Moving Meditation


Published on

Zen, and the art of doing a backflip on the world's smallest trampoline.

  • Be the first to comment

  • Be the first to like this

No Downloads
Total views
On SlideShare
From Embeds
Number of Embeds
Embeds 0
No embeds

No notes for slide

Moving Meditation

  1. 1. Slacklining: Moving Meditation According to Merriam and Webster, meditation is defined as “engaging in mental exercise (as concentration on one's breathing or repetition of a mantra) for the purpose of reaching a heightened level of spiritual awareness.” Despite the scarcity of recorded history of meditation it is thought to have existed since ancient times. Anthropologists have argued that meditation and its altered states of consciousness may have been discovered by prehistoric hunter-gatherer and nomadic peoples while staring at their fires. There are Indian scriptures, known as tantras, which mention meditation as far back as 5000 years ago. Meditation and the means by which it is practiced vary widely from place to place and from century to century but its fundamental purpose has remained much the same, to achieve something greater than oneself through balance, focus, and concentration. Without dedication to these things slacklining would not be possible. Slacklining? What the hell is that? The easiest way to describe slacklining to someone who has never seen or heard of it before is to say that it’s a lot like tight-rope walking. In truth it is very different. A tight rope is usually about as wide or wider than the average width of a persons foot, and is stretched across a span so tightly that it acts more like a steel bar than a piece of rope. A slackline is a piece of climbers webbing (flat nylon strips used to anchor climbing ropes to the tops of climbing routes for safety) that spans a distance between two solid objects anywhere from a few feet to thousands of feet above the ground. Webbing is much thinner than tight-rope, ranging from an inch to only fractions of an inch wide and is amazingly strong despite its appearance. Most webbing is
  2. 2. rated to withstand in upwards of 4000 pounds before breaking. Even though it is so strong it is amazingly dynamic which causes it to stretch, wobble, and sway when a person walks across it. This is the fundamental difference between slacklining and tight- rope walking. Like meditation the origins of the sport of slacklining aren’t exactly known but the story that most people seem to agree upon goes like this. On a rainy day in 1983 in Yosemite National Park a couple of guys, Scott Balcom and Darrin Carter, bummed about a good days climbing getting rained out, were balancing on a parking lot chain to pass them time. Over the next few years these two guys would make the art of balancing their lives, practicing religiously and spreading the gospel of slack around the climbing community. The way Scott and Darrin saw it the sky was the limit, and after a little while the sky is exactly where they took it. In 2000 Darrin Carter set the world record for highest successful slackline crossing, sixty feet across and 2,800 feet above the deck on Lost Arrow Spire in Yosemite National Park. For the people all over the world who love slacking the sport isn’t just about walking highest line, or the longest line, it’s simply about striving to attain a better sense of themselves, to tune in to the forces of nature, to embrace them and become the same as them, simple and focused. In order to successfully balance on and walk across a slackline one must focus solely on one single point and must stay focused on that point no matter what. One must also tune themselves to the line so that it becomes an extension of their body. There is no hope in expecting the line to move with you, instead you move with the line. It’s a dance, and the line leads. This is where the term “moving meditation” comes from.
  3. 3. Slacklining is now used in a wide range of disciplines not necessarily related to the climbing world. Since it is such a powerful tool for increasing strength, flexibility, focus, and balance slacking has been incorporated into skiing/snowboarding, martial arts, and yoga. In fact there is now a new rising discipline of yoga called slackline-yoga, in which yoga poses have been specifically designed to be performed while balancing on a slackline. Slacklining is an exercise surrendering to the flow and allowing nature to conduct you thoughts and movements and as a result developing a much deeper connection to the invisible energies that govern our daily lives. Some students at the University of Utah have taken the concept a step further. Every week on campus there students gather at Presidents’ Circle to do a bit of slacking. The students are members of the Outdoor Equilibrium Slacklining Club (OESC). As well as shared interest in becoming better at it the students use slacking as a metaphor for the world of today and how we as a society interact with it. "With slacklining, you won't be able to walk across the line if you're not moving in a deliberate fashion, if you don't know exactly what you're doing with each step. If you translate that into how we are living, it will not be sustainable if we take ignorant steps” said Andy Eisenberg a sophomore majoring in urban planning in an interview with the Utah Chronicle. The members of the OESC feel that slacklining promotes balance and a healthy give and take relationship with the forces of nature, which is how they feel society needs to regard the planet that we live on. The OESC's faculty adviser, Bob Palais, a research associate professor in mathematics, supports the club's community agenda. "Slacklining is clearly aligned with sustainability. The way the
  4. 4. world is now, it would get on and fall off in one second," he said in the Utah Chronicle. "Slacklining requires long-term thinking, and so does our environment." It may be that the search for a more tangible connection to our spiritual selves and to the world we all live in may be ultimately beyond our reach. However, for those who are too active to sit cross-legged and chant mantras there is a new means of exploring these things more suitable to their lifestyles; slacking off.