Is Meditation an important key to climbing success?
Is Meditation an important key to climbing success?
So what's the difference? I decided in the end that it had nothing to do with the 3" height difference or co-ordinating harness and belay device. The big difference is that I practice meditation and Qigong daily.
I think most climbers, in fact most sports people will recognise "The Zone" that they get into when doing their activity. Those moments that come with some of the greatest achievements, when you just hit it right, mind is clear and focussed and the flow is perfect.
That's not luck by the way, that state can be trained, and not just when you are engaging in your activity, which from here in will be climbing, but this could apply to any sport.
First of all, let's get you out of the 70's a bit and dispel some fear around the idea that you're going to end up looking like some sort of hippie. That's just a choice about how you behave, you don't need to end up like this, you're not going to end up with mystical powers, you don't have to become vegan to attain enlightenment. You don't need to be anything that you aren't already. We are just going to learn how to train the mind to different capacities. Nothing more than learning new software or how a new gadget works really.
The Integral Approach - Integral Life Practice
Since 2011 I have been using an integral approach to my life, my training and how I think. When I started back to climbing again just over18 months ago, the integral framework was part of what I use to help me.
Some of the basic components of integral theory include the Quadrants;
The interior individual which gives us the experience we have in any situation. This is what we will mainly be looking at, but needless to say this is how our state of mind affects our experience in any moment.
The exterior individual in the upper right is our body as a physical object and its behaviour, representing our training, diet, how we use this amazing meat sack to haul our minds up walls.
The interior collective, lower left, is our culture. Which in climbing could be seen as your preference for Trad or Sport or Bouldering, indoor or outdoor. Each of those 'cultures' (and we're not talking yakult here) has their own rules, standards and ethics which govern the mind and behaviour of the group members, whether they realise it our not.
The exterior collective is the actual physical environment we enter into for our climbing; mountain crag, sea cliff, boulder, gym, climbing wall etc. The physical conditions of the environment affect the mindset, behaviour and ethical rules we play by and that all has an effect on how we climb.
Nothing surprising about all of that, I'm sure you recognise it.
With Integral Theory we also recognise states of consciousness. We all have access to the 3 main states, waking, dreaming and deep sleep. In meditation these states become accessible all the time from waking or being awake. So that our mind has the visionary capacity from our dreaming or Subtle state and the no-mind, dreamless causal state from deep sleep; but while I'm awake.
My meditation practice definitely allows me to be in a space inside my mind that is calm, peaceful, stable and relaxed. What in Qigong we call Song (sung) a state of relaxing and releasing. Which means that my heart rate and breathing are easier to control, my emotions and especially my fear and performance anxiety are easier to maintain on an even keel and I'm able to retain a fuller cognitive capacity while under pressure (as flight or flight from fear will limit your ability to think rationally, reasonably, logically).
Does that mean that I'm going to be levitating myself up the rocks like Luke Skywalker or coming out with things like 'The truth is there is no Spoon (or rock)'. Nope sorry that's just not how it is.
But what it can do if you are willing to practice and let this part of you develop and grow. It will serve you in more areas of your life than I want to write about right now. But you can find a great break down here 10-reasons-why-every-rock-climber-should-meditate.
I'm not trying to teach you how to meditate here, but just how those characters at the wall who climb with beautiful flow and poise, have something that you are missing right now. And it is not some mystical elixir of genetics or upbringing. These heros and heroines of climbing are in a state that we can all develop given the right time/space/conditions. These are things you can create with just a little time every day. It doesn't have to cut into any other activity you have, it fits as part of any activity you do. In addition it can be a beautiful start and a peaceful end to any day, making each and every day something easier to be in, happier, with greater flow.
It can also be something that contributes massively towards healing and repair of the body, some of which you can understand through this interesting article by Spiral Praxis .
Because from an Integral point of view you can never experience less than the 4 Quadrants above in any one moment. Which means that your state of mind is 25% of your success in climbing. This is a big percentage to improve on. But even more it has an impact on your body and behaviour in a massive way. So with the simple inclusion of a basic meditation practice, you could develop your climbing to the next level or the next 3-4 grades. Not just in a halting, forced, occasional success. But consistent, steady, healthy behaviour, that will keep you more aware and reduce the likelihood of accidental unconscious behaviour that could lead to injury.
So go enjoy this most amazing of practices and how it can add so much to your climbing and life in general. I'd love to hear your comments and experiences below. This is just my experience and my idea, that I hope you get some benefit from this life changing practice.
And if you do feel that you need any "meditation tools" you can take a look at a range here https://relaxlikeaboss.com/best-meditation-gifts/
Climb well, climb healthy, climb safely