I hate to exercise. The post-workout endorphin push which brings feelings of wellbeing to many exercisers seems to be ineffective, weak or lacking in me. No sense of invigoration or exhilaration to pick me up—more like a truck just ran me down. It has always been that way. But there may be some hope for people like us.
Roxanne Louise gave a wonderful seminar at the 2012 National Guild of Hypnotists Convention entitled “Jingles, Rap and Walking Mantras—Fun, Autosuggestions for Everyone” There we learned some of her creative techniques for pairing repetitive physical movement and sound—which have a self-hypnotic effect—with delivery of autosuggestions.
We spontaneously put ourselves into temporary self-hypnotic states throughout the day. There are many ways for this to happen, but let’s consider just these two:
Repetitive sound patterns—musicians know all too well the hypnotic effects of playing long ostinato passages. The repetitive body movements during the performance tend to increase the hypnotic effect. It takes extra conscious effort to stay on top of things to avoid getting lost on the page while playing. Anyone who has participated in a drum circle knows how immersed they can become after minutes of drumming. Or perhaps you have experienced the slow methodical pounding of a piece of heavy construction machinery outside of your office which starts to have a synchronizing effect on you—entraining you to its rhythm. Do you have a childhood recollection involving jumping rope or bamboo stick dancing?
Repetitive sound patterns can be found in any exercise activity. Running has the sound of feet landing on the pavement, as does walking. Weight training has the mechanical sounds of the machine being used, or the clanking of free weights.
The next time you exercise listen for the periodic sounds that your repetitive movements make and focus on them. Those sounds can come from your own body or any apparatus you are using.
Repetitive movement—dancers know this and may have experienced the hypnotic effects of performing dance patterns over and over; think tap dance time steps, as an example. Of course, this may be enhanced by the repetitive sound patterns and rhythms of the music to which they synchronize their dancing. If you have ever juggled, then you know how absorbing it can be while performing a simple cascade or shower pattern. The repetitive hand and arm movements coupled with the visual elements of brightly colored balls circling through your field of vision can be very hypnotic indeed.
Many forms of exercise incorporate repetitive movements over significant time periods—say, tens of minutes or more—and can become self-hypnotic. For example, running, power walking, high-rep weight training, cycling, and rowing all have repetitious motions involving the arms, legs and torso.
Since exercise has repetitive elements which can lead us into a hypnotic state then we might as well put it to good work by directing and occupying our minds with useful autosuggestions while we exercise rather than watching television or listening to the radio during that heightened state of awareness.
To get you started thinking about ways to incorporate rhythmical autosuggestions into your exercise routine here are some examples of things from my health program.
Cycling—My favorite cycling routes have a number of challenging hill climbs along the way. Short mantras help me to take my mind off the hill and focus on the things which enable me to get to the top. While pedaling up the hill I say to myself “Smooth, power, stamina. Now I climb this hill. Yes!” This is said rhythmically, in time with the motion of my legs while pedaling, and with emotional determination.
By fully occupying my mind with this mantra over and over I completely lose track of the difficulty of the hill climb. Upon reaching the top I always reward myself by saying something like “Thank you for the help” or “What a perfect beautiful view from the top”. The reward is important. Always give yourself a meaningful reward even if it is just an extra gulp of water for which you are grateful.
This is the method I use while digging in to power up a hill. The mantra could be recited silently, but saying it out loud feels more powerful. External verbalization provides additional repetitive sound patterns in the form of words and vocal inflection. Perhaps it’s the lip movement and the fact that my ears actually hear the words being said which makes it more powerful.
[Left Pedal] “smooth”
[Right Pedal] “power”
[LP] “Now I..”
[RP] “climb this…”
This is repeated this over and over, timing my words to the exertion of pedaling, until the hilltop is reached.
These words were purposely chosen to maintain a “smooth” motion to keep the bike straight and steady; to rally my body to provide the “power” (rather than strength, which is different) to maintain an adequate pace; and to have the “stamina” to persevere during the entire hill climb. “Now I climb this hill” is an affirmation which gives purpose to the preceding autosuggestions and brings mental focus into the now of the hill climb. “Yes!” is a positive reaffirming exclamation point on the whole process—that I am in total agreement with myself and that progress is happening.
Sometimes “power” gets replaced with “steady”:
Notice that these mantras are in 4 or 8 beat phrases much like a bar of music, and brief and to the point. A simple notion repeated over and over works better for me than long or elaborate phrases, although Roxanne Louise demonstrated exquisite examples of entire songs and raps. But it’s jump to the chorus and catch phrase for me.
After a while these phrases become second nature and you may find yourself spontaneously breaking out in a mantra while biking or exercising and using words that suit the condition you need to pull yourself through the moment.
There may not be a perceptible effect the first couple of times you do this. But stick with it. Your physical and mental response will grow more noticeable over time.
From the I Ching comes one of my favorite sayings: “Perseverance furthers.” I have a tendency to also use this one if I am challenged while biking. In a 4 beat fashion:
Or when I am really bogged down I switch to an 8 beat version:
There are lots of ways to break up syllables and stretch or compress words to fit any activity. Play around and just have fun with it. By the way, you can start a bike mantra with whichever pedal you are most comfortable.
Treadmill—Actually a Nordic Track machine. The following suggestions are repeated several times at the beginning of my exercise routine while warming up to prime myself for what I expect to accomplish: There is a part of me that wants to exercise and I give my body to that part now. For the next half hour that part of me will exercise my body while the other part of me which dislikes exercise gets to play by offering up some creative ideas for my blog. (You may have already guessed it. This blog was a result of a half hour on the Nordic Track.)
Once settled on a pace my focus is directed for a few moments on the mechanical sounds of the machine as my arms and legs move. This serves to also prime me, this time with repetitive sounds. Then I begin saying, in no particular order, rhythmical autosuggestions such as:
I feel fine
I’m doing well
I feel positive energy
I exercise for my own good health
I exercise for my own good body
I exercise for my own good mind
I feel exercise improving my body
Time goes by so quickly when I exercise
Blog ideas come to me easily as I exercise today
This time is perfect for creating blog ideas
I have fun thinking up new blog topics right now
Notice that blog topic ideas are the target of this mantra. Remember one of the rules of good autosuggestion: Be specific.
This mantra is repeated over and over until my mind achieves an adequate state of self-hypnosis. When is that? The moment my mind begins wandering from the mantra. But if my mind wanders in an unwanted direction then I gently return to the mantra until my attention goes in the intended direction—new blog ideas. Occasionally I finish exercising before that happens. But later in the day an idea usually emerges.
You can extend this idea of using body rhythm to deliver self-hypnotic suggestions to include positive and uplifting affirmations, visualization, direct suggestions—almost any self-hypnotic method you like.
Now go out and put Roxanne Louise’s methods to work for yourself!