Are You Evolving Or Getting Left Behind?
I just recently started reading a fascinating book called, Restless Creatures, by Matt Wilkinson. In the book, Matt tells “The Story of Life In Ten Movements.” I’ve only read through the first three – ground travel, tree climbing, and flying.
I’ve picked up some gems early in the book, which sparked enough thought to create this post. One of which, being the idea that locomotion is the primary driving force behind evolution. According to the author, “life has a single overriding theme – locomotion, and that evolution is “inherit” in each and every one of us.
From the development of our thick, rigid, Achilles tendon to the orientation of our pelvis and function of our glute medius muscles, evolution was necessary to allow for bipedal movement. Beyond that small, yet significant development, one thing is clear; life doesn’t wait for you to catch up.
Of course this is all relative. Evolution is a gradual process, and by gradual I’m not talking 2-3 years, I’m talking thousands of years. So while you likely won’t be around for the next “evolutionary development”, it did get me thinking; what are you doing to evolve yourself?
Given the name of my business, “Evolution Strength & Performance”, I think it’s clear I view life as an evolutionary process – one that encompasses the mind, the body, and the interaction/connection between the two.
I can’t pretend to know what life was like during prehistoric times or even in the early 1900’s – clearly I wasn’t alive. But I can speak to the vast differences between our lives now and even just 30 years ago.
Life is pretty easy for most people.
Technology has yielded the ability to have just about anything you want at the touch of a button (and in two hours no less), not to mention most people haven’t feared for lack of food, water, and shelter for quite some time (again I say, “most”).
So in stepping outside the realm of kettlebells for minute I thought I’d provoke the question; how are you evolving? Are you evolving, and if you’re not, where might you start in an effort to living a more fulfilling, meaningful life.
In my experience the mind seems to be a forgotten part of our daily lives. We’re obviously aware of it, yet somehow severely disconnect from it.
If you’ve practiced meditation or any mindful activity, at some point you’ve probably been told or instructed to search for the state of being “awake”, or “present” – referring to your ability to consciously make decisions rather than continually react without thought or meaning.
Taking back the mind is a skill and takes work, lots of it. Meditation is one means and strenuous exercise can be another effective measure in becoming more connected with your mind. Below are 3 ways you can start reconnecting with your mind now and evolve the way you think, act, and move through your world.
As shocking as it might sound, you probably don’t know how to breathe. How is that possible you say? Obviously you breathe, otherwise you’d be dead, but 9/10 people I work with don’t posses the ability to actually take a breath the proper way. Most people are stuck in a stressful state of “inhalation” one that sends a cascade of negative effects throughout the nervous system, digestive system, and reproductive system.
The simple act of taking 10 breaths, slowly in through your nose and out through your mouth, twice daily (morning and evening) can dramatically affect your mindset, mood, and decision-making.
It’s such a simple task, yet so difficult to get people to stop and take a few breaths. Practice and see how you feel. Write down how you feel before and after your 10 breaths. See how long you make your breaths last – you’ll be surprised what it does for your mind and mood.
You can’t really be relaxed without having the ability to control your breath. Once you’ve taken your breaths, take a minute to scan your mind and body. How do you feel? Are you physically tight, sore, loose, “light”, or more relaxed? Likewise is your mind calm and quite or restless and busy?
When Angela and I lived in Chicago we were fortunate enough to have an amazing lake-view from our apartment (something I miss the most). In asking Angela for a meditation cue the other night she referred to the view we had every day.
In the picture you’ll notice Lincoln Park, Lake Michigan, and Lake Shore Drive (the highway). Using this picture as a metaphor for your mind, consider the following:
The cars passing by on Lake Shore Drive are your thoughts, speeding by time and time again. Every time one goes by, another is right behind it.
Then notice the calmness of Lake Michigan in the background (minus the fire boat spraying water). That is the “empty space” you’re trying to achieve in taking back your mind and relaxing more.
Close your eyes and visualize the cars (thoughts) speeding by, with each one that passes by hone in more and more on the calmness and quite sound of the still lake rather than the speeding cars. It’s difficult to do and like kettlebell training takes practice. If you practice enough you’ll actually find it very relaxing to have a calm, empty mind.
Quite possibly the hardest thing to do; take the scenario above, you’re quite, breathing consciously and then BAM! you hear something that distracts you. Or, a thought pops in your mind that grabs your attention – just like that you’re back in the traffic.
Practice the art of simply letting go. This is huge in evolving the mind, the way you think, and the way you act.
Negativity has a way of cementing itself inside your head. But the simple fact of that matter is this; once an action as taken place it is done – there’s no changing it or taking it back – so, rather than beat yourself up, let it ruin your afternoon, or demand your attention for days on end, simply let go.
In the Four Agreements, Miguel Ruiz talks about human beings as the only species that suffers for something more than once. Animals experience something negative and immediately move on as if it never happened (interestingly enough not dogs, because of the close time they spend with humans).
Don’t suffer more than once, let it go and your mind will thank you for it.
The body is the easy part, right? This is what you hear me talk about so often:
So in considering a way to evolve the body, perhaps start by exiting the rat race of “fitness’ and enter the world of strength by reading this post on training with kettlebells.
The Mind-Body Connection
For some reason the Western culture (us), is the only culture that treats and views the mind and body as two separate pieces – elsewhere they are thought to be one in the same.
It shouldn’t surprise you then that the people you meet who have a strong mind-body connection are happy, pleasant, healthy, strong, and maybe appear “different.”
They “get it.”
While you can have a strong body and a “weak” mind, and a strong mind but a weak body, the best path is to treat your training for each the same way, and rather than evolve separately, evolve as one connected piece.
In my opinion the art of training with kettlebells provides this connection.
Mastery. Mastery of anything requires time, persistence, adversity, and again time and persistence. Mastery doesn’t happen over night and therefore yields many lessons along the way – both mental and physical.
In my opinion it’s not the achievement of mastery that makes someone special, it’s the fact that they’ve proven able to put in the time, effort, and persistence required to attain mastery. It’s about the journey, not the end goal.
Putting It Into Action
So, how to make the most of this?
I’d start by simply shifting your mindset – understanding that evolution is inherit in all of us and that it doesn’t wait for you to catch-up.
Start by evolving the way you think and move through the world by simply taking 10 breaths twice a day in an effort to regain control of your mind. Then, perhaps order a copy of Simple and Sinister – I couldn’t resist! Challenge yourself by training outside your current comfort zone and with a style that again requires patience, persistence, and effort – martial arts would be another good option.
Of course training with kettlebells isn’t the only way to evolve. Evolution of the self is unique to everyone. The key is that you become aware of where you are now, who your are now, and choose to make a change. Once you’ve made that decision, enjoy the process – remember it’s about the journey not the end goal.