7 Days To Transforming Your Mental Game
*This is a guest post from Misbah Haque of the Airborne Mind
As CrossFitters, Weightlifters, and fitness enthusiasts -- we love measurable data. It’s harder to grasp measurable results when it comes to your mental game. But it’s not impossible.
I’m going to show you a 7 day system that will transform your mind. Notice how I said system. It’s sustainable. It’s repeatable. And the results are directly measurable.
If you can’t sit still and remove yourself from the noise for just 5 minutes out of the 1,440 minutes in the day, this will be perfect for you.
At first you might be thinking:
- Is it lunch yet?
- Do I need a haircut?
- Is my boss going to ask me to stay late today?
- Do we have groceries?
That’s absolutely normal. With practice, you’ll start to be somewhat conscious of your breathing.
Not only during the time you set aside to do so, but when you’re going about your day to day activities. That is the ultimate goal, right? Seven days might be a stretch depending on your current relationship with being mindful. It takes some people weeks, months, or even years.
The point is that you show up every single day and spend .004% of your day practicing. Don’t put expectations on yourself that are unattainable. It’s all about progressing a little bit at a time.
I’m not saying that you’re never going to get angry or sad again. That’s not the point. Those are necessary emotions to experience from time to time. But you will be 10x better at managing these emotions when they arise and simply moving on.
Your senses are incredibly sharp. You can hear the birds singing in the trees. Your food tastes amazing. You’re not obsessing about things. You’re just enjoying being right there with everything that’s happening right now.
The end goal of any type of meditation practice is to transfer that skill into your daily life.
Step 1: 5 Breath Cycle = 50 Points
Every hour, your goal is to take 5 deep breaths. When I tried this, it was embarrassing how much I forgot to breathe. But it’s okay, because now we’re aware. We’re being mindful.
- Inhale until you feel your ribcage expanding.
- Hold your breath for 3 Mississippi's.
- Exhale fully by flexing your abdominal area.
Take a walk outside on your lunch break or do something involving nature. Walking meditation is perfect if you have a tough time sitting still. The goal is to observe all the sounds, smells, and characteristics that we often take for granted.
When I’m driving, I’ll put my windows down to listen to the sound of the wind. Feel the air blowing through your hair.
Just take it all in.
Step 2: 30 Breath Cycle = 300 Points
Once a day, you’re going to take out about 5-10 minutes for a deliberate breathing session or meditation practice. There are 1,440 minutes in a given day. You might feel like you don’t have 5 minutes to spare. But that’s when you need this most. It will give you an edge that will translate over to your daily performance in life and sport.
This can be silent or guided meditation using an app like Headspace. We will follow the Wim Hof Breathing Method. I’ve tried all sorts of different breathing methods, but this one does the job instantly.
- Take 30 deep breaths. In through your nose. Out through your mouth.
- Don’t overthink it, just breathe.
- On your 31st breath, as you breathe out fully getting rid of all the stale air, hold your breath. Do not let any air come in. Hold it.
- The gasp-reflex will happen automatically and you will inhale one of the most fulfilling breaths ever.
- Hold it for 10 seconds.
- Take a few normal breaths.
- That is one cycle. Should take you less than 5 minutes.
If you want to measure your improvement here, there’s two things you can do.
The first one is to set a timer to see how long you actually hold your breath before the gasp-reflex kicks in. It’s amazing to see how this improves. At first, I could barely do 10 seconds. After just a few days, I was up to about 32 seconds.
The second option is to do pushups during this brief period when you have no air in your lungs. Keep track of how many you are doing every session.
Step 3: 3 Pages of Journaling = 500 Points
This was something I was really skeptical of. I think that formal education growing up ruined the concept of journaling for me. But let me tell you why this is so life changing.
Every morning, you’re going to write three pages of absolutely anything. You can’t type it up. You can’t do it on your phone. You have to physically write it… I know, so traditional. This forces you to slow down instead of being able to immediately hit backspace.
This concept was developed by Julia Cameron. She created something called Morning Pages for artists and creatives. You’re literally emptying out your brain before starting the day. Anything goes. I’m going to show you an example of some of the things I write about so you can see how much flexibility there really is.
As you go throughout your day, not only are you more mindful, but you feel as though you’ve released it from your brain.
I’m not a morning person at all. And I’ve started to get up 15 minutes earlier to make time for my Morning Pages. It’s actually become one of my favorite rituals.
You don’t have to feel like positivity is the only thing you can write about. That itself is a story because you’re blocking yourself from experiencing other emotions. There’s a really interesting study that showed how journaling about traumatic, stressful, or emotional events result in improvements for both physiological and physical health.
Some things I’ll write about:
- Reflections from the day before. “I started off being mindful, and then let my thoughts get the best of me throughout the day.”
- Thoughts like “I should probably do x, y, and z today.”
- Feelings like “qwrwet12432423!@#$@#”
- Emotions like “How frustrated or tired I am”
- At least three things I’m grateful for
- “I acknowledge…” - This is a great way to start taking responsibility for something that’s been bothering you.
- “I’m committed to…” - This is where you commit to solving whatever you acknowledged.
- Affirmations like “I am strong. I am calm. I am grateful.”
Some days, it’s more of a rant. Some days, you’ll get in the zone and start writing a story. Anything goes. There is no right or wrong way. But force your brain to work and get down three pages of something. Here are some great ideas to get you thinking. Melanie Barnshaw wrote a great post that sums up a variety of topics you can start writing about.
Step 4: Track
“What gets measured, gets managed.” - Peter Drucker
If you’re interested in following this challenge, let us know and we will set you up with a log like this.
|5 Breath Cycle||50 Points|
|30 Breath Cycle||300 Points|
|3 Pages of Journaling||500 Points|
Tally all of your points in a given day.
|Gold||1400+||5 Breath Cycles: 12 hours +
30 Breath Cycle
3 Pages of Journaling
|Silver||1100+||5 Breath Cycles: At least 6 -11 hours
30 Breath Cycle
3 Pages of Journaling
|Bronze||750+||5 Breath Cycles: 5 hours
3 Pages of Journaling
Seven days is ideal because we want to start small. More often than not, when we make big changes, they aren’t lasting. These are very simple nuggets you can start adding to your day. If you notice that after 7 days, you’ve accumulated 350 points (30 Breath Cycle + 5 breath Cycle), at least that’s something. Now you know how to move forward by getting in a few more 5 breath cycles. Or journaling.
What I Got Out Of This
My experience with this has been pretty awesome. It’s helped me feel less rushed all the time. I think the journaling really helps me start each day as fresh as can be. Even if I’m ranting, you’re getting it out somewhere.
The breathing has helped me when feel anxious or angry for whatever reason. Instead of judging everything that happens, I’m able to remain a little bit calmer. I’m someone who gets really excited when I think of a great idea or really believe in something. Sometimes to the point where it’s all I can think about.
This can be detrimental sometimes because it takes away from other things. It takes away from the quality of my workouts. Or it takes away from the writing I may be doing. Or from the athletes I’m working with. Instead of getting tangled up, I’m getting better at grounding myself.
Patience is one of my biggest weaknesses. This is one of the qualities I’ve noticed a significant improvement in. Instead of wanting the outcome RIGHT NOW, I’ve started to really enjoy the process of whatever I’m doing.
Most importantly, my biggest lesson was that the practice of gratitude is the solution to anything. That’s a big claim, but yes I’m going there.
- You name it
If you can muster up the courage to genuinely be grateful for the little things or even the big things -- you will start to feel better. There was a 4 week study done that showed how a gratitude practice might be the most beneficial for raising and maintaining positive moods. Here are a list of things I thought of in just a few minutes:
- I am grateful for the clean water I get to drink.
- I am grateful for the car that takes me places.
- I am grateful for the smartphone that works for me.
- I am grateful for the books I read.
- I am grateful for the curiosity I’ve developed.
- I am grateful for coffee.
- I am grateful for the support of my family.
- I am grateful for my best friend.
- I am grateful for healthy joints.
- I am grateful for the ability to be able to Snatch.
- I am grateful for the ability to see things.
- I am grateful for connecting with great people.
- I am grateful for connecting with people who know more than me.
- I am grateful for my laptop.
- I am grateful that I get to do what I love.
- I am grateful for the clothes I have.
- I am grateful that people seek me out for training advice.
- I am grateful that people value my skills.
- I am grateful that I’m learning the power of saying no.
- I am grateful for sleep.
- I am grateful for a warm bed and a roof over my head.
- I am grateful that I’ve recognized that gratitude is the key to anything and everything.
“If you can’t be happy with what you have, you’ll never be made happy by what you get.” - Tim Ferris
I’ve included a few resources for you to check out below that I’ve really enjoyed. If you’re ready to start making the most out of every moment, sign up below to get started.
Jim Carrey's Commencement Speech The Mindful Athlete The Magic of Mindfulness: Complain Less, Appreciate More, and Live A Better Life The Power Of Meditation With Andy Puddicombe Neil Gaiman’s Commencement Speech: Make Good Art
Misbah is a weakness manager for newcomers and CrossFitters looking to get stronger. His coaching practice is centered around filling the holes in movement so you can keep doing what you love for a long time. He also runs the blog @airbornemind Facebook: Facebook.com/airbornemind
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