Tuesday, January 14, 2020

Living into the Expansive-Playful...Out There

I’m curious about the bump that happens in my own mind when I get into the car after a CrossFit WKO. I notice it every time, today with opportunity to see if words come for this now-traditional part of my day.

I don’t notice a shift entering into the gym, though I enjoy entering the gym, entering into the chit-chat and general hilarity that can be 8 o’clock CF circle-the-WKO, a ‘happy hour’ of a healthy sort. (Today’s bemusement was around ‘mullet’ haircuts, apparently becoming all the rage again with teens today).

We begin the warm-up movements, the prep-time, then dive into WKO itself. At this stage of the process, I’m as least in my ‘mind’ as at any other time in the day. Nor am I solely in my body, however. This is one of the gems of CrossFit, methinks, however we name it. Bodymind in closer coordination with each and every part of “me.”

The thing I notice is the bit of a mind-jolt when I get back in my car to drive home, or in this case, to the coffee shop for a blog-writing and ‘check-in’ treat for myself before a long trip. I feel this every day when I’m leaving the gym. I don’t feel this other places. What has felt expansive and fluid lands back into an enclosed space, a drive into the day’s work and home tasks. What has opened me into the day, with a gentle pace and then deepening intensity, is complete. My body lands into a comfy chair, sometimes with heat rising in its coils, feeling good and smiling inside. My mind seems to bump into something, something connected to the ‘outside’ containers of my life—work, home-tasks to get done, tending to the needs of others for the next several hours. (Most of which I love and am blessed to live and breathe into…).

The sacred-outer work that I do brings me this noticing in terms of ‘circle.’ A habit of mind-body in circle differs from most other contexts in which I move, share my being. Traditional environments like school and church do not gather in circle-way form, even if the chairs are placed in a circle or a committee/meeting gathers around a conference table. In these more square or triangular ways of gathering as human beings, there are clear authorities—teacher, pastor, priest, boss, chair—whose leadership and role govern the spaces or determine delegation. Hierarchical and a bit top-down, some more than others. In contrast, the archetypal energies of Circle invite more equanimity, more participation and co-creation without anyone in the ‘center,’ ‘at the front,’ or ‘being responsible for the meeting.’

CrossFit does have a coaching structure, of course. You can observe a ‘top-down’ or hierarchical and competitive structure in some gyms/boxes. But the general ethos in the box I know best is delightfully collaborative and co-creative. The preptime before the WKO is a series of small conversations with the coach of the hour, discerning and sometimes debating the weights, the movements, the rep counts to achieve deepening intensity AND collaborative timing. Your own mindbody is invited into this flow, making decisions ‘under supervision,’ I say with a smile. I really need supervision, both to protect my own body and to be gentle with myself inside. This is a value of having a smaller-size ‘box’ than some I know in the area. Your own mindbody journey can expand, in a safe and bounded way. I suggest for myself what feels do-able and challenging both, and I can be playfully challenged to increase the difficulty or confirmed in what I feel inside. Again and again, as the days move. I grow stronger and stay engaged in an expansive mindbody way because of this dynamic.

So perhaps what I can say is this CF box lives thoroughly into a circle-way wisdom, with a great sense of humor about the paradoxes of CrossFit (communal/competitive, athletic achievement/deepening fitness…). Participation and co-creation are valued, which allow an expansive play-space, with good challenge to keep getting stronger. Relying on the resources of community to hold and to encourage.

The competitive drives in many of us can play in more fierce ways, with those who want to. I love to see some of the more seasoned athletes push each other, drive movement beyond what they’d do if they were on their own. A recent series of a ‘burpee race,’ for instance. A race I did not need to participate in for my own burpees, but a race I could enjoy in them so very thoroughly. Optional. Invited, as your own mindbody desires to play…or not.

Which preserves this expansive, encouraging, playful space in my own mindbody. When I get into the driver’s seat of my car, put my bag and water in an easy place to reach, I bump into the confining habits of mind in the settings of my outer world: the body-dissociated faculty colleagues and pastor-types so intent on the needs of others or of their own minds that they become surprised when their bodies give out on them in illness or injury; the verbally-oriented, heavily-embodied writing-women I get to journey with as we ‘get circley’ with one another in our writing practices aimed to help us live more consciously. (And by heavily-embodied, I do not mean ‘weight’ or ‘body-size’—I mean women carrying painful histories of body-shaming, abuse, guilt, refused grief, self-denigrating voices, etc.); my own home, which can be rife with anxiety-deferred though controlled, a space often body-avoidant and emotional-food-focused… I love and serve in each of these spaces AND…

I get back into the car, again and again, aware of how expansive my mindbody is because I’ve spent an hour in a circle-way community, built around fitness, led with passion for ‘just show up,’ ‘just get better,’ as I get to define it. A signal of circle-way. I get to experience the expansiveness of my own mindbody, with distinctive gifts for the world around me. I remember it more throughout the day, because it’s been less than 24 hours since I was last there, feeling myself expand inside.

This is one of the reasons I am such a frequent participant, to a bit of awe from my husband and some others in my life. I care less how my body looks, though I'm practicing receiving compliments (which I tend to deflect and not receive very well). I love how good I feel inside. But I thrive more and more, both inside and out, when my mindbody has room to play…play a LOT. 

I notice the distinctiveness when I get in my car. So...how to live that expansive playfulness into more and more of my world(s)...? Listening...

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