By Danny Lazzeri
Danny is a 25 year old olympic weightlifter and competitive crossfitter from Phoenix, Arizona. His journey into the world of weightlifting is as much spiritual and intellectual as it is physical. Combining elements of philosophy, theoretical science and his own life experiences into his understanding of the sport of weightlifting, he expresses his love of the sport from a very unique perspective. Read full bio…
As any Olympic weightlifter understands, there is a delicate balance between physical and mental preparation for the sport. Even the most physically gifted require a certain mental ‘edge’ due to the inherent speed and focus needed to excel in training and competition.
Now, positive mental imaging and meditation are nothing new and athletes in various disciplines have been using these methods to enhance their performances for as long as anyone cares to remember. I’m sure there is not a professional athlete out there who has not visualized their success prior to actually attaining it. From personal experience in the arena of weightlifting, I know most lifters visualize successful lifts over and over again in their heads previous to stepping foot on the platform. From start to finish, they mentally dial in on position and bar path in an attempt to replicate perfect technique and power in real life. But, what if there is no barbell? Ridiculous I know, because you can see it, touch it, feel the weight of the loaded plates. But take a trip with me real quick into the world of sci-fi. The perfect scene that comes to mind (and thus the inspiration for this article) is the scene in the Matrix where the young psychic child dictates to Neo:
Spoon boy: Do not try and bend the spoon. That’s impossible. Instead… only try to realize the truth.
Neo: What truth?
Spoon boy: There is no spoon.
Neo: There is no spoon?
Spoon boy: Then you’ll see, that it is not the spoon that bends, it is only yourself.
Of course this is only fantasy right? Maybe not. Some of the basic tenants of quantum physics seem to point to the realization that what we consider to be objective measures might simply be the construction of our own mind.
Without boring you with the hundreds of double slit experiments and peer-reviewed papers on the subject, let’s suffice it to say that there is a general agreement in the field on one seemingly simple fact: a photon behaves differently when observed by human measures than when it is not. When not observed by our measures, a photon does not exist in what we consider a concrete place but only a probability cloud of almost endless possibilities. Let me reiterate: the basic units of matter only exist in a real physical context when the human brain observes them. In the same manner, if a tree falls in a forest devoid of conscious observers there is no sound because sound itself requires the presence of an observer to exist. Sound, light, weight, color and possibly even space and time themselves are simply constructions of human consciousness and a way for our brains to process the information it PERCEIVES (not necessarily what actually exists).
So that barbell you are about to lift, that one loaded up with what seems to be an insurmountable personal record? That barbell likely only exists with a set of measurable parameters insofar as your consciousness is able to perceive it. Why is this important? We still have to function with the parameters of our own consciousness right? Maybe not.
Maybe perception really is the only reality and if we can change the way we think, no matter how minute, we can have a real impact on the world in which we live. Just like the psychic child in the Matrix, we cannot bend the spoon, but what if we can bend ourselves? Bend our own perception of what is heavy or what is possible to lift? For many of you this might just seem like philosophical nonsense that has no bearing on your performance. But I will tell you, the confidence I have stepping on to that platform has increased dramatically once I realized that no amount of weight is a barrier to success, I am the only barrier to my own ability. It’s time to break down those mental walls that restrict your perception of reality and start achieving the unimaginable. At a very minimum, it is a truly fascinating concept.