There are 3 major areas of focus for a successful fitness program: eating, exercise and attitude.
Getting-started eating advice isn’t hard to come by. Basic nutrition explanations along with mountains of recipes are everywhere! There are tons of cooking classes, meal evaluation tips, menu planning examples and other eating specific information to help the beginner evaluate their old habits so they can move step by step towards new and better habits. Yes, sorting out all this eating advice is part of the beginner’s challenge. But, at least there is a lot written about these topics and you can evaluate and decide about your food choices as you learn more and more.
How-to information about exercise is also more than plentiful! You will learn how to start your exercise program slowly and how to increase the challenge as your body gets stronger and more and more fit. Beginners are provided very specific step by step instructions on how to do a physical self-evaluation. And then, they are instructed on how to let that self-evaluation guide and direct their exercise planning. Again, the challenge isn’t a lack of information but the need to evaluate all the many sources of exercise advice available at your fingertips!
There’s even some basic information available about motivation and maintaining positivity. This advice seems to be less specific. And, I feel that there is one piece of instruction that is sorely missing! I don’t believe I’ve ever seen it. What I’m referring to is a guide to help a person identify what stage their “state of mind” is. In this situation, state of mind refers to how skilled the person is at keeping negative self-talk at bay and encouraging a consistently positive stream of thinking day by day. And this lack MIGHT possibly be part of the reason that so many people fall off their exercise regime or revert back to unhealthy eating choices.
Yes, meditating will help you control the negative self-talk that plagues the average person. But, how easily can a person jump from beginner to stilled meditator? Not easy at all!
I’ve observed that having the tools to assess a person’s beginning physical status combined with understanding about the different stages of physical fitness helps people focus on their goals for each stage along the way. It helps them plan each stage because they can identify with their current stage and understand what to expect at the next stage. It is often said that whatever you can imagine, you can achieve. The more specific the understanding, the better! Breaking work into small pieces and rewarding when small goals are accomplished is very motivating! That is why being more aware of the different states of mind helps the person move through them. Most people don’t even KNOW that they can become skilled at becoming free of confusing and distracting thoughts. But they can! As skills increase, the person can replace unhealthy mental gyrations with a powerful, positive, mental cheering squad. Where the mind goes, so goes the body!!
So, here’s a brief description of these 5 STAGES / STATES OF MIND!
See if you can find yourself in any of these descriptions. In yogic teachings, there are five states of mind. These teachings work well for our purpose. The unskilled mind is often described as a monkey, swinging uncontrollably from thought to thought to thought. As a person becomes more skilled and moves through the different states of mind, they move toward success. The monkey mind has less influence and progress towards all goals is made easier and easier.
This mind is restless, troubled and agitated. It could mildly disturbed or severely disturbed. It might be worried or chaotic. There are typically strong negative and sometime debilitating emotions. It could be said that the monkey is jumping up and down at this state of mind.
While in this state, the mind is stagnant, forgetful and unaware. Frustration is experienced even when reasons for frustration aren’t clear. Thoughts are actually a slower because people who are depressed are often in this mind state. It does not necessarily mean that the person is clinically depressed. A lethargic “couch potato’s” mental state fits in this stage. It is marked with a lot of disappointment, disillusionment, and withdrawal. Patterns of uncontrollable poor eating habits including compulsive eating are common. Addictions to food or other substances are commonly used to numb the pain of this state. Since this stage is quieter than the disturbed mind, it can more easily be trained to move to the next stages.
This mind state is neither disturbed nor dull but it is confused. Distracted minds are filled with thoughts that jump quickly without purpose. This monkey mind jumps aimlessly from one thought to another. These distracted thoughts contribute to associated disoriented feelings. It’s not a comfortable state of mind or a productive one. These thoughts and feelings are arbitrary and produce no real useful outcome. This mind state is capable of developing perceptions but these perceptions aren’t part of a problem solving process. Instead they are random. So, they create doubt and insecurity because they aren’t moving anywhere useful. A scattered state of mind can feel like being rudderless which creates anxiety. Once a person achieves this state of mind, they are closer to the higher states of mind which can be learned through practice.
Next, at this state of mind, there is some awareness of a process. At this state, internal and external factors are not a distraction. Concentration is practiced. And, the thoughts become more organized towards a purpose. This frees the mind of complications and one thought builds to create movement toward a useful outcome. Associated feelings involve more confidence and optimism. This state of mind allows the person to be fully present in the moment with all thoughts and emotions being applied to the desired focus. The focused mind is calm which allows thoughts that can steadily move towards a vision and desired outcome. This state of mind allows a feeling of freedom and empowerment.
It is difficult to describe this state of mind in words. It comes from the practice of meditation and concentration. The mind is one-focused and the person is capable of very deep levels of meditation.
DO YOUR OWN SELF-EVALUATION. MAKE SURE YOUR THINKING HIS HELPFUL.
DON’T GIVE UP!
WITHOUT JUDGMENT, LET YOURSELF MOVE FROM ONE STAGE AND ONE MIND STATE TO THE NEXT.
CONGRATULATE AND REWARD YOURSELF EACH STEP OF THE WAY!