Community is something that has been lacking over the last two years. As we are all coming out of the fog, maybe this is the time to be reborn.
If the world is indeed forever altered due to the shutdowns, economic challenges, division in our culture, and a ton of uncertainty about what’s coming, it’s easy to get caught up in a lot of things you can’t control and in things that are designed to keep us acting out of fear.
The 1612 community is one that accepts the responsibility that their life will be whatever they choose to make it. When we come together as a community, I share exercises, strategies, and concepts I have used to gain more control over my life.
Exposure to new environments and activities is a huge part of learning to manage anxiety about the unknown. We visited one of our other local killer businesses, “The Church of Jamey.” The dude built up his boxing class and fight training business out of his garage. I love getting new people exposed to a new form of training. Not only will this be useful, but getting to move around and hit things is generally great. Mastery of your body is a huge part of mastering your universe.
This week we had an impromptu Kendo training stick tournament. While it was wildly fun to do, the exposure here is focus and managing anxiety to perform. Make no mistake. When faced with a sword fight, your attention focuses.
While I struggled with focus and attention most of my life, I found that there were times when I had great hyperfocus. These times were sports, hunting, and art, but it required the physical and mental focus for me to get locked in. Being able to realize that you can indeed have hyperfocus then means you have to get better at using it.
Throughout my years of competing I developed the ability to turn it on. This ability to focus and stay in control during stress has always helped me build confidence in trying new things.
There also comes the ability to manage loss. Don’t dwell on it. Learn what you can and move on with positives of standing in the discomfort and performing. You can and will get better at this by continuing to test yourself. You can decide to give whatever task the same focus as a sword fight. That ability to focus is already in you. Learn to control it.
That night was also our SLASHERS party at DOPE. I wanted to create environments for connection. Having everyone in onesies and slightly silly looking is disarming. It’s pretty easy to have fun and lower your guard in a room of adults dressed as power rangers or astronauts.
Do not discredit the warmth and fulfillment that comes from spending intimate time with people who want to see you succeed. Get in depth with everyone and learn from each other. These weekends are a safe space to share and learn from the community's experience as well as your own.
Consciously deciding to interact with people outside of your standard realm of influence is critical for expanding ideas and awareness of our own lives. This time builds gratitude and welcomes you into our community as one.
Getting to have fun with my friends is also very high on my list of kick ass things to spend more time in my life choosing to do. Building a community together brings purpose and resources to the members' lives. There needs to be time for connecting in a safe environment that is all about growth and awareness.
Saturday started with movement and a 9 mile hike down the Katy Trail. Putting people in motion with a singular goal for 4 hours brings out a ton in people. It’s these long, hot, and slightly exhausting practices that tend to remove the liar from me. Managing to have a front up for 4 hours is exhausting, so naturally, some are sharing, and others are opening up more and more as the hike progresses.
We also know that something as simple as a walk can make giant changes in your life. Outside of obvious health and weight loss that comes from added activity, there are the mental health aspects that come from fresh air, green spaces, and sunlight. We know that all of these attributes alleviate stress, reduce depression, and better manage hormones. This is a simple action we can take to gain more control in our lives.
After exhausting our machines on a 4 hour hike in the heat, we all arrived back at DOPE for Fire and Ice exposure and breath work. Breath work, cold and heat were one of the first tools I learned that helped me manage anxiety, pain, and create focus.
Our breath has such power. We simply don’t exist without it, so it behooves us to maybe get better at using it to benefit us. During this session, we go through up and down regulation, as well as breath hold training to increase CO2 tolerance. This has numerous benefits, from anti-aging, immune system boosting, heat and cold shock protein release.
Outside of this, it is a willingness to be uncomfortable for a delayed benefit. This is a skill that I value more than the others that I have. Knowing that this is going to benefit me in the future and not now is an important concept to manage. When done once, all these things provide a taste of change to your current state. The big question is then, what changes are possible if this is done everyday?
While hot and cold may not be easily accessible for everyone, a cold shower is. And your breath…it’s always there. This tool can get us out of panic and into a state where we are back on the offensive. Back focused and not just reacting. These tools are yours to master and figure out their benefit to you. None of this is magic. I look at it like controls to the machine. Breath can control mood, focus, up or down regulation. Why wouldn’t being better at this be beneficial to my everyday life?
I am not trying to avoid stress or anxiety. I am looking for better ways to manage it. As we go forward in the pursuit of our lives, we will face challenges and obstacles. They will also get bigger with bigger goals. These practices help keep you in the game with a pretty short investment of a few minutes of breathing.
Finishing out the evening with sound healing slowed everyone down and back to down regulation and meditation after the long day. People struggle to focus on meditation or being still. Myself included. The perfect step into this in-between, meditative state is after a day filled with these activities.
The exhaustion is full by this point at almost 12 hours into the day’s experience. It’s easy to be trashed from all the new stimulus and conversations from the day. This gave us all a time to be still and process everything. Sound has been used for ceremony and connecting to our minds by tribes and shamans for centuries. For those not familiar with how to use sound and music as a tool, they’re missing out. It’s got great power not just for hyping up lifts, but also changing your mindset.
For those new to this type of meditation, it will be easier for them to slip into that in-between state. Getting to see people find that space for the first time is very powerful. It’s a doorway of sorts into our own awareness.
The more aware I can be about what is driving me to make decisions, the more I can use those tools to keep my mind and focus where I want it. All of these practices are used in my life and various times during the weeks.
Hot and cold have been great for me since my first exposure to it. I have built chest freezers into cold tanks and spent lots of time soaking in hot water. Breathe work allows me to focus on a single moment. When you alter your breath, you have to turn off the autopilot system. I think about this like “I’m taking the controls now” or “this matters so let’s up regulate and prepare.”
I can down regulate on bumpy flights, the DMV, or in any other challenging situations. The better I can manage my energy from getting taken by BULLSHIT, the more I have to invest in myself and the things I want to accomplish.
The 1612 is about building a life you love. This is hard and often going to be a challenging pursuit. Ok is easy. Comfortable is easy, but both leave wanting more for people like us. If you want more from your life, I am here saying CHOOSE YOU!I’m also saying this road will be challenging and likely require very different demands than the life you’re currently living or coasting through. The challenge is always worth it. The gold comes from awareness of what you want out of your life and what you want to accomplish. These are some of the tools I put into my life that created massive changes in it.