Absorb what is…

Absorb what is useful, discard what is not, add what is uniquely your own. ~ Bruce Lee

Absorb what is useful, discard what is not, add what is uniquely your own. ~ Bruce Lee

This quote is absolutely amazing and as we all know Bruce Lee was not only the master of MMA but also a great philosopher. Last night I had a mini obsession with researching his quotes, video’s, and philosophy. I was amazed to find that Bruce Lee built his techniques and philosophy from many different disciplines, even fencing!

Bruce Lee’s philosophy and art has as much to do with fighting as it does with life, psychology, and for me, triathlon. I always say that the true nature of triathlon is being able to quickly assess, adjust, and efficiently execute  physical, mental, and emotional modifications  to race day, or training day, circumstances in order to achieve your peak performance in that moment. I say “in that moment” because what works now may not be what works later, and as Bruce Lee believed each situation may call for a different set of moves and options depending on the energy of the situation. The key is the have a repertoire of skills and the psychological flexibility to draw on them when needed. Life, and triathlon, is no different.  In my clinical work I take the same approach, increasing cognitive, emotional, and mental flexibility so that one feels more equipped/empowered to persevere in the face of challenge as well as appreciate the moments of peace. Increasing our mental strength is no different than building physical strength, it takes practice. Bruce Lee’s quote describes the essence of what I believe is where our true power lies. Having multiple options in each given moment so as we always are able to flow, “be like water”, and keep moving with least amount of resistance.

This morning was a distance workout in the long course (50 meter) pool. Coach Stu likened each mini-set in our master set to “climbing a mountain”, we had three mountains to climb (I only made it through two before I had to jump out).  At first I thought to myself “man I’m already tired this morning, hope I can keep up.” Then Bruce Lee’s statement “Empty your mind…Be water my friend” came to me and immediately reminded me to do what I can in each moment in each stroke. After all climbing a mountain takes time, patience, and endurance, and harder it gets means the closer you are to the peak:) In a previous workout, Coach Stu had also given me some things to work on in my stroke so I allowed myself to be mindful of that as well. So as I “climbed” I allowed the words “empty your mind, be like water, reach, breath, empty your mind, be like water, reach, breath” come in and out like waves in the ocean. When I jumped out the pool Coach Stu rushed toward me and said that my stroke looked great and that he was worried that when I got tired that my stroke would collapse but it didn’t! Small gains with great appreciation. I firmly believe that when we keep our minds effectively focused our bodies will know what to do in each performance situation-  today was a testimony to that:)

Published by

Dr. Gloria Petruzzelli

Dr. Petruzzelli is a clinical sport psychologist, triathlete, and certified mindfulness meditation teacher located in Sacramento, California. She works with elite athletes and sports teams across the country. She is a competitive athlete and enjoys practicing yoga, spending time with her family, and traveling.

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