The Power of Your Mind to Galvanize Your Body
I had just celebrated my 65th birthday – here in Britain, the traditional occasion to retire from work. But what to do? Temptation beckoned! Fade away as a couch potato? Become a traditional grandpa, complete with new slippers and pipe? Take my well-earned rest? After all, I’d worked hard all my life. I deserved some me-time to relax, take it easy, and discover the delights of day-time TV.
But I’ve always followed my own path, my own heart – even when it’s a bit different from other people’s expectations.
Lying around all day really wasn’t for me. For a start, I managed to get offered another year’s work, at the centre for homeless people where I worked. This meant: daily trip up to London, early start, full day, not home until evening.
Busy as I was, it was not yet everything on my horizons. Why? Because my friend Paddy suddenly opened up another path.
Paddy reveals the secret of his inner power
Paddy, a co-worker, had run a marathon. I was greatly impressed. Always a sportsman, I was fascinated to learn how he did it. Where did he discover this awesome inner power?
“Easy,” he replied, with words I’ve never forgotten. “If you can run a mile, you can run a marathon.”
Wow! What a challenge! His secret was out: Build up step by step, just as he had done. Right out of the blue I decided that I’d got to do it too. I had never done any serious running since schooldays. Life as a minister, and then as an office worker, hadn’t exactly prepared me for major athletic challenges.
Yet the clear logic of Paddy’s assertion had got under my skin. I was sure that running, just one mile, wouldn’t be so hard to achieve. After all, I had been blessed with good health. Should be possible. Maybe I too could find my own hidden inner power!
Why not go in at the top?
Luckily my wife was on board. It shouldn’t affect our life adversely. But how exactly to fit in the training? It would take many months to get up to speed. I had decided to go in at the top: run the famous London marathon the following Easter. I even managed to secure a place, and so began my training.
Easier said than done; yet I knew that I also had inner power. I’d faced great life challenges before. Surely I could find that power again?
The tough challenge I set myself
It was winter. I set the alarm for 5am. Tried not to disturb the wife, and went out and began my running odyssey. I figured 3 times a week ought to do it. Of course it was cold, dark, miserable and often snowy. The pavements were hard and unforgiving, as a I pounded out the weary miles.
“I must be mad” my mind protested. “Give me a break” complained my feet, and aching leg muscles. “You really love this, don’t you?” my heart demanded to know.
Imagine how I felt each time that damned alarm went off! Haul myself out of bed, running gear on, quick drink of coffee, and the cold blast of air as I hit the road. Then when I got back a quick shower, breakfast, get ready for work. Half hour walk to the train station, an hour on the train, ten minutes walk in London, and begin work at 9am!
As Churchill said: Never, never, never give up!
I forced myself to keep at it, week after week, month after month. Legs complaining, tiredness always present, as my weekly mileage grew steadily. Did I have an adrenaline rush, all pumped up and triumphant, as I came back home each morning? No! I was just shattered, and crushed by the thought of a days’ work still before me.
So why did I keep digging up that inner power, so desperately needed? I’ve no idea, except something deep inside just won’t let you give up. Failure’s not an option. Why? Pride? Determination? Fear of failure, and all the negative social consequences from friends, family and acquaintances? “See that Gerry? Gave up! Couldn’t do it. Loser!”
Or was it just the opposite? Knowing that the medal, and all the congratulations, that would come my way. Aware that, for the rest of my life, I could look back and say, “Yeah! I did it!”
Dig deep, believe in your own mysterious inner power
Maybe there’s a bit of all that, the stick and the carrot – plus countless other hidden psychological elements, that no-one even knows about. Probably a whole life-time of self-discipline, as a monk and minister, had strengthened that inner power. I honestly can’t say more than that.
For me, in the end, it was a simple mindset: “whatever it costs, there’s no way I’m not going to do it.” Get the motivation, and the power is released.
The great day arrived in April 2003. I set off, eager, fresh, willing – and just a bit nervous. I was surrounded by thousands of other runners of every age, shape, size, gender, and ability. It was a fabulous day, an awesome experience, with brilliant support from endless rows of spectators.
The hours passed, the infamous “Wall” was successfully negotiated. I didn’t even stop running in order to take walk breaks. Finally, Buckingham Palace came into view. “We’re well inside the last mile,” we all breathed a sigh of relief. I saw the finishing line. “Quick sprint to the line,” I commanded my legs. My legs, however, completely ignored me! O.K.! So I jogged steadily on, and I crossed the line in just over 5 hours.
The utterly strange thing about the whole experience was this: not for one moment did I even think about not finishing. I had no doubt in my mind. But why? I must be that hidden strength in my heart and mind, forged over many years. Then I had done enough training, and I was injury free. All the preparation had gone well. It all paid off on the day.
Mind over matter – what’s next for you?
It just shows me that the power of the heart and mind are truly beyond comprehension. Mine is just a small and simple example – among millions – of this well-known truth about the power of “mind over matter.”
Don’t just listen to your body! You also have a much greater inner power, waiting to be released!
Good luck with your own challenges!