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Exercise isn't Physical

Written by Simran Bhana, edited by Shruti Maheshwari

“A calm mind brings a balance between mental and physical well being.”

As an extremely conscious person, the element of uncertainty and fear would explain my hyperactive and erratic mind. I never felt 100% confident about my physical appearance and would always criticize it harshly. A sense of discontent and unhappiness coupled with not being good enough would occasionally rattle me. Whether it would be people’s opinions about my slender figure or my mind subconsciously wandering to worrying about (my) being too lean or gazing at myself for hours in the mirror …. I was perturbed by my body type. ‘A coat hanger’, ‘she’s too thin and weak’, ‘she’s flat’ were the comments that hampered my self-esteem and self-image. I constantly had negative thoughts recurring in my mind which made me conclude that I was not comfortable with my body. I realized that if these comments bother me so much maybe I should make incremental changes to my body to achieve a peaceful state of mind. I wanted to be happy when I looked at myself in the mirror, but the fog of these comments kept me blind. I was looking for validation. So I decided to do something about it.

I was not a person who placed a massive amount of importance on exercise. But that changed when I decided to participate in a karate tournament. As I began undergoing training in karate based on the various forms of kata’s (a combination of techniques), bunkai (a set of techniques taken from a kata and transformed into defense and attack techniques which two people will demonstrate), and basic movements, I developed a sense of concentration which prevented my mind from wandering to the unflattering opinions people had about me. My mind subconsciously started becoming mindful about executing and performing the respective techniques with finesse and power. I started becoming optimistic and practical. Gradually the negative self-image faded away as I became fearless and impervious to the thoughts of people. In this process, I gradually developed a tranquil state of mind whilst becoming physically fitter and developing an aura of confidence from within. The disruptions in my mind were eliminated as a result of immense concentration. I felt content and my self-esteem gradually increased as I started feeling confident and accomplished. I felt that I could conquer my fears and could do the impossible without worrying about failure. I felt a sense of happiness and would look forward to going to school and interacting with people.

As I started firmly believing that I could overcome any obstacle, I felt my mental and physical well being improved. I started adapting to change and began taking initiative in trying new activities in various fields. I started recognizing myself as important and worthy of attention, companionship, and love.

I could finally see me clearly, not as a coat hanger anymore but a force to be reckoned with; and it wasn't because I exercised to change my physical but because I exercised to change the presence of my mind.

Believe in yourself. Be fearless.

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