“Those who believe they can and those who believe they can’t are both right.” -Henry Ford.
Not long ago I heard someone mention metacognition and “thinking about thinking.” It sounded convoluted and a little bit too spiritual for my grasp, but something about it stuck in my head. What I eventually gathered from it was the awareness involved while learning something new. With the mental training I’ve read about, this was something I wanted to learn more about, and the book Body Mind Mastery by Dan Millman was the perfect discovery.
Millman was once a world trampoline champion, gymnastics coach, speaker, and has written several books. His approach to training, work, doing the dishes, and everything else, is to use the mind and body as one to master life. He helps readers take the sum of their parts and create a stronger whole, encouraging the “peaceful warrior” within.
A lot of what he touches on is mental training topics that I’ve come across before, but he does it with a spiritual flare. He is a firm believer in yoga, T’ai Chi, and meditation. He talks about matters of the mind in ways that are a bit intangible and hard for readers to take serious at times, but opening up to everything he says helps drive his points home. You may start the book warily as he talks about natural laws and flowing energies, and end the book Googling the local Aikido club.
It’s split into three parts with the first preparing you to think about how the body works, and building awareness and mental readiness to work in accordance with your body. Most of what he talks about seems like obvious things but explains why they are effective and has personal experience to back it up. His stories could be completely made up, but you believe them and are inspired either way.
The second part talks about how to train with your body AND mind. He shows how important it is to mold your mental game and maintain a clear, positive mind. This section is probably the one that I took the most away from, and applied to other parts of my life. As he mentions, this book is not strictly for the athlete, but something to apply to general life as well. In multiple chapters he talks about awareness, and the idea of not letting our emotions hold us back struck a chord with me. The idea of acknowledging a negative emotion and just letting it go was so simple, yet a mind-blowing concept for me.
The third part covers fitness, enhancing practice, and competition. His experience and obvious research shines through to the end of the book and brings to light the importance of staying physically fit and mentally sharp. At times it does feel like he is just stringing together a bunch of inspirational quotes that you would see on the walls of training rooms, but they apply and work with what he says, so you ignore the cheesiness of his inspiration regurgitation. The interesting thing is that he doesn’t only quote sports icons, but philosophers, writers, politicians and more. Again indicating that this awareness and self-control of one’s body and mind can be practiced in all parts of life.
When I finally finished the book, I wanted to go back and reread the beginning with more awareness. It’s definitely a book that has impacted my way of thinking and I would undoubtedly pick up another book by him.
“Fear, anger, and sorrow are all parts of life. You can’t make them go away by wishing it. Emotions pass like clouds in the sky. Meanwhile, you always have the power to choose how you will respond. You may feel afraid, but you don’t have to behave fearfully. Emotions are not destiny.” -Dan Millman