By Terry Grant
“Your mind is your instrument. Learn to be its master and not its slave. Meditation is the gateway, through which you arrive to the world of freedom.” – Remez Sasson
“Meditation brings wisdom; lack of meditation leaves ignorance. Know well what leads you forward and what holds you back, and choose the path that leads to wisdom.” – Buddha
In Part I of this series we began our exploration of the subconscious mind and took a brief look into what neuroscientists are learning about the ultimate potential of the human mind.
In Part II, we examined how our beliefs are impressed upon the subconscious and how they can affect who and what we ultimately become.
In this third installment, we are going to clarify how the subconscious mind can help us achieve our physique goals and learn how we can use meditation to access the gateway into the subconscious mind.
Why Should I Bother With the Whole Subconscious Mind Thing?
In the last part of this series I’ll reveal the techniques by which you may reprogram your subconscious mind for success and completely destroy any limiting beliefs you may have picked up over the years. Yet, before I tell you HOW I would like to briefly discuss WHY from a bodybuilding or physique transformation view point.
When you understand the WHY’s you’re more likely to take action on the HOW’s.
First of all, we just learned that the subconscious mind is largely responsible for all of your conditioned behaviors, habits, and personality.
It is also important to realize that transforming your body takes a great amount of:
• Discipline to commit to intense training and a healthy nutrition regimen
• Determination to achieve and to do what’s required to achieve your goals
• Persistence to continue this pursuit from day to day, week to week, and month to month
• Courage to face the challenges and pain of lifting heavy weights
• Faith or belief in yourself and your ability to make this dream a reality
• Sacrifice and your willingness to delay instant gratification for your long term fulfillment
• Desire and the intense passion to transform your body and your life for the better
• Motivation to do what needs to be done despite how you feel at the time
Now ask yourself the following questions:
1.Do you possess all of these qualities?
2.Are these qualities fully developed in you or could you use a little more discipline, a little more motivation, and a dash of courage?
3.How would your body and life be different if these qualities were fully developed in you?
4.Are there any negative qualities, habits, or beliefs that you possess that may interfere with your goal to transform your body and life?
5.If there was a technique that you could use to instill positive qualities into your mind and release the negative qualities from your mind… are YOU willing to incorporate this technique into your daily routine?
Seriously think about this for a moment and then move on to the next reason.
Secondly, and just as importantly, we also learned that the subconscious mind is responsible for handling all of the autonomic functions of the body; like breathing, heart beat, digestion, immune system. This also includes:
• Hormone secretion (think Testosterone, Growth Hormone, Cortisol and Insulin.)
• Cellular activity (think hypertrophy or growth of muscle cells and the shrinking of fat cells.)
Now ask yourself the following questions:
1.What if it was possible to slightly influence your subconscious mind to release more testosterone or growth hormone and to produce less cortisol (a muscle eating hormone)?
2.How could this help your body to achieve the goals you’ve set?
3.What if it was possible to use your mind to influence your body to increase hypertrophy and muscle growth or to burn fat or to recover quicker?
4.Are you beginning to see the possibilities here?
I know this may sound impossible or far fetched, but is it really? We’ve all heard of meditation, correct?
There have been more than 600 scientific studies, which have been published in over 100 leading scientific journals concerning the IMMENSE BENEFITS of Meditation.
Here are just a few interesting findings that relate to our discussion here:
• Brain scans show that meditation shifts activity in the prefrontal cortex (behind the forehead) from the right hemisphere to the left. People who have a negative disposition tend to be right-prefrontal oriented; left-prefrontals have more enthusiasm, more interests, relax more, and tend to be happier.
• Promotes Deep rest- as measured by decreased metabolic rate, lower heart rate, and reduced work load of the heart.
• Lowered levels of cortisol and lactate- two chemicals associated with stress and thus muscle tissue breakdown.
• Reduction of free radicals- unstable oxygen molecules that can cause tissue damage.
• Meditation increases circulation in beginning meditators by 30% and in experienced meditators by as much as 65% and therefore improving nutrient flow to the muscles.
“The mind leads the body. Where the mind leads, the body will follow.”
Now, I’m not suggesting that all of a sudden you’ll see steroid-like gains if you start meditating.
What I’m suggesting is that if you could stimulate your body even in the slightest to keep testosterone and growth hormone levels high, cortisol levels low, and hypertrophy and healing happening within the muscle cells… then baby… you’re doing something amazing!
Remember, as an ectomorph your genetics are not stacked in your favor.
1.Your body doesn’t synthesize protein as well as it could.
2.Your body doesn’t produce as much testosterone as it should.
3.Your body doesn’t release as much growth hormone as you need.
4.Your body doesn’t have the greatest neuromuscular communication.
5.Your body doesn’t recover as quickly as other body types.
In other words, you need to be doing everything you “naturally” can just to bring your scrawny butt up to a level playing field with the big boys. Capiche?
If meditating can help make you relax, which can lower your cortisol levels (a muscle eating hormone), reduce free radicals, and improve blood circulation to your muscles and thus supplying more vital nutrients in helping them to grow… why wouldn’t you incorporate that into your training?
We’re not even talking about ALL the other scientific benefits of meditation here… or even the mental or spiritual benefits!
If you haven’t been practicing meditation, then consider this your wake up call!
I don’t call this the Awakened Warrior Blog for nothing!
The subconscious mind plays a powerful role in the functionality and sustainability of your body. The experiences that have been impressed upon your subconscious mind have shaped your life, beliefs, behavior, and your personality… these experiences have made you who you are.
This is how your past can have an influential effect on your present and hence your future as well.
The more you understand about life, consciousness, and the mind/body/spirit connection, the more you can learn how to harness their power for your own gain, growth, success and personal development. This includes your quest to transform your physique!
Since I started talking about meditation, I might as well continue discussing it here. Let’s look at how we can use meditation to help relax and heal the body (from stress, training, and everyday life.)
It’s a great way to clear the mind from unnecessary thought, and open the gateway into the subconscious mind.
Using Meditation to Access the Subconscious
I have harped on the fact that our thoughts create our reality and directly influence our experience of life many times now. I do so mainly because it is such an important insight to grasp for body and life transformation.
Yet, in many cases we may understand the concept intellectually but fail to truly seize the wisdom and application of the notion.
Likewise, one may fully understand the concepts of how to gain muscle mass, but if we fail to apply what we know, then there will be no biological change.
Thus, knowing that your thoughts create your reality is of little use to you, unless you take full control of your mind and think the thoughts that will lead you to action and therefore your desires.
When what you KNOW and what you DO become congruent with each other, then you will have more than knowledge… you will have WISDOM!
It has been estimated that the average person thinks over 60,000 thoughts in a day and a lot of those thoughts are old, repetitive thoughts that they have been thinking for quite some time.
How many people do you believe are truly conscious of all of these thoughts that they are thinking?
How many people do you believe have consciously chosen the majority of thoughts that enter their mind?
Many people have expressed a problem with not being able to stop thinking. They have problems concentrating and staying focused. They lie awake at night, thoughts pouring through their heads… worries, fears, tasks needing done, anticipation of things to come, you get the idea.
They have lost control of their mind. Their mind is now controlling them. So, many people turn to the latest drug they see on television and search for the solution in a pill.
“The biggest disease of the mind is over-thinking… Thinking too much is like eating too much. The heaviness makes it impossible to remain light and flexible.”
Are you in control of your mind? Remember, the mind is nothing but a tool for us to use. We should be the ones in control of it, harnessing its power for realizing our intended purposes.
Yet a large portion of humanity has become slaves to their mind. The mind uses them, wears them down, wears them out.
In fact, the sad reality is that most people are so enslaved by their minds that they think the mind is who they are. They are completely identified with it, with their thoughts and their beliefs.
They have become like sleepwalkers, lost in the illusion of the dream.
Yet this is the natural process of our evolution. You must first be asleep… in order to awaken! When we’re born into this body we were born into an illusion and many of us have not reached the level of consciousness where we see this illusion for what it is.
You are not your thoughts and beliefs! They are simply passing forms of energy like the weather or the clouds.
Likewise you are not your mind or brain. These too are passing forms of energy. Even your body will break down and one day dissolve back into the earth from which it came.
You are the essence of which is beyond all forms. What you are is the consciousness in which these things may exist. You are the field of awareness in which these thoughts may transpire, but you are not the thoughts.
Thoughts are simply recycled information and likewise your body is recycled earth. Thoughts, like your brain and mind, are simply tools of creation.
This is where meditation can be employed. You can use meditation to take back control of your mind, to clear the mind of uncontrollable thoughts and still the water, so to speak.
Meditation can also be used to access the subconscious and tap into the deeper wisdom that lies beyond the realm of our conscious mind.
By making use of meditation and integrating it into our daily routine we can effectively reduce the number of thoughts we are thinking each day by stilling the mind.
This then opens us up to a whole new world that is free from the often negative and repetitive thoughts that before cluttered our consciousness and muddled our perception of reality.
By eliminating these unnecessary and excessive thought patterns we also improve the efficacy of the other techniques we will utilize for influencing and harnessing the power our subconscious mind.
When one is thinking considerably less random, and monotonous thoughts, the thoughts that they have consciously chosen to think will have more of an impact on transforming their reality.
Meditation is a simple practice. However, just because it is simple does not mean it is easy.
Your mind will try everything in its power to distract you, to convince you that this is a waste of time, to lure you back into the unconscious thought patterns that are keeping you trapped and enslaved by it.
It will yell, scream, and plead with you to abandon this stupid meditation practice:
“Why waste your time just sitting here, when you could be doing something?” it will rationalize.
In most people’s cases it will win, but for the few that continue to push onward… their lives will never be the same.
At first, you may not notice much difference, but after some time and dedication to the discipline (not as long as you think) you will notice a new quality to your consciousness.
You will have greater focus, clarity, peacefulness, and insightfulness arising within your everyday experience.
This ability to become fully present is what is referred to as mindfulness in Zen and you will begin to have a deeper understanding of your true nature. You will begin seeing things, not as you think they are, but as they really are- beyond the filter of your thoughts, beliefs, personal opinions and biases.
In a world that was once dead to you, there will be breathed a fresh breath of life. In this moment, you will awaken and you will never be a sleepwalker again.
Does that sound crazy? If so don’t worry… it will all make sense one day!
The Purest Form of Meditation
We will be using meditation to prepare, relax, and heal the body and the mind from our physical training, as well as, to further develop the proper mindset. Meditation is also being included to prime our subconscious mind for the use and application of our other subconscious reprogramming techniques.
Meditation works well in unison with the other techniques like creative visualization and affirmations. It also helps to put you in the proper brain wave frequency (alpha state) that is most conducive to these subconscious programming methods.
It is important to note though, that meditation is quite effective on its own for body and life transformation. When used with the other techniques we will cover in this series I believe that they have a synergistic effect on each other.
There are many different techniques on how to meditate and many are effective, however I prefer to use the ancient Zen Buddhist form of meditation.
I believe this is the purest form of meditation and is in alignment with the whole point of meditation to begin with, which is to clear the mind of thought while becoming highly alert and aware.
Most of the other meditation techniques are simply devices used to help one get to the point of pure meditation.
The practice is rather simple. Find a comfortably place to sit, kneel, or lie down (I prefer kneeling in Seiza, a Japanese sitting posture where your butt rests on your calves/ankles.) You may close your eyes or leave them open.
Maintain an erect and upright posture, if sitting or kneeling.
Then simply breathe, focusing on your breath. Breathe in through your nose and out through your mouth. Breathe deeply into your abdomen and observe or notice the rise and fall of your belly. Breathe deeply, but naturally.
Clear your mind and just focus on being there fully. Concentrate on your breathing. Listen intently. No need to label what you hear, just notice it. You may look with your eyes, but again do not label anything. Just be an observer. Be still. Be silent. Just be.
Embracing this stillness and clearing the mind of all thought will help develop a calm, relaxed presence that will benefit you in all aspects of your life.
This mindfulness is the power to be intensely present at whatever it is you are doing or whatever situation may arise. To be one with the moment… this is Zen, or in other words to be fully conscious.
If a thought arises, and they will, do not grasp or cling to them. Just let them go. If you suddenly notice that you’re thinking, immediately stop and return to focusing on your breathing.
Continue meditating in this way for as long as wish. Start with 5 minutes twice a day. Raise it to 10, 15, or even 30+ minutes twice a day. The choice is yours really. I have found it beneficial with as little as 5 minutes a couple times a day. Start wherever you can.
Eventually the goal is to remain in this heightened mind state as you go throughout your day.
Give this practice some time and let me know if you have any questions or concerns.
Meditation can really benefit your life and your training if taken seriously. Whenever I have practiced the martial arts, meditation was always a part of the training and definitely helps you to get in the zone. Your workouts will become more effective.
Many times I will meditate after a good workout, the sweat pouring out of my body as I sit in silent meditation, resting in the moment and triggering the healing process to begin.
One you get the hang of it, try adding moving meditation. I like to walk my dogs, clear my mind and become fully present. I focus on all of my senses, looking deeply into the trees, the clouds, sky, and grass.
I open my ears to any sounds, the birds, insects, wind, footsteps, distant cars on the highway, a train passing, and dogs barking.
I don’t listen and go “oh there’s a dog barking”, rather I just listen… I just hear the bark. The idea is simply to experience the moment fully without judging it, labeling it, or otherwise interpreting it in anyway.
Meditation is the first technique to harnessing the power of your subconscious mind and priming it for the other techniques to follow. Put it into practice immediately and you will find that the transformation has begun.
Next I will cover six characteristics of the subconscious mind that will allow us to communicate successfully with our subconscious and impress our desires, goals, and intentions upon it more effectively.
Knowing the ways in which the subconscious operates will improve the efficacy of the programming methods I will reveal in the final part of this series.
…to be continued!
About the Author:
Brandon Cook is creator of The Awakened Warrior Blog, and co-creator of HardgainerMuscleBuilding.com, a website specifically designed to teach people with the ectomorph body type the laws and scientific principles for building a classic, muscular and functional physique.
HargainerMuscleBuilding.com features a free email class covering the basic principles of training naturally, eating a nutritious, muscle-building diet, and understanding the truth about supplements. The website is filled with free articles, videos, and the programs you need to create your ideal body.
Please visit us at http://hardgainermusclebuilding.com
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