Incrementally to the Depths 2

13 09 2008

I had the opportunity and privilege to train one-on-one with Scott in May. To train with Scott, you don’t come away with merely having had a workout or learning a few techniques to throw in your program. You come away having had a full on education and a myriad gems gained. He had assisted me with issues I was having with my back (which actually lead me to CST). I had made some great progress and could probably have started making some headway with the Kettlebells, but knew, truthfully, that I still needed to spend time with this one.

So I let the bells go completely for now and focused on continuing to “wipe the slate clean”. By fully letting go and committing to what I needed to do, I think it was the actual step thru the door which had been previously unlocked by Scott. And now I was meeting him on the other side of it. I-Caramba! It’s funny (only in retrospect;), because as I was driving down I was thinking what I wanted to go over and ask him about. One of those was “when you and the other coaches talk about “going deep into your practice”, what EXACTLY do you mean by that”? To clarify, I never even got to ask, but boy did I come out understanding.

We worked on a number of yoga poses for me to continue addressing the imbalances that caused my back problems. Very challenging, very effective, very safe and very hard work. As we were coming to a close, going over a final pose, Mike Locke, one of Scott’s CST Head Coaches came passing by. Scott asked Mike if he wouldn’t mind taking a look and adding any thoughts he might have. Well after a minute or so of throwing some idea’s back and forth, Mike identified an area and pose, the ½ Spinal Twist, that may help. Scott smiled, a devilish little smile, and said “that’s why he’s one of my Head Coaches”.

Into the half spinal twist I went, Mike looking on with focused precision, calling out the cues, Scott assisting me physically with the pose and attaining that deepening into the movement. Further and further we went. Further than I’d ever been before. The little “voices”, which tend not to be one of my battles, starting to yell out “STOP”! I asked when we should be stopping and Mike said “you tell us”. A part of me wanted to, but I noted that it was not because I was in pain (at no time did I feel any nor would I have allowed myself to go there). There was some distress, some discomfort, some tension, but no real reason to stop. Yet I was breathing high and fast, the little voices were going a mile minute, I was sweating and I found myself on the verge of tears. I can’t remember a time when, thru all the various physical training I’ve done and extremely high levels of intensity, that I felt honestly, humbly ready to be brought to tears.

Side Note: I want to make sure it is understood and clear that Scott and Mike conduct themselves with the utmost professionalism. They were coaching me thru this every step of the way, at no point pushing me into a place beyond what I was ready or willing to go to.

With their coaching, I brought the breath under control and relaxed, releasing this insane amount of tension bound up deep in my hip. After it was all over, I unwound slowly and lay there, trying to take in what had just happened. My entire concept, of practice and to what depths, if willing to do so, you can go, had just been deepened, evolved, even altered. All of a sudden the deep well of potential with where I could take my training, any training (including those Kettlebells), was blown wide open before me. And no amount of books or DVD’s, radio or podcast’s, youtube or internet could have shown me.

Depth is what I was looking for and depth is what I got (and will continue to get). Starting way back at the very start, one step at a time, incrementally, sequentially. We may think it’s slow, even a bit tedious and dull. Compared to the frenetic pace everything else around us moves, maybe yes. But in reality, it’s not in the least. Start off nice and slow and before you know it, you’ll find yourself speeding along the strong and powerful currents of life……and smack dab in the middle of a Sonnon/Locke jam session, which is far from dull!



Incrementally to the Depths

13 09 2008

Silhouette of Underwater Sea Turtle from BeneathI tend to have a voracious appetite for new learning and diverse, exciting experiences on a continually widening variety of interests. Now I’m not one to fly randomly from one to the next merely for a taste and, once having had a bite, moving on. Those who know me know I dive in with purpose, head first and with great vigor….from one….to another…..and another….. hhmnnn. Is that any better?

Yes, it’s a natural part of the exploration process as we learn more about ourselves, but it’s only a portion of the whole. We also need to take and spend time with these discoveries. If that time isn’t taken, then we’ll often miss the step required to move thru and past the surface and, in fact, never actually fully draw from them the true value they have to offer us.

To do so we need to slow up a bit, take it one step at a time. In this day and age, when everything is sped up, that’s easier said than done. I tended to progressed thru whatever I did rather quickly. But the eventual plateau would hit, having gone as far as I could taking leaps and bounds. Now, the only way to move further, move deeper, was to go back to the beginning and start filling in the holes, walking in the footsteps I’d skipped, to learn the keys skills or lessons that would unlock what lay beyond. However, the draw of the next new, exciting idea or interest (and the rush of making forward progress) was too great. I would move on before really taking the time to go back….and move on.

Knowing I needed to change that in order to go to greater depths, I’ve been working (for the last 5 years or so) on taking my steps sequentially. And with this last year’s effort in truly slowing down, not rushing and delving into only one area of interest (Kettlebell Lifting) for one complete year, I started to truly see and experience where moving incrementally takes you. It’s taken me on a route I could not have foreseen. It’s moved me so far “back” (and deep), that I’m not even lifting Kettlebells for my own training at the moment. The Kettlebells are no where near done, just on pause, because I have a step I need to take before revisiting them. A step that, I believe, will take me farther in my lifting (and many other activities of interest) than had I not found and taken it. A step, that brought me into a private training session last week with Scott Sonnon, creator of the Circular Strength Training System, and unlocked an understanding within me beyond anything I’d yet experienced in my exploration of physical culture and human performance.



Riding Giants

4 09 2008

I’ve gone surfing a few times over the last 6 years and each time I’ve felt like I could just spend the rest of my life riding waves. And after each time, upon leaving, the desire subsided. Until this last one a few months ago (and I’d only been in the water for a couple of hours). For whatever reason, this time it stuck.

Now I’ve never followed surf culture or was ever in the know with what was going on in the surf world. I knew 2 names: Kelly Slater and Laird Hamilton. And that was just from reading Outside and Men’s Health Magazines. So seeing as I went to bed dreaming about surfing every night, waking up to the smell of the ocean (inside my room, nowhere near the ocean), I decided to look a little more into surfing, just in general……..okay yes, to appease the surfing gods who called to me:0

As I started learning more, I found myself more and more drawn to what Laird Hamilton did and was about (namely Big Wave riding). I think we all have natural tendencies towards different aspects of physical endeavors. There are those who are drawn to short, fast, tricks and technical and then there are those who are drawn to big, far, sometimes still fast, more endurance like. I fall under the latter, hence the attraction to the big wave stuff. I have never seen big wave riding or really had any true comprehension of what it meant. Until one evening I decided to take a look. I went to the all knowing, all seeing Youtube and typed in Laird Hamilton. There was a clip entitled “Laird Hamilton: The greatest big wave surfer to have lived?” I clicked on it and was subsequently stunned into a state of shock. With each passing minute, my eyes got wider and my jaw dropped further. I must have sat there for 10 min afterwards, not moving. Over the next few days, I watched it a couple more times. Same thing happened.

I was so deeply affected and moved by it. After some time of sitting with it, I came to the understanding why. It wasn’t the big wave riding itself (although that in and of itself, blows my mind) but what big wave riding means. It is representative of the immensity of our capacity as human beings. The wave itself is the raw, powerful, limitless energy available to us in our daily life. Riding that wave is having the courage to face, accept and move WITH it. And the only way to do so and survive is to be centered, focused, calm and present to each second of the ride. Why does it take such courage? Because the bigger the wave, the bigger the wipeout (when it comes). So if the wipeout is so bad, why try? Because when you’ve tapped into your capacity to ride the giant, you’ve also tapped into your capacity to handle the crashes.

This is what big wave riding has come to mean to me. And in this year of needing to be challenged, of going to my “edge”, of joyfulness, of adventure, of not rushing it as I do so, of facing the “wave”, it was the perfect theme to match it.

I leave you with the clip. Watch it. Enjoy it. Draw inspiration from it. Go find your Giant………and Ride it!