Greetings, Luminous One!
Having explored Physical, Spiritual, and Emotional Strength so far, we're going to shift to what Mental Strength means.
I had planned to write this before leaving for a wedding, but it didn't end up happening. Worried that I might not get it done amongst all the festivities, I kicked myself a little bit for not planning ahead better. But when I met the father of the groom, he told an incredible story that played so perfectly into this theme that I realized divine timing was at work...
At 66, this quiet, humble man has been (and still is) not only a triathlete, but an Iron Man competitor, and even participated in the granddaddy of them all, the Hawaii Iron Man. It's a challenging 2-mile ocean swim, followed by a 112-mile bike race, ending with a marathon (26-mile) run.
He told us that during one of his many races, he was biking 50 miles an hour downhill when a child ran into his path, causing a crash that sent him flying through the air and landing hard on the pavement. Miraculously, the child was unharmed, but he was dazed, with a searing pain in his right arm.
Someone re-attached the wheel to his bike, and after regaining his senses, he got back on and continued to ride. He still had 90 miles to go on the course, followed by a marathon, and had no idea how to manage his agonizing elbow.
His solution was to shove his arm inside his race shirt to hold it in place, and focus on a simple mantra, "Just get to the finish line, just get to the finish line..."
Incredibly, not only did he finish the race, but, to his amazement, he placed 2nd in his division!
Afterward, he learned that surgery was urgently required for multiple fractures in his arm.
What I love about this story is how his thoughts overrode his reality. No one would have found fault had he given up after the fall and gone straight to the hospital - in fact, some might argue that was the more prudent thing to do.
But his single-minded goal, for which he had been training for months (if not years), was so firmly in place that nothing could shake it loose. I was profoundly impressed by his Mental Strength.
Obviously, that level of focus wasn't built in a day - on the contrary, it grew over time and use, like any good habit. And certainly, not everyone is going to be interested in testing themselves to this degree.
But his story reminded me of times when I've had to push beyond what I thought I was capable of doing. Often these have been physical challenges, but others have been more emotional or spiritual in nature.
Each time, I've had to employ certain determined thoughts to get me through. When hiking up Machu Picchu, for instance, the only way I made it to the top was by saying "Thank you" with each exhausting step. I'm sure you have your own 'mind-over-matter' stories.
As with Emotional Strength, many books have been written about Mental Strength, so I'll only highlight a few main points.
Who we are all begins with an idea...
It's probably obvious, but no mental task that we can give ourselves is more important than gaining jurisdiction over our thoughts. This is done first through observing them, then identifying the ones that don't serve us, and finally by replacing them with something better. You may have heard this referred to as "taming the monkey mind."
Sounds easy, but it isn't - our inner tapes are very good at running unnoticed in the background until something wakes us up to them. These can be beautiful revelations or humbling moments of self-acknowledgment. Either way, it's a big part of what we came here to do, and very necessary if we intend to evolve out of the entrapment of victimizing thoughts.
Those who do not learn to use their body, mind, and energies consciously and skillfully, will always think the world is unfair. -Sadhguru
We all know people who just can't seem to get out of their own way because they're blind to the unacknowledged scripts that keep them locked in their mental prisons. No amount of pointing it out to them will work until they have the desire and courage to make some changes.
It can be heartbreaking to watch when what is so easy for us to see, is invisible to them. However, let that be a lesson to us all to redirect our attention back to ourselves to seek out our own hidden messaging.
Nothing I know of is more effective than meditation for rewriting our thinking. It is in dedicating the mind to notice itself that shifts can be made. Sometimes, that works well done in complete silence, sometimes better with a musical background, and sometimes with guiding words.
Regardless of which meditation style one chooses, the mantra can be as simple as "Thank You," for gratitude alone has been known to convert attitudes from victimization into empowerment.
Just as we get out of the habit of going to the gym, we can let our mentality go soft. It happens for lots of reasons - no need to feel badly about it. And, much like starting to work out physically again, we know for sure that we'll feel better once we get back at it.
As silly as this graphic is, it's a reminder that good mental habits require our attention on a regular basis so they can of service to us when challenges come our way. We would all prefer to respond rather than react, wouldn't we?
If we don't prepare, we could be sweating hard when difficulties arise. It's best that self-control and a positive attitude are built over time so we're ready for whatever comes.
Silence is a source of great strength. -Lao Tzu
Our personalities are largely woven from the beliefs of others until we find our own voices. Some of those voices can be unkind, so we must learn to quiet the inner critic. If yours is still nipping at your heels, then it may be time to meditate, and/or seek silence in Nature.
As you know, when we open ourselves to the Earth, our fields slow to the rhythms of the calming landscape, allowing decompression and connection to Nature's harmony.
In this stillness, a negative inner voice can gently develop into a more positive one. (I suggest using the Love and Compassion of the Infinity Wave with the Earth to both ground and support this process.)
What is all this mental work leading to?
Any self-help expert will tell you that half the battle is learning to believe in yourself. Not in an egoic, inflated way, but with a deep conviction that as a part of the grand orchestra of Creation, you were put here for a reason, perhaps to play an even bigger role than you've been allowing yourself to believe.
"As a man thinketh in his heart, so is he."
Belief in oneself builds into conviction of one's purpose... living one's purpose demands that all the Strengths come together.
What started out as an idea blossoms through Mental Strength into the truth of the importance of the inextricable combination of your Mind, Heart, and Spirit: when all are put into play, much more is possible than can even be imagined because the forces of the Universe want to work with us for our highest good. This is how we co-create our reality and fulfill our life missions.
So, to get to your finish line in strong shape, I hope you employ all the avenues and tools, whether it be affirmations, meditations, hiking a mountain or sitting under a tree, to know yourself and build, your multiple strengths into the super-human beacon that you are.