Most of us are in some way pre-occupied, occupied and think often about physical fitness, exercise, keeping fit, eating well (even though we may not really..). It’s physical fitness, strength, vitality and resources that occupies us. Yes?
Have you ever wondered about building strength and vitality in other areas of life? What about the mental, emotional and spiritual dimensions?
Physical fitness is definitely easier. You can SEE your body. You feel when its not at its best. You know when you are not being active depending on what your activity level is set at – by you. You know when you are gaining or losing weight. You can see when you have been eating “badly”. This is why it may be easy to consider physical fitness.
However, mental and emotional fitness are perhaps the dimensions most ignored. We may not even consider that its possible to build flexibility, muscle, endurance and resilience into these areas.
Emotional fitness: What could that even look like? Why would you even need that?
Do you ever feel trapped by old habits, of reacting to people and the world? Is there a pattern to your emotional landscape? Daniel Goleman, the pioneer of the concept of emotional intelligence advocates that self awareness – the awareness of personal emotions, creates the place for self-regulation/control and changing old habits. It is my belief that habits are nothing more than very fit old neural circuits.
“Know thyself”, from the ancient Greek wisdom of Socrates, is the building block to managing oneself. And how can you do this? Practices like mindfulness and meditation are key resources that help quiet the “noise” of the mind, creating some clarity, spaciousness to “respond” rather than react. Compassion, and kindness to oneself – are essential ingredients to mindful awareness. Learning to be kind & gentle with yourself, the person closest to you.
Next, mental training?
Can you really teach an old dog new tricks? The brain is adaptable to change. Neuroplasticity is a concept that proves that new networks, circuits and pathways CAN be trained. In fact, we do it every day, without knowing it. The curiosity to learn new things. The capacity to change and engage the world with flexibility is in itself mental training. Other practical ways of “training” are the old “crossword” puzzle type activity that challenges and builds the muscle of deep and lateral thinking.