“Keep your core tight!” 

At the tail-end of a group aerobic workout, each of us are writhing in pain and bargaining with the devil for more energy or a higher pain tolerance.

“Keep your core tight!” barks the instructor.

Truthfully . . . I’m not sure what “keep your core tight” means.  I understand the academic definition, but when I’m a puddle of goo trying to hold the plank position for 30 more seconds, I have only a vague notion of what physical action I am trying to achieve.

What I do in the absence of certainty, is attempt a vague request of my torso muscles of my torso that live just below the surface to “engage” (Insert Start Trek joke here) Perhaps our core is the special operations force of our body – we need them, we ask for their help, we see results, but we are never really sure how they did it.

Nonetheless, I find an immediate, Zen-like result when I try to “keep my core tight!”  My stamina and confidence rise, my body relaxes, my breathing normalizes, and a second-wind blows.

It’s clear that my body doesn’t need precise instructions at all times, my body knows how to “tighten the core” even if I don’t – especially in times of pain and need.

I think the same principle applies outside of the gym.  We each have a unique set of core principles that our minds have embraced, whether we can rattle them off my name is irrelevant.  Our minds know them well even when if we don’t or “forget”.

The elements that are central to who I am, at my core, collaborate and then provide clarity and peace in situations that are otherwise untenable.   Over-stresed, over-worked, sleep deprived, and “on the ledge”?  Faced with a moral dilemma?    Instructing your mind, to “engage your core” . . . . will shine a light on a path that the figurative biceps of your mind could never uncover.

We know less about ourself than ourselves know about us – illogical, eery and true.


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