Most people don't know that mental fitness and physical fitness work almost exactly the same.
Understanding how they align will make mental wellness more approachable, more effective, and even more safe.
Unfortunately, most people don't get this. They think meditation is something woo-woo that magically changes your life (maybe)!
The first thing people get wrong is thinking meditation is for everybody.
Some other common misconceptions are:
- You only benefit from meditation while you're practicing
- Meditation is 100% safe and has no risks
- There is an end goal, and once you get there, you're done
Reframing through the lens of physical fitness grounds the concepts of mental fitness in the real world, makes them easier to explain and will help you get more out of your practice.
Let's dive in.
#1: Different People Like Different Stuff
Sitting down and meditating is not for everyone. Just like running isn't for everyone. Some people like swimming or yoga or lifting weights.
Meditation is only one of many mental wellness practice. Truth be told, there are countless practices, including many different meditation traditions, breathing practices, even prayer.
So if you don't like the type of meditation everyone seems to be doing, there is a wide world of practices that will appeal to you more.
#2: Benefits Pile Up After You're Done
It can feel good to exercise, but sometimes you have to drag yourself through a workout.
The same is true for meditation. It can feel good while you're doing it, but you will hit resistance as you unravel mental/emotional tension.
For both mental and physical workouts, the benefits continue to last after you've left the gym. And the benefits stack up over time. Think about your physical health after working out 5 days a week for a year. Now think about getting that much practice in for your mental health.
Even if you're having trouble with your meditation, as long as you're practicing well, you are making progress, and it adds up.
#3: You Can Injure Yourself
Just like pulling a muscle or rolling an ankle, you can hurt yourself during certain mental fitness exercises if you're not using proper technique.
You might not be physically sore the next day, but improper practice can make you feel ungrounded leading to confusion and more of the mental chatter you were working on resolving.
#4: Having A Coach Matters
Having a personal trainer can help you make safe progress faster. They keep an eye on your form, and give you recommendations and plans to follow.
Having a teacher or guide for your mental fitness practice can be just as important. They can help you practice properly and answer questions as challenges arise.
#5: There Is No End To The Journey
You can't be done being physically fit. It's a lifelong practice. And you don't need to be the fittest person in the world to be healthy.
Similarly, you there's no finish line in mental wellness. There's always more to uncover and learn. And, you don't have to be the most enlightened person ever to be happy, fulfilled, and move through the world a little lighter.
I hope this reframing helps you understand mental wellness in a new way.
Both physical and mental wellness exercises are just practices. If you keep at them, they can provide you incredible experiences, better health, and a more joyful life.
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