• MINDSET

    Patricia Moreno Awakens the Brain-Body Connection to Transform You

    By Robin Rootenberg

As she rose up the ranks to star status in the fitness industry, Patricia Moreno found herself trapped in a vicious cycle of body consciousness, resorting to extreme exercise and dieting to maintain her appearance. Her first encounter with aerobics left her euphoric, and she knew fitness was the career for her. But at the lowest point of her high profile, she found herself purchasing crystal meth as a diet aid. She thought, “Here I am, doing all these crazy things behind the scenes and preaching exercise and diet—and it’s not working for me.”

Moreno had grown up in the middle of the nation’s dieting obsession, made personal by her mother’s concern about her weight and years of dieting and doctors. Recognizing at rock bottom that there must be millions of people suffering just like her and thinking it was their fault, Moreno realized she wanted to find a way to help people “train the body as a vehicle, not just an ornament.”

An epiphany while marching on the beach at a Tony Robbins event led her to create the intenSati Method, the first program to combine positive affirmations with physical training—and the concept of spiritual fitness. Moreno says it is crucial to consider the power of the mind, heart and spirit in our workouts because “the body is going to change shape over our lifetime and our relationship to it really needs to evolve, as well.”

Thousands of instructors have trained with Moreno to learn and teach intenSati, and her revolutionary approach has elevated her to the realm of internationally renowned fitness and wellness expert, earning acclaim from celebrities and media attention from O, The Oprah Magazine; Vogue; Shape; Well + Good; the “Today” show; and “Good Morning America.”

Moving to embody a mindset

The intenSati method (“in ten SAH tee” from “intention” and “sati,” which means mindfulness) may look like kickboxing meets a dance class, but it sounds very different, as it combines spoken affirmations with movement. The program not only awakens positive states of being but also, over time, embodies them—literally, by changing the brain. Research shows the formation of new neural pathways is reinforced through movement, and Moreno’s approach aims to rewire us.

By way of example, Moreno says she was telling herself, “I’m so fat. I have to work out. I am not good enough. I have to become better.” Her identity was, “I’m not enough.” She says, “No matter how much I worked out, no matter how many diets I went on, no matter how much success I achieved, I didn’t change my identity.”

That’s where intenSati changes things. “IntenSati activates states of courage, acceptance or gratitude on purpose by moving our body and speaking and creating a mind-body connection that awakens a certain feeling,” she explains. Over time, that state is internalized: “If you do it repeatedly, those pathways will be reinforced and that state will become a personality trait. I can change my brain to become the map of the person I want to be.”

The first participants cried

A popular instructor whose classes were always packed, Moreno nonetheless was greeted with silence in response to the affirmations. It was a painful experience, and she argued with herself before every class: “You don’t have to do this.” Yet she was compelled to see whether the method worked. Attendance was steady, and participants clearly liked the workout. So Moreno told them they could take any other class she taught, but if they chose this one, the only way she—and they—would find out whether her technique worked was if they followed the class as designed and decided afterward.

Moreno says the participants followed her instruction, and many cried. “It’s common for people to cry,” she says, “and how I interpret that is that there’s a moment where we just stop picking ourselves apart and pause the constant comparison, the constant noise. The freedom that we experience from that can be overwhelming.”

She observes that participants also sometimes say—and believe—that they can’t repeat the affirmations because they are not true statements about themselves. “I am enough” can feel like a lie. Moreno counters that it’s just evidence that they’ve been telling themselves the opposite (“I’m not enough”). Now, Moreno says, “You have a chance to choose.”

“Feeling like it” is optional

Not only do we have a chance to choose, but Moreno says feeling like it does not have to be a prerequisite to action. “If I’m about to go to the gym and I really don’t feel like it, it’s because I’m rehearsing in my mind feeling tired, I’m imagining dragging myself,” she explains.

In fact, Moreno recommends just setting aside the idea of feeling like it because it’s not a given. Instead, she suggests reframing the feeling. “What if I imagine a different part of [going to the gym]? What if I imagine being done? Walking back home?”

To be clear, intenSati is more than a method to transform our deep-seated relationship to our bodies or to food; it changes minds. Want to be kinder, more appreciative, loving, creative or caring? There is a reason that the tag line for the intenSati Method is “Exercise your power.” The technique helps rewire habits and hard-wires brains and bodies for qualities that we usually assume must be in our nature.

Moreno captured the principles of intenSati in her book “The intenSati Method: The Seven Secret Principles to Thinner Peace” (Gallery Books, 2010). Now, to help people integrate the practice of activating states into daily routines, Moreno has launched Sati365. The 12-month program includes a daily morning practice to embody affirmations, a library of workouts and a challenge, and daily evening meditation. “It literally has the power to help you change your personality,” she says. “To become more kind, more awake, more self-caring, more self-loving.” In other words, to “feel like it” more of the time.

Try Patricia Moreno’s Loving Kindness meditation as a first step toward your practice. It’s a brief meditation that Moreno created to open your heart and allow you to face the day from a place of love, not fear. Download it for free at patriciamoreno.com/love.

Photo credit: Mark Kuroda, kurodastudios.com
Hair and make-up: Ava Roston

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Author

Robin Rootenberg

Robin Rootenberg is managing editor for 24Life and 24Life TV. Nothing makes her happier than the possibility of one more person rediscovering the joy of movement, or trying something new. (Remember what it felt like to just run when you were a kid? Or the surprise of your first kumquat?) A UC Berkeley grad, her writing and communications career spans more than two decades, and she’s been running for even longer.

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