The Mind/Body Philosophy
The Mind/Body connection and its relevance to superior health is undeniable. Countless books, studies and testimonials have documented beyond all doubt the powerful influence that the mind has over your health. This means that you can follow a super-clean eating regimen and an effective exercise routine and still not only fall short of your optimum fitness potential, but even contract a variety of stress-related symptoms, diseases or illnesses that will radically affect your lifestyle (or even end it too early!).
Likewise, we have seen folks enjoy long, reasonably healthy lives or even combat life-threatening illnesses as a result of optimizing this mind/body connection. And this has often been with little emphasis on superior nutrition and exercise concepts. So when all three of these Realms are maximized - Nutrition, Exercise and Mind/Body - you can imagine the synergistic potential at hand for unparalleled levels of health and wellness.
Many of our great scientists, doctors and metaphysicians have helped us to understand this irrefutable connection of the mind and body and, in short, how your state of mind directly affects your state of health. For example, we now know that the brain operates much like a highly-sophisticated chemistry set, releasing precision dosages of "drugs" according to our own unconscious instruction. We release toxic amounts of adrenaline when stressed or scared and invigorating dosages of interleukins when exhilarated. This just happens, whether we are aware of it or not. So part of the Rock-Solid approach to Mind/Body wellness is to cultivate simple lifestyle practices where we consciously increase the flow of the "good" chemicals and decrease the flow of the "bad."
In fact, the "bad" chemicals that are released when we are stressed, angry, depressed, etc., are the biggest non-nutritional contributor to the typical, dangerously high levels of acidity in the blood stream that most people walk around with. (As mentioned earlier, the high-acid internal environment remains one of the single biggest factors to most any form of ailment, sickness or disease.) For this reason, our thoughts truly can be toxic. So let's look at a few ideas on how our minds can become our allies to superior health.
The Three C's to Mind/Body Wellness
There are three basic areas where we will want to give our attention in the Mind/Body Realm:
1) Calm the Mind
2) Condition the Brain
3) Create the Reality
To this end, the Mind/Body section of Rock-Solid Fitness is centered around the following related objectives:
1) To develop an arsenal of stress-prevention/relief techniques that can be easily integrated into your lifestyle;
2) To explore activities that nurture and "exercise" both the right (creative) and left (intellectual) sides of your brain.
3) To recognize that we create everything in our world through our thoughts and to start "thinking" accordingly!
Obviously, there is a lot to explore within each of these. For now, though, let's take a closer look at the first "C."
Calm the Mind
The way we perceive our world around us and how we choose to respond to the many interactions, conditions and events of our day all play a role in this "chemical factor" we've been talking about. Remember, Mother Nature has reserved those stinging bursts of adrenaline for the occasional fight or flight-type of situation, not zigzagging through five-o-clock traffic everyday like a stunt double in a Michael Mann movie. Yet, it has become commonplace for many of us to experience a number of fiery emotional flair-ups or the steady burn of stress in our solar plexus - daily! This is insane, people. And while the Create the Reality part of our Rock-Solid Mind/Body equation will serve as a preventative mechanism to many future stressful situations, there will be times when we experience emotions that could become toxic to us if we stay entrenched in them too long. This is where our Calm the Mind techniques will be especially useful.
Additionally, most of us live in a state of continual mental stimuli overload. Through modern living, we have conditioned ourselves to engage in some form of media-related preoccupation or distracting technological gadgetry from the time we roll out of bed in the morning until the time we fall back into it at night. Television, radio, the Internet, newspapers and magazines, all provide us with a steady stream of distraction or information. And much of this information either conjures up something negative in us or is simply a waste of "hard drive" space in our minds.
Then there is the cell phone, pager, computer and PDA that seem to demand our constant attention as we attempt to manage the steady barrage of phone calls, voice mails, text messages and e-mails. This is usually done between our crossing off items from a bottomless to-do list. And again, all of this moment-to-moment communication, as well as the "urgent" activities of our to-do list, rarely warrants the kind of diligent attention that we give it.
The downside to all of this incessant preoccupation is that it keeps us in a perpetual state of "doing," and out of a state of "being;" being with our thoughts, being in the silence, being in that state of simple, supreme awareness where we can contemplate the bigger picture of our existence, become aligned with our deepest desires and intentions and relax into a state of calm.
Through meditation and a host of other simple relaxation techniques, we will reduce stress and move toward a more calm and blissful state of being. This is where our most healthful "chemicals" can continuously stream through us, and the potentially harmful ones are only released occasionally - as needed - the way nature intended.
Welcome to the World of Meditation
Not long ago, the subject of meditation might have conjured up some rather distinctive stereotypical images to the uninitiated. Perhaps a vision of a golden-robed monk, levitating in some granite temple in the Himalayas might have come to mind. Or maybe it was the serene image of a shirtless “Caine,” from the TV program, “Kung Fu,” sitting cross-legged with his eyes closed by a rolling stream amidst butterflies and sparrows. At the very least, meditation has often been synonymously linked to some kind of mystical, dreamy sort of lifestyle that might also include imported incense, hemp sandals and ceramic Buddhas.
More recently, though, this stereotype has given way to an expanded understanding of meditation and its many undeniable physical and mental benefits. In short, friends, meditation has hit the mainstream, and for good reason. But what is it all about and how do we do it?
Meditation is simply the art of becoming still, silent and receptive. And, like most any other worthy endeavor, it's a process that, for all of it's simplicity, requires consistent practice and a lot of patience. But the fruits are many, because the quieting of the mind that meditation promotes is where true wisdom and peace of mind are most easily accessible to us.
The space between your thoughts is your connection to a sort of divine knowledge, a passageway to pure awareness; the Infinite Intelligence. As we continue to access this sacred space within through daily meditation, we begin to develop deeper, more profound understandings of things, of people, and even of some of life’s most difficult questions. We begin to reason with greater clarity and, in turn, rely more on our own intuition or gut feelings.
Additionally, hundreds of research studies, many appearing in well-known scientific journals, have confirmed its undeniable physiological upside. Meditation promotes deep relaxation within our bodies and can often facilitate a number of therapeutic benefits. Notable decreases in heart and respiratory rate, stress-related hormones in the blood, oxygen consumption and even blood pressure (particularly in those individuals with normal or slightly-elevated readings) have been the norm in such studies. Meditation has also been shown to be fertile ground for the coveted alpha waves - a deep level of relaxation seldom realized even in the sleep state - and has been utilized and documented (most notably, perhaps, by Jon Kabat-Zinn, Ph.D.) as an invaluable aid for patients with chronic pain, many of whom were untreatable through conventional medicine.
So, it is with all of these points in mind that meditation remains such an integral part of the Rock-Solid Mind/Body process. For now, here is a simple action step you can take to Calm the Mind. This is a basic meditation technique that you can use anytime you want to experience a calmer, more relaxed state. Just remember that, like anything else, the more you do it, the better you will get at it. It will also serve as an excellent precursor to longer meditation sessions:
Remember that this and other meditation techniques are really more about the process, not the destination. We’re not looking for a defining moment of crushing enlightenment, with trumpets blaring and golden tunnels of light extending out to the heavens, beckoning our transcendence. It’s much more like a rollercoaster ride through an infinite terrain of various peaks and valleys. Some days you’ll fall into the gap and experience some measurable duration of time “in the zone,” at peace and aglow with bliss. Other times, it will seem almost impossible to quiet the mind at all, with thoughts racing around your head like a giant cluster of ants on a plum pit.
But this is okay. Just like when we work out; some days we feel strong and tireless and other days, we wonder why we even bothered to go to the gym at all. So there’s no need to judge or rate each session because it’s really all about the work...all about the process. And if you can take a few minutes each day to do this 10-Breathe White Light Meditation, you will be on your way to an excellent foundation in Rock-Solid Mind/Body development.
Stay tuned for more excerpts from the book on superior mind/body health...
© 2005 Bobby Rock