I want to talk about awareness and its link to physical activity. This link is not unique to creative calisthenics, yet I believe it is the greatest driving force behind its appeal. Why do we come back to the bar? What is it about the activity of putting ourselves in dangerous and new situations that makes it “addictive”?
Creative Expression, Physical Fitness, Adrenaline, all these things come to mind – but the most fundamental aspect is: consciousness. Creative Calisthenics requires us to be at the present, to be aware of our surroundings, and to be conscious about our movements.
Being In The Moment
Whenever attempting a new move, have you realized that all things irrelevant to the sport are absent from the mind? Are you thinking about your past? Or what you will become in 5 years? No. If you are, you will most certainly fail to complete the move, even if you have all the strength and technique required. That one second where your mind lingers from the present to anywhere other than the present has enough power to knock you out and stop you from doing what you want to do.
This sport teaches us to be conscious, at all times. To be conscious about our environment, and more importantly, of ourselves. Our environment in calisthenics may be the bar setup we are working with, the ground, or a simple set of paralletes at home. The self is the body. Your body. Not your mind. In our sport, the contents of our minds do not matter. This is the greatest equalizer, your philosophies, your dogmas, your past, and the memories of your past are irrelevant. If we fall asleep while we move, we fall, we misstep, we miss that crucial turn of the neck that a 360 muscle up requires, etc. We go into a dream like state, become the subjects of our state instead of being in control. This is why we need to be conscious, and this state of mind spills over when we are not working out. This is the greatest benefit, the spillover of consciousness into our daily lives.
The World Is Your Gym
This motto carries greater weight than just working out wherever you are. It requires you to be attentive of your environment. “Can this rail be a pullup bar?” “Can I flag from this post?” These questions have an underlying aspect, it means you consciously have identified that there is rail, that there is a post. It sounds childish, but many people go through their day without noticing what goes on around them. It may begin with wanting to do tricks everywhere you go, but it will undoubtedly create a habit in your mind to survey and observe, and remove your mind from the present. Do not remove yourself, but remove your mind and your thinking.
The Path to Meditative Calisthenics
Many disciplines of martial arts, yoga, Zen, aim to achieve awareness. Yoga does it mechanically and scientifically, it puts your body in awkward and new positions, and forces you to be aware of your body, every limb, every muscle. Zen practice does it holistically, through observation and calmness. Most martial arts deal in the business of a hybrid system of yoga and zen. You become aware of your body and movements, and also observe your opponent in order to react. I believe creative calisthenics has both elements as well, we have the athlete and the bar – and when the observer becomes totally engulfed in the sport, a certain calmness carries over.
This is the reason why we are against supplements, against unnatural diets, against ego, against ill-hearted competitions. These things do not help us to become more aware, they are irrelevant. Against is a negative word, yet we must state it from time to time to remind what occurs when the true goal of calisthenics is forgotten. When the Light is absent, all that we are against naturally begin to creep back into existence.
More on these topics on a later time, till then,