T Nation

gettin all zen on ya


#1

Today I was reminded of the biggest reason I workout. We all have our own reasons for weight training, some to improve athletic performance, others to compete in various strength/power sports, some to "look good nekkid", others to assist in occupational tasks, or to simply be big and strong, and of course, any combination of the above mentioned. Personally I lift for a combination of some of the above mentioned reasons, but this morning I had a different experience. It was hot and humid when I arrived at the gym and I was'nt feeling particularily energetic. I also had a lot on my mind and just did'nt feel like focusing on a workout, but it's hard to break a habit. However, once I began, everything just clicked and I really got into a groove. The weights were going up easy and I was actually enjoying the heat. At some point I went to a place of total unself-consciousness where I was'nt thinking or caring about anything at all. I felt a total inner peace of mind that I had not felt for some time and I was'nt focused on the workout, it was just happening. I was only aware that I was simply doing something I love to do. By the end of the workout I felt physically and emotionally drained, but very peaceful at the same time. All the thoughts and troubles on my mind, previous to the workout, now seemed very minor and unimportant. I was thinking, this must be like what a Buddhist monk or a Hindu mystic feels like after coming out of deep meditation. This got me to thinking, perhaps for people who are dedicated to weight training, that is our form of meditation. Maybe cultivating that inner quietness is not tied directly to external circumstance. Who says you have to sit quietly with your eyes closed to achieve a peaceful state. Ok, I'm starting to ramble a little, but I'm curious to know if anyone else has experienced that loss of self into a workout and then come out feeling profoundly peaceful and self-aware, or am I just a kook? I'm open to either reality.


#2

I agree completely. But it has only come within the last few weeks. Now when I work out (Assuming I'm alone) I get into a pleasant zone and feel the same things you mentioned.

Good thread. Hopefully it doesn't get hijacked by you-know-who.


#3

Happens to me fairly often.


#4

Who? The Dali Lama? Yeah, you gotta watch out for that guy.

I've long maintained that training is meditative. I refer to it as my "daily therapy session". Without it, I'd no doubt go insane. Um, insaner.


#5

Who, me?

I guess it depends if you view working out as a means to an end or an end. For me, when I'm trying to gain strength, size, or achieve some other measureable, physical goal my workouts tend to be anything but peaceful.

I'm thinking exclusively about the next set, which pushes other troubling thoughts out of my mind.

However when I am finished, providing the day's mission was accomplished, I do get a sense of accomplishment and/or peace.

But I view that as a byproduct. Of course if I was just trying to "maintain" a level of fitness then it might be different.


#6

I know exactly what you mean. Many times I go way past my training time becuase I just love staying in the zone. I once worked out for 3 hours just for that reason.


#7

Great thread! I agree Magnus, and many if not most who train hard reach this place, though they may recognize it as something else.

Nothing better when your stressed or overwhelmed by work.

I've found that doing 30-40 mins weights then 4-5 all out rounds on a heavybag puts me there, and I walk out feeling high, no matter whats goin' on in the world.


#8

Most definitely. I find myself listening to my headphones, but not really listening. Like you hear the words, but there is no comprehension - just zonin out. Where your muscles don't hurt and nothing bothers you. Yes, I've done this before, but not as often as I like.

I tend to snap out of it when I see someone doing DB curls in the squat rack or doing an exercise wrong and I get pissed.


#9

Kuri: Very true for the heavybag. Even when skipping or shadow boxing I can go to my happy place.


#10

Magnus...I can definitely relate. Sometimes the best workouts and best feelings come when you are not expecting it. I think chemicals in the brain called endorphines are also responsible. Have you ever heard of "runner's high"?. Maybe if you have been hoisting iron long enough a similar effect happens?


#11

Training can definitely be a meditative "flow experience" especially if you are an experienced lifter. (By the way, this is completely separate than feeling good after your workout. That's also nice, but something different). Meditation does not have to happen in the lotus position. There is such a thing as "walking meditation". Some people call the meditative state "mindfulness". You are able to take a detached view and observe the moment. (If you are doing self-talk like "Three more! F*ck!!!" you are not in this state. You may be "very focused" but that is not meditative).

I find I am the most tuned-in when I am in good shape and able to keep rests to a minimum. Resting 5 minutes between sets is a flow-killer.
When training is at it's best, it can be meditative. But I have only hit this meditative point (and maintained it for a whole session) a handful of times in my training history.


#12

Whats better than training outside at sunset? next to a lake...

I've had pints of blood withdrawn by nasty skeeters while doin' that, but its worth it everytime.

You got it Magnus!