Breaking the Jump

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What if we can train ourselves to do what scares us?

There’s a physical practice called Parkour that I’ve been interested in for a bit.  It’s sometimes also called natural movement and a few other things. The idea is to train the body and mind to interact with any given environment with the greatest range of possibility and the greatest resiliency.  Training for resiliency expands the possible ways of interacting with the environment.


This was dramatically illustrated in the opening chase sequence for the James Bond movie “Casino Royale” with Daniel Craig.  You could google it and watch a clip.


In parkour there is an awareness of how the physical limits of our bodies and the limits of our mind intersect.  For instance, it may be difficult for me to walk along the top of a fence because it might hurt my feet and I might not be able to balance.  It would also be difficult if the top of the fence was six feet in the air, because I would be afraid to fall. So my physical and mental limits intersect.  


If I were in training to accomplish that task it would be a body-mind challenge.  How can I develop the balance…and how can I figure out how to do what scares me?  A few things come to mind; I can start with a similar fence that is only a foot off the ground.  I can use something to block the view of the ground so I can’t tell how far away it is. I can learn to fall, so falling won’t scare me.


In parkour this idea of ‘breaking the jump’ means setting yourself against an obstacle in your environment that is bigger than any obstacle you’ve attempted to overcome, and breaking through.


There is value in using the body to do what scares us. 


There are a lot of challenges in our environments that aren’t physical challenges.  It may be less approachable to envision ways to build up to mastering those challenges.  I mean things like public speaking, or negotiating with one’s boss for a higher wage, or simply sharing one’s opinion in a mixed group.  


I remember when Tom and I built our house.  It was a big challenge. We had to learn how to successfully interact with the building department, we had to learn to trust each others process…even though it was different than how we would do something.  On top of all that we had to learn to build a house. Let me tell you…there are a lot of parts to a house!


When we finished, or probably sometime before, when it became clear that we would finish, I had this feeling in my bones that if we could do this…we could do anything.  There are doubtless bigger potential challenges out there than learning how to build a house, but whatever scale those are on, we had learned how to meet challenge itself.

So, I think that using the body as a tool to ‘break the jump’ will help us learn how to break the other jumps in our lives.  If I have the courage and confidence to leap a 6 foot wide precipice or to build a house from the ground up, surely I will also have the confidence to face other forms of failure.


In other words, confidence is confidence however we come by it…and we can use the body to learn it.

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