The hardest part of working out is overcoming resistance–more so in the mind than the body. Even when the body is protesting for legitimate reasons, I still find that it’s in the mind that most of the combat is waged.
Sometimes–actually, fairly often–in the morning there’s reluctance to doing yoga. My approach is to key into the fact that I know I’ll feel better in body, mind, and spirit afterwards. That’s not always enough of an impetus to get me on the mat, so I invite myself to just sit down, start breathing, and begin simple seated movements. I know that the flow will come; sometimes sooner rather than later, and to varying degrees. But I like feeling into the current, the flavour of the moment so to speak.
A similar experience happens at times with training. I know, however, that the vital facet is to just start–to begin to move and let it come to me. At these times, Newton’s third law of motion is evident; the equal and opposite reaction to starting my workout resides solely in my mind. For some reason, I’m perceiving the session to be too hard, or too long, or, or, or. At these times, I start by putting on my bike or run clothes, then the shoes, then to start moving nice and easy, then see how it goes… It always goes.
I like to think of this as loving myself. Part of me feels less than enthusiastic. I lovingly acknowledge this then hold it and ask that we go for a walk together. The stronger parts of my mind, and body, embrace the downtrodden and less than eager aspects of my being. I don’t try to trick myself: I just ask for the journey. …Please note that if there is an actual risk of injury (because I’ve been pushing too hard recently) then I listen to and respect this.
Interestingly, I take the same approach with other areas of my life and personality. I’m not always successful in following my desired path, but if I can at least increase my awareness of and within each step then I celebrate progress. Everybody likes to be recognised and affirmed–children and adults alike. Unfortunately, as “grown-ups” we’ve typically hardened ourselves and hide away our vulnerable softness.
Is my vigilance always strong? No. So, I’ve trained myself to feel into what’s happening, explore the stagnant lifelessness of non-diligence versus the serenity of enacting intention.
Elisha Goldstein has a four-step approach that I like. Personally, my execution of #4 is more of a welcoming/letting go than a whacking.
** K.N.O.W Your Resistance **
… 1. Know resistance is inevitable and relentless—it’s not personal.
… 2. Notice it in your day as a way of disentangling from it. The moment you’re aware it, you’re mindful and have created a little space between yourself and the resistance.
… 3. Open to the experience of it, how does it feel in your body? Get intimate with it so you can recognize the sensations of it, the thoughts surrounding it and behaviors it defaults you to that lead you away from your intention.
… 4. Whack it! This may seem very unmindful, but it can be kind of fun to think about it this way. We have to remember that mindfulness is awareness and opens us up to discerning what is best for us in the moment. If whacking it is too strong of a term for you (because it implies harming), you might prefer Welcome it and Let it go as a more compassionate response.