This class teaches us the value in exercising daily. We lift, we run, we stretch, we workout, and we do these to keep the processes in our body sharp and in shape. I want to talk about another kind of exercise I also value: Mental. Every day, different sources of stress happen in our lives and we deal with them in different ways. One thing seems consistent for all of us, though: it never stops. There is always more, always a new box to check off. The list extends constantly, continuously; from one exam to an essay; a heartbreak to one one night stand; a paycheck to the next. At times, our lives feel like they are about to burst.
This is where mental fitness comes in. I believe that there are Actual Things We Can Do to keep our mind and soul at peace, and our high-strung emotions at rest. It is a health I have discovered only recently, and have been realizing its miraculous power in my life ever since. Maybe the popular phrase, Mind Over Matter, fits in nicely (Additionally, Mos Def has added another, equally nice phrase: Soul Before Flesh). Basically, I work on my mental fitness to help me live my life and love it too.
Mental exercise is like body exercise in that both require time and effort, and work better toward your goals when done frequently. One thing I like to do during times of negativity (my most common moments including sadness, anger, shame, frustration, and fear) is to think of Perspective. In a particular Bad Moment, my whole body is consumed by a Certain Emotion, and I cannot see anything without being totally controlled by whatever the negative situation is. However, if I can Let It: here is where a mental exercise can potentially enter my reality and turn my day around.
Thinking about perspective helps me understand my situation in the present. In a moment, maybe I am overwhelmed by an exam, essay, and presentation, all due the next day. Maybe I am depressed by my friends being abroad and not here with me. Maybe I am frustrated by a long distance relationship and how long it always feels. I take a deep breath. If I can remind myself that all of these things are just moments happening in my life, that all of these are Experiences, and that I am Lucky to be able to experience them, then I can let a little of that stress go. I guess the mental exercise consists of continuous mental reminders: I am alive. I am alive and am able experience these seemingly horrible things. I am alive and am able to go through all of these seemingly horrible things, but these are things that can teach me, and even help me grow. Well then, if they can do that, are they really that horrible after all? The answer is always: no.
This example is during a time of stress. But perspective exercises like that can totally transform seemingly “normal” moments in life too. Say I am walking out of a class. Eating an omelette breakfast. Seeing a good friend pass by. If I can remind myself that I am alive and all of this is happening in my life in this moment right now, I truly can experience life in completely new ways. The once mundane becomes miraculous.
We all have awesome potential — to be happy, to Get Through It, to just be. Exercise is needed in body, mind, and Soul. When all three are healthy and in shape, life is awesome!