The Zen of Climbing

We touched a little bit on this on our post, which posed the question, “Why Climb?

On of the things we thought about was the mental aspect – the benefit of doing something that entirely focuses your mind on the task at hand.

Any of us who are familiar with yoga or meditation, will definitely see the meditative aspect to this.

Without diving too deep, this connects directly with a concept found in The Yoga Sutras of Patanjali. The Yoga Sutras are some of the earliest writings on yoga. Yoga in this sense is closer to the original meaning of the word: yoking. That is, looking inwards.

The concept is discussed as a jewel, but often the analogy of a small pond of water is more descriptive. Essentially, you approach a still pond of water and look down into it.
If the water is still and calm, you will see a clear reflection of yourself. If someone throws a rock into the pod, there is chaos on the surface and the reflection becomes disturbed and misleading.

Likewise, if our consciousness is calm and still, we see our true selves more clearly. We understand our real nature and we begin to see the problems that we are creating for ourselves in the world. For that reason, we should embrace any activity that helps to calm the turmoil of our consciousness. We embrace an activity where our mind is working automatically, where it is focused on an immediate reality, and not dwelling in non-existent pasts and futures.

Many rock climbers describe this feeling. In long or particularly challenging climbs, they talk about finding out who you really are. As Edmund Hilary said, “it is not the mountain that we conquer but ourselves.”