Why Mental Training?
Copyright (c) 2004 by Heidrun Beer - all rights reserved
You certainly remember the warning in instruction books of heavy machinery, like wheel saws etc.: Don't operate them when you are tired. Also you will have seen many newspaper reports about people who hurt themselves while skiing or mountain climbing, the only reason being that they were improperly trained for the job, their muscles went tired at the wrong moment and they couldn't handle a difficult situation properly.
It should be obvious that we cannot do a task for which we are not properly trained. Yet the biggest task of all, living a human life, is undertaken without any systematic training of the most important "muscle" involved: our mind, the computer which is used to solve the increasingly complicated task of mastering modern life in the 21st century!
What's Missing in School
Our schools should be teaching the kids on their very first day in the classroom that not only precise thinking needs proper training to function, the mind is also the part of the human being where stress and trauma impinge most prominently. If we don't have the mental fitness to react properly to difficult situations, the chances are good that we will react the same way that a poorly trained mountain climber or skier does when a situation requires more skill than he has: we will get hurt, in some cases badly hurt, there is even the danger of not surviving a critical moment in our lives.
If death has not occurred, there is a whole category of medicine - psychiatry - that will take care of the victims of poor mental fitness who have been overwhelmed by a crisis in life. But these victims might never be the same again. They could stay mentally crippled forever.
Why take such a risk? Wouldn't it be better to be well trained for the difficulties of life in the first place?
As our schools have not yet realized this, we try to fill a gap, at least for the years that remain until somebody puts mental training into the curriculum of our basic schools. Read on if you want to proof yourself against the difficulties of life before they even happen. If the damage is already done, but you don't feel that you need a doctor to handle it, one part of mental training is also designed to help you deal with past trauma or failure.
Training is for Healthy People
Training is for healthy people - this is true for physical as well as for mental training. It does hurt sometimes, at least for the first few weeks - you know the old proverbial saying: "No pain - no gain!" But if you feel really ill, make sure that you consult with a doctor before you start any training, whether physical or mental.
If you have been emotionally hurt really badly, you most certainly do need fitness training of your "mind muscle", because the fact that you have been hurt shows that you have not been prepared to handle a certain situation; but first everything should be done that a doctor considers necessary to make it safe for you to do that training. The muscles around a broken bone won't stem heavy weights. Heal that bone first, or the attempt to stem the weight can add to the damage and ruin your arm permanently.
One Neighbour of the "Mind Muscle": the Brain (Touching Medicine)
Our "mind muscle" has two neighbours who interact with it very closely. One is the brain, the physical structure that translates the mind's work into the physical actions of the body. If the mind were a collection of software programs, the brain would be the computer on which they are installed. Both are needed for the software to work, but they are not the same.
Their close relationship however requires that we take care of the brain too, even if our main focus is on training the mind. And the brain depends, of course, on a healthy body to supply it with all the nutritents and oxygen that it needs for functioning. So although we are working in the area of the mind, we also have a secondary focus on physical health, because the mind doesn't work without a brain and the brain doesn't work without a healthy body.
The Other Neighbour of the "Mind Muscle": the Spirit (Touching Religion)
The other close neighbour of the mind is the spiritual being, or soul, or ego, or "me". If the brain is the computer's hardware and the mind is the software, then the spiritual being is the user who defines the tasks that are to be done by the hardware and software together. The "me" decides what the mind machinery is used for. One person likes to do arts, the other one likes to do sports, a third one is entirely focussed on raising children. Their interests and goals tell the mind what programs to install and run.
The most recent centuries have seen a traditional clash between science and religion about the nature of the "me". While the more materialistic scientists believe that it is nothing more than a brain function and that the person disappears forever with the physical death of the body, religion contradicts by claiming that there is something like an immortal personality - the soul -; that it just uses the body like a car; and (at least in some religions) that it can have more than one physical body during its existence as a spirit - just like a car that gets replaced when it starts to fall apart.
It should be mentioned that modern science is slowly beginning to have similar ideas; but even if we assume that the big chasm between science and religion still exists, we are in the lucky situation that it doesn't really matter for our purpose of mental training. Whether the spiritual being is a projection of the brain and its immortality is an illusion (old-fashioned science's viewpoint), or our spiritual existence is the only real truth around and everything physical is an illusion (the viewpoint of important religions like Buddhism) - it doesn't make the slightest difference for us.
In both cases, mental training functions by the same rules and for the same reason: to give us the personal stability, the understanding and the tools to master our lives, whether they are mainly spiritual, mainly physical, or well balanced between the two.
As a matter of fact, the lack of balance between our physical and spiritual halves is in itself a topic in mental training. Most people limp either on one of these two "legs" of our nature, or on the other. Most of us have shaken their heads about some totally materialistic spiritual cripple whose life is determined by food, sex and TV; and most of us have smiled about the intellectual giant who is helpless in practical matters - the nobel prize winner who cannot boil an egg.
The one thing that these two extremes have in common is that both of these people's development is not balanced between their mental/spiritual component and their physcial component. People who have a natural feeling for the balance between the physical and the spiritual are rare. But this is not a reason to worry: the art of maintaining a good balance between physical and spiritual existence is something that can be learned, and should be learned, during the years of mental training that make the difference between a person who is well prepared to handle life and somebody who most likely will stumble amd fall sooner or later.
We have prepared special sections with training recommendations for both kinds of "limping" in our tool collection. Enjoy!
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This page last changed on: 30. Mar 13