Why do we feel good after training?
It’s beyond just pheromones in my opinion.
In your respective Martial Art school, everyone knows your name. Your teacher knows who you are, you and your classmates bow to each other and show love. But the familiarity is beyond a sense of politeness. It comes from one of closeness. Being a contact activity, wether you are grappling with each other, sparring or holding pads for one another, your experience of each other comes from dimensions beyond decorum.
This matters because our perceptions and bonds with one another are typically shallow and brittle. It is usually out of professional decorum, or political maneuvering. This is a very disconnected way to relate to one another. Because in that frequency, we see each other as resources (to sell, amass, or leverage) and less as humans.
Martial Art training allows us to see one another for the qualities that make us human through physical activity: Effort, dedication, diligence, discipline, affinity. The list goes on and on.
These are the qualities that martial art gives us the opportunity to be known for. And when we are acknowledge under such terms, our existence begins to mean something.
You lose the Mask.
In my experience, the one's who come to martial art with massive ego's (false perceptions of martial art that only feed as a synthetic form of self -confidence) either a) quit the moment things get difficult or b) experience a rude awakening and change their ways.
This typically happens in moments of fatigue. The one who holds an overestimated view of themselves begins to experience a dissonance; extreme fatigue brings the sensation of physical weakness--a sensation that contradicts the story they have been subscribed to for so long. And in this moment, a fundamental choice occurs:
Do I uphold my self belief and quit training because it contradicts what I believed to be true about myself?
Do I quit a fictional view of me, and work to create a factual image of me?
Those who stay, end up choosing the latter. Not a denial or rejection of the past, but simply an acceptance of a new self view. This is tantamount to a reset. And I think that's what a lot of us are simply seeking: A chance to start over and be a new person.
You are free.
Letting go of psychological barriers such as the ones listed above allows for an unimpeded form of commitment. Honest physical training with no pretense makes commitment to hard physical training easier. Easier in the sense that we have surrendered to the responsibilities and accept wholeheartedly.
We all want great things. Wanting is easy. What makes it difficult to accomplish great things is that though we are ready to want, we are not always ready to be responsible for what is entailed. When we drop the mask, and unrealistic expectations, it is easy to be a beginner and accept where we are with no pretence. And when that happens, we tend to train with a freer mind and open heart. I also think, this feeling of committing to something worthy with that sense of openness is what we seek, not necessarily the reward.
Because this is how we were as kids. We committed freely and held nothing back with no expectation of compensation. We just played, for the pleasure in and of itself.
Growth. We’re always looking for personal growth. But growth sometimes is too difficult to measure, when the growth is intangible. Especially when the growth metrics are dictated by other factors (money, wealth, position). Though there is nothing morally wrong about wanting more money and influence; what disconcerts us is when the paths of our growth is dictated by voices other than our own. And when we get so used to finding leadership in other peoples voices, we don't even know how what the voice of our own leadership sounds like.
Martial Art is a great place to begin rehabilitate that voice. It's easiest to start physically because it's tangible, and progress is easily seen and unarguable. This feels good. It feels good, because we are driving our own results and driving it in our own direction. Whether you are in martial art for a reason, a season or a lifetime, the length of time doesn't matter. What matters is that you are deciding why you are here and no one else. That in and of itself is the improvement.
My teacher always said, "the more energy you put in training the more energy you get back. Not like jobs. More energy you put in your job the less you have." This always rang true for me. When we spend too much time and energy doing things for others, and their associated agendas and timelines we get burnt out. Why? Because we are working for someone else benefit and rarely reap any rewards for ourselves. This can be very tiring. But in training, you profit from the entire experience wholly. Every ounce of energy you put into training all comes back to you. You do 20 pushups, you get 20 pushups benefit. You do 10, you get 10.
Never think that you are to stressed to train. All that is energy. In fact, it is fertilizer. How many times have we said to ourselves, 'I wish I could hit something!' Another way of saying that is 'I need to release negativity into something '. In Martial Art, that is how negative energy seen--not negative or positive, just energy seeking to be refined into something useful.
And what do you think the result of recycling undefined erratic energy into something that results in a stronger physique and useful technique?
You are present.
Ultimately, everything above are simply the experiences of what happens when we are present. When we are completely present and committed to the activity at hand, we do not have our energy diverted to stresses of the past (wether it be 10 minutes ago or 10 days ago) or anxieties of the future (wether it be 10 minutes from now or 10 days from now) we are most free when we are present and make the most out of what exists in that very moment. These are the things that Martial Art allows us to experience, and re-experience. That all the success, ambition and perceptions we wish, occur at the very moment we reside in. And when we do that, the resulting experience is not 'happiness.'
It is peace.
Peace, allows for happiness.