Healthy Mind, Healthy Body

Want to overcome fear? Not sure how to meditate? Top personal trainer (and Buddhist) Spencer Davey from Storm Fitness gives us the lowdown on how to achieve a healthy mind.

What is it and how should we combat overtraining? 

Over training is a lot less common than you might think. Firstly, in the few cases I have seen it has come more as a result of “burning the candle at both ends” - by that I mean that it was not due to the total amount of training being too high, but people trying to work, train and party all hours of the day. You can get away with this for months, sometimes even years but there will come a time when it bites. Also I think a common misconception is that all training must be of a high intensity nature. Training every day or even twice per day is unlikely to lead to over training if its organised properly and you have good nutrition and rest. I tend to train even my clients who are not athletes with quite a high volume of training although we follow any day where we have pushed hard with a low intensity day where they might go for a 40 minute low intensity jog. That said if you are concerned about overtraining the first warning signs are:
1. A loss in concentration- do you find you don’t take in what people are saying to you?
2. Struggle sleeping- some people find they have a restless mind, others restless legs when in bed, but make no mistake if you have planned your training and recovery wrongly, sleep will be effected.
3. Increase in muscle soreness- if you find your usual training soreness is extended for 3 days or more it could be a sign it’s time for a break.
4. You hit plateau - You’d be surprised how many people hit plateau and just keep plugging away. There are so many variables in training you just need to change one or two to get things moving again. If you have been using 1 minute intervals with 30 seconds rest for 3 months any changes your body would make using that approach has already occurred and its time to move on.
What are your top tips for overcoming fear? 

 One practical thing you could do right now is to write down everything you have some fears about. Next to each one, write the amount of thought on a scale of 1-10 you give to it. After you’ve written that number, write a number on a scale of 1-10 for how likely it is to happen, 10 for a dead cert, and 1 for highly unlikely. Personally this helps me identify whether there is a reason to be fearful - and if there is I move straight to action. If there is a big gap between the numbers you’ll know you are just panicking. Usually I realise I am worrying about something that will never happen! Us Buddhists have a phrase that sums it up really, “If there’s something you can do about it there’s no need to worry, if there nothing you can do about it, there’s also no need to worry”.  Also don’t watch too much of the news! I used to think all the clever people watched the news. Having watched the news twice a day throughout 2015 I have now realised that I am no wiser as a result and have packed in the habit.

Meditation. How does someone get started? 

Learning to meditate can be something people build up to be a big deal and as a result put it off until they find specialist help. When you know what meditation is you can see its something that is available to all of us, all of the time. Meditation, at least in Buddhist terms, is simply a virtuous concentration. By virtue we mean concentrating on a thought that will cause happiness to arise for both yourself and others. Meditation can be divided into two:

1. Analytical meditation; considering a particular line, concept or thought and (as the name would suggest) analysing it.
2. Placement meditation; this means placing the mind on a particular object for as long as possible to the exclusion of everything else.

Placement meditation is a good place to start. 
I would recommend starting by sitting with a straight back on a chair or cross legged on a cushion on the floor. Rest your hands in your lap with your right hand on to of your left with your palms up and your thumbs touching. Close your eyes gently and simply focus on the feeling of the breath at your nostrils. Focus on this feeling to the exclusion of everything else. Its totally normal for you to find you have been distracted and followed your thoughts at this stage. Don’t worry, just draw your attention back to your breath and again try to focus on it to the exclusion of everything else. 3-5 minutes per day is a good starting point and build from there.
Can you recommend any good meditation apps? 
Yes there are some good ones that I have recommended to friends. Headspace is good and user friendly one as is buddhify. Apps are all well and good but don’t be afraid to reach out to a group near you and ask to go along, there can be a lot to gain by doing these things with others and learning from the nuances of their experience.
What are your top tips for achieving emotional balance? 

Hmm, Ok good question!

1.     Discover what you really want out of life.
2.     Question everything to see where it fit’s in with your purpose.
3.     When you have those answers commit to doing the things that “fit” and leaving the things that don’t behind you.
4.     Plan down time in your day, week, month and year.
5.     Give yourself permission to stop thinking about things that don’t make you happy (regardless how familiar those thoughts are)

What 5 things could you not live without? 

1.     My notebook.
2.     My mac…it’s the nerve center.
3.     My meditation cushion…again it’s the place to be.
4.     My gym… both as an outlet for creativity andI literally need the income to live!
5.     My barbell. I view challenging yourself under the barbell in the same way a martial artist views mastering their discipline. You can learn about yourself in a very short time with a barbell.