Mind Over Muscle
Did you know that you can accelerate your workout results by getting your subconscious mind to collaborate? By making use of your “communication highway” you can direct your body to perform more effectively and tone more rapidly.
I was a late bloomer when it came to being body conscious and taking responsibility for my health with proper eating and consistent exercise. Because I was so cerebral and “living in my head” the first 40 years of my life, it was not easy for me to be present in my workouts and I tended to get distracted easily. That’s when I decided to apply my expertise in subconscious dynamics and hypnotherapy to my own physical fitness.
When I made the commitment and started to work out with a personal trainer, she was very impressed at how I was able to focus inwards and we were both enthusiastic with the fast results I was getting, particularly at almost 41 years old. She began to question me as to what thoughts were going through my head during exercises involving the various muscle groups. Because I am more of a “Visual” type (more on this later on) my imagery tended to involve “seeing” myself in sleeveless tops and shorter skirts, “observing” the changes in my muscles, “noticing” how lean my body was becoming. All of these visions were occurring within my mind’s eye and yet the messages were being communicated directly to the muscle groups and promoting faster changes.
In the field of mind/body medicine, it is known that every cell in your body is bathed in neurotransmitters. The neurotransmitters essentially make up the communication highway between the mind and the body. And what that boils down to is that every thought is being transmitted directly to the cells. For this reason, when you tell your body that you hate the way it looks, you are sending destructive messages to every cell in your body. But by directing clear images of what you are attempting to accomplish, the “body robot” will carry out the instructions, providing you are communicating in a manner that is compatible with your personal map of reality.
Not everyone uses their imagination in the same way. Some of us can close our eyes and see an object or scene clearly, while others find it easier to imagine sounds. Still others are ore likely to remember or imagine feelings more readily than a visual or auditory image. We all have different representational systems for communicating to our cells through the neurotransmitter network. Every person receives and processes information from the external world through the doorway of the five senses. Three of these senses – namely: sight, hearing, and touch – are greater equipped to act as filters and process incoming data. These are called the Learning Channels. This information is then recorded onto our brains as sensory imprints, which are later translated into thoughts, words, and actions translated through our individual map of reality.
Take this survey to determine whether your primary representational systems is VISUAL (sight), AUDITORY (hearing), or KINESTHETIC (touch/feeling). Record the FIRST response that you relate to in each question. When finished, total the A’s, B’s, and C’s separately. The highest score likely represents the Learning Channel that your mind prefers for storing information. You will usually find that one letter outscores the other, with another one close by. The third letter tends to be the weakest representational system. It is not usual to find scores evenly distributed among the three letters. An expanded version of this survey can be found in my book Your Mind: The Owner’s Manual.
1. The way you memorize names or telephone numbers is:
A. Using visual images or writing down and mentally photographing them.
B. Repeating out loud or using rhyming words to remember.
C. Writing it down several times or by touch on the telephone pad.
2. On an outing to the beach, what most attracts you is:
A. The blue-green water, the clouds in the sky, the formations in the sand.
B. The sound of the surf crashing on the sand and the sea gulls calling out.
C. The feel of the breezes and sun, the sand under your feet, the water on your toes.
3. You tend to communicate what is going on with you by:
A. The way you dress.
B. The tone of your voice.
C. Sharing the way you feel.
4. While listening to music, what is your INNER reaction?
A. Flights of imagination.
B. Getting into the tone, rhythm, and lyrics.
C. Experiencing a pleasant vibration in your body, wanting to move with the music.
5. When you go to a movie, your are MOST affected by:
A. The color, the action, the cinematography, the location.
B. The dialogue, the background sounds and music.
C. Your emotional responses (i.e. suspense, sadness, joy)
6. When installing a difficult new program in your computer you are likely to:
A. Read the instructions and follow them step-by-step.
B. Call technical support so that they can guide you through it.
C. Have someone there to walk you through the set-up if possible.
7. What turns you on most in sex is:
A. Being aware of all of the movement and action.
B. Hearing the sounds and words that are spoken.
C. Feeling all of the sensations.
8. When you fall in love, the first thing that you are aware of is:
A. How wonderful your lover looks to you.
B. Your reaction to the way your lover talks, or something they said.
C. A special way that this person makes you feel.
9. When traveling to new places, the FIRST thing you notice is:
A. How the place looks.
B. The different sounds that are associated with it.
C. The new feelings that surround it.
10. Some of your favorite activities are:
A. Reading, movies, art galleries, traveling to lovely scenery.
B. Listening to music, hearing the news, concerts, being at the ocean at night, talking.
C. Dancing, physical activities, hobbies, cooking, making things
If one of these letters is prominent, this kind of imagery should be incorporated into your workouts. If you have not determined a specific preference, try a variation of cues and test out which one stimulates you the most or seems to get better results. You can flex all of your sensory muscles so that imagining through all of the Learning Channels becomes effortless. I have found that the more we develop our inner vision, the more magnetic attraction our thoughts create.
The significant results that I achieved in my workouts came from using directed imagery while performing an exercise, activating the vital connection between the mind and the body, which were never intended to be mutually exclusive! On an ongoing basis, I used visual/auditory cues to stimulate the fat-burning process, such as visualizing the Wicked Witch of the West from The Wizard of Oz melting away into the floor while thinking the phrase “I’m shrinking! I’m melting!”
Be creative and experimental by designing visual, auditory and kinesthetic cues that make your workouts more interesting and productive, and at the same time accessing the supreme power of your subconscious. Here are some examples to get your started:
Visual: images and observations
- Shapely striations are appearing on your upper back. You want to show them off in bustiers and back less dresses.
- Shapely shoulders in a sleeveless tank top.
- See the triangle form in the center of your upper middle back. See yourself looking very relaxed after this exercise because you carry all the stress of your day in this part of your back.
- You are in the dressing room trying on slacks. You notice that with your usual size the waist is way too big. Time to go down another size!
- You are out on a kayak or rowboat, doing a magnificent job with the oars. You catch a reflection of your upper arm in the silvery water. Awesome arms!
Auditory: rhymes, mnemonics, catchy phrases
- My upper body sets the pace, I’m toned, defined and full of grace.
- Auditory types also respond well to an inner dialogue, or imagining someone complimenting them.
Kinesthetic: feelings, textures, movement
- Your back is more flexible. You rotate with ease and movement is fluid.
- Feel yourself relaxing each repetition as you let go and release all of your troubles of the day.
- You are giving yourself a special treat — getting a rub-down at a health spa. As the masseuse grasps the back part of your upper arm, you realize just how toned your tricep muscle has become.
- You’re dancing in a pair of new, tight jeans. Feel how well the jeans are molded to your gorgeous glutes.
- Your significant other is standing behind you with arms wrapped around your waist. They comment on how slender your waistline feels.