Years ago, shortly after my injury, I saw an episode of NYPD Blue where the police were questioning a former drug dealer who was confined to a wheelchair as the result of a drive-by shooting. They were threatening to put him in jail and he told the officers you can lock up my body but you can’t imprison my mind. I realized the relevancy of that statement to my situation. If we choose to accept that premise, then we empower ourselves to use the freedom that exists in our minds. I was involved in the martial arts for a number of years prior to my injury. The Grandmaster of the association used to say Karate was 90% mental and only 10% physical. There was a great deal of emphasis on the mind-body connection. It seems for some reason Western Civilization separates the mental and physical aspects of an individual. Eastern Cultures seem much more aware of the total being and much more inclined to deal with a person in a holistic way.
More professionals in this country are beginning to utilize Eastern techniques such as meditation, acupuncture and yoga in a holistic approach to better heath. Many Olympic caliber athletes are including imaging, also know as visualization, as part of their training. Thomas W. Morris, a motivational coach and president of Washington, D.C. based Morris Associates (www.morrisdc.com) writes in FOCUS “Visualize success. Want to achieve a certain goal? Take time to visualize yourself reaching that goal.” Why would we believe only athletes can benefit from these techniques?
Brian Mac is a Level 4 Performance Coach and Coach Tutor/Assessor with UK Athletics, the United Kingdom’s National Governing body for Track and Field Athletics. Brian writes on his website “They (the participants) should see themselves enjoying the activity and feeling satisfied with their performance. They should attempt to enter fully into the image with all their senses. Sight, hear, feel, touch, smell and perform, as they would like to perform in real life.” www.brianmac.co.uk/
You can use your mind to help you enjoy yourself. Oden Black’s latest steamy Blog on ThisAbled.com is a perfect example of this idea. If there are activities that you once enjoyed that you are unable to participate in now, try revisiting them again with mental imaging. While this may seem a little offbeat in the beginning, remember practice makes perfect. You can use your mind to free yourself of the constraints placed on you by your disability. To change a very common phrase just a little bit, “Your mind will set you free”. One imaging activity I enjoy is to put on my poncho and sit outside in the rain with my eyes closed. The sound of the raindrops on the nylon almost immediately takes me back to my wilderness trips when the rain would confine me to my tent or to waking in the middle of the night to the sound of the rain on my tent. Nestled in a warm sleeping bag, or in this case my poncho, listening to the rain brings on a feeling of serenity and that all is right in the world. I am treated to a “memory flood” of some of the best times of my life.