Thought affects movement

Athletes themselves have long insisted that mental factors are paramount“. Recently I read this in an interesting 09/19/2011 article in The New York Times by Gina Kolata entitled, “A Little Deception Helps Push Athletes to the Limit”.

Two cyclists training for the Tour De France courtesy of Flickr user Guus Krol

She shares an experiment conducted by Dr. Kevin Thompson, Head of Sport and Exercise Science at Northumbrian University in England, and his assistant Mark Stone. They had cyclists ride stationary bicycles for 4,000 meters (about 2.5 miles). As they cycled they observed a display of themselves next to an avatar (computer-generated rider) that they were told was moving at the pace of their own best time. But the avatars were actually going 1 percent faster than that – faster than the cyclists had ever achieved.

The cyclists were able to match the performance of their simulated competitor, thus riding faster than they had ever done before.

The only difference was the absence in their thought of the idea that their competitor was riding at a speed beyond a limit they could not exceed. It seems that the ability was there all along, and the faster speed was achieved once thought gave its consent (albeit, in this case, by deception). They were doing what they thought they were capable of.

I had a somewhat similar experience when I was on my swim team in middle school. I was never a particularly fast swimmer so I swam one of the distance events – the 400 freestyle (16 laps). My time usually came in just a little under 6 minutes. I remember once having a time of 5:53 and being pretty happy with that.

Freestyle at a swim meet courtesy of Flickr user Omar de Armas

So, at this one swim meet, again swimming the 400 freestyle, I was moving along pretty good and could see that I was in the lead along with one other swimmer. Similar to the experiment with the cyclists, I kept pace with my competitor. At the beginning of the last lap I took a big breath and sprinted to the finish without taking another breath the entire length of the pool. Through the water I could see that my competitor and I were neck-and-neck. I touched the end of the pool just barely ahead of him and won the race – a new and exciting experience for me!

But I was a bit shocked (although thrilled) to hear my time. It was 5:06. Not 5:46, which for me would have been very good, but 5:06.

During that race I never once thought about how fast I was going or what my time would be, or if I was getting tired. I just stayed with my competitor, knowing that if I did that, I had a chance to win at the end. And my own limit fell away that day.

Remember, for athletes, “mental factors are paramount”.

So now, consider the freeing impact thought could have on movement in everyday life. Doesn’t this show that thought affects ability and performance and can enable one to break through restrictive limits? Doesn’t this suggest that a change in thought could help with mobility problems and limitations?

Turning for a moment to spirituality, if we were to discover that an unlimited divine power is the actual source of our ability to move, wouldn’t we find that thoughts of limitation would yield to a conscious recognition of our true abilities? Wouldn’t this give us more unlimited movement?

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