March 2. 2012
by Cat Fitzgerald
We all train, yet, most of us miss its hidden gifts. We tend to look at training as the gift and other things, such as a better body and less stress, as nice, secondary benefits. Training with only these goals is Sisyphean, a dead end. Inherent in any training is a deeper level of work at whichpoint, while we work to grow and evolve into that next physical level, we are actually train for life.
Freediving is a great example of just that. To get better, it is not enough to simply be good at CO2 resistance, be hydrodynamic, or equalize well. All of that is important, true, but, as a reader of this column, it is safe to assume that these are things you are already good at and know to work on – though being a first-timer does not preclude you from the following. Here is the gift, the key to the next progression of excellence:
I’ll leave the touchy-feely for your private time; what I am referring to is the ability to deal with primal, basic, hard-wired emotions. In the work that I do, we face a lot of Fear, Anger, Sadness, Joy, Frustration, and the list goes on. However, for the purpose of our discussion, I will only use Fear, Happiness, and Shame. Fear is future-based. Shame stems from the past and Happiness, while it transcends both, is the only emotion that can live in the immediate, in the here and now.
What happens when you are at 60’ and even the slightest bit of anxiety enters your thoughts? Your heart rate shoots up, there’s a release of adrenaline into the system, O2 metabolization becomes less efficient. It all equals less down time. Now, before you start sending me hate mail, I love Yoga, Meditation, and other contemplative practices, but I bring up Yoga and Meditation specifically because they have long been the loudest promoters of the “Here and Now” existence, of “Be.” Here’s the rub: Anyone can learn to be still on a mountain or at a spa retreat. It is easy to not honk your horn at the car in front of you if you are driving through Yosemite. It is a piece of cake to relax, breathe, let go and “Be” while on a massage table – though it sometimes seems less so in a Yoga studio with the instructor turning you into Gumby’s whining little bitch. And that’s the gift: the opportunity to not hide from or ignore discomfort, pain, loss, or pretend these feelings do not exist, but to process these emotions in a process them in a productive, positive way.
We learn how to process emotions and how to actually be in the Here and Now versus being in the past or the future or elsewhere altogether. We learn how to be aware of our goal during the dive without the future-reaching Fear and Anxiety of expectation and then we get to take that trained skill into our lives and relationships. The very training we used to create a new competitive edge in our sport, or to reach a new personal best, translates to development of the person we are at home, on the road, when we are full of Joy or in a Panic.
Keeping this in mind, let’s get ready to stretch. The Bladder Stretch – Lateral Hamstring, works on Bladder health, bone strength and density, improves balance, and helps to eliminate back pain. As we go deeper into the rabbit hole, this stretch can help you feel more hopeful and results oriented, while helping you increase your Self-Esteem and decreasing narcissistic behaviors. Deeper still and we discover that this stretch helps us to resolve Fear. Not Fear of [Fill in the Blank], but the pure, abject emotion of Fear. It helps to dismantle the negative processes we can fall prey to when we feel Fearful, and helps to create a positive processing MO.
Bring Abdominals toward spine, rather than pushing them out (as show on the picture)
Start lifting your spine from the sacrum up, one vertebra at a time.
Keep your thighs relaxed as you lift and lift until you are resting on your upper back. Keep your Abs sucked in toward your spine.
Lower yourself, again, one vertebra at a time, keeping your thighs relaxed and abs sucked into your spine, until you reach your starting position.
Be sure to go through your lower back before you reach the top of your glutes.
Take today’s stretch and feel it. Train yourself to know the difference between productive discomfort and counterproductive suffering. Add in breathing, centering. This is your first step to real cross training: Physiologic, Psychologic, Emotional, and Spiritual. Methodological Integration.