Viewing entries tagged
mindfulness

Giving up versus giving in

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In endurance sports there is often an unspoken but powerful aversion to vulnerability. Becoming vulnerable means feeling the pain to which you subject yourself; witnessing your own fallibility, lack of preparedness, or even (most terrifying of all) your own power. Athletes often bristle when I talk with them about beginning a dialogue with the parts of them that suffer on long runs or climbs.

And still: becoming soft is vital to realizing your strength. I'll give you an example.

In training for the Wonderland Trail in 2012 I ran a solo fifty miler on the Northside Loop starting at sundown to preview the work in store for me on the real run. It was hot: 85F all night even at 7000' and I sweated quickly through my shirt. Even though I was used to running alone in the dark five mornings a week, the immensity and gravitas of the committing route I'd chosen resonated inside me as fear and with each snap of a twig underfoot I tightened. An owl alighted from a fir bough nearly causing me to throw up in surprise at the dark unknown unpopulated with other humans and stretching into blackness for miles in each direction. At some point, though, I relaxed into the sensation of being followed and yet alone, hooting every minute or so and finding my feathered companion trailed me for a good hour. 

Then, around 3am, a porcupine launched out of an impossibly-small triangular space between cobbles in the trail and its stumpy legs propelled it along close on my heels and all I could think was: "WHAT THE FUCK: AGAIN?" <aside: I was first chased by a porcupine while lost in a swamp at the base of Mount Stuart in 2009.> After this brief sprint, which occurred around mile thirty-seven, I was pretty discouraged mentally and physically feeling spent. Mara assaulted me and I dropped to the dusty trail. Metabolic waste products ached in my legs making them feel like concrete piers dipped in acid, my stomach churned, my mind spoke nonsense to me that I just happened to be tired enough to believe: "You're not a runner or even an athlete, what the hell are you doing out here? You're not good enough to belly up to a goal like the Wonderland alone or at all for that matter. Who the hell do you think you are to be so audacious? You're an amateur, you're broken, you're too tired to finish. You might as well give up now and not even try to run the hundred since fifty was clearly too much for you."

This might sound like giving up but it wasn't because of one key aspect of the experience. I let the thoughts spool out, I let my legs ache to hell and back, I let myself lie there in mud created by my own piss on the dust for a long time then, because I'd given myself no escape hatch, I stood, dusted myself off, ate something, and started moving down the trail.

The rest of the run took on a softer quality. I found myself crying before sunrise (that darkest dark, you know?) in a meadow about which I'd dreamed (which consequently bore the name "Mystic") months prior. Though I was in the kind of immense pain that comes for me around mile forty of every long run, the kind that makes my skin feel too tight and inspires me to peel it off for relief, I perceived pleasure in a cool breeze issuing from the mouth of the base of Thermogenesis a few thousand feet up and to my right. A family of goats joined me as I crested the final hill into Sunrise at sunrise, kids skating shale shards off its crest which slashed my legs as I they ticked uphill like a metronome. In the final drop down to White River Campground where my car sat loaded with blueberries, kombucha, and the remainders of yesterday's burger my shoulders drooped and I felt the relief of having released my goal.

Immediately upon sitting with the spoils of my snacks, shirtless sweaty back leaned up against my truck tire, I looked at the time: it was only 6:45am, a rather short ten hours since I'd left my car the night before. Huh, I wasn't as slow as I thought I'd be. Then, scanning through my body that had been so focused on the importance of its own productive pain, I realized I wasn't injured or even particularly physically spent. What I had convinced myself was impossible overnight, my goal of running the Wonderland solo and unsupported, began to feel possible again as I realized that I'd completed what I set out to achieve on what was likely to be my hardest training run.

I was only able to transform into the mind-body tool capable of containing this mountain gnosis because of my willingness to engage self-doubt, pain, and fear as they arose. If I had maintained distance from my experience, ANS fired up all night in a false sense of protection and reactive control, I would have bonked for real, sending me into what would have been a dangerous situation alone on the trail at night a two day walk from wherever a ranger might depart to rescue me. Instead of resisting the negative emotions, the many Maras of my silly existence, I related with them - however ungracefully it happened. 

When giving up becomes an option, the only way to continue to commit to the growth contained in the experience is to give in. Making yourself vulnerable in the face of creation, universe, or god is necessary to go as far as you can go. To give yourself over fully to the depth of the experience is the only way to access your true power - and let me tell you it runs a lot deeper than bluster, bravado, and happiness.

read more:

Solo and unsupported

Andrea Laughery client interview - Becoming An Athlete

Deep play

Fear of the wild

Performance according to your element

Emily Carlson client interview - Slowing Down To Speed Up

My goal this year for myself was to pursue quietness of mind.
— Emily Carlson

Happy Monday, readers,

Emily and I began working together early spring 2018 on her project of running her first fifty miler. Her reputation as a total speedgoat preceded her and I knew what my task would be: getting this talented runner to slow down.

I LOVED talking with Emily this morning about the contrast between her training before we began working together and when we were working together, how she dignified her athletic practice with committed time to herself, and learning a bit more about her fifty miler experiences.

Anyone who balances family and training, anyone who has ever doubted themselves as an athlete, anyone preparing to run a new distance, and anyone who doesn’t see the value in being slow, give this a listen.

Thank you, Emily!

Brittany Raven


Topics discussed in this episode:

2:00 Emily’s training before our coaching

5:30 Benefits of being slow

6:45 Balancing family and training

11:30 Listening to your body

13:00 Resting instead of peak weeks

16:00 Being with what is

23:00 “I never saw myself as an athlete until this summer”

I felt completely ready and prepared. My curiosity was less on performance and more on: “How is this going to feel?”
— Emily Carlson

Episode resources:

Emily’s Instagram

 

Related posts:

Client interview series

Mindfulness

Photo credit: Andrea Laughery (instagram.com/laughclan)

Perfecting the taper

golden hour on the Kettle Crest, cr. David Moskowitz

As I transition into the quiet time before a storm of movement on yet another multi-year project, I have been revisiting my own advice on the art of the taper.

Tapering involves a relaxation and turning inward of the mind, body, and habit; it may last from a few days to six weeks depending on the event. During my various tapers for rock projects, expeditions, alpine climbs, and long runs I've developed a few transferrable strategies to make sure I'm well-rested and prepared for the big event.

 

Timing: Training too hard too early before your intended event can be just as detrimental to event-day (or month) performance as not training enough in advance. Finding the right balance of loading on the volume and backing off, track your various tapers and performance during events religiously. Reflect critically after the dust has settled following each event. You will, in time, learn the proper amount of time your body needs to rest before each event. A note: the time and type of taper necessary will vary within the athlete based on the kind of event undertaken. For example, I taper differently for an ultra than I do for a climbing objective.

Rest: Allow your body to cycle into as deep a state of rest as the event requires. For an endurance event, allow yourself to go to the state of rest where you're peeing a lot, sleeping more than normal, and don't feel motivation to train. Ideally, the body cycles through this state and back into an impatience for movement and more normal sleep patterns prior to the event. In addition to what one might normally think of as rest such as less training and more sleeping, try to eliminate excess items from your calendar or take a couple preparatory days off from work. Time away from stress, even productive or good stress, is necessary to allow your mind to prepare.

Insulation: Perhaps the least-practiced and most important part of tapering. To allow the most regenerative pre-event experience, this introvert avoids excess social contact, introductions to new people, new experiences, and most media during the taper period. Take a social media vacation in advance of your event - and delete the dang apps off your phone so you don't cheat. According to the event, it may also be nice to insulate oneself from the cold in order to prepare for some extended time out in the elements - this provides a time of coziness to harken back to when chilled to the bone and moving. This period is a safe island isolated from the intensity of training and event.

Reduce inflammation: Remove all alcohol, drugs, and food allergens from your diet - for real. The one exception to this tip is cannabis. If your body relaxes under the influence of CBD or canna, indulge at this time. It is preferable to ingest it in tincture or edible format. A couple supplements that can smooth the path to anti-inflammatory state are this one and a regular ol dose of turmeric

Self-care: Good self-care is always a key to high athletic achievement, but becomes acutely so in this final period. Through your final massage and acupuncture visits, note your body's energetic tank filling, perhaps even track it in your training journal. Depending on the seriousness of the event, consider updated blood work and a visit with your primary care doctor to be sure everything is in prime order. Continue your meditation practice, even deepen it at this time. Use delicious, whole foods to nourish the body and mind. For my clients who are in the know, the Owl Eyes exercise is indicated at this time.

Reaffirmation: In your meditations and lucidity sessions, visualize the exact sequence of your project, fly over the mountain you're about to climb, or let your feet touch the bends in the trail you'll travel. Feel yourself strong and vital as you complete your event and imagine the states of mind you'll need to cultivate for each stage of performance. You've committed to preparation for this event now review the goal and your path. This practice helps me see how far I've come and instills in me greater confidence in my ability to achieve the impossible.

Logistics: Practice packing for your event well in advance. In the process, you'll likely note a few items that could use repair or that you still need to purchase. This is cruicial for expeditions and self-supported events. Review your map or itinerary - the physical one and the topo in your head. As you conduct these final preparations, take a few shakedown runs, climbs, or rides just to keep the qi moving.

Recovery: Recovery begins with pre-event preparation. Clean your space to prepare for your return home. Collect your favorite recovery foods - even consider preparing them so they are ready to eat at the end of the event. Bring your most comfortable post-event clothing. On expeditions for the time between getting off the mountain and returning to the US, I find it nourishing to have a few touches of home like nice street clothes or my favorite chocolate. For endurance events, I have a favorite pair of lush sweatpants that I only wear post-run and find myself looking forward to during the event. 

 

I hope you've found this useful. If you'd like to learn more, visit my Coaching page and sign up for a consult on the topic of recovery. Resting is a vital element of athletic progression and I'm happy to lead you through these steps.

Jeff Shapiro client interview - The Process-Oriented Athlete

I have the most pure adventures when I’m in an arena where no one is watching and no one cares.
— Jeff Shapiro

Mark Twight obviously had not met Jeff Shapiro when he famously criticized the idea of being a Renaissance man as 'dilettante bullshit'. Jeff's incurable curiosity has led him to the highest peaks of the world to establish first ascents, took his desire to fly to the extreme by learning to wingsuit BASE jump (establishing many first exits), hunts in the company of a hawk named Cirrus, and loves the heck out of his family. It has been a joy to collaboratively coach Jeff - especially to witness how quickly and humbly he integrates new information whether about his gait or his recovery practices.

In our interview Jeff talks about why he is training for this summer's X-Pyr event, a paragliding and running event that traverses the entire length of the Pyrenees Mountains, and how he maintains his praxis as a process-oriented athlete even during competitive events. Listen in and get stoked.

Brittany Raven

3:31 Nested goal-setting

4:43 “My place means nothing to me”

6:12 Goal-setting and motivation

7:30 “Doing more with less”

8:50 Beauty and mindfulness

11:27 Collaborative coaching

13:20 The goal of recovery

 

Resources:

Jeff's Instagram

X-Pyr Event

Mountain Project

The writing practice

always writing, Okanogan Highlands, Autumn 2015

Other than the movement of my physical body in beautiful places, the talks I give, and the meetings I have with clients, writing is my vehicle of communication both as an athlete and as a business owner. A few folks have asked where I learned to write and how I cultivate a creative practice. At risk of being too myopically focused on the practice versus the outcome (it felt a little weird to write about writing) here are my insights on writing.

 

The practice: I've always enjoyed writing but in 2015 I decided to intentionally cultivate my writing practice. By completing The Artist's Way for twelve weeks at the beginning of the year, I developed vital skills and tools for what has become a key way to work and express myself in recent time. Since 2015, I've continued to write every damn day first for myself and, if I have time, for others to consume. 

Habit vs. ritual: Present in my writing practice are both the habit, or impulse, to write and the rituals surrounding my writing. The habit consists of writing for about an hour each day longhand in my journal. Always with an extra fine blue TUL ballpoint pen in a Moleskine extra large squared soft cover 7 1/2" x 9 3/4" journal - and it all happens in this chair most summer mornings. Over the years I've tried many different combinations of writing tools, including sandbagging myself epically with the 8 1/2" x 11" squared journals, and I find that these are the tools with which I do my most fluid work. My morning pages come before my writing in this space, on social media, and my interviews with various media outlets. Without making my daily habit seem precious, I like to cultivate my writerly space by signalling to myself that it is time to write. I signal this in many ways and the rituals surrounding the practice tend to shift depending on where I'm writing (outdoors while camping, at home, or while traveling). The consistency I cultivate by using ritual to initiate my practice at the beginning of the day makes up for the often-inconsistent nature of my surroundings as I am a highly nomadic person. I find my writing practice to be the single most grounding force in my life.

Boredom: I've been thinking about boredom lately and how important it is to the writing practice I am privileged to take refuge in daily. In my past life in the fast-paced world of big-dollar global development philanthropy, your importance was tacitly equated with how busy you were at work. An employee furiously typing emails and hitting send, sweating under the stress of her heavy deadlines, and staying up until all hours managing her grants was viewed as a good worker, a team player, and received the highest performance ratings possible. Over the last two and a half years away from this un-mindful office culture, having laid down the ways of measuring value that had been imposed on me in the workplace, I have allowed myself to re-think what it means to be effective and to work well. Outright boredom allows there to be space around my thoughts and makes apparent to me the different tones of the egoic voice versus the wise voice - and I know exactly from where I want my work to come. Boredom is the creative's friend.

Monotasking: Efficiency in this new paradigm is not equal to time spent in motion but rather to the mindful way in which I spend my time at work. If it is time to write, I write. If it is time to do the dishes, I do the dishes. If it is time to play with my daughter, I play with her. If it is time to sit still and stare at the river going by, I do my best to not reach for my iPhone or to ruminate on some social interaction I had yesterday or to pick at my three day old manicure. Monotasking is a mindfulness practice, a way of life that will never be perfect; when you become distracted simply note the distraction and refocus on your task or read more here

Creativity is the residue of time wasted.
— Albert Einstein

Building the muscle: Creativity is not a gift, it is a skill. Just as I tell everyone who calls me a 'talented' or 'lucky' athlete that neither of those words are correct when applied to me as an athlete, those words are equally as inappropriate to apply to me as a writer. I was not born with a natural tendency to run ultras alone any more than I was born to write gnostic words about the time I spend in the mountains. I chose to do these things because they are activities that give my life structure and meaning and, when I'm bone dust, I want to leave behind traces of my precious practices for future humans to enjoy. I work hard to be a better writer every day, not as measured by Strunk and White or some professor or honestly even you as a reader, so that I can more clearly represent the pulsation of divine insight that flows through me while I move in the mountains - and so my favorite tool for communicating becomes ever truer to what I intend to convey.

Creative grit: When I work at times during which I am not particularly inspired, I develop my creative grit. In the past, by working only when sporadic inspiration imparted its genius, I taught myself the false lesson that I can only work well under specific conditions and at the specific times that some omniscient outside force chooses. The idea that creativity only happens when we're inspired is, of course, untrue and limiting. This grit allows me to build trust with myself that I am capable of creating every day, under all circumstances, and that my creativity is not something with a finite limit. In turn this grit has allowed me to keep creating consistently even through the first year of my daughter's life despite having many competing responsibilities and a home that was often not quiet (or orderly).

Boundaries: I never, ever share the content of my morning pages. Hard boundary. This single steadfast boundary serves me well, giving me the safe space in which to create ugly, shitty, stupid, vain, and grammatically-incorrect prose that no one will ever read. Once I sift through the often beastly thoughts clouding the choicer, coherent thoughts by resting on the page each morning the words that I speak and write come from a wiser place. Aside from the sanctity of my morning pages, I have an ever-evolving set of boundaries I keep with myself within my writing practice. These boundaries include ones regulating my use of various means of correspondence while I'm writing, making sure to get my pages out of the way before 'broadcasting' my words outside of myself, or from whom I seek feedback on the quality of my writing.

 

 

A funny aside: I wrote this article in its entirety about a week ago but lost the whole thing when I switched from online to offline. A lesson in impermanence, trust, and detachment - and not getting pissed off.

Psychedelia

Colvilles, 2017

Colvilles, 2017

my primary interest in (ultra) endurance is its psychedelic properties. in the altered state of consciousness that comes at three, twelve, thirty, or forty hours in constant motion, the boundaries between Self and Other appear as they actually are: illusory. in this state I forget that I don’t have wings and remember how to fly. here, no thought is secret. I can see the beingness in each stone, lake, gust of wind, Moose, or man. in the last five years of my endurance practice, solo unsupported ultra running has emerged for me as the most accessible path to these altered states - thus leaving lesser loves of rock, ice, altitude, and glacier in the role of subservient practices.

I’ve done psychedelic drugs in the past and find their effects, while stimulating to the gnostic being, lacked the depth of their ultra endurance counterparts. rather than wake up the day after a trip feeling the let down of re-entering normally-perceived reality, the day after a long run or climb or after childbirth provides me with the afterglow of conscious motion with, for, and into that which I believe to be truth of my existence, clarifying a path of love i may walk if i choose in my normal life.

this deepening of perceptive reality is the reason I spend all my time preparing to reach farther and farther into its depths. I must know myself as something ingrained in the very granite on which I travel, something also not separate from you.

Perfecting the taper

Tapering involves a relaxation and turning inward of the mind, body, and habit; it may last from a few days to six weeks depending on the event. During my various tapers for rock projects, expeditions, alpine climbs, and long runs I've developed a few transferrable strategies to make sure I'm well-rested and prepared for the big event.

 

Rest: Allow your body to cycle into as deep a state of rest as the event requires. For an endurance event, allow yourself to go to the state of rest where you're peeing a lot, sleeping more than normal, and don't feel motivation to train. Ideally, the body cycles through this state and back into an impatience for movement and more normal sleep patterns prior to the event. In addition to what one might normally think of as rest such as less training and more sleeping, try to eliminate excess items from your calendar or take a couple preparatory days off from work. Time away from stress, even productive or good stress, is necessary to allow your mind to prepare.

Insulation: Perhaps the least-practiced and most important part of tapering. To allow the most regenerative pre-event experience, this introvert avoids excess social contact, introductions to new people, new experiences, and most media during the taper period. According to the event, it may also be nice to insulate oneself from the cold in order to prepare for some extended time out in the elements - this provides a time of coziness to harken back to when chilled to the bone and moving. This period is a safe island isolated from the intensity of training and event.

Self-care: Good self-care is always a key to high athletic achievement, but becomes acutely so in this final period. Through your final massage and acupuncture visits, note your body's energetic tank filling, perhaps even track it in your training journal. Depending on the seriousness of the event, consider updated blood work and a visit with your primary care doctor to be sure everything is in prime order. Continue your meditation practice, even deepen it at this time. Use delicious, whole foods to nourish the body and mind.

Reaffirmation: In your meditations and lucidity sessions, visualize the exact sequence of your project, fly over the mountain you're about to climb, or let your feet touch the bends in the trail you'll travel. Feel yourself strong and vital as you complete your event and imagine the states of mind you'll need to cultivate for each stage of performance. You've committed to preparation for this event now review the goal and your path. This practice helps me see how far I've come and instills in me greater confidence in my ability to achieve the impossible.

Logistics: Practice packing for your event well in advance. In the process, you'll likely note a few items that could use repair or that you still need to purchase. This is cruicial for expeditions and self-supported events. Review your map or itinerary - the physical one and the topo in your head. As you conduct these final preparations, take a few shakedown runs, climbs, or rides just to keep the qi moving.

Recovery: Recovery begins with pre-event preparation. Clean your space to prepare for your return home. Collect your favorite recovery foods - even consider preparing them so they are ready to eat at the end of the event. Bring your most comfortable post-event clothing. On expeditions for the time between getting off the mountain and returning to the US, I find it nourishing to have a few touches of home like nice street clothes or my favorite chocolate. For endurance events, I have a favorite pair of lush sweatpants that I only wear post-run and find myself looking forward to during the event. 

I hope you've found this useful. If you'd like to learn more, visit my Coaching page and sign up for a consult on the topic of recovery. Resting is an important element of athletic progression and I'm happy to lead you through these steps.

GUEST POST: The Tao of Effort by Lydia Zamorano

Hey mountain movers,

I hope you enjoyed part one in this series by Lydia! Once you've finished reading part two below, I'm sure you'll be hungry for more resources on the art of effort and rest. Be sure to check out Lydia's resource page here.

Brittany Raven


grounding down, cr. Lydia Zamorano

Pushing our bodies is part of getting stronger. But if it's all fire all the time, we might fizzle out.

Sometimes if we go too hard and don't nourish ourselves properly with nutrient dense food and rest we start to plateau, or worse decline in efficiency and progress. And at it's height some people are even diagnosed with over training syndrome

One thing that I've used in the last seven years is a Taoist principle called the 70% rule. 

Rule is kind of a dirty word so let's say it's a suggestion.

The invitation is after we ascertain our true 100%, then we slow it down to about 70% on most days. You could make a ratio of once a week you go 100% and the rest you go 70%, or less or more than that.

Everyone has a different sweet spot. And if your athleticism is your career it might be different than someone who's a recreationalist. With this in place, there's potential for most of the time feeling energized and having reserves for all the other life stuff: like family, friends, work, growing your own food, being part of community or global initiatives.

I'm sure most of you already know a lot of this but I hope some of it can be useful to you.

Reach out if you like as lydiazamorano@gmail.com.

 


Yoga Anytime has a show called "Wait for It" Yin Yoga and meditation practices with Kira Sloane. There are also countless short meditations on there to get you started.

Try the Yoga For Athletes show with me as well and stay in touch about your practice. If you want to connect with me, I can direct you towards practice I think might be the most useful for your life demands and situation. 

For a complimentary month on Yoga Anytime, use the code "LYDIA".

GUEST POST: Why rest? by Lydia Zamorano

be strong then, and enter into your own body.
there you have a solid place for your feet.
— Kabir

Dearest readers,

It is with great esteem I present to you two posts by my (online) yoga instructor Lydia Zamorano on the topic of effort, yin, and her innovative injury prevention philosophy.

Upon doing some background research on Lydia to properly introduce her here I discovered a lot about her rich background. Informing her playful, reverent, nourishing instruction are multiple 200-500 hour teacher trainings with the likes of Richard and Mary Freeman and Angela Farmer. In addition to her impressive personal practice and education as an instructor, Lydia gives back to the community via work with victims of trauma and teaching meditation to children. In her spare time (she has spare time??) Lydia helps Patagonia build the stellar products we all wear and love.

I hope you enjoy this two-part series and are able to indulge in the work of yin this autumn season.

Brittany Raven


intentional yin al fresco, cr. Lydia Zamorano

You're a body mover.

Things that are in motion like to stay in motion. 

The bursts of joy that you get from rhythmic movement and dynamic stillness are something that you dream of each day until you're doing them. 

Me too. 

Then you get injured. 

And it hits you like a punch to the guts that you are going to have to be still and sluggish for a while. You might not want to admit that it might be a long healing process.

 

Been there. 

When I got injured in my twenties, I'd often give less healing time than needed (or maybe less than intelligent healing time) and continued to push through pain with big mountain days. It resulted in one of my ankles having a misalignment that still affects my whole spine. 

I have to work with it every day. 

 

Back then I was impatient. 

It wasn't until I started a restorative yoga and meditation practice that I was able to learn from injury, slow down, and see it as a process. I was also able to work with some of the deeper reasons for always needing a distraction.

If we can see the upside, when we're injured we can experience longer periods of forced rest. This can heal tiny micro tears in tissue and we can come back feeling stronger and ready to train harder. Rest is a crucial part of strengthening. Rumour has it, that it is when the parasympathetic nervous system is stimulated, we can truly restore and repair. 

Not only that, but we can work with patience, listening to our bodies, and learning new things that might not be in our default patterning. 

Resting is productive. Even uncomfortably long resting periods can be healing for our bodies. I know some climbers that take a month off a year to heal tissue, deeply rest and explore other parts of their lives. 

Here are some ideas for things to do while injured:

  • everyone's an artist. Whether it be writing, ceramics, painting, photography... explore learning about your creative self that doesn't include movement. (I think movement is artistry as well). 
  • start a meditation practice. Start with five minutes a day. The benefits could be far reaching and really support your athletic pursuits. (MN note: I've been enjoying Headspace's meditations)
  • if your body allows (like you have one wrist or one leg injury for example) start a home Yin Yoga (yogaanytime.com) or Feldenkrais (lots of great free stuff on youtube) practice. You can usually modify to leave injured parts out. Most of it is staying on the ground. Find creative ways to move that are different and increase mobility and blood flow. If you can gently move the injury without too much pain, practice moving it with micro-movements. This will ease up fascial restrictions that can come from immobility and bring healing fluid pumping into the area.*
  • cleanse your body with a fast, colonic, or cleanse. If you're not moving as much, you may have the time, space and energy to do a juice or candida cleanse etc. This could also enhance digestion and clear any fuzziness in your mind. 
  • learn. There are countless online courses out there. Maybe you have time to dig into something you're really curious or interested about, and that could potentially support your career. (MN note: try Coursera or Duolingo - both free of charge)
  • get body work. Craniosacral therapy, massage, acupuncture, physiotherapy ... etc. 

Reach out if you like as lydiazamorano@gmail.com. And be sure to stay tuned for next week's piece on injury prevention.

 


*Yoga Anytime has a show called "Wait for It" Yin Yoga and meditation practices with Kira Sloane. There are also countless short meditations on there to get you started.

Try the Yoga For Athletes show with me as well and stay in touch about your practice. If you want to connect with me, I can direct you towards practice I think might be the most useful for your life demands and situation. 

For a complimentary month on Yoga Anytime, use the code "LYDIA".

Mindfulness Series: lucid dreaming

the moon and I danced, Mount Rainier, 2015

Humans sleep a third or more of our lives and most of us lose consciousness during that time. How powerful would your mind-body connection be if you could continue a state of meditative awareness while your body sleeps deeply? Lucid dreaming is the phenomenon of spontaneous or controlled conscious awareness in one's dreams. In these dreams you can do anything you please: scout an unclimbed peak you have your eye on, defy gravity and send your project, or test the feeling of tirelessly powerful lungs on the steepest hill you can imagine--you might even choose to exhale the aurora borealis in a state of rapturous love. Lucid dreaming comes in many forms and may even progress to dream yoga; each oneironaut's practice is curiously unique.

I've been lucid dreaming since I was six years old and believe its application to alpine climbing and mountain running to be one of the most exciting and unexplored frontiers of training. After introducing my former partner, Chad, to lucid dreaming and helping him further cultivate his already strong visualization practices, I began promoting the use of oneironology (or oneiromancy, if you prefer) as part of an alpinist's training toolkit. 

Already an experienced meditator, Chad took to lucid dreaming and even astral projection with characteristic efficiency. The first night I introduced him to basic methods of awareness in the dreaming state, he surfed barrels in Hawai'i. Later that week he progressed to envisioning his next big first ascent peak: Seerdengpu. After a few weeks of nightly work on the various crack systems in the massive granite dome he woke with a solution. In his dream that night he found a continuous crack system leading from base to summit. When he and his partner arrived at the previously-unclimbed peak they knew exactly where to go, following his dream crack system to the summit.

Though I cannot explain Chad's ability to divine the specific topography in intricate detail of a place no one had ever been, I can tell you he reached that strata of mind-body movement through his meditation and lucid dreaming practices.

Another anecdote: I learned to ice climb in the friendly Hyalite Canyon and had grown accustomed to one- to three-pitch routes. On my first trip to the massive drips of the Canadian Rockies I balked at the base of Murchison Falls. The entire 180 meters of the vertical plane of ice seemed to rock and groan in the cold and the spindrift as I stood petrified and shaking in the snow as my partner flaked out our rope. I only made it up the approach ice before telling my partner I couldn't go on. We rewound our long walking approach and four hour drive back to Canmore - my proverbial tail was between my legs.

Since I live in the Pacific Northwest without comparable ice to climb in the off-season, I spent at least one night a week visualizing Murchison throughout that next spring, summer, and fall. I saw myself confidently approach the base of the route, find my optimal runnel to ascend, and swing and kick proficiently to the top just beneath behemoth ice gargoyles hanging over the summit ledge. I focused on detail, on feeling, on emotion in my dreams often waking exhausted from my climb and the arctic cold.

The next winter solstice the same partner and I trekked to the base of the falls. When the sheet of vertical ice came into view my spirit said 'yes!' and at the base, though I still shook with fear, I didn't need to rope up until the second pitch soloing easily up a portion of ice that 360 days before made me cry and give up. We swung leads to the top of the climb, I set v-threads on the descent as a rosy dark set in, and we walked uneventfully back to the car. 

Visualization works.

This means of mountain gnosis is for practitioners of mountain sports and meditation alike. You'll find this material and resulting skill useful only if you have a strong spiritual connection to your alpine work and mountain movement.

Given the extended time period for training in this way and its experimental nature, I'll offer this training module as a remote learning opportunity on a donation basis. Throughout six months of exercises and one-on-one check ins, participants can schedule up to two Skype meetings to discuss progress or obstacles encountered along the way. I am unable to cultivate a student/teacher dynamic in this course as I feel after twenty-four years of practice that I am still juvenile in my mind's dream yoga potentials. We will, rather, shed light on one another's experience as you follow a loosely-formed series of waking and dreaming mental exercises. 

I am excited to offer this experimental, cutting-edge program to a small cohort of practitioners. My heart is open to your response.

In spirit.
Brittany Raven