Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Finding your "Spark" - Looking for emotional Zen to transform yourself

This picture comes from the Self-Conscious Facebook page which aligns similarly to my own views on life.
   You got it, this is one of those pro-nerd sorts of posts! Everyone has a similar sort of energy to them that keeps them going from day to day that is in some ways far more simple and and in others equally complex. This energy is strange in that it can bring you up or slam you down. And despite the fact that no drug, or scientific instrument can yet seem to get a perfectly clear unquestionable understanding of what this energy is it still has a powerful influence over your daily life. Call it willpower, spirit, soul, or anything else, it still has the same effect between every single person - it is the thing that gives you what you need to get up every morning whether you want to or not and drives you to live even when the outlook seems bleak.

   Whatever your belief system, it is pretty well known that the human body is an extremely sophisticated organic machine. We may not be filled with alloys and wiring, oils and lubricants, or have a hard drive and processor whirring away in our heads but we do have a general equivalent for all of these. There is the nervous system that has intricate fibers reaching from your brain to everywhere between there and the tips of your toes, fats like Omega 3 keep your joints lubricated and the brain itself working in tandem with your vascular, digestive and nervous systems is a complex computer far beyond anything we have even today. The sheer number of calculations your brain makes at any moment to analyze, process and begin synthesis of proteins and gasses for energy production in your body alone is incredible to consider.

   Keeping the above in mind, consider this next part; what happens when such an intricate and advanced machine gets something as simple as the wrong gas in it? Or perhaps a driver who simply does not understand the inner workings thinks he can tinker without any sort of issues? Confusion, damages, and long hours spent repairing and diagnosing all the systems that have been mangled are the likely outcome.

   Then you have what most would refer to simply as the mind. When it comes to the inner workings of the human body nothing is less understood or harder to fully comprehend as the mind. You can see where the mind is looking and sorting out thoughts and memories with a brain scan, but it is still a challenge to see how each little process changes your perception. Scans can see what is happening but it is hard without the same persons interpretations to know why and where the thoughts are actually leading. Your mind is that self aware portion of your thoughts that allows you to be creative, learn and imagine. It allows you to generate the will to do more than what even your brain thinks it is capable of and it also can be the destroyer of everything you try to build. On that same note, it can just the same be the builder of all you want to see yourself become.

   Positive and negative thoughts both originate from here. And both can have an effect on what becomes of your body and what it is capable of. There are physical signs of what the mind can accomplish, adrenaline bursts, pain, increased heart rate and even heart failure. But it doesn't work alone. That is where I like to consider the human "Spark" to exist. The zone between mind, body and brain is probably the most complex and challenging thing to understand of all.

   A person could train for months, even years and be more prepared than they could ever need to be for a simple race. Their body is a machine of precision and power. Built to withstand thousands of footfalls, send oxygen as efficiently as possible to every corner of the body and their brain is able to keep control on all of the muscles, oxygen ratios and release of sweat in such a way as to cool the body without compromising its vital systems. All that is moot if the mind suddenly decides it can't do it. In a positive frame the athlete will run his or her hardest, use every available internal resource to gain every advantage possible. In a negative frame, nothing. Muscles that should be primed for anything fail with no effort. Nerves that should be tuned to knowing real pain from imaginary misfire and everything that should be nothing hurts. Breathing in the first mile feels labored and it seems impossible to go any further. The vital systems get out of sync and fail to do their jobs to the extent of what they have been trained for.

   The Spark is something in all of us that we need to take care of as much as anything else. A healthy way of eating, exercise, and learning are all ways to improve ourselves in brain and body. But we also need to ensure we take care of the mind too. The mind can have such a profound effect on how the rest of your body works at any given time that as mentioned about the athlete even the strongest best trained brain and body will succumb to negativity.

   Steer away from negativity. Turn "I cannot" into "I could," and then into "I can." You can then turn "Why should I?" into "Why not?" And definitely do not forget to practice changing "I'll start tomorrow/next week/some other time" into "I am going to at least try it right now."

   Feed yourself with all the positivity you can. Try to maintain contact with positive and optimistic friends, look for the good in things first and try to think of how things could go right as opposed to all the little things that could go wrong and may not even cause trouble with the outcome save for what your mind balloons the issue into. Practicing the maintenance of a positive outlook on your training, eating and attempts at creating a stronger healthier you will have an overall greater effect than always wondering if you are doing enough, or concerning yourself with thinking you can never reach the goal you wish to achieve.

   Between things like Yoga, meditation, running, breathing practices and trying to fill your day with only people who are trying to see life from the same positive outlook you will find it easier to attain goals than with the same regimen and nothing but negative surrounding you. Don't forget to use things like Facebook or other social spots like running or exercise forums. You will often find that the impact of a few "Good Jobs" and "Keep it up, you are doing great," is priceless to finding a way to keep everything working in sync with your Spark.

   As one last piece of advice for those who would like to share advice, never think that another persons efforts are too little. Let them know that every step they take in a healthier direction is a step towards a stronger body and healthier outlook on life. Just because you can lift 300 lbs is not a reason to tell someone just starting out that lifting 100 lbs is chump change. The fact that they are there and trying is something remarkable in this day and age with all the technology we have to draw us away from such attempts requiring physical effort. A person who gets up and runs a mile instead of sitting in front of the TV to play a video game as they always normally do is a person on the right track. Encourage and inspire. Offer to run with them on occasion. Offer helpful tips for motivating and maybe even making it fun (I personally listen to audiobooks on long runs with a slow pace - not to escape the run but to enjoy two of my favorite things while experiencing the freedom and beauty of a night sky and an open road at 3 AM).

   Every single step in the right direction is another step away from the wrong direction!