Stillness in movement and softness in strength.

“In the midst of movement and chaos, keep stillness inside of you.” – Deepak Chopra

Today is my first full rest day since starting this training journal. Beginning the day with relaxing yoga asanas reminds me just how good stillness feels and how the strain of intense training can pull me away from my peaceful centre…

Just last week in Fontainebleau, my friend’s bouldering mat was stolen from underneath ‘Le Toit’ while we were eating lunch in the shade of the trees a few metres away. I was so angry as I stomped around the boulders in the hope of finding Tom’s mat, but it was long gone and I came back to ‘Le  Toit’ with a storm raging inside me. I knew I would have to let the anger go but I was also curious to see if the emotion could be channelled into more powerful movement on the rock. I remained incensed for a while and had a few more attempts at the problem, feeling tense and always falling off way before the high point I was reaching consistently before lunch. Maybe I was just getting tired and needed to rest. Maybe not…

Cue letting go of the anger, breathing from my centre and following Tom’s admirable example of accepting his loss with complete grace. I was back into a relaxed breathing rhythm before my next attempt and focused on keeping this going to maintain flow through the moves – I was back at my high point and it felt easy, giving me the space to attempt the next move several more times. The skin on my right index finger eventually wore through, from the abrasion it was getting from the edge of the small pocket in the roof, but I was feeling really solid up to that point and an important lesson had been confirmed for me – a calm and peaceful approach leads to a more effective use of strength and power.

In his book ‘Moving Into Stillness’, Erich Schiffman writes:

“You imagine a spinning top. Stillness is like a perfectly centered top, spinning so fast it appears motionless. It appears this way not because it isn’t moving, but because it’s spinning at full speed. Stillness is not the absence or negation of energy, life, or movement. Stillness is dynamic. It is unconflicted movement, life in harmony with itself, skill in action. It can be experienced whenever there is total, uninhibited, unconflicted participation in the moment you are in – when you are wholeheartedly present with whatever you are doing.”

Trying to pull through the Cul de Chien roof with anger and frustration coursing through me was conflicting with my movement, taking me out of harmony with the rock and preventing me from accessing the intuitive skill that my body had acquired through practicing the moves. Letting go of the anger and frustration by focusing on my breathing brought me right back into the moment, with a wholehearted presence that enabled me to climb with freedom and fluidity. I wonder how applicable this might also be to the day-by-day training process…

“Practice and all is coming.” – Sri K. Pattabhi Jois

This is a beautiful piece of wisdom. There is no need to strain towards the outcome if simply being in the moment will bring me to the outcome anyway. Furthermore, being in the moment is likely to enable me to gain the most from every movement in every training session along the way. Having a deep awareness of my arms’ and shoulders’ alignment will help me to maximise the power they can produce and minimise the chance of injury. A deep awareness of my contact with the handholds will do the same for fingers and so on. Cue an additional point of focus for my next training session…

Training for strength whilst remaining soft inside and moving powerfully whilst keeping keeping stillness inside are likely to help me to build strength and power that can be used more effectively in a fluid and graceful manner.

The best bit of all… moving with fluidity and grace simply feels good. Every climbing movement can be a joy to experience, regardless of the outcome.

P1000244 - blog

Eva balanced in stillness on very tiny holds in Fontainebleau

Posted: May 24th, 2014 | Author: | Filed under: Uncategorized | No Comments »

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