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5 Life Lessons from Calisthenics Training

5 Life Lessons from Calisthenics Training

Discovering Calisthenic training was a formative experience for me. Not only for its physical benefits in terms of fitness, athleticism and health. But, also, for its whole philosophy.

The name Calisthenics come from the greek words Kalos – meaning Strength and Sthenos – meaning Beauty.

So, in essence, the calisthenic philosophy is “beautiful strength” .

Now, many people think that this applies only to Physical beauty and Physical strength. But, I would like to show that the “physical” is only one element. Actually, both strength and beauty come in a variety of non-physical forms too; such as the strength of character, the beauty of mind, and so on. With this in mind, I would like to share five ways in which physical Calisthenic training can help you in other

With this in mind, I would like to share five ways in which physical Calisthenic training can help you in other non-physical areas of life.

1. It promotes discipline

Say you set yourself a target of completing 300 full range of motion bar dips in a single workout. Or, perhaps your target is 500 push ups or 1000 squats. Maybe even your target is to attain a more advanced strength skill, such as a one arm chin up, or the Planche.

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Whatever the goal may be – it is clear that you not only need physical fitness to be successful. You also need mental discipline.

You have to be prepared to dedicate yourself fully to your training – completing set after set, rep after rep, hour after hour until you reach your target. No matter how much pain you may be in, or how much you may want to try something different. This kind of mindset is important – especially in today’s multi-tasking, easily distracted world. If you can instill dedication and discipline into your training – you will soon see the carry over into all areas of your life.

Whether writing an assignment for work, reading a book for school, or working towards starting your own business – you will be able to draw on the discipline you have already cultivated from your calisthenic training. And, in doing so, you will be a lot better equipped to work over and over again until you achieve your goal.

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    2. It teaches you to control yourself

    Calisthenic training is about being in total control of your physical body. Being able to lift it, maneuver it, and push it in a variety of different ways. But, again, the Calisthenic philosophy of being able to handle yourself extends far beyond the bars.

    The ancient Stoics used to write that we cannot control the external world around us – the only thing we can seek to control is ourselves. And, this self-mastery (also expounded by Platonic, Buddhist, Christian, Zen, and Hindu thought) is what Calisthenic philosophy encourages us to strive for too. Not only to be in control of our physical self. But also, our internal self. To be in control of our emotions, and in control of our desires.

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    To no longer be at the mercy of fears, lusts, and impulses. That is self-mastery.

    3. It shows you true strength and beauty

    As eluded to earlier, Strength is not just about being able to lift heavy things. Real strength is to be kind and caring – and to stay calm and composed, even when being provoked or persecuted.

    Real strength is taking a stand for something you believe in, and remaining yourself in a world that is always seeking to change you. So, if you do not have those qualities too – then, no matter how much you can lift, or how big you are physically – you cannot be classed as truly strong.

    And, it is the same with beauty.

    It is no good being physically beautiful if, in your heart, or in your attitudes towards other people, you are ugly. Real beauty is having a beautiful mind, and a beautiful soul. It is being graceful with every step you take, and every word you say, and with everyone you meet.

    If you have that level of inner beauty – then, it doesn’t even matter what you look like. Because everyone will plainly see that you are beautiful.

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      4. It helps you manage the fear of failure

      If you wish to attain more advanced calisthenic skills – you are going to fail.

      This does not mean that you will never reach your goal. It just means that along the way, you are going to have to deal with failures. You’ll try a certain hold – and fall. Or, you’ll aim for a certain rep count – and run out of energy. It is all a natural part of progressing. And, if you wish to continue to improve, you must actually make failure a part of every training session.

      So too with life. How many times do we simply not start something for fear of failing? But failure is not our enemy. In fact, the only sure-fire way to avoid failing is if you never have any ambition, and never do anything. In that situation, you will never fail – you will just be a failure.

      So, start to see failure through calisthenic eyes – as a sign that you are trying to learn ,and trying to grow. Then, you will actually embrace it.

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        5. It teaches you not to rely on externals

        Someone who lifts weights in the gym undoubtedly receives a lot of benefits from their training. So too does someone else who uses cross trainers, and other such modern fitness gadgets.

        But, in relying on those things to improve your fitness – you are, in essence, relying on externals. And, if someone takes away your gym membership, or closes down your weight section, or breaks your machine – you are lost. You don’t know what else to do in order to maintain your shape.

        Whereas, when you train Calisthenics, you never need to rely on anyone or anything else to get in shape. All you need is yourself.

        And, fortunately, wherever you may go – you’ll always be there.

        So, translate that to the life outside of fitness. In the same way, as many people say “i cannot get fit unless I have an expensive gym and a treadmill” – we all have a habit of saying “I cannot feel good unless I have expensive clothes, or possessions, or so and so’s approval”. But, in reality, you already have everything you need to get fit – and you already have all you need to feel good.

        You just have to learn how to correctly use what you already have.

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        How to Control Your Thoughts and Become the Master of Your Mind

        How to Control Your Thoughts and Become the Master of Your Mind

        Your mind is the most powerful tool you have for the creation of good in your life, but if not used correctly, can also be the most destructive force in your life.

        Your mind, more specifically, your thoughts, affect your perception and therefore, your interpretation of reality.

        I have heard that the average person thinks around 70,000 thoughts a day. That’s a lot, especially if they are unproductive, self-abusive and just a general waste of energy.

        You can let your thoughts run amok, but why would you? It is your mind, your thoughts; isn’t it time to take your power back? Isn’t it time to take control?

        Choose to be the person who is actively, consciously thinking your thoughts. Become the master of your mind.

        When you change your thoughts, you will change your feelings as well, and you will also eliminate the triggers that set off those feelings. Both of these outcomes provide you with a greater level of peace in your mind.

        I currently have few thoughts that are not of my own choosing or a response from my reprogramming. I am the master of my mind, so now my mind is quite peaceful. Yours can be too!

        Who Is Thinking My Thoughts?

        Before you can become the master of your mind, you must recognize that you are currently at the mercy of several unwanted “squatters” living in your mind, and they are in charge of your thoughts. If you want to be the boss of them, you must know who they are and what their motivation is, and then you can take charge and evict them.

        Here are four of the “squatters” in your head that create the most unhealthy and unproductive thoughts:

        1. The Inner Critic

        This is your constant abuser. He is often a conglomeration of:

        • Other people’s words; many times your parents.
        • Thoughts you have created based on your own or other peoples expectations.
        • Comparing yourself to other people, including those in the media.
        • The things you told yourself as a result of painful experiences such as betrayal and rejection. Your interpretation creates your self-doubt and self-blame, which are most likely undeserved in cases of rejection and betrayal.

        He is motivated by pain, low self-esteem, lack of self-acceptance and lack of self-love.

        Why else would he abuse you? And since “he” is actually you– why else would you abuse yourself? Why would you let anyone treat you this badly?

        2. The Worrier

        This person lives in the future; in the world of “what ifs.”

        He is motivated by fear which is often irrational and with no basis for it.

        Occasionally, he is motivated by fear that what happened in the past will happen again.

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        3. The Reactor or Trouble-Maker

        He is the one that triggers anger, frustration and pain. These triggers stem from unhealed wounds of the past. Any experience that is even closely related to a past wound will set him off.

        He can be set off by words or feelings. He can even be set off by sounds and smells.

        He has no real motivation; he has poor impulse control and is run by past programming that no longer serves you, if it ever did.

        4. The Sleep Depriver

        This can be a combination of any number of different squatters including the inner planner, the rehasher, and the ruminator, along with the inner critic and the worrier.

        His motivation can be:

        • As a reaction to silence, which he fights against
        • Taking care of the business you neglected during the day
        • Self-doubt, low self-esteem, insecurity and generalized anxiety
        • As listed above for the inner critic and worrier

        How can you control these squatters?

        How to Master Your Mind

        You are the thinker and the observer of your thoughts. You must pay attention to your thoughts so you can identify “who” is running the show; this will determine which technique you will want to use.

        Begin each day with the intention of paying attention to your thoughts and catching yourself when you are thinking undesirable thoughts.

        There are two ways to control your thoughts:

        • Technique A – Interrupt and replace them
        • Technique B – Eliminate them altogether

        This second option is what is known as peace of mind!

        The technique of interrupting and replacing is a means of reprogramming your subconscious mind. Eventually, the replacement thoughts will become the “go to” thoughts in the applicable situations.

        Use Technique A with the Inner Critic and Worrier and Technique B with the Reactor and Sleep Depriver.

        For the Inner Critic

        When you catch yourself thinking something negative about yourself (calling yourself names, disrespecting yourself, or berating yourself), interrupt it.

        You can yell (in your mind), “Stop! No!” or, “Enough! I’m in control now.” Then, whatever your negative thought was about yourself, replace it with an opposite or counter thought or an affirmation that begins with “I am.”

        For example, if your thought is, “I’m such a loser,” you can replace it with, “I am a Divine Creation of the Universal Spirit. I am a perfect spiritual being learning to master the human experience. I am a being of energy, light, and matter. I am magnificent, brilliant, and beautiful. I love and approve of myself just as I am.”

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        You can also have a dialogue with yourself with the intention of discrediting the ‘voice’ that created the thought, if you know whose voice it is:

        “Just because so-and-so said I was a loser doesn’t make it true. It was his or her opinion, not a statement of fact. Or maybe they were joking and I took it seriously because I’m insecure.”

        If you recognize that you have recurring self-critical thoughts, you can write out or pre-plan your counter thoughts or affirmation so you can be ready. This is the first squatter you should evict, forcefully, if necessary:

        • He riles up the Worrier.
        • The names you call yourself become triggers when called those names by others, so he also maintains the presence of the Reactor.
        • He is often present when you try to fall asleep so he perpetuates the Sleep Depriver.
        • He is a bully and is verbally and emotionally abusive.
        • He is the destroyer of self-esteem. He convinces you that you’re not worthy. He’s a liar! In the interest of your self-worth, get him out!

        Eliminate your worst critic and you will also diminish the presence of the other three squatters.

        Replace him with your new best friend who supports, encourages, and enhances your life. This is a presence you want in your mind.

        For the Worrier

        Prolonged anxiety is mentally, emotionally and physically unhealthy. It can have long-term health implications.

        Fear initiates the fight or flight response, creates worry in the mind and creates anxiety in the body.

        You should be able to recognize a “worry thought” immediately by how you feel. The physiological signs that the fight or flight response of fear has kicked in are:

        • Increased heart rate, blood pressure, or surge of adrenaline
        • Shallow breathing or breathlessness
        • Muscles tense

        Use the above stated method to interrupt any thought of worry and then replace it. But this time you will replace your thoughts of worry with thoughts of gratitude for the outcome you wish for.

        If you believe in a higher power, this is the time to engage with it. Here is an example:

        Instead of worrying about my loved ones traveling in bad weather, I say the following (I call it a prayer):

        “Thank you great spirit for watching over _______. Thank you for watching over his/her car and keeping it safe, road-worthy, and free of maintenance issues without warning. Thank you for surrounding him/her with only safe, conscientious, and alert drivers. And thank you for keeping him/her safe, conscientious, and alert.”

        Smile when you think about it or say it aloud, and phrase it in the present tense; both of these will help you feel it and possibly even start to believe it.

        If you can visualize what you are praying for, the visualization will enhance the feeling so you will increase the impact in your vibrational field.

        Now take a calming breath, slowly in through your nose, and slowly out through the mouth. Take as many as you like!

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        Replacing fearful thoughts with gratitude will decrease reactionary behavior, taking the steam out of the Reactor.

        For example:

        If your child gets lost in the mall, the typical parental reaction that follows the fearful thoughts when finding them is to yell at them.

        “I told you never to leave my sight.” This reaction just adds to the child’s fear level from being lost in the first place. Plus, it also teaches them that mom and/or dad will get mad when he or she makes a mistake, which may make them lie to you or not tell you things in the future.

        Change those fearful thoughts when they happen:

        “Thank You (your choice of Higher Power) for watching over my child and keeping him safe. Thank you for helping me find him soon.”

        Then, when you see your child after this thought process, your only reaction will be gratitude, and that seems like a better alternative for all people involved.

        For the Trouble-Maker, Reactor or Over-Reactor

        Permanently eliminating this squatter will take a bit more attention and reflection after the fact to identify and heal the causes of the triggers; but until then, you can prevent the Reactor from getting out of control by initiating conscious breathing as soon as you recognize his presence.

        The Reactor’s thoughts or feelings activate the fight or flight response just like with the Worrier. The physiological signs of his presence will be the same. With a little attention, you should be able to tell the difference between anxiety, anger, frustration, or pain:

        • Increased heart rate and blood pressure; surge of adrenaline
        • Shallow breathing or breathlessness
        • Muscles tension

        I’m sure you’ve heard the suggestion to count to ten when you get angry—well, you can make those ten seconds much more productive if you are breathing consciously during that time.

        Conscious breathing is as simple as it sounds; just be conscious of your breathing. Pay attention to the air going in and coming out.

        Breathe in through your nose:

        • Feel the air entering your nostrils.
        • Feel your lungs filling and expanding.
        • Focus on your belly rising.

        Breathe out through your nose:

        • Feel your lungs emptying.
        • Focus on your belly falling.
        • Feel the air exiting your nostrils.

        Do this for as long as you like. Leave the situation if you want. This gives the adrenaline time to normalize.

        Now you can address the situation with a calmer, more rational perspective and avoid damaging behavior.

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        One of the troubles this squatter causes is that it adds to the sleep depriver’s issues. By evicting, or at least controlling the Reactor, you will decrease reactionary behavior, which will decrease the need for the rehashing and ruminating that may keep you from falling asleep.

        Master your mind and stop the Reactor from bringing stress to you and your relationships!

        For the Sleep Depriver

        (He’s made up of the Inner Planner, the Rehasher and the Ruminator, along with the Inner Critic and the Worrier.)

        I was plagued with a very common problem: not being able to turn off my mind at bedtime. This inability prevented me from falling asleep and thus, getting a restful and restorative night’s sleep.

        Here’s how I mastered my mind and evicted the Sleep Depriver and all his cronies.

        1. I started by focusing on my breathing—paying attention to the rise and fall of my belly—but that didn’t keep the thoughts out for long. (Actually, I now start with checking my at-rest mouth position to keep me from clenching.)
        2. Then I came up with replacement strategy that eliminated uncontrolled thinking—imagining the word in while breathing in and thinking the word out when breathing out. I would (and do) elongate the word to match the length of my breath.

        When I catch myself thinking, I shift back to in, out. With this technique, I am still thinking, sort of, but the wheels are no longer spinning out of control. I am in control of my mind and I choose quiet.

        From the first time I tried this method I started to yawn after only a few cycles and am usually asleep within ten minutes.

        For really difficult nights, I add an increase of attention by holding my eyes in a looking-up position (Closed, of course!). Sometimes I try to look toward my third eye but that really hurts my eyes.

        If you have trouble falling asleep because you can’t shut off your mind, I strongly recommend you try this technique. I still use it every night. You can start sleeping better tonight!

        You can also use this technique any time you want to:

        • Fall back to sleep if you wake up too soon.
        • Shut down your thinking.
        • Calm your feelings.
        • Simply focus on the present moment. 

        Becoming the Master of Your Mind

        Your mind is a tool, and like any other tool, it can be used for constructive purposes or for destructive purposes.

        You can allow your mind to be occupied by unwanted, undesirable and destructive tenants, or you can choose desirable tenants like peace, gratitude, compassion, love, and joy.

        Your mind can become your best friend, your biggest supporter, and someone you can count on to be there and encourage you. The choice is yours!

        Featured photo credit: Pexels via pexels.com

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