Your Body Is the Greatest Teacher You’ll Never Have
Your physical self can teach priceless lessons to your entire self.
In 2018 I was diagnosed with a heart anomaly called bundle of Kent.
To keep it simple, the bundle of Kent is an extra pathway in your heart, resulting in abnormally high heart rate. Needless to say that if it goes too high, your heart breaks. As a result, until I got operated I couldn’t do anything that could possibly push my heart rate up. In other words, although I was a highly sporty guy, I was no longer able to perform any sport of any kind.
It lasted a few months. It may not seem much. But I felt like it lasted years. I felt bad. I was no longer balanced.
You couldn’t imagine how free I felt when my cardiologist announced me that my bundle of Kent was successfully removed. From then on, I no longer lived with the shadow of a heart attack. I could do sport again. I hoped it helped me being balanced again. It did. But it did much more.
My physical self I started to get to know again taught me unexpectedly powerful lessons.
Living is not only breathing, it also has to be breathless.
I was eager to breath. Literally. That’s why I started HIIT and body-weight training. To feel living and breathing, I had to be breathless.
My workouts were tough, intense and sweaty. They were like never-ending sessions. Each time I felt pain in my entire body. Each time I was toasted. But I couldn’t wait for the next exercise. I couldn’t wait for one extra rep, for one extra mile, for one extra tiny thing — whatever it might be — , for one extra breath.
In fact, in those moments of absolute exhaustion, you meet yourself. You meet your living self.
You push yourself so hard that at some point you reach your limits. Yet, they don’t stand as your limits for long. As you don’t quit, as you go on, you overcome them. You step over those boundaries, setting them slightly farther.
And you get better. Each day you are stronger than the day before. Not only are you physically stronger but, most importantly, mentally stronger. In other words, each time you go farther with your body, you go deeper with your mind.
It’s really that simple. It’s like a 2-axis drawing. You go far, you dive deep.
See all that space created? This is yourself. I mean, your self. Forged in commitment, the strongest steel.
There lies your achievements. There lies all your hard work. There lies your sweat and your blood. Look! You’ve done so much. You should be proud of you and, most importantly, you should feel respect for yourself.
What you did is no little thing. And it is not over. Look closer. There lies all your hopes and dreams too. There lies the answers to your questions. There lies the many possibilities and success ahead of you.
The very basic idea is pushing yourself. Working out taught me that. Still, it doesn’t only have to do with working out. Becoming stronger doesn’t mean lifting heavier.
I surf, I ski and I snowboard and, thinking back —I now realize that I might have not listened carefully enough to my body’s words before — , I understand that becoming stronger means, as a whole, to overcome obstacles.
When you surf, it means overcoming your fear and facing that seemingly 4-stair wave that scares the crap out of you. When you ski or snowboard, it means stepping over your stomach in knots and jumping that huge cliff, sending that gnarly 360° or going full send on the steepest line of your life.
It may also apply when you study as soon as you tackle things you don’t know, that are hard or you firstly don’t understand.
Actually, the idea is to seek struggle and to go through it in a way you’d never thought you were capable of. And to stick to that. Consistency is key.
Indeed, the farther you go and the stronger you become, the harder it is. Each day is tougher than the day before. That’s a fair game, level raises as you raise. Be ready. Adapt.
It is not easy though. Some day you‘re very likely to feel like “Nah, not that day. That’s too intense. That’s too high. That’s too much”. And you won’t do it. But don’t give up for long.
Remember that on the flip-side of “not that day” is “better than yesterday”. Don’t be afraid to dive deep. Don’t be afraid to be committed. Just like your body, sweat, work, and improve.
In other words, be fully engaged in everything you start off, shoot for a seemingly no-way-to-be-reached goal, stick to it and be consistent with it, work harder and push yourself farther than anyone else, eventually readjust your trajectory, but don’t ever give up.
This is how my body taught me to live, to breath.