The Importance Of The Mind
A lot of people focus on how they look and what their bodies can do, but less actually consider how they think and how it affects everything else. The old saying “mind over matter” can come across as a tired platitude about the power of positive thinking, but it turns out that there’s actually a fair amount of truth to it.
The first thing that a truly successful person understands about the mind is the role that the ego plays in it. This is, essentially, your perception of yourself and how you use that perception to interact with the environment – including how you see your own skills and abilities. Obviously, this is rather important for training in martial arts classes! Your ego, for example, plays a huge part in how you defend yourself: if your hands are down because you’re overconfident that you can react in time, you could be a multi-degree black belt and still get hit in the face by someone new.
But there’s a flip side to the ego, if used in proper moderation and that is self-confidence. If you’ve got your hands up in defense, and you’re sure you have trained enough and that your muscle memory is in place, you could be a yellow belt and walk away without a scratch.
There’s a fine balancing act with ego – you don’t want to get too cocky, but you don’t want to be negative and overcritical of yourself, either. You have to find a middle ground, and be confident that you are getting better as you practice, all the time. This doesn’t just apply to martial arts, either – it’s good advice for everything you want in life! Learning to control your ego, even when you get really good at something you’ve practiced at, is a skill that will allow you to unlock the true mastery of what your mind can do with it.
Your mind, at a macro level, controls your body – what time you get up or go to bed, what you eat, what you do from one moment to the next. All of those are decisions made, at some level of consciousness. Further down, on a more personal level, it controls the fine movements that you do in any sport, martial art, action, etc. and so a fine-tuned mind/body connection is crucial to success. The most successful people are those who make both sides of this coin work for the benefit of the whole! The strongest man on earth likely can’t hold his arms straight out for more than a minute or two, but there are martial arts masters who do it for longer as a warm up, without hesitation.
That’s the power of the mind, and of proper ego training. It’s the power inside all of us to achieve better, if we believe that we always can. If we consciously choose to train our mind – just as we would choose to train our muscles, our lungs, our cravings, our sleep patterns, and so on – we gain greater control in the end. We bridge the subconscious interface of the body with the conscious methodology of the mind.
But how are some ways that we can change our thinking, reduce our negative egos, and alter our habits for the better? In the next blog, we’ll talk about all of that – so be sure to check back in a few weeks for that one!
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