I saw the movie Lone Survivor last weekend. The movie begins with dialog describing the notion that we all have something flowing inside of us, a river, that when called upon can take us to places that we never knew.
During the movie I kept thinking about Crossfit (CF).
When one of the Navy Seals says, "no matter what, you are never out of the fight" I thought about one of those CF memes showing someone working out.
Initially this bothered me.
CF may be exercise as sport but let's be clear, the ideology behind CF is all military.
Then last night it hit me....
Allow me to digress a moment to make my point.
Before I went to war I trained to extremes I never thought possible. Exercising to the max four times a day. Having one of the trainers at my gym push me until I threw up. Sprints uphill until my lungs felt like they were going to explode. Pushing my muscles to failure every day.
Several weeks before I was activated my trainer was putting me through a particularly special kind of hell and all of a sudden everything got real quiet. My panting shifted to calm breath, my pain disappeared, and I felt stronger than ever.
My trainer was shocked, so much so that I think it made him a little nervous.
Up until last night I've looked at this experience as reaching a fight or flight threshold; my body just releasing a bunch of adrenaline.
But now I believe I tapped into my spirit.
What I experienced is nothing unique.
Commander Mark Divine, Navy Seal and creator of SealFit, describes his first encounter with, what I'm calling Spirit, during a 1000 eight-count body builders smoke session by "Instructor Evil"
After 50 reps, Divine describes being smoked (military for exhausted) at 700 he was numb. Around 900, Divine explains that he started laughing.
"Soon I was feeling 100% better, as if bolts of energy were flowing through me. I looked Instructor Evil in the eye and said "Easy Day, This is Fun"."
Because I didn't understand that this peace and power was inside me I went searching for it.
I wasn't searching blind. There were clues. Being around my battle buddies gave me the feeling. I remember being on an OP for 12 hours. That shared suffering made me feel so connected to the guys I was with.
After the IED almost took my testicles I felt a thill of being alive like I had never experienced before.
Coming home from Iraq, I felt an appreciation for life that was incredible powerful and calming.
But, as you know, it faded.
That connection to peace seemed only available at a very intense edge.
CF creates that edge for those that practice. That's why I think there is such a following and why those who aren't involved think it's a cult. CF us no more a cult that the military is.
CF creates the edge through physical exertion, the same way the military does, the same way combat does, however and this is where everything comes together...the experience creates an environment for spirit to shine through.
If you are a crossfitter, think about what your internal experience is like after a brutal workout.
The mind is calm because the body is flush with sensation. If you trained with someone else there's that sense of shared suffering and triumph. Maybe you passed a threshold and now know for a fact that what you thought was your best was only the beginning. The sky is the limit!
This is what the manifestation of spirit feels like.
Now here's the problem. An untrained mind will assume this is the only way to spirit or that that is all spirit is.
Here in lies the fundamental flaw of a military or CF path to spirit...it's unsustainable.
Because the military and CF paths to spirit are unsustainable the practitioner may never know spirit or it's most powerful manifestations.
An often discussed scene in Lone Survivor is the decision the Seals made to release the Taliban goat herders that compromised their position instead of killing them. Mark Walberg's character in particular argues for mercy.
Following this scene the situation for the four Seals goes to shit. The next 30min of the film is brutal. The Seals fight against unbeatable odds.
All but Walberg's character are killed.
During a break in the fighting there is a scene that could best be described as a baptism. Walberg's character finds himself at the edge of a small pool of water. In he plunges. When he emerges he finds himself face to face with a local Sheik. The Sheik shows Walberg mercy and even though it costs him dearly, takes him back to his village and protects him from the invading Taliban long enough for the American military to come to the rescue.
I've thought about these events quite a lot and what I keep coming back to is the question: what really saved the lone survivor?
Was it that he tapped into his spirit for a level of strength and stamina he never imagined he had, or was the greater power that he argued for mercy?
You know, the bible doesn't say, "Blessed are the strong, for they shall inherit the earth"
Blessed are the "Meek"
Why would the bible say that?
Why would that be something to aspire to?
I want transcendent strength. I want strength beyond the physical. I want Gandhi, Mother Teresa, Nelson Mandela, strength. I want the kinda strength that changes the world.
Dear Crossfitter, if you want that too, join me in thinking outside the Box.
ARMOR DOWN UPDATES
This post was guided by the 98th stanza of the Art of Peace, a book written by Morihei Ueshiba
Armor Down is backing Legislation "H.R. 3516" AKA "The Veterans and Armed Forces’ Health Promotion Act of 2013".
This bill will
• Expand the scope of holistic care education and research for signature wounds such as Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) and Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI).
• Establish complementary and alternative medicine pilot programs for mental health and pain management treatment for veterans.
• Create a grant pilot program to upgrade Veteran Service Organization facilities, expanding the reach of wellness services directly into economically strained communities.
What we need right now people to show their support for this legislation by signing this petition.
To learn more about Taming and Training the mind in the gym, follow this link for two of the four week course.
A new comedy on Fox, called Enlisted is really funny. Check it out.
Mindful Memorial Day is coming in May.