climbing can be as deep or as shallow as you want to make it. it's all good as long as you're climbing because you get something out of it. not because you want to impress anybody. or because you want to be in a magazine or video. or merely because your significant other climbs.
i started this thread in the hopes of stimulating some conversation on the topic of fear, motivation and mental training. what is it that makes you, as a climber, tick? what is it that's holding you back? are you able to recognize your weaknesses without letting your ego get in the way? not blaming falling off your redpoint attempt on your short-roping belayer, or the humid weather or whatever else you might point your finger at. if you can see what's holding you back from really being there on a climb, then you've made progress. now all you have to do is consider the opportunities you have to overcome your weaknesses. by shifting your focus from those things that are holding you back (fear of falling, your inflexibility, lack of height, etc) and refocusing on ways to overcome those deficiencies, you can learn to climb better. better, let me note, is subjective. what i mean by better is not what you'd call "harder", but rather "more aware".
i gave this thread the title "climb like a samurai" for a reason. the climber and the samurai parrallel is made by arno ilgner in the book i mentioned previously, "the rock warrior's way". now, i don't want to come off preaching this book like a zealot, but i think the relevance that ilgner's research has on what most climbers are looking to accomplish is invaluable.
to return to the samurai point, let me explain. the bulk of ilgner's research and mental training theory is based on the premise that a climber's task of venturing into the risk zone is very similar to a samurai engaged in mortal combat. filtering through ancient samurai texts and manuals, ilgner saw that samurai are trained to develop impeccable attention, a kind of hyper-awareness that enables them to fight a battle with complete decisiveness, focusing on what they have to give to the situation, not on what fear is taking away. a samurai in battle maintains an attitude of possibility. there must be confidence, but not overconfidence. similarily, a climber faces mortal danger every time he ventures out on a climb. granted, modern climbing equipment has made the sport much safer. yet safety sometimes seems like less of a factor when you're facing a fall. the fear is the same. recognizing the fear as an impediment to your ability to maintain attention on the task at hand is the first step in dealing with fear. fear is not something to take lightly. it can warn us of serious dangers with serious consequences. but it's valuable to be able to recognize phantom fear when it arises, that fear which springs from our imagination alone.
ilgner's approach hinges on seven phases: observing (becoming conscious). centering (life is subtle). accepting (accepting responsibility). focusing (giving). commiting (choices). trusting (listening). and finally full attention (the journey). i'll try and sum these up the best i can in the next few posts. i'd love to hear your own thoughts on this topic. step up. what are your weaknesses?
the way i see it, there are two worlds: the world where nothing is sacred except money, and the other world, where everything is sacred.