Zen Climbing

Climbing is a State of Mind

Zen Climbing Photo by ground.zero

Finding Zen in Slow Moves

September 28th, 2009 by Anders · 4 Comments · Personal - Anders

These past months have been wonderful and hard at the same time. On one hand it is great to be back at the wall after 18 months without climbing at all. On the other hand it is hard to know that I can climb well, know the moves and the techniques, – and only be able to climb for a few minutes at a time, and simple climbing on top of this.

So I have been bound to find a different appreciation of climbing that I cannot remember having had before I stopped climbing almost two years ago.

In the mean time, I have been on a journey of self discovery along with massive client work, so I am becoming more aware of myself and the possibilities that I have mentally.

The state of Zen Climbing is thus becoming more important for me, since right now I can not reach the state by pushing myself physically under the roof or on hard pinchy routes.

Finding Zen in slow moves
Zen Climbing is about presence in the now. And pushing yourself to the limit will sometimes produce this state – almost as if it comes by it self. A full focus on every move, and a complete lack of thoughts to go, which allows for so much more sensing and physical presence.

So how can you produce this state “manually” while climbing without pushing yourself physically?

For me it has been about moving superslow. I climb so slowly that I have time to register details on every hold before I grab it. I touch the hold lightly before I decide where to hold it. While touching the hold, I sense it – how is it shaped, how rough is it, what colours does it have, where can I hold it? Only then do I hold it and move onto putting weight on it.

While doing this I keep my mind free from judging the hold. It has no “value” – good or bad – it is there to be held.

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4 Comments so far ↓

  • Gerard

    Please do keep the blog going. I just came across it while searching for “climbing” and “presence”.
    I’ve been coming to the same conclusions, but I’m framing them in different language.
    I have a fear of heights that is occasionally nearly overwhelming, but I enjoy climbing. I can’t put my finger on precisely why I keep coming back to the rock face, and frequently find myself sat at a belay thinking about packing it in. But I really love climbing a good route – enjoying the moves and the experience of making the moves.

    I recently began to understand that my fears have the greatest strength when I’m thinking. I used to refer to some climbs as being a mental game, but I’ve now started changing my language and insisting to myself that it’s a body game – I must stop thinking. It’s only when, as you describe, I focus on experiencing the physical in my climbing – the feel of the rock, the shape of the holds, etc. – that I can let go of the *thought* of falling or of the height, and so can enjoy the experience.

    I used to dream of a future where I could enjoy the experience of being at height or in an exposed position. While I think that would be a great benefit, I’m now trying to simply not pay any attention to that aspect at all, and just *be* in the climbing. I’m hoping to get to the top of a route, and have no memory of what the exposure felt like.

  • Anders

    Hi Gerard
    Thank you so much for the support to keep blogging! It means a great deal to me that there are others out there who thinks that this is important for the climbing scene.
    You are absolutely right about fear and thinking. There is very often a prominent thinking part involved when creating fear. I will at some point write more about this in the blog. ;)
    For now I will start out slow…
    Hav a great day.
    /Anders.

  • david

    try looking in to mindfullness meditation…

  • Anders

    Thanks David, I am – and I like it. ;)

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