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12 Fitness Lessons You Can Learn from Mindful Meditation

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    Mindful Mantras

    Keeping your workout routine in gear can be a constant process, and many times it's all about mind over matter. These tips will help you get your head in the game and let go of everything that's holding you back from acheiving your mental and physical goals. (Also: 5 Benefits of Meditation That Boost Your Workout Game.)

    Excerpted from A Mindful Morning by David Dillard-Wright, Ph.D. Copyright © 2016 F+W Media, Inc. Used by permission of the publisher. All rights reserved.

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    Taming Your Inner Dialogue

    "Words affect our dispositions, sketch out actions, form affections. It would be ideal to have interior silence, but this takes a great deal of discipline and years of practice. In the meantime, taking all of this type of chatter with a grain of salt will be a good start. Then place a sort of mental seal over the thought forms, depriving them of their power. Eventually, the thoughts become less bristly, more luminous, and more benevolent."

    That little voice inside your head that's telling you "I can't do this" needs to give it a rest. Focus on calming those doubts and talk yourself up instead. (See: 7 Ways to Quit Being So Negative.)

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    Orient Yourself with Your Center

    "Perhaps you are feeling pulled in more than one direction in your life. Mindfulness can help center you before making any rash decisions. Find the still, calm part of yourself in your heart center. Stay with this silence as long as you are able. Repeat this practice at repeated intervals over several days."

    Having trouble centering yourself among daily stresses and inner doubts? Get your om on with the Best Yoga Moves for Meditation, or find your balance with these yoga poses.

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    Live in Line with Your Goals

    "The general haste of our lives, together with the lack of discipline and foresight entailed by such fraught activity, leads to confusion and error. We do not see the way to live because we are too busy keeping up with the treadmill of contemporary life. And yet we can use this busyness as an excuse for not doing what we know we should. In order to live better lives, we must slow down and pay closer attention to our actions and their consequences. We must learn to do things right the first time rather than having to complete a lot of rear-guard correctives."

    Slowing down for a second to make the best decision for your body and your mind can make all the difference. Strengthen your resolve with these tips.

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    Say No When You Need To

    "Narratives of success and self-help put a lot of pressure on the average middle-class person to be more and do more, to make a mark on the world, to get rich, to change things, to make a difference, to disrupt technology or the market. Some of these narratives are more harmful, others possibly benevolent, but they all encourage frantic activity. And behind all of this activity is supposed to be the innovator, the genius, the individual as brand. The flip side, the dark side of this hyper-optimism, is that the present moment gets trampled in the quest to do more and be more. No matter how much pressure we put on ourselves, or others put on us, we can always say no."

    You might feel pressure all around you to do more, run faster, lift heavier. But it's important to understand your limitations. If you think you might be overworking yourself, keep an eye on the signs of exercise addiction.

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    Lean Into the Moment

    "The most luxurious setting will not be satisfying or enjoyable if your mind is in a funk. In the same way, the most rundown lodgings will be perfectly bearable with the right frame of mind. We try so hard to rearrange the scenery, but that strategy doesn't work if the inner disposition rebels. Even when the external conditions are perfectly arranged, that perfection will not last in a changing universe. If we can learn the inner work, the inner alchemy, no circumstance will ever get in the way of peace. Without the inner work, no circumstantial change will make a difference. Even a small dose of mindfulness can make the difference between a good day and a bad day."

    Sometimes, attitude is everything. Letting go of your worries and being happy in the moment can change your workout experience, whether it's kickboxing or running.

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    Delve Into Your Messy Places

    "We tend to avoid the messy parts of our lives, but these messy places are exactly where the most growth can be found. The stack of unopened bills might hide the key to financial discipline. The friend you haven't called may have the word you need to hear. The overdue library books might hold an unwritten article or chapter. And yet we shy away from these messy places, partly out of simple laziness but also out of a fear of change. As much as we hate some aspects of our present realities, we hate the unknown even more. To go into those messy places is to risk having to do something about our complaints."

    That messy drawer you avoid dealing with month after month? Same goes for that lunge move you avoid trying, or the push-ups you don't bother to practice. Without getting at it and trying to improve it, you'll never see results. (Want to get actually messy? See Tips for Training for a Mud Run.)

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    Get Unstuck

    "A car stuck in the mud will spin its wheels when the driver presses the accelerator. If you have ever been in that situation, you know that the temptation is strong to keep stomping on the pedal, as though more of the same could free the tire. The more effective way to free the tire is to place sticks or rocks underneath the tire so that it can gain some traction. Then, by easing forward slowly, the car can get out of the mud. So it is with our own minds. We can spin our wheels in the mud of our own delusions, our own repetitive narration about the world. Only the introduction of new content, a new way of seeing things, can free our stuck minds from the loop of sameness."

    Hitting a plateau and don't know where to turn? Try this workout to bust through your lull, or kick-start your routine if you're stuck in a rut.

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    Stop Forcing Things

    "Our societies equate pacifism with weakness, gentleness with lack of resolve, and yet nothing could be further from the truth. This morning, think of some way in which you might be aggressively forcing a solution that just isn't working. What would it look like to take a step back, to let go? Wait and listen for a few minutes and see if a simpler way appears. Sometimes the courageous way demands doing nothing, or acting in more subtle ways, behind the scenes."

    Taking a recovery day or a break from training can sometimes help you push it to the next level. See these Post-Workout Recovery Habits to Make (and Break).

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    Working with Resistance

    "Look for the parts of your life that you do not wish to face. Make the effort to observe this resistance and its source. Make sure to be generous today with that uncomfortable situation. Give it more of your time and attention. You don't need to muscle through the problem, but you do need to face it directly. Pursue mindful, constructive action, and then let nature take its course."

    Sometimes a little resistance can make you that much stronger. Hit the gym with new motivation and tone up with the best resistance band exercises.

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    Don't Get Taken By Your Own Thoughts

    "A negative feedback loop exists between fraught internal dialogue, physical states of the body (particularly shallow breathing and rapid heart rate), and states of the brain (such as the production of stress hormones). To put it simply, thinking about a problem excessively only magnifies the perception of doom and gloom. The brain and body respond to every perceived threat as though it were a real threat: The body and mind believe what you tell them to believe. To slow down and eventually reverse this cycle, it is necessary to intervene mentally by moving out of a mode of frantic self-talk and into a mode of observation."

    We are all our own harshest critics. The trick is to not get in the way of ourselves. Use these 9 Motivation Rut Busters to get your head in the game.

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    Forget About Whether or Not It's Working

    "We can get into an anxious state of mind where we want to know if we will fulfill our goals in life. In spirituality, this is manifested as a desire to know whether or not the practice is working, and so we examine ourselves for signs of some sort of enlightenment…. The hard thing is to just do the practice and not worry about whether or not it is working, and to be fully immersed in life."

    Once you stop obsessing about it and start enjoying what you're doing, those goals will be that much easier to reach.