Rob is an athlete at Raleigh CrossFit. However, his athleticism and training extend beyond the doors of Raleigh CrossFit. His passions include travel, doing things that some may call extreme or enlightening. He enjoys moments in life and taking an introspective approach, rather than seeing them for surface value only.
The 2017 CrossFit Open is one of those things. Rob was kind enough to share some of his thoughts on the first Open Workout, 17.1. And while this workout wasn’t one that every athlete at Raleigh CrossFit or beyond, completed, there certainly is a connection among all CrossFitters that regardless of the workout, there is a Zen that often arises as a result of a workout experience.
“As I have gone through my day, feeling the effects of 17.1, I reflected several times on what goes on in my mind while I’m doing these things – 17.1, the daily WOD, Olympic lifting, and whatever else may come from another day walking into the gym. The idea popped into my head while I was talking to a co-worker, trying to relay the feeling in my back and what had led to it. She commented, “Why would you do that?” I paused and thought for a moment before replying, “It clears my mind, even if just for 20 minutes, I can just not think. I need that everyday.” As that particular day carried on, the words rung in my head, and it finally hit me, Crossfit is my Zen.
I read that defining Zen is like trying to describe the taste of honey to someone who has never tasted it before. You can try to explain the texture and scent of honey, or you can try to compare and correlate it with similar foods. However, honey is honey. As long as you have not tasted it, you are in the illusion of what honey is.
Have you ever tried to explain Crossfit to someone that’s never tried it before? You talk about the workouts, and the movements, the gym, the people, the community, the open, the competition, the feeling you get after a workout. But they can only attempt to relate. Maybe they compare it to other workouts they’ve done, or some kind of group class they’ve taken. Without the experience of full immersion, they only have an illusion of what crossfit is.
Practicing Zen Buddhist primarily sit quietly and let go of their thoughts. They focus just on posture and breathing, letting go of ego and allowing the unconscious mind to melt away, so that they can merge with the universe.
Well we definitely don’t sit quietly, but I think that’s where the contrast ends. In the moments before the clock sounds to start, what goes through your mind? “Ok, snatches, then burpees, don’t forget to breath.” And GO! The clock starts, and the world ceases to exist. I’m focused on nothing but breathing, and progressing through each movement. Anything that happened that day, anything that I’m going to have to deal with later, is completely wiped from my mind. All ego is gone, I’m humbled by how a seemingly simple task can reduce the strongest person to stumbling ball of sweat. The harder I push my body, the more I’m present focused, the past and future no longer exist, I only have this moment right now. For as long as my workout will take, its just me and the task at hand, merging with the universe, reaching my Zen.”