Have you taken a moment for yourself recently? If not, your mental state could be affecting your gains.
Using Taoist principles to balance your mind, body, and spirit will bring you the mental clarity to crush your workouts and stay consistent with your training regime.
Taoism is one of the three main religions practiced in China, the other two being Confucianism and Buddhism. Taoism was created in the 3rd century BC by Huang Di, the Yellow Emperor. According to Taoism, there is universal energy in everything we see and touch. This energy is also in all of us. Since we are part of the universe, imbalances in our energy upset the balance of nature and cause illness, disease, mental illness, and all maladies. In order to be at balance with the world around us, we have to train not only our bodies, but also our minds.
Everyone has three bodies, the physical body, the energetic body, and the spiritual body.
The physical body is the one we see in the mirror. Those toned abs, that dad bod, and the hair on your head are all examples of the psychical body.
The energetic body is in control of our emotions. This field ties us to the energy of everything around us.
The spiritual body is in control of our thoughts and intentions. This part of ourselves is key to finding balance to push past roadblocks and find your inner flow.
When these bodies are in alignment, we float through our lives in harmony with our environment and ourselves. When these are out of alignment, we get stuck. Even for those of us in great shape with rock-solid workout plans and diets, the energetic and spiritual bodies can impede progress.
So, how can the energetic and spiritual parts of ourselves be trained? The methods taught by Taoism include meditation, martial arts, yoga, Qigong, and tai chi. That being said, you should find a method that works for you. You do not have to be Taoist to balance your energy and connect with yourself.
Here are a few different practices you can try to access your spiritual and emotional bodies.
Meditating is an efficient way to check in with yourself. There are many meditation types, but even the most basic form of meditation will help you in all aspects of your life. Sit down in a comfortable position and close your eyes. Breathe in and out, noticing your breath rise in your chest and contract your chest as it exits. Continue monitoring your breathing while letting other thoughts float out of your mind. There are many meditation apps and guided meditations on YouTube that can help you reach this place of inner calm in your mind.
If you have a hard time sitting still, yoga may be more up your alley. Yoga is a combination of meditation, breathing, and movement that will increase your mental and physical flexibility. Incorporating yoga into your weekly routine will not only help balance your emotions and thoughts, but will even help your muscle gains because your muscles will be longer, looser, and more recovered for your next workout.
Tai Chi or Martial Arts
There are many different forms of martial arts, all with varying purposes. They all have one thing in common though - they target balance at the core of your being. Try taking martial arts classes to improve your mental and psychical strength.
There are an infinite range of possible ways to find your inner balance. As long as you dedicate time to understand yourself, you will not only have more success in the gym, you will have an improved life.