The 2014 Open was my first experience of what I call, “Talking with the Spirit People.” It was 14.2 and as the rounds went on and the other people that were in my heat starting falling off, I became the only competitor making into the next round. I remember the sensation of tunnel vision and the whole world completely drowning out, but it wasn’t till later when I saw the video footage that I realized how much I had actually drowned out.
The video footage had the whole gym in my face yelling as loud as they could for me to keep going, and I didn’t hear anything.
That feeling of pure, raw existence is what many throughout the years have been trying to reach. It is a partial step to the enlightenment of gurus, and yogis. Come to find out you get your heart rate high enough, and keep pushing yourself past previous barriers and bang, you start to “talk with the spirit people.”
The more I study Meditation, HRV breathing techniques, and Chakras the more I realize I learned some of this intuitively from Crossfit.
Research is coming out every day on the importance of meditation, breathing, relaxation, yoga, and all the other hippy crap you have probably thought is for lulu lemon-wearing soccer moms who can’t deadlift their groceries, let alone a decent weight on a barbell.
But let’s get real. You might not be living up to your full athletic potential because you’re not training your brain.
Here are a few examples.
What is HRV Training? There are great video’s and articles to talk about Heart Rate Variability training but to put it into simple English, with simple rhythmic breathing techniques you can calm down the part of your nervous system once thought uncontrollable. This can take you out of the fight-or-flight response, and allow you to get more from your nervous system. What does this mean for Crossfit? You can get into those really intense workouts and if you are using HRV training you can get more performance out of the high intensity moments that used to drop you. There is an incredible example of how far the human body can adapt in Wim Hof. While scientist were using heart monitor machines to test the time between beats while people meditated in a lab, this guy was throwing himself into extreme cold. For an awesome piece on Wim’s story, check out this link. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VaMjhwFE1Zw
To dig deeper on Heart Rate Variability here are some great articles.
Now how is Meditation different than simple breathing? First it’s a powerful way to use visualization and use auto suggestions that you can create by repeating a mantra. A mantra is a sacred utterance or group of words believed by some to have psychological and spiritual power in Sanskrit. But for our use, let’s just say it is repeating a message, or an emotional cue that can improve your performance. Studies have shown that people who use visualization get the muscles firing similar to the exercise that they are visualizing. This means you are priming your body for work. http://fitness.mercola.com/sites/fitness/archive/2013/02/08/simple-activity-increases-muscle-strength.aspx
Now this might be the most underutilized tools at the disposal of Crossfitters. It not only is a great way to get deeper sleep, the example in the link below is a tool that can give you a huge mental advantage and emotional boost to hit hard WODs. It’s easy to see professional athletes using emotional signals to get more out of their performance, why should we act any different, especially since it’s such an easy thing to access on YouTube.
Now if you are still with me let’s go to a couple activities that may be outside the comfort levels of most people when it comes to meditative practices. EFT stands for Emotional Freedom Technique and involves tapping a few acupuncture points of the head, face, and body that allow you to calm down the fight or flight response, or any other negative emotion that might come up. For example, if I walk into a workout with a bunch of wall balls in them I automatically get a pit in my stomach. What is that? Just the thought of doing certain movements can trigger an emotional response that doesn’t help me in the workout. Using EFT, I can try to rewrite that emotional response before I sabotage my success in the workout.
Now one might argue that Chakras are not the mind but and exercise for the body. You also might argue that they are made up spiritual mumbo-jumbo for people in yoga, and have no value for Crossfit. You are entitled to your opinion. However it is interesting to note that all of the above examples (HRV, meditation, and hypnosis) had yogis and mystics talking about them for years before modern science caught up and realized their effectiveness. A quick google search will show how hard it is to define a Chakra, so I’m going to put my definition here and let you do your own search on the subject. Simply put Chakras are energy spots along the spine that can either help of hinder your physical and spiritual well-being. So let’s say for argument sake that Chakras can actually help with energy systems in your body and mind, giving you greater athletic performance. And even if they don’t, perhaps the very idea can give us some benefit via the famous Placebo Effect. So if you’re interested in trying this meditation tool start here.