Mindgames for Ease

I have some more dirt to dish on myself. I think you realize by now, that things are pretty darn active in my noggin. Sometimes there’s a shadow-side to all that thinking, a bit of a worry habit, but mostly, I’ve learned to use my super thinky powers for good.

Playing mindgames with myself.

And I mean that in the best way possible.

I do this most often when I’m doing something physical, that requires some endurance. Because face it, a two hour run or seven hour mountain climb can get pretty tedious otherwise. Plus, the games I play help make things feel easier, and I really believe they improve my actual performance.

What exactly do I do?

Besides silly mantras, and paying attention to what I’m telling myself, I also like to imagine different things, and see how it changes how my body feels, as well as my perception of exertion, not to mention actual pace.

Relaxing when running and other things

I might start with some easy things like asking myself how can I relax my body even more. And then imagine relaxation flowing through my body, especially my legs.

This is especially useful when I notice any kind of discomfort, which isn’t uncommon on a longer run or hike. I tell myself the discomfort is a reminder to relax even more, and then I scan through my body and relax my shoulders (they always seem to want to hang out around my ears), my hands, my belly, butt, legs and feet. Even my toes. You’d be surprised how tensed up your toes can get.

Getting creative

One of the other little mind games I play a lot is imagining that the energy that’s powering my movement is coming from somewhere other than me. I know, it sounds weird, but I’ve done it enough to know that, at least for me, it makes a huge difference in how I feel and perform.

When I’m on a mountain, I imagine that the mountain has energy that is drawing me up to the summit. When I’m running, I imagine the road or trail or beach has energy that’s propelling me forward.

In last year’s Portland Marathon, I imagined that the energy of the front runners was pulling me forward. I’m sure that had nothing to do with the dramatic slowdown (even though I felt like I was running the same pace) that I experienced at exactly the point at which the fastest runner’s crossed the finish line. I know, weird.

What games do you play?

Do you have any little mindgames you play to make things easier or to help you perform better?

3 comments to Mindgames for Ease

  • Shannon Wilkinson

    I’m not the only one, and also, I knew there was a reason I was drawn to ChiRunning! An excerpt from one of their recent newsletters:

    – Engage your y’chi – feel yourself being pulled forward by focusing on a target up ahead.

    – Do Body Scans often. Check in with your physical body as well as with your thoughts and emotions.

  • Oh, boy, do I play mind games with myself! I use them a lot when I wake up feeling like, oh crud, I woke up again. One of my favorites is body scan with gratitude, which I learned from my teacher Victoria Pendragon (http://heavenisinyourheart.com/). I basically go through each part of my body and thank it for doing a great job. I go through body parts, muscles, bones, organs and even different kinds of cells, and I keep going until I run out of things I can name in my body. If I still need more mindgames, I do people I’m grateful for and then if I run out of those I do objects/things (my pillow, the glass that holds water on my nightstand, the hot and cold running water, etc.). I keep going until I am not freaking out anymore and am ready to face the day.

    Another game I play is what am I looking forward to? So it can be really small things like I am looking forward to seeing the view out my front window and I am looking forward to drinking some yummy beverage, or bigger things, like I am looking forward to that massage next week. A fun variation on this game is what went right? I use that one when I have to make a decision and am worried I’ve picked the wrong thing. I list all the times I made a decision and it turned out well. That one is great.

    Wow, I am so glad you asked about mind games. They are another one of my favorite things!

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