What is Slacklining?
Slacklining, for those of you who don't already know, is a newly emerging sport that involves balancing on a 1-to-2 inch piece of nylon or polyester webbing that is tensioned between two objects, usually trees. More advanced "slackers" will then add various tricks and static yoga poses into the practice. Slacklining is distinct from tightrope walking in that the webbing is not taught, but rather dynamic, causing it to sway up and down and side to side as you attempt to maneuver along it. Successful slacklining requires a seamless connection between body and mind, contributing to the perfect combination of mental and physical challenge.
While slacklining first originated in the 70's as a leisure time activity for members of the rock climbing community, it has now unquestionably evolved into its own unique sport with dedicated athletes that continue to push the boundaries of what is possible on the line. Today thousands of individuals enjoy slacklining all around the world, and along with all of the fun come huge health benefits such as improved leg & core strength, balance, coordination, posture and concentration. We view slacklining as a unique opportunity to engage with your own body and mind in a new terrain, discovering your self-limiting thoughts and fears and pushing past them. The slackline is a simple concept, but it offers unlimited potential for growth.
What is Mindfulness?
"Mindfulness means paying attention in a particular way; on purpose, in the present moment, and non-judgmentally."
- Jon Kabat Zinn
Mindfulness practice begins with intention; the conscious choice to purposefully engage with your sensory awareness. By attempting to focus your awareness upon an object of your choice, such as the breath or a focal point at the end of the slackline, you actually create the opportunity for distractions to arise. These "distractions" may come in the form of thoughts about the past or future, feelings and emotions, or physical discomfort. Whenever something pops up, you simply make a mental note of it and calmly return to whatever you were focusing on. There is no need to become upset that you lost your focus because that is the nature of the mind. In fact, a common misperception of contemplative practices is that you're supposed to completely clear your mind of all thoughts. While this may sound nice in theory, the true aim of mindful practice is to simply become more aware of your sub-conscious thoughts, feelings, emotions, and discomforts. By becoming more in-tune with these "distractions," we learn more about how we relate to ourselves and to others, and begin to see more clearly opportunities for personal improvement and development.
Want to try it out? Just set a timer for 5 to 10 minutes and try to sit quietly with your eyes closed focusing on the inhalation and exhalation of your breath through a focal point either in your nostrils or stomach. You'll see for yourself within seconds how quickly the mind wanders. By continually focusing your attention, becoming distracted, and then consciously bringing your attention back to your focus, you are actually working to rewire the neuron pathways in your brain. Over time, sustained mindfulness practices can result in greater concentration, compassion, empathy, and patience. Mindfulness has also been scientifically proven to lower blood pressure, reduce chronic pain, help relieve stress and improve sleep, among a number of other amazing health benefits. While mindfulness is fascinating to study and learn about, it is much more easily understood experientially from a first-person perspective. We encourage you to try it out!