My trampoline coach demonstrated something he wanted me to try. It looked simple enough. I set myself up on the trampoline, pictured it in my mind as I took a breath, and then my body did something completely different.
This happens often in trampoline practice.
It also happens in flying trapeze, and in the gym. In fact, it happens often in life.
Maybe it’s just me, but I doubt it.
Have you ever set an intention for sometning you’re going to do, then taken steps to do it, only to find yourself doing something else.
Before you answer, here are some examples of places where your body may have acted independently of your mind’s intention:
I’m just going to check Facebook/Instagram/Twitter for 2 minutes. Then I’m going to close the browser.
I’m going to walk into the store, but only to browse. I’m not gonna buy anything.
I’m going to focus on this work for the next hour, with no distractions.
It can feel like such a challenge to get the mind and body on the same page.
We falter. We stumble. We fall.
It happens. To everyone.
How do you react when it happens?
Yes, you get back up. Of course you do, because that’s who you are.
But how do you react to the stumble and fall?
Here’s how I often react: Frustration. Self-blame. Putting myself down. That incessant question: What’s wrong with me?
Here’s something interesting I noticed: I don’t do this on the trampoline. When it happens on the trampoline I do something very different.
The Magic of Laughter
Multiple times during a practice I’ll do something that I’m trying not to do, and instead of getting angry at my body for not cooperating, I laugh.
Why do I laugh?
Maybe because it’s trampoline.
Some perspective: I’m 44 years old and I get to play on a trampoline. I wasn’t a child gymnast. This is all new to me (even after 8 years). It’s hard.
I’m trying to do physical moves that are difficult, while fighting gravity and well-entrenched physical movement habits and subconscious fears that emerge in every movement and all of it comes together in this big game, where of course I’m going to stumble and fall.
This is fun. I am a grown adult and I get to play on a trampoline. And sometimes I even get to defy gravity.
I’ll admit that sometimes I forget to laugh. But then my coach reminds me to laugh. He reminds me not to take it all so seriously.
Why would I even expect it to be different? Our subconscious directs 90% of our actions. It’s funny that I would think I could direct my body to do something and it would happen automatically.
It’s what makes the times I do manage to align my body and mind so gratifying.
I laugh at those too. Like I’ve just solved a great mystery of life.
And perhaps I have. Because here’s what I’ve noticed:
No matter what, after I fall, I get up and try again.
It’s much easier to get up and try again if I laughed than it is if I got angry at myself.
Hmmm…something to consider.
A Life Approach
So why don’t I laugh when I stumble and fall in other areas of life?
I can give you a bunch of reasons that sound good. Stakes are higher. It’s not play time. There’s more on the line. I’m sure you have your reasons why “real life” is different.
Bullshit. That’s what most of us are trained to believe.
Within one of the schools of ancient yogic philosophy is the concept of Lila/ Leela, also known as divine play. Lila is a way of describing all reality, including the cosmos, as the outcome of creative play by the divine.
So what if you believed that everything is play?
That’s what I asked myself today.
What if you laughed every time you stumbled and fell, every time you couldn’t get your body to do what your mind wanted it to do?
What if you approached everything like it was play? Even the serious stuff. Especially the serious stuff.