When you come across a traffic light while you're driving it's pretty obvious what you should do.
Green means GO; red means STOP; yellow means "fuck it, let's go for it" (partially kidding).
Either way, as long as you're paying attention you can pretty reliably make it to where you wanna go.
But what would happen if you're not paying attention or you're unfamiliar with what the signs mean or you just blatantly disregard?
You guessed it -- you may not make it to where you're trying to go.
Believe it or not, your body-mind is constantly give you signs and signals as to how it's doing and what its needs are.
The challenge is that many of us have either stopped paying attention, are unfamiliar with what the signs means, or have chosen to blatantly disregard.
As you can imagine this leads to a lot of trouble and a lot of people not getting to where they're trying to go.
It's tough because these signs are often much subtler than our instrument of awareness has been tuned to pick up and register. An illness is often preceded by several days or weeks of mismanaged stress; cancer is often preceded by years of unexpressed guilt, resentment, and/or anger.
The beautiful thing is that when you grow your awareness and begin to learn the language of your body-mind, you'll be able to accommodate for your wants and needs while they're still whispers instead of loud screams. The intelligence has always been there. You just need to open yourself back up to it.
But if you've ever taken on any meaningful endeavor, you've likely come to the realization that sometimes you need to GO when everyone else is stopped and you need to STOP when everyone else is going.
As an athlete (or anyone pursuing a high level of performance in any realm), sometimes it's necessary to push yourself when you want to stop and to stop when you want to push yourself.
So how do you know the difference?
There's many different ways I can answer that question, and I will likely take a deeper dive on an upcoming podcast, but for now let me just share my direct experience:
There's a subtler language beyond the body-mind that is the voice of the heart/soul. This voice is not only concerned with your physical well-being; it's the voice guiding you to your highest potential on all levels of existence.
To me this voice often feels like a gentle, loving tug that's usually pulling me to places I've been afraid to go. But I've learned to listen because I've always come out a better man every time I've entered the caves I've been afraid of.
Because of this, I've been able to push myself harder and longer than I ever thought possible. At the same time I've been able to rest more deeply than ever before.
Life happens in complimentary opposites so always be mindful of both sides of the equation. Give yourself the space and the resources to push when it's time to GO -- even if that means you're sore, tired, and mentally and emotionally exhausted. Also, give yourself the space and resources to slow down and rest when it's time to STOP -- even if you feel like you can keep going.
Your heart/soul will guide you to where you need to be. And if you end up inviting the Pain Teacher, know that that too is part of the journey for you to grow your awareness to the ever subtler signs and signals of your body-mind-soul.