We have this notion that mental growth stops in adulthood…we can always learn new things, of course, but the MIND itself, doesn’t grow or improve…at least that is what many imagine.
The interesting thing about this notion is that it separates the mind from the body, as two distinctly different things. Allow me to explain…
We understand that physical training is real.
People lose 100’s of lbs and become competitive athletes or famous models, for example.
However rare these extreme examples are, we KNOW that they are possible.
Many of us actually pursue our own health transformation journeys under the guise of this. That hard work, a sensible diet and consistency can amount to staggering, life changing results.
These landmark achievements are continually advertised to us. Every day we see a new “success story” of how a famous actor radically transformed their appearance in just 12 weeks, to get ready for a movie role, for example.
There are no secrets here, although the fitness industry may try to make it seem that way. The truth is quite clear: Changing your exercise, lifestyle and eating habits can and will radically transform your body.
So if we don’t decide to get in the best shape of our lives, starting right now, it is not because we didn’t know that it was possible…
That’s the kicker.
We ALL KNOW it is possible. Whether you chose to do it or not, then becomes a question of priorities and what you really want…not what you think you want.
However, it seems that many are genuinely unaware that it is 100% possible to change our minds. Just like it is possible to change our bodies.
Unfortunately the concept of mental training is barely entertained, or worse, scoffed at!
“I don’t have time”
“I’m not about that woo woo rubbish” “Mental training!? What like meditation? Yeah right, hippie…”
The truth is, that there are things we can do, just like training our bodies, to train our minds, that will lead to cognitive, ethical and emotional changes that serve us.
Not only is this possible, I’d argue that it is necessary.
Not only should you want this, you should go after this. This should be something that you really want…not something that you think you want.
However, similarly to radical health transformations - it isn’t easy.
Easy? Not a chance.
But is anything seriously worth doing ever easy? You already know the answer to that one.
No…in fact, it is often the act of taking the easy route, the path of least resistance, that makes us crave the change we so desperately need.
Sadly, the concept of mental training is barely entertained, let alone practiced. However, just because this is the norm does not make it the ideal.
Training your mind can benefit you intellectually, in your emotional states, your relationships, productivity, self talk and the way you use your attention and energy.
There are myriad ways to train the mental state, not all of which will be right for everyone, of course. That said, there is a tried and tested method of mental training that can effectively train the mind in all who practice it…
REAL mediation. Not walking/running/doing yoga or movement. Many claim these are their “meditations” but don’t confuse meditative tasks, with meditation. They are wholly different, and the latter cannot be achieved by the former.
Sitting down, with no distractions and being solely with yourself and thoughts.
The fact that we don’t teach kids the act of mindfulness and meditation, we don’t talk about it and we don’t practice it, is one of our cultural blind spots.
This is something I am personally working on changing, little by little. I recently spent a week at an elementary school in New York working on mindfulness, meditation and breath work with those children. It is the hopes that work like this, and emails like the one you are reading, can start to open up a dialogue around the importance of working IN - that is, to train the mind.
My hope is that in the not so distant future, meditation et al, will be a staple in schools, in the media and at the doctors office…Did you know that it takes just 6 deep breaths to lower your blood pressure significantly? 6 breaths. How many doctors are talking about that with their patients before reaching for the prescription pad?
Mental training in the realms of mindfulness and meditation are seen by many to be too “out there”, too new-age (this couldn’t be further from the truth), or as a plain waste of time…we are “too busy”.
It is crucial that this consensus shifts, and I believe that it will. Remember that key views change significantly and quite rapidly, may I add.
It was only 150 years ago that the Hungarian Physician by the name of Ignaz Philipp Semmelweis proposed the idea of hand washing in hospitals to cut down on infections and infant mortality…he was laughed out of the room by his peers, upon first suggesting this.
It wasn’t long ago that someone actively pursuing physical exercise, was something only a very strange person would do deliberately.
Rewind back to the 1940’s and 1950’s and you will find a litany of advertisements showing doctors smoking cigarettes in their offices, proclaiming that a national survey of doctors found Camel cigarettes, were the best!
It is very possible, as in the cases above, for entire societies to be completely and utterly confused about something very important.
I believe we will look back on damaging dietary advice, such as the “importance” of “heart healthy whole grains” and the notion that saturated fat and cholesterol clog the arteries and cause heart attacks, with similar response to the above cases - how could we have been so wrong?
I think that meditation is one of these things that people are very confused about, that is incredibly important. Meditation can literally change the structure of your brain
One of the key benefits of learning to meditate is that you can decide how long you stay angry/upset for. This is a real super power in todays world. Imagine being fully in control of your emotional state - being able to not only recognize it, as it arises but to alter it.
Emotional control aside - have you noticed how fragmented your attention has become? When was the last time you sat and read a book for an hour without anxiously checking emails or social media? Sadly, I doubt that many who received this email today even made it this far; “This is WAY too long”.
How hard it is to sit and be still with just your thoughts? There is an all out war being fought for your attention and many of us are losing the war.
Check out this powerful photo exhibit from 2015. A photographer photoshopped and removed the devices from peoples hands in every-day life situations.
Many of us are addicted to our devices. They’re our lifeline. It is worth thinking about this modern day experiment we are all facing and how distracted we have become. How disconnected from our minds we are.
The antithesis of this distraction is to meditate.
It won’t happen on accident. It has to be purposely injected into your life. You won’t accomplish this practice whilst hiking, or playing music or gardening…you have to sit. You have to train the mind.
It’s hard. It won’t come easy. Some of us will have to break addictions in order to even sit with ourselves. However, it is worth it.
There are few things more important to a meaningful life than being happy. Mediation will open the door for you to see that happiness is well within your reach, for happiness is not some end destination that you are working towards. Happiness is wanting what you already have.
The mind is everything. Whether you want to choose gratitude and be happy or whether you finally want to get the body you’ve always dreamed of…if the mind isn’t on your side, you will fail.
These answers cannot be found online or in social media, this skill cannot be attained by merely reading about it - the answers, the skill itself can only be found by training the mind. Live Awesome, friends Ste