but you’ll still get to where you need to go. Sometimes you find where you need to go just by starting the journey. Sometimes you realize what you wanted to say only after you are well into a piece. Sometimes what you want to say changes. Sometimes what you think you want for your life is different than what you actually want, and writing helps you realize that. Jump on the “train” of inspiration as soon as it hits and before it leaves, or it may never come back. It doesn’t have to make sense, as long as it is true. Don’t try – just make it honest and true, and be brave enough to talk about what hurts. Be vulnerable – because that is what connects us, and our writing to everyone else in the world.