Grow Your Mental Muscle Slow and Steady
I walked for 90 minutes in 23 degree weather today. Wind chill factors reached 5 degrees. I found myself walking solo beside the creek. Few people willingly tolerate walking in weather that feels like 5 degrees. Gusts over the Delaware River seemed to feel like -5 to -10. I cross the Delaware from New Jersey to Pennsylvania then back as I return home. During my walk I wore a hooded sweatshirt, long-john shirt and sweatpants.
I slowly and steadily developed my mental muscle to seamlessly handle intensely cold temperatures. Over the past 5 years, I patiently, gradually enjoyed – or resisted – taking cold showers on most mornings, after I rolled out of bed. I never would be foolish enough to turn the dial over to full cold during the dead of winter in New Jersey as my first foray into the cold shower deal. Forget risking suffering through a heart attack. The sheer mental overwhelm would not shorted out my slowly but steadily strengthening mind.
Daily, for years, I spent 30 seconds patiently turning the dial over to cold, 1 centimeter at a time. I also meditated and did yoga daily to develop my mental muscle through each practice. Mind is a muscle. Build it slowly and patiently. Would you try to bench press 300 pounds if you never lifted weights before? Why would you try to meditate for 60 minutes if you never meditated for 1 minute before? Why step outside into a -10 wind chill climate if you struggled to adapt to the cold in 35 degree weather wearing a heavy parka?
Train your mind slowly, steadily, patiently and gradually. Trying to strengthen your mind too quickly leads to abandoning your mental fitness campaign. People quit meditating after going bonkers meditating for 30 minutes, for their first sitting foray. How can you ever reasonably meditate for 30 minutes if you never meditated for 5 minutes? Start with 5 minutes. Work your way up from there. Add 5 minutes after meditating for 5 minutes but only after meditating daily for 2-3 weeks.
Imagine adding 5 pounds of weight to your bench press total after pressing 45 pounds for 30 reps, 3 times weekly. Add the extra 5 pounds after pumping 45 pounds for 30 reps for 2 weeks. Slow and steady growth becomes permanent strength gains if you take your time. Slow and steady mental strength growth becomes permanent mental strength gains if you take your time.
Easy, Young Padawan! Start small. Start with 5-10 minutes of mental training daily. Meditate for a few minutes daily. Perhaps 5 does the trick. Add yoga 1 month down the road. Perhaps add another yoga technique 3 months down the road. Trust your gut. Listen to your inner guide. But slowly, steadily strengthen your mind to allow for discomfort, growing pains and the gradual nature of expansion.
Trying to go too fast leads to quitting. Overwhelm scares you into abandoning your mental science campaign. Or perhaps great physical illness strikes; becoming deathly ill because you tried to dig too deep and unearthed wicked blocks too fast also scares most humans into quitting their mental science campaign, for good.
Go slow. Go steady. Mind is muscle; treat it as such. Spend some time daily strengthening your mind, then rest your mind. Sleep for 8 or more hours each evening. Strengthen your body through vigorous power walking or some other form of low-impact exercise. Achieve balance in all you do. Work. Rest. Relax. Serve. Meditate. Play. Take your time. Strengthening your mental muscle requires years of inner training.