During my last boxing session I boxed three rounds of two minutes each on the double end bag. It sounds like nothing, but two minutes can be a very long time… At the end I was so exhausted my punches looked like I was drunk. I was simply trying to not quit before the time was over. At the end of the session my trainer commented: “Your hands and arms look better, but you have to work on your cardio…”
The next day I started running by an impulse that didn’t coming from my head, telling me I had to do this as a way to improve my endurance. It came straight from the body. I said to my friends, “it is called ‘road kill’ for a reason!”, told them to pray for me and hit the dirt road.
It took only a few minutes until I noticed that my mind was producing thoughts like, “Oh my God, am I going to make it this long?” Fear immediately followed, hand in hand with tension. If I didn’t pay attention my stomach contracted. Not listening to my mind, I kept running and relaxing with every step, just like in boxing. When I have been able to bring my attention back to the very next step and relax into it hidden pockets of energy opened up.
I was running quiet nicely, even beginning to enjoy it and suddenly turned around the corner from where I could the see house. I was on the home stretch now and – isn’t it interesting? – immediately I could hardly breathe. So close to the end I allowed thoughts and emotions to come in again and take control. Staying vigilant to the end. There is no moment in time when I can lean back, just because I think I am on the home run and I have it made. Lack of attention and vigilance create road kill, not cars!
Boxing is my lifeline right now because it is the one thing that pushes me so completely beyond of what I think is possible, physically and mentally. And I am not even close to talking about a fight here, just the training aspect itself is kicking my butt. I hate it because it throws me against the deepest fear and resistance in myself towards the super-effort that I have to make in every training again and again. And, I love it at the same time. For the same reason. Because it gives me the opportunity to step into a whole other domain of power and energy than the one I usually operate on.
The other day I had to do 100 punches as fast and hard as I could into the heavy bag. I couldn’t lift my arms after 60 because I stopped breathing altogether. Complete contraction in the face of survival. I realized that when I am being pushed beyond limits I automatically contract and start breathing like those were my last seconds to live. There is no power without relaxation. As my trainer commented: “You have to catch your breath faster”.
How powerful I am (and how I think I need to breathe) is a mental concept. And what is needed is a much faster recovery time. 8 seconds to completely calm down in order to move on to another drill that is even more challenging.
There is a moment of choice. I either panic – or relax, move through resistance and step into a new realm of energy that opened up for me in the training a few days ago. This is “mental toughness”, to not give my mind a chance, to just not go with it. Stay focused. “Suffer now”, as Muhammad Ali said.
I will not be the heavy weight champion of the world. (I hope not…) I aim for being the champion of my mind, instead of the slave of my mind. And I am boxing my way there!