ROLL & BREATHE

“Make each movement slow, over-exaggerated and correct.  Do this over and over before seeking speed and efficiency.” 

Ethan (owner at Phoenix Fitness & Martial Arts) was coaching me to slow down, to learn.  My tendency is to want to do everything at full speed. Otherwise, I feel I’m wasting other people’s time.  

I hate it when I waste other people's time and I hate it when people waste my time.  

This perspective sometimes causes me to move to conclusive actions sooner than needed.  I know it makes me hyper-aware of others and my perception of their expectations.  

One the one hand, being aware of other expectations is good.  On the other, if all I’m doing is adjusting to meet a perceived expectation, then it’s not so good.  Perceptions can be wrong.  Dead wrong.

Moving too quickly in jiu-jitsu is often to your opponent’s advantage.  Moving quickly, especially for a beginner, can mean getting out of position, which just gives your opponent the opening they need.  Next thing you know, tap out.  

Moving too quickly in life leads to missed opportunities.  It leads to less careful consideration of words, thoughts, and the stories we tell ourselves. 

“Breathe.  Settle in.”  How many times will I hear this exhortation?

With jiu-jitsu, I am already learning there are many times when the only proper move is to breathe and be still, to breathe and consider my body position.

Taking time to breathe, even and especially when the situation seems awkward and uncomfortable, quiets the mind and brings awareness of what is real and what is a story.  As a beginner, there are few jiu-jitsu moments which aren’t awkward and uncomfortable.

When I was in the throes of depression, my mind raced with negative self-talk and despairing hopelessness. My mind moved too quickly, latching onto untrue stories and perceptions which drove me farther into the darkness.  One practice on the path of out of the dark was learning to meditate, to breathe, to focus on the breath, to calm the mind, to settle.    

Learning to meditate, to sit, was difficult.  No.  It was a dark dance between monkey mind and the space between breaths.  My mind liked to speed along on its already constructed neural pathways. The pathways of depression were deep and wide.  Interstates.   Meditation was seeking to renovate them.  Often, it felt like using teaspoons to dig a well.   Sitting and breathing was foreign and threatening.

After a concerted effort, and time spent on the cushion, 2 minutes became 5, and 5 become 10 ,and 10 became 15.  

Now, I meditate every day.  I sit. I breathe.  When my mind begins to race, I have tools to calm it.  

And now I’m adding to this skill.  

I’m learning to roll and breathe.  

Well, except when I’m getting choked.