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Transcending the Discomfort Of a Workout - And Then Transcending That

by Joan Kent

posted in Health and Fitness

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My coach used to say that we defeat ourselves mentally long before we're defeated physically. He taught us to feel everything that was going on, and then transcend it.
As great as transcendence sounds, it didn't always work for me. I would find myself striving to get into that transcendent state, and then striving to stay there. The striving itself was antithetical to the state.
Striving for transcendence also linked "good" or "bad" with whichever state I was in at any moment. If I felt discomfort, was I doing it wrong?
My solution came from a non-cycling environment - a workshop with Zen master Genpo Roshi.
By modifying one of Roshi's techniques, I discovered the key to keeping my focus associated during hard efforts. (For those who might want to try it or teach it, it's helpful to practice first during a moderate-intensity workout.)
The Zen behind this technique is No Attachments, No Aversions.
Visualize a triangle superimposed on your body. The lower left corner is the part of you that feels the discomfort or pain and reacts to it:
"This sucks. If it hurts now, what will it feel like in 5 more minutes? Why did I come to this class today?" And so on.
The lower right corner is the part of you that transcends the pain/discomfort and rises above physical limitations.
Now bring those two points together at the apex of the triangle, directly over your head. Clear your mind of thought, and train with absolutely no preference.
With no preference, there's no striving to reach the transcendent state.
One moment you might transcend the discomfort. There's no attachment to that, no holding onto it because it's better. Experience it for as long as it happens.
The next moment, you might find yourself feeling the pain, or reacting to it. If that occurs, there's no resistance - either to the pain or to the reaction. Experience it with no aversion and let it pass through. Whatever happens is absolutely okay.
The state of No Preference is the ultimate mind/body state - or more accurately, a no-mind/body state.
In a very real sense, there is no emotion, just energy. Appreciate it; let it happen and pass through.
Using this technique, I can stay connected, associated with what's happening. Because any state is okay, I don't strive, fight the moment, or resist what is. I never feel I'm doing it wrong.
When cycling participants started asking me to run through "the triangle" during classes I taught, including classes I subbed for the coach, I knew it worked for others, too.
This method is in the moment and fully conscious. There's no fear of difficulty, because it truly doesn't matter. Whatever happens is okay.
I encourage you to try this and suspect it will enhance your workouts.
About the Author: What you eat can either help you focus or make it more difficult. I work with food to change brain chemistry - and have seen impressive changes in clients with a variety of issues. Improvements such as better health, better moods, and better focus are just a few. Sugar is a significant focus (and health) interrupter, and quitting can be life changing. For information, please visit and grab your free gift.
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