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Mind over matter


"Mind over matter" is a saying that has had a huge impact in my life. As an athlete, it denoted mental strength to push through intense training or maintain calm in high-pressure competition.

As an adult, it became a hindrance to my mental health to believe that I had this omnipotent amount of control in the world. My mental strength could not affect the economic recession, no matter how hard I worked, and this was the first crack in my athletic worldview breaking down. (it rapidly crumbled from there, but I've recovered, thank you)

Near the peak of my life as a high-performance athlete my body had already begun straining under the load and near the end:

I was still identifying and identified as a high-performance athlete even though my body was basically non-functional in everyday tasks.

I could swim, but I couldn't rest my forearms on a solid surface or drive a car without pain. MRIs did not reveal any obvious tears in the tissue. Orthopedic surgeons offered me a 50% chance of improvement with surgery. Physiotherapy attempted to stabilize me by strengthening the muscles to support the joint, but could not make significant progress against the load of training I had with swimming. I needed stability and strength in places my training was keeping hypermobile; swimming aids mobility by unloading gravity and weight compression, while adding resistance through viscosity. The whole structure of the body is resisting pressure underwater from all sides.

"Mind over matter" used to mean to me that my belief would manifest my outcome. It even seemed to work. My athletic career was great. It set me up in many ways. A couple of significant falls later and "mind over matter" became a taunting fallacy. I've had to learn the limits by collapsing into them. I don't wish that on anyone, but it seems to be the way our current society drives us all.

Today, "mind over matter" denotes the strength of conviction I have in my resilience. I set boundaries that work for me. I don't push because a coach goads me to it. I don't take on more work because a studio might need it. I am a finite resource. When needs line up to my energy to give, I give. When I feel resistance to a request, I resist saying yes. When I don't have the money to take another educational course I want, I wait. I have confidence and conviction in my belief that I will survive through the various matters that occur to me. I reject the idea that achieving great things requires sacrifice.

It never feels like a sacrifice when you want to do it.

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