"Your body needs to do more thinking, and your mind needs to dance more." - Chungliang Al Huang
Have you ever done any thinking with your body? How about dancing with your mind? These questions might seem silly at first - straight out of Alice in Wonderland - but they are actually very significant.
One of the most powerful gifts you can give yourself is a daily fitness practice that incorporates both mind and body.
What is a Mind ~ Body fitness practice?
A Mind ~ Body fitness practice is the best of both worlds. Whether we choose yoga, martial arts, dance, tai chi or running, the common thread is that mind and body are working together in harmony. We learn that they are not separate entities, but they are deeply connected and part of the same whole. The mind moves the body and vice versa.
Think about a time when you performed an activity at your absolute best. Some call this following your flow or being in the zone. You probably noticed that every action was completely focused yet totally effortless.
When you enter this flowing space or zone state, mind and body are one. They are no longer fighting against each other. That's why the activity is so effortless and so easy. It's as though you were a child playing in the sandbox again.
What are the benefits of Mind ~ Body fitness?
1. Quieting The Mind
Think about how many thoughts run through the mind every second. How do we slow this avalanche of thoughts, particularly when they are negative and counter productive to our health and happiness? The quickest way to still the mind is to move the body. A daily fitness practice helps to restore the balance between mind and body. Instead of being so centered in our heads and worrying about the past or future, we become more rooted and grounded in the here and now.
2. Self Discipline
When you're involved in a daily fitness practice, there are no days off, and there are no excuses. If you're sick or your kids are acting out, it doesn't matter - you make the time because it's that important. When you commit to your practice, you build up this self-discipline muscle a little every day.
3. The Inner Game
While the physical side of fitness gets most of the attention, it should be remembered that the postures, techniques and body movements are a mirror of the inner work being done. Sure it's cool to stand on your head in yoga. Or bound through the air in dance. Or even smash a wooden board in karate. That outer stuff certainly has its place, but most important are the inner rewards that you reap from your practice. You will see the proof in how you grow and develop as a whole person, and others will see it as well.
4. Process Over Results
Many people become obsessed with the tangible results of their fitness practice. What was my time, how many points did I get, what was the score etc. When we do this, we get caught up in judging ourselves. But in a true Mind ~ Body fitness practice, it's more important that we focus on process. Process is all about flow! We allow ourselves to engage fully in the activity without judging it or worrying about results. Paradoxically, when we let go of the need for measurable results, we usually perform at our best!
So give yourself one of the greatest gifts possible - a daily Mind and Body fitness practice. And then enjoy the fruits of your flow: a healthier, happier and more whole You!