Awareness is the training partner of effort

Published in Your Health Magazine, October 2018, Arlington and Fairfax Edition

When you do any sort of exercise, it makes sense to put your all into it – to “train hard.”

But are you always sure — what you are training?

It is well known that it just as possible to train mistakes as to train the right stuff.

As a matter of fact, when you count them, there are more wrongs way than right ways.

Readers of the Bible are familiar with the warning that one must “enter through the narrow gate.”

 

So, how does one go about training in the right way?

To begin with, one must have a good teacher. There is no substitute for learning from one who knows.

And then one must cultivate self-awareness. This is the way to know – outside of the lesson – whether you are doing what the instructor says, or not.

Self-awareness includes several topics.

  1. Sensing the body. Can you direct your attention to feel – sensorily perceive – what you are doing?
  2. Understanding of anatomy. Where are the parts? What exactly is each one? An aid in this domain is to study anatomy. Until this is taken on, most of us have a very approximate idea of what the shoulders are, what the hips are and how the back is constructed, etc. Muscle anatomy helps, but even more so joint anatomy.
  3. Quality of movement. It is not just what you do, but how you do it. Is the breath participating? Is the movement flowing throughout the entire cycle? Are you using your eyes appropriately?
  4. The relationship to the environment. Are you able to take in more than yourself? To encompass the whole field of endeavor?
  5. Space for relaxation. Do you include relaxation in your training schedule? Experience shows that down times are when the door opens to insight.

When all these aspects are well integrated with strength, flexibility and the specifics of your sport, then you are rewarded with experiences that crown the time, effort and passion you invest.