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A Strong Mind for a Strong Body

Can you focus? I mean really focus. Are you able to spend just two minutes without being distracted, free from the noise and constant chatter bouncing around in your head? For just two minutes sit quietly and clear your mind of all activity—be free from any thought. Go ahead. Close your eyes. I’ll wait. Seriously, give it a try. The clock is ticking.Did you make it? If not, that’s OK. Few do the first time. It takes practice to develop and refine this skill, as any seasoned meditator can attest. Please don’t let your brief experience with focusing be discouraging. Like any skill worth possessing, it takes practice to acquire. For most of us it’s tough to focus on anything, let alone nothing. We live in a world that barters for our attention, compromises our focus, and steals precious time. Our minds must withstand a constant assault of stimulus. The ability to create your own sanctuary of sanity, a place to renew and connect with your own truth is the master skill of an extraordinary life. Perhaps more than any other factor, it is the mastery of your focus, which precedes the mastery of your energy, that separates the average performers from the peak performers in life. The freedom to place your absolute attention where you want it, when you want it, offers an unfair competitive advantage in a world where the average attention span is measured in seconds, not minutes. It’s precisely this skill that has so many high-profile leaders adopting meditation practices. Typically, the mention of meditation conjures up images of a kind, elderly gentleman sitting on a cushion. In truth, meditation is anything that brings you to the current moment (“the Now”) and keeps you there. Here are just a few of the many benefits of meditation:

  • Increases the growth of new brain cells
  • Decreases stress, anxiety and depression
  • Reduces free radicals, heart rate and biological aging
  • Improves quality of and ability to sleep
  • Improves productivity, decision making and mental focus

The Muscle of Focus In the practice of strengthening my body over the last 25 years, training became my own particular form of meditation. Applying specific techniques that isolate my muscles and concentrate the power of mind and body has allowed me to enjoy extraordinary results from ordinary exercises, and it can do the same for you. These techniques are captured in the unique discipline of strength training I call Focus Intensity Training™ (FIT) (Chapter 11, Strength for Life). Fully engaging your mind enhances your physical training, as it strengthens your mind to be focused in the Now. Training your mind while fully engaging the energy of your body can further deepen the wiring that’s being laid down from mind to muscle. FIT “stacks” the benefits of meditation and strength training, enhancing your power to focus while strengthening your body. The integration of mind and body in the quest for optimal health (a.k.a. strength) is not a novel concept. The Greeks advocated the balance between the mind and body as the ultimate aim of man. This philosophy is captured in the well-known phrase, “Mens sana in corpore sano,” which translates as, “A healthy mind in a healthy body.” With the demands of life in the 21st century, I contend nothing less than “a strong mind in a strong body” will do. Think of a time when you’ve been “in the zone,” so deeply involved in an activity that time seemed to stop. You were flowing with energy and confidence, free of doubt and fear. That’s focus. Now imagine how powerful it would be if you were in this deep state of focus throughout every workout. Consider how powerful it would be to bring this intensity of focus to every part of your life. You’d be more productive, getting more done in less time with less effort; be more present in relationships, more attentive, more caring. You may even enjoy every moment of life a little more. How will the power of focus change your life? Check out these short video clips: What is Focus? (1 minute, 56 seconds) Can Focus Create Joy? (2 minutes, 15 seconds) To your focus, Shawn

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