Tag Archives: Mindfulness

This isn’t a Mindfulness Article… – Written by Coach Patrick

The Big Three
Like one does, I was having a lengthy conversation with a fellow mindfulness practitioner the other day. He and I were chatting about the practice for beginners, what changes over time, and the nuances and challenges that can exist over the course of the long-term, both personally and culturally. However, this isn’t a mindfulness article, this is some of my observations during our conversation about the parallels between physical fitness and mindfulness practice.

This all got started when we were exchanging ideas we received from our mentors when we each started our practice. Generally speaking, we both came across three big tenets that lend to building a sustainable and beneficial individual practice. I realize these may change from practitioner to practitioner so these aren’t scripture, but the big three, as we discussed were: (1) consistency; (2) accountability partners; (3) monitoring attachments.

This may look eerily similar to what I or another coach might have already chatted to you about when you first set off in your personal journey through CrossFit Candyland. Regardless, it is a great reminder from which we can all benefit, so let’s jump back in and review!

 Consistency

In mindfulness and fitness alike, consistency can be the key to a make-or-break beginning. Whether it becomes a dedicated long-term practice or a fickle experiment often hinges on how well you can incorporate the act of practicing (attending a class) into your already established lifestyle.

Making the commitment to affix a fitness practice into a new routine as your routine solidifies it as an important part of your week; a part that is non-negotiable and requires your intention and attention. So often a person who jumps on and off bandwagons does so because that bandwagon never establishes itself as a key priority.

Cue the time tested ole cliche, you have to make yourself (and your fitness) a priority. This doesn’t mean large swaths of sacrifice in your life where you commit 23 hours a day being spent in the gym, it means finding a concrete time you can plan and adhere to showing up and putting your fitness in the limelight in a sustainable and pragmatic way.

 Accountability Partners

This is one area CrossFit tends to excel. We are community-based social creatures that thrive on connecting with others. Moving that lens to a fitness practice, much like mindfulness, pays off more often than not.

Finding and establishing a friend or two, a significant other, a class regular, or perhaps even an imaginary spirit animal who will promote your consistency, help you maintain your accountability, and challenge you to have fun and show up helps bridge the gap from a long and lonely slog through fitness to something that is both enjoyable and accountable.

The informal agreement struck means you’ve got a teammate, advocate, and champion on days you don’t want to be there or be consistent; similarly when your accountability partner is having an off day, you are there to return the favor.

You also have a built-in outlet to share the experiences, the WODs, and the “suck” that can exist in getting better over time. It isn’t always rainbows and snow-cones, but you’ve got someone who has your back through the good, the bad, and the ugly of it all.

 Monitor Attachments

Simply put, be aware of your judgments and the values/meanings you attach to them. In Western culture, we place such a massive emphasis on performance and success that so often we are immediately concerned about how we did. In mindfulness the act of doing is more important than “doing the best.”

In fact, not to get too Yoda on anyone, but in mindfulness there really isn’t or at least shouldn’t be a judgement on how well or poor your practice was. I realize that sounds like heresy in the fitness world of Western humanity, so I won’t tell you to absolve yourself from all judgments.

However I have seen countless times somebody who minimizes a success and maximizes a frustration. Yes, we all have things we are trying to improve in CrossFit and we also have things we do well. That is less important to me for the long-term success of a fitness practice than what we attach to those strengths and weaknesses.

 Drink from the well that nourishes you. If you choose to ascribe frustration, failure, disappointment, and not good enough attitudes to your efforts, you will continue to find those same things reflected back at you. Likewise, if you choose to appreciate, celebrate, and learn from the peaks and valleys of your efforts, you will more often than not feel the returns of a nourished commitment to yourself.
Increasing your fitness isn’t always easy, but it is always worth it. As with mindfulness or any new endeavor, choices made in the beginning can either stack the deck in your favor or make it a rougher road from the get-go. Choose wisely.

Mindfulness – The Happiness Formula

Written by Dr. Valerie Gonsalves

After more than a decade as an endurance athlete and over three years in the CrossFit community, my experience tells me that individuals who commit to physical fitness are extraordinary.

The people I have met, who are dedicated to their physical health, tend to be motivated to constantly challenge themselves, to be a better athlete, a better employee, a better spouse, a better friend and generally a better person. The culture that we live in and then the subculture we chose to immerse ourselves in, supports the constant push for more and better. This journey can be amazing.

Until it isn’t.

The problem with constantly striving for more is that this practice can detract from experiencing, and subsequently enjoying, the now.

Think about the moments that should be joyous: receiving a promotion, hugging a friend, getting a PR. Then think about how many times, shortly afterwards, the joy fades and the quest for more continues.

It’s easy to overemphasis what is missing and underemphasize or simply underappreciate what is present. This practice of striving can actually rewire our brains and thus impact our ability to experience positive emotion (nerds: I’m talking about the prefrontal cortex).

The solution is simple: we need to rewire our brains back. We need to expand our capacity for positive emotion, which can lead to a more pleasurable life.

The happiness formula is savoring, experiencing, and bringing a nonjudgmental awareness to each moment of life. It is mindfulness.

What does that have to do with CrossFit?

As some of you may be aware, there’s little about the movements in CrossFit I actually like. In particular, anything that involves squatting makes me want to curl up and cry. So last week, when the WOD called for thrusters and rowing, I entered my own personal hell.

During round 2, my brain screamed at me to STOP. I had to do three more rounds of this nonsense. Ridiculous. Not possible. After round 3, I became acutely aware of my breath. In the one minute of rest, instead of focusing on the torture I was about to endure, I focused on my breath, with the intention of slowing my rapid breathing.

What seconds earlier had been suffering, turned into a tolerable exercise. Mindfulness didn’t make me love that WOD, in fact, I’ll even say I wasn’t happy to do the WOD. But suffering turned into acceptance.

Nothing in CrossFit is designed for excelling at the gym. Rather, the goal, as Coach Nikole says is to remain out of the nursing home. It is to develop skills that transfer to everyday, real life. Life outside the gym.

Think of the suffering in your life. Mindfulness is a skill you can cultivate in the gym that can permeate all aspects of your life.

Happiness is in your control.

Click for more information and to register for Dr. Valerie’s Mindfulness Workshop.

Thursday, January 14, 2016

Strength:
Review KB Movements – Clean, Snatch, Goblet Squat, American Swing

WOD:
4 Rounds
10 KB Clean
10 KB Push Press
10 KB Snatch
10 Goblet Squats
10 KB Swings

Post-WOD:
If there is time at the end of class
Work through plank holds
2 Rounds
1 min forward
1 min left
1 min right

We are going to review several kettlebell movements today and practice those a bit before we get to the workout where we will use all of them.

If there is time after the workout, we’ll work on that core a bit with some plank holds. I find plank is a great time to practice my mindfulness as well!

Check out our new 4 Week Mindfulness Workshop starting just in time for the CrossFit Open.