LIGHT, STRONG, FAST, EASY ...
THE POWER OF A MANTRA
Words can inspire. And words can destroy. Choose yours well.
Over the past year and half I have become an avid runner. I enjoy the rhythmic pounding of my feet against the tar; the sound of my breathing as I time my breath to my pace; the sense of satisfaction as I feel my body is just a little stronger and a little faster than yesterday; and the peace and tranquillity of being “in the zone”.
Recently I participated in a race; and as with all races the goal was to beat the last race’s time and set a new “pb” (i.e. “personal best” for the non-competitive types reading this). The race start was 12km outside the city and participants had to run into the city. It was breath-taking running towards the majestic Table Mountain constantly in front of me. A perfect day for running; and a perfect setting for being reminded how privileged I am to live in the beautiful City of Cape Town.
The race started well but just 2km in my legs felt weak. I wasn’t running as strongly as I was expecting to. I had just recovered from a bout of illness, so perhaps I was overly optimistic to expect to run the race at top form. I started to talk to myself as I normally do when times are tough. I am a firm believer in positive affirmations; and so I set off telling myself: “you can do it – it’s only another 10km – come on lift those legs – one step at a time – that’s it – you can do it …” This strategy has always been helpful for me so it was natural for me to adopt this again. Today, it wasn’t helping; my legs just didn’t want to lift; they felt like they had ten ton weights tied to them. Each step was harder than the previous. How was I going to finish this race?
My ego was also making it clear that it was not going to accept failure; she doesn’t take kindly to being bruised. I was a key stakeholder in a newly formed running club at my workplace and had been encouraging colleagues for the past month to participate in the race; telling them, “don’t worry, it’s only 12km – it’s easy!” With the more-seasoned runners I was comparing PB’s and making big claims. My ego was having none of this – the pressure was on; I needed to rise to the occasion. But what do I do? My usual affirmations were not working.
As I was talking to myself, I recalled a recent conversation with a friend who shared how he had used a positive mantra to get him through the daunting 90km Comrades Marathon. After just 20km his body was giving in and he was certain that he could never complete the remaining 70km. Fortunately a guardian angel in the form of an elderly lady started running beside him and gave him a mantra to repeat throughout the race which helped him complete the gruesome ultra-marathon. I decided to change my own affirmations to be more in line with what my friend used and started repeating to myself,
“I am light; I am strong; I am fast; this is easy;”
“I am light; I am strong; I am fast; this is easy …”
And eventually just,
“Light; strong; fast; easy;”
“Light; strong; fast; easy …”
What a difference this new mantra made to my running. As I ran I could feel my body become lighter, stronger and faster and the race felt easier. The moment my mind wandered off the mantra my body become heavier, weaker and slower and the race felt more difficult. When I got back on track with repeating my mantra I felt an immediate physical improvement.
There is power in words. What you say is what you get.
It’s easier said than done
I was exceptionally fortunate to be in a position of being surrounded by great support when I went through this life-changing journey. Perhaps had I not had that support, things may have turned out differently; and today, I could be bitter, negative, sad and living a life of little meaning. It’s my mission to share what I have learned the hard way, so that you too can find the meaning, fulfillment and joy you deserve.
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A journey of a thousand miles starts with a single step.
CONDITIONED FOR HAPPINESS
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What are your thoughts?
I would love to hear from you. What has your experience been with this topic? Do you have some tips or strategies in addition to the one’s mentioned above? Maybe you have a burning question? Perhaps you have the solution to someone else’s question.
The best growth and learning comes from engagement and sharing, please comment below and share your thoughts, questions and personal experiences.
Very inspirational. Thanks for sharing.