As I was walking my dogs this weekend, I was listening to Jon Kabat-Zinn on Dan Harris’ Ten Percent Happier podcast. If you don’t know who either of those men are or aren’t familiar with their work, I would recommend exploring both of them. 

This specific episode offered some advice on how to mindfully react to the recent events in Washington, DC and the political and social turmoil surrounding the 2020 election. During the conversation, Jon Kabat-Zinn used a metaphor that associated our minds with musical instruments and explored the idea of how mindfulness practices act as opportunities to tune our internal instruments in and out of harmony with the world around us.

I found myself lost in this metaphor and imagined an orchestra of growingly disharmonious instruments perpetually adding to the cacophony of noise in the world. I felt the pain of discordant musicians bombarding each other with their futile attempts of finding the tune. I felt hopelessness when I realized that there would never be that one conductor capable of bringing all the instruments back in line. 

I realized that no one is coming to save us.

As sad or dark as that may sound, it was also in that realization that I finally felt the impetus to stop, breath, and spend some time re-tuning my own instrument. I recognized that if no one is coming to save the orchestra and the plane is going down then I must put my own mask on; that I must find a way to breathe. I must find my own inner harmony, regardless of what’s happening outside in the world.

We all have an opportunity to take a time out and walk away from the world. But at some point, we must come back and when we do, if we are truly in tune with our own inner harmonies, then we might actually find ourselves playing in time with another, regardless of what instruments we are each playing. 

And if I could find that harmony with just one, perhaps two, maybe 100 other people, then perhaps we all have a chance of lessening the great discordance currently spreading amongst us. Perhaps, despite the absence of a conductor, we will be able to finally hear that one note, to recognize that one moment of harmony that will lead all of us back into peace.

I came back from my mindless wanderings recognizing the importance of Kabat-Zinn’s metaphor and realizing that I had an opportunity to operationalize these somewhat idealistic musings. 

I often associate my own mindfulness practice as something selfish, an entitlement. I often feel a sense of guilt for taking the time for myself. I categorize it as one more thing to get done. One more thing to schedule. To fit in. And when categorized as such, I find that it falls away at the expense of other more seemingly immediate tasks. But in reality, mindfulness is not selfish. It’s a critical, life saving chance to find your tune, your rhythm with the world. It is as important as breathing. And I challenge you to stop doing that for a few days. 

So if no one is coming to save us, and this is a critical task that will save our lives, then how do I start to make changes now?

Well, I have decided to start a very informal, a very unscientific, and a very free 4-week mindfulness project for anyone here on the creek, off the creek, and anywhere in between.

Each week, starting this Thursday, January 14th at 7:30pm, we will meet for 1 hour on a Zoom channel where I will introduce a weekly practice. Participants will then be asked to complete the practice once a day and log their experience via a google form. All submissions will be as anonymous as desired. If you would like to simply do it and not participate in any of the group work, so be it. If you would like to do it, log every experience, actively participate in the discussion, awesome. And if you find yourself ebbing and flowing somewhere in between, great. This is a full spectrum experience, open to anyone, anywhere, with whatever experience they may or may not have.

Three ground rules: be curious, be consistent, be courageous. 

I think we can all handle that.

If you are interested, go here for more information.

In addition to this mindfulness project, I am also asking for help to sponsor a more local, more specific community fitness project.

Led by our very own OG creek person, Drew Bower, we are helping to offer free Off-the-Creek workouts to local Annapolis youth athletes. To help them get started, we have assembled a “Starter Kit” that includes a backpack, some dumbbells, a jump rope, and a gift certificate to participate in this year’s CrossFit Games Open 2021. 

You can find a link here to donate a complete kit or to partially fund one.

Abraham Lincoln said,  “Give me six hours to chop down a tree and I will spend the first four sharpening the ax.” A musician spends hours tuning her instrument before she plays a single note. It’s time to get in tune with the best instrument we have – ourselves.

See you on the creek, in the box, and on the cushion.

-Coach Jack