We are obsessed with “doing”.
Life as a series of check boxes waiting to be ticked off. Another item on the to do list…done.
An accumulation of events at the expense of the experience. Like people who spend their travels looking at the world through the lens of a camera, never completely engaged in the journey itself. Life as a series of photo opportunities. Have you ever looked at a photograph and been unable to remember the event itself? Chances are you weren’t really present, you were too busy recording the show to enjoy the performance.
Some time ago I realised my reliance on GPS to get from A to B had left me without any real bearings when things go wrong. Losing signal whilst driving I found I had left everything in the hands technology and I had no reference point from which to find my way. Worse still, having the GPS didn’t free me up to take in the surroundings, it simply let me go on to autopilot.
We need to see with terrain. We need to recognise the landmarks, the signs, the smells, the sounds. Anything less and we are simply passengers, dozing as the world passes by.
If you are concerned that we are heading down some esoteric rabbit hole here, consider this -
“Before I learned martial arts, a punch was just a punch and a kick was just a kick. When I studied martial arts, a punch was no longer just a punch and a kick was no longer just a kick. Now I understand martial arts, and a punch is just a punch and a kick is just a kick.” – Bruce Lee
Faced with a new challenge we are often inclined to defer to the GPS. We want things mapped out so we can follow the numbers, join the dots. And this is where we so often get stuck. If the item doesn’t match the glossy picture we want our money back.
To perform in the most authentic sense requires imagination and spontaneity. We don’t get there over night. We develop, we grow, we adapt, we progress. There are no “natural” athletes out there. Yes, some people can play to their attributes but all of us can develop our skills. Those skills are ours, we own them if we understand the practice involved.
Mindless repetition is not the answer. We must embody the practice and absorb the skills. If we simply do, we offer no room for progress. More is not better, it is simply more. Better is better.We have to be the movement. When we master climbing the tree, going out on a limb is not so threatening.
Each time we move is an opportunity to explore our ability. How does it feel when you are tired, when you relax, when you slow everything down, when you breath deeply, when you focus on the air you move through, the ground below? A personal best need not consist of more, more weight, more distance, more height, more speed. If we are to perform with grace under pressure it comes from a deep rooted confidence in our ability to adapt to our environment. The GPS simply switches off all our sensory input, makes us deaf, dumb and blind to our environment until it’s too late, we are lost.
Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi tells us, “Anyone who has experienced flow knows that the deep enjoyment it provides requires an equal degree of disciplined concentration.” (Flow: The Psychology of Optimal Experience)
He goes on to say ““Control of consciousness determines the quality of life.” It goes without saying that control of consciousness determines the quality of movement.
So you can approach movement as simply another shape, another rep, another drill or you can allow yourself to be immersed in it. Without labouring the point, “Don’t think, feeeeeeeeeeeeeeel”. Be movement my friend…