Mental Fitness

The mind is an ally and it is a foe.  It can be with us in the red corner or it  can fight us from the blue.

Most of us fill our time with tons of activities or surround ourselves with tons of people so we don’t have to slow down and face our minds.

I was in turbo mode for most of my life.  Sleep, and very little of it was my alone time.  Sports, work, sports, work, doing things….always going.

Then came my first camping trip.  In very Kerouac fashion, I embarked on a solo wilderness journey to commune with nature and the ghost of Thoreau.  I planned 3 days in the southern mountains of Colorado.  I borrowed a friend’s dog for companionship and headed toward the Sangre de Cristo  mountain range.

I found a beautiful campsite near a river with many hiking options stemming off the trail.  When backpacking, a lot of initial time is filled with tasks.  I felt alive, full of hope and expectation.  The river filled my ears and I felt accomplished setting up my tent and gathering wood.  My canine companion was in her environment and looked full of bliss.

Then it came time for nothing.   I can’t remember when I had ever done nothing.  My life was filled with school, sports, playing outside, music, band, homework and about a million other fillers.

It’s the nothing that exposes you.  Can you handle your thoughts in that space?  I could not.  One night of laying there being consumed with the noise of my thoughts manifesting into fear of my surroundings sent me packing the next day.  3 days was way beyond my endurance!

Boxers live in this place of nothingness before weigh-ins, matches, and walking to the ring.  Sometimes the nothingness can creep into shadow boxing and the rounds between sparring.

Mental fitness is the number one skill in boxing, in life.  It’s the ability to be aware, be curious and interested.  Mental fitness lets you weather the storm of doubt and continue moving with confidence.  It allows the nerves to show up but not dictate.  Mental fitness takes as many rounds to build endurance as jump rope or the heavy bag.

The results of mental fitness are increased awareness, less judgement, increased focus, increased empathy, increased relaxation and increased ability to be alone.

What sort of things do you practice to increase your mental fitness?


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