I saw an interview with chess Grandmaster Maurice Ashley recently where he talked about how he and all the top chess players work out three to four times a day to stay in shape for the game—the chess game. I always thought a chess player would be constantly in his head, working on strategy and keeping his mind sharp. But Maurice explains that to sit through a match for hours, being in physical shape gives you much needed stamina and the ability to focus.
A few days ago I was walking down the street and tripped on an uneven part of the sidewalk. For a split second I questioned whether I’d be able to just stumble and right myself, but that hope was dashed as I sailed through the air (that’s what it felt like) and slammed to the ground on my right knee and arm. (I don’t fall a lot, but when I do, it’s spectacular.)
I’m ok, just a little scratched up, but I had to stop and think…what was going on with me in that moment?? Turns out I was thinking about a cool visualization I’d learned a few years ago. I couldn’t have been more in my head and less in my body in that moment. And really, what better time to be in your body than when you’re walking outside in the sun?
All my life I’ve been in my head more than my body—analyzing experiences from the past, coming up with what ifs about the future. None of this keeps you in the present, which is the healthiest place to be. When our bodies are nourished and are feeling good, so much the better—we can really reap the benefits of being grounded.
When I rode the horse Mr. Big for the first time in a workshop in Costa Rica, my foot came out of the stirrup and I couldn’t get it back in. I began to panic, thinking of all the things that could go wrong on this rocky trail ride. As I mentally and energetically spun out of control, Mr. Big began to act accordingly, diverting off the trail and moving in erratic directions. He never put me in danger—he simply gave me a much needed message: Come back to earth, where we can work together and enjoy the ride.
One day in my old apartment, I panicked when it looked like there would be a nasty leak in my bathroom at any minute. As I paced around trying to get ahold of my super on the phone, our cat Faro started grabbing and nipping at my ankles. His message was, please come back down into your body—nothing gets accomplished when we’re out of balance.
Animals are always naturally in their body and they’re sensitive and wise to when things go out of balance around them. Chess champions are using the same tactic—start in the body, stay centered and focused, and then you’ll totally rock at that thing you love.
And that’s the way to win at life body and soul. (Check. ✅)