The Power of Positive Thinking
My little cold from last week turned into a big cold. I didn’t work out from Tuesday until Sunday. If you know me, you know how incredibly hard this was for me.
Indeed, I’ve been hammered left, right, and sideways by this thing. My glands are swollen, I’m congested, and I’ve got a perpetual headache that just won’t quit. In short? I’m miserable.
I went back to boot camp yesterday excited, apprehensive, and cautious. The first day is, of course, the least intense day of camp, so I told myself that I would make it. Coughing kept me awake all night long and I finally gave up at 3:00am and went downstairs to work in my office until it was time to leave.
Here’s the thing. After an illness, when I’ve taken a few days off, I always panic. I somehow imagine that I can lose years’ worth of base fitness in only five days. This is impossible, of course, but it never fails that I will entertain the notion.
Yesterday there were more than 30 women at camp. We hardly fit into the room.
“I think Daniel is over-booking his flights!” I told Kirsten.
Who can blame him? If history repeats itself then 10 of those women will vanish within the first four days and we’ll be back to a normal number.
Daniel was in rare form. He came out swinging with every bad joke he knows (and he knows a lot) and worked the crowd like a pro. You could tell that he really wanted to curb the attrition that’s become a trend. By the end of the hour he actually had most of the class laughing and I was impressed with his perseverance.
While he was busy riling everyone up, I was suffering fantastically. It was as mellow as I’d expected, but my body wasn’t happy about the extra stress. I fought the urge to panic and reminded myself that I was still sick, that this weakness was not the result of huge amounts of fitness lost. Still – I felt impossibly frail – my former power just a flicker of a memory.
I made it through (just barely) and laid on my mat as blood flowed through me. I closed my eyes and imagined all that blood pulsing and pushing, carrying little soldiers in to battle my flu bug. The lymph nodes were swollen and overloaded with the task of making armor and weaponry. The blood carried the troops and valiant heroics were occurring all over the place. We’re winning the war. Slowly.
I’m sure I sound like a total nutjob, but I resigned myself to that long ago. I have always had a great imagination but had never before considered that it would help me in any way besides thinking of great stories or keeping me occupied as a child.
Last week in my eval session Daniel reminded me otherwise.
“I know this sounds silly,” he said, “But remember when you used to play make-believe as a child? Use that part of your imagination and pretend that you are already at your goal. Imagine your body is already the way that you want it to be. Look in the mirror and see it there. I know it sounds crazy – but it really, really works.”
I took it to heart.
Last night I laid in bed with my head propped high and closed my eyes. I focused on my breathing and imagined that with every exhalation I was ridding my body of the germs that were plaguing it. When I inhaled I was filling myself with good healing energy. I tried to imagine the blood in my veins and all the various, intricate workings of my body. I imagined waking up as I have not in over 6 days: healthy, revived, energetic, healed. I envisioned a long, slow run in which the last of the violating germs were expelled and my mind found that euphoria that exists in the place where foot cadence matches breath, matches life-rhythm, matches hearbeat.
This morning I let myself sleep until almost 9:30am, logging 11 full hours of rest. I immediately became aware of my glands, which had become noticeably smaller overnight. My sinuses, too, were relieved of pressure and beginning to truly expel. My coughing was more effective and less painful.
Not complete wellness, to be sure, but a huge step in the right direction.
Whether or not I sound insane, I have to admit that I think there is real merit to the idea that the power of the mind can help to transform the body. Whether we are talking about fitness or general wellness, what we envision for ourselves and focus intensely on is probably more likely to become a reality. There are a lot of ways to explain this but what’s the point? If it works then it works.
What do you want for yourself today? What do you want for your life? For your body? Write it down, make a collage, create a picture in your mind. Find a way to focus on it and push out the thoughts that are telling you that you can’t do it (what good are these thoughts, anyway?).
Now more than ever, as I more diligently push my life in the direction that I have envisioned for myself, am I starting to really believe in the power of positive thinking. Believe that it is possible and then work to make it happen. Imagine yourself as you’ve always wanted to be and then act on that vision.
Now go do it.