Ok. Here we go. Got my chair. Got my headphones. It’s quiet. 10:00 on the clock…mindfulness you are going down…3-2-1…GOOOO!!!
My nose itches. My back hurts. I have to move my foot. What’s that sound? Is this working? Why can’t I stop thinking about the laundry? Did I just fall asleep? My back still hurts.
Ok, so I got that out of my system. Let’s try again…
Oh man, what the heck am I doing asking others to try something that I have not even come close to figuring out myself? Isn’t that the textbook definition of a fraud?
Well, to be honest, I do it every day in the gym so why would this mindfulness thing be any different?
Let me explain. I found CrossFit in 2006 and have been doing it with an almost religious sense of consistency since 2009. I’ve been coaching since 2011. And yet with almost 15 years of experience, I struggle with feeling like an imposter almost every single day.
Pull-ups are always hard. Thrusters always hurt. I seldom feel confident in coaching the olympic lifts. And don’t get me started with handstand walking or anything upside down.
Ironically, that’s what makes CrossFit so addicting – it isn’t about getting so good that it’s easy but rather letting go of wanting it to be easy.
In his wonderfully enjoyable examination of Eastern meditation philosophies, Trying Not to Try: The Art and Science of Spontaneity, Edward Slingerland explores this contradictory concept of trying not to try as a function of spontaneity and how embracing it might just be the best thing we could do for ourselves.
Taoist call it Wu-wei. Buddhists call it Upādāna. Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi called it a flow state.
In other words, stop trying so damn hard to try.
Your nose itches while you are sitting…ok. Your foot hurts…ok. You can’t stop thinking about the emails you need to respond to…RIGHT…NOW…ok.
Hold tight, shipmate.
All of those experiences are spontaneously presenting themselves in the moment and guess what, they will just as easily pass if you let them.
No, I am not wrong. Watch….
Don’t think of a pink elephant.
What did you do?
It’s ok. So did I. But guess what, I’m not thinking about it anymore because now I’m thinking about something else…
Sorry, that was mean.
Seriously, your brain is designed to think. It’s designed to be busy. To be moving at 1000 mph. All the time. Every day. And thank goodness because otherwise you’d be dead.
Sitting on a cushion, watching your breath come in and out, and pushing all of those thoughts away over and over and over without reacting…each…and…every…time…can feel like picking up a 1000lbs deadlift.
At some point, holding onto that emotional baggage will break something. But we are CrossFitters, damn-it! We get shit done. JUST. TRY. HARDER!!
Sure, keep holding on to that bar and make the lift…but is it worth it if you find yourself face first into a package of cookie dough or a rack of dumbbells?
Mindfulness, like CrossFit, offers us a wonderful opportunity to let go of the need to be perfect. Spoiler alert – there is no winning at meditation.
Shoot, we don’t even have to be good. We just have to show up. And you don’t need 60 minutes. 10 minutes will do. Once a day. Sit. Breath. Watch those thoughts come and go, and notice when you aren’t in the moment anymore.
It’s at that point that you have the opportunity to notice those thoughts for what they are – just some pink elephants dancing through your ridiculously busy and distracted mind.
So, take a seat, take a breath. Thoughts will come. Distractions will happen. Take another breath, wave those thoughts goodbye, and come back for another breath.
Don’t worry, once you think you’ve got it mastered, you’ll have a chance to practice again, in about 3 seconds, when the next thought shows up and distracts you.
See you on the Creek.