Physical concepts are free creations of the human mind, and are not, however it may seem, uniquely determined by the external world – Albert Einstein.
As a health and fitness conscious person, I often practice mindfulness to push my body towards health goals. This practice of using my mind power usually comes to me intuitively, whether having to perform when teaching a yoga class, or as I push my self to the next peak on a strenuous hike.
In fact, we often successfully practice such a mind-body connection without calling it a ‘technique’ per se. But as more studies reveal the link between what we think of and how our physical body receives it, it is worth giving the technique more attention.
In a study from the Department of Psychology at Harvard University, Crum and Langer examine whether the relationship between exercise and health is moderated by one’s mind-set. They measured how different health indicators (weight, blood pressure, body fat, waist-to-hip ratio, and body mass index) varied among 84 female room attendants working in 7 different hotels, when these workers perceived differently the nature of their daily physical work. The group of hotel attendants that were told that their daily job duties were great exercise exhibited a significant improvement across their health indicators compared to the control group of workers that were not given this information.
In another neurophysiology study conducted to determine mental training-induced strength gains, researchers found that mental instructions produced improvement in muscle strength comparable to the improvements obtained from physical exercise.
The use of visualization and mental imaging techniques has also been common among elite athletes, which helps them see themselves reaching their goals in their mind. Muhammad Ali instinctively used many visualization techniques along with self-affirmations as part of his goal to become the best boxer in the world.
While the physiological and chemical process remains to be more clearly elucidated, thought-body connection is far from being some Jedi knight trick. It’s about using the most powerful tool we have – our minds.
If you want to change your body, change your mind. For instance, if you want to lose weight, turn your thoughts towards your goal in whatever ways you can; even as you lie in bed. Whatever health benefits you want to manifest, focus mentally on them. Think about them happening and believe it.
It’s a great daily practice.
It is important to note however, that such a practice is not about turning from an athlete to a couch potato or about losing weight from the comfort of your lazy boy. It is rather a collaboration between your mind and body towards greater effects.
This week I will be putting my mental focus on my body being extra flexible because I am working on increasing my flexibility.
What is a desired goal of yours for which you will harness the power of your thoughts?