On the way home from a big fencing tournament last year, one of my students who was riding shotgun, feeling suitably exhausted, turned to me and asked “How are you so awake still? How do you have so much energy?”
There are many reasons I believe that I have a lot of energy but one of them is simply that I choose to be energetic…
An interesting story: A friend of mine described visiting the martial arts class of a high level instructor as a guest. The instructor had his class take a deep squat position and instructed them to stay in the squat as long as physically possible. He then turned to my friend who was standing beside him at the head of the class and said quietly to him: “Watch — if the body gives out, you fall over. If the mind gives out — you stand up.” They then watched the class as one by one students stood up.
The lesson here was that though the students felt that they had gone to their physical limit, they had really only reached their mental limit.
So back to my ‘choosing’ to be more energetic. I found at some point in early adulthood that I had a lot more psychological control of my body than I had first believed. I found that when I started to feel physically tired that there was a way that I played into this tiredness mentally. Some of it was in my self-talk “I am so exhausted; I just can’t do anymore; I need to sleep.” and ways that I chose to act physically more tired (mentally pulling attention away and allowing movements to become slippery, less precise, less thought out) — perhaps to conserve energy. Through building this awareness I started to build a sense that I could perhaps choose to think differently. To think myself into energy.
Now when I feel tired and I need/want to keep going I just crank up my presence. I put myself into the mental state of being alert. I curb tired self-talk, avoid tired action, and focus on crispness in my internal and external being.
I’ve found that this way of operating has given me a ton more energy, allowed me to excel more in physical environments like tournaments, endurance hikes and runs, and makes my awake time more useful.
Start bringing attention to the mental state that accompanies a physical state of fatigue and see if you can begin to choose alertness.