I worried incessantly; a searing hot white noise in my mind. I worried I’d get into another fight, get another beating by the teachers, be humiliated in class, be shamed the doctors, be abandoned again by my family, become broke wi...
I worried incessantly; a searing hot white noise in my mind. I worried I’d get into another fight, get another beating by the teachers, be humiliated in class, be shamed the doctors, be abandoned again by my family, become broke without food or medical attention, be ill-prepared, incompetent, unworthy… I worried death would come too early before I had the chance to understand the purpose behind my despair and suffering.
My grandmother had seen it on my face. She cupped my face, and looking down at me, said, “Worry is a total waste of time. It can’t change anything. It robs you of your joy, by keeping you very busy doing absolutely nothing. You want to stop worrying so much? Start laughing and DO something about your situation. You may look crazy but you’ll feel great… You may not make the right choice to change the situation, but you won’t be worrying anymore, and eventually you’ll figure out the right choices.”
Only later in my life, when I started to make nutrition and exercise changes to resolve my health issues, did I come to understand what she meant. When you first start exercising, you heart pounds, your head hammers, your lungs burn, your muscles strain, your joints ache, your stomach turns, your mind races with every imaginable excuse for you to stop, why you’re going to get hurt, why you’re not capable, competent, prepared, why you can’t possibly continue. This is called: “first wind.”
You suffer because the mind doesn’t know that this is not the end of your fitness, only the end of its initial gear… until, for some magical ingredient of willpower, you laugh it off and keep going. Then, something amazing happens in your brain: it rewires to a new gear of efficiency; it floods your receptors with feel-good chemistry, your heart synchronizes, your head clears, your breathing normalizes, your muscles groove the movement, your joints smooth out the motion, and your mind focuses on your tempo and technique. This is called: “second wind” - a cerebral adaptation to your perseverance that scientists call neuroplasticity.
But we have to survive our first wind. Most of us, most of the time, stop before we get to our second wind. And don’t you think for a second this only applies to exercise! Everything we do is a physical activity for our nervous and endocrine (hormonal) systems; even sitting or laying down. When you worry, your brain lights up EXACTLY as if you were in a crisis! We stop before the shift happens. We surrender before giving the miraculous design of the human body a chance to adapt and provide us with the clarity, energy and effortlessness which WILL come.
The cells in your body react to everything your mind thinks. When you stop in first gear, perseverating with worry, despair and suffering, you make yourselves literally ill. Most of the groups that I train - soldiers, police and firefighters - have a mortality of age 54, specifically because of the horrific level of stress they must endure, and how it slowly erodes their immune system; the number one killer for them being stress-related diseases.
Negativity suppresses your immune system. Positivity, on the other hand, bolsters it. So, the best choice to make when you feel stuck at first wind is to insert a positive attitude. Unfortunately, we usually only try wishful thinking. Wishful thinking tries to convince us that this is good for us, that something better will come, that it’ll soon be over, that it isn’t real. But wishful thinking rarely can survive against the potency of worry, despair and suffering: in life’s true battles.
Positive thinking is a decision; a choice to fight against the vacuum pulling us down into negativity. When you worry, laugh out; when you despair, take action; when you suffer, hang on. Laughter, action and perseverance are the antidotes to worry, despair and suffering.
Practice these in every small thi