Harnessing the Power of Intention to Overcome Resistance
One of the biggest challenges to getting or staying in excellent shape is overcoming our own internal resistances. Every athlete knows that motivation for the daily grind of training, eating right and all the other practices of the fit person waxes and wanes over time.
The same holds true for the average person trying to lose weight or increase their strength. The people who are successful at making consistent lifestyle change learn how to power through normal periods of resistance to keep at the practices that bring them closer to their goals. Ultimately, changing your body for the better is as much a mental as a physical game.
Mental discipline and a strong will are givens in the fitness world, but there are other, equally valuable mental skills that require very little “muscle”. Setting crystal clear intentions can help you slide stealthily past your own resistance with very little effort if done right. Try these three “easeful” practices to help you slip around even the toughest walls of resistance.
The Yogic Practice of Intention.
Yogis have a very specific method for setting clear, effective intentions called sankalpa. This practice is like a meditation that, if done consistently, can effect powerful change. To begin, craft a very simple, clear, positive statement in the present tense that captures your personal intention. Your intention should be something that you believe is actually possible for you to achieve, and the statement itself should have some emotional charge on it, i.e. feel powerful to say. “I want to lose 4 percent body fat” is not a good statement because it implies a future condition and is pretty flat. A stronger statement might be “I have a ripped, ultra-lean body”, or “I WANT a medal in the Masters World Championships!”
Once you have crafted your statement, the basic technique for sankalpa involves three steps. Plan to sit quietly or lie down for a few minutes while you move through the practice. The first step is to actively cultivate a felt sense of gratitude. Close your eyes and consider all the elements in the area you are focusing on that are already working well and concentrate on them until you actually feel grateful for them. This may be challenging and you may have to dig a little, but starting with a state of gratitude is a key strategy to overcoming resistance.
Step two is to imagine that your intention is already fully realized. Use all of your senses to imagine what your life will feel like, look like, taste like when you have realized your goal, and let those feelings resonate throughout your entire being. Finally, say the actual statement silently or out loud to yourself three times in a row (the guys in the gym think I bonkers). Then relax for a minute or so and move on into the rest of your day. Set a time frame for practice of up to 6 months. It can be shorter if you like, and you can stop early if you achieve your goal sooner than you planned, of course. Try to practice at least once every day. It can be helpful to practice your sankalpa just after waking in the morning and/or just before going to sleep at night.
What Would the Fittest Me Do?
Another way to slip around resistance is to cultivate a very strong image of yourself with your goals already achieved. Think about what you would do or say, how you might act and how you might feel. Then, when you need to make a decision about a behavior that will lead you toward or away from your goals, imagine what the super-you would do in that moment and do that. Ask yourself, what would athlete-me do right now? What would lean-me do right now? Then just step into that choice. Do this consistently and you cannot fail: you will become the version of you that you are imagining.
By now you will have noticed a consistent theme in these strategies, and positivity is no different. This technique is the simplest of them all, though not necessarily the easiest. To utilize the power of positivity, use any method you can to create a deep, felt sense of satisfaction, as if you have already actualized your goal or dream. Generate within yourself a strong sense of satisfaction, abundance, relief – whatever will arise in you when you achieve your intention – but do this before anything has actually happened. If you cultivate a state of deep satisfaction before any positive outcome is actually manifested, you will effectively remove all sorts of potential obstacles and speed your progress, sometimes exponentially. Claim the emotional state as if it was already yours, and it’s much more likely that it will be.