The ability to climb harder routes is a skill, and any new skill you learn has to be embodied. In other words, your intellectual knowledge needs to be converted into experiential knowledge. You do this by taking your body through the stress of a route that is outside your comfort zone. As you focus attention on the challenge with a curious attitude, you convert that stress into comfort, embodying a higher tolerance for climbing situations that cause stress. To make this conversion effective and maintain that stress-converting attitude, focus on the four signals your body sends you.
These four signals are always the same, no matter what skill you are learning. I introduced the BERP acronym when we discussed falling, where it was used to determine how well your body processed stress when learning the skill of falling. Now the skill you are learning is moving.
How you breathe (B), where you look (E), how you relax (R), and your posture (P) are very similar for falling and moving. You need to breathe continuously, look in the direction of the developing situation, stay as relaxed as possible, and maintain proper posture. The main difference is an additional component in the (P) part of BERP. You need to use your body in a way that is appropriate to the task. For taking action the task is moving. Your body needs to move in an efficient way that maintains quality and keeps attention in the moment.
Let’s look at some variations to the BERP elements specific to the skill of moving. As you enter a challenging section of climbing, your mind will tend to resist that stress. You will hold your breath, tense your muscles, stop moving, and look down to escape.
Continuous breathing calms you and helps you process stress. If you notice you are breathing shallowly or holding your breath, regain a deeper breath by forcing air out with your belly and blowing it out of your mouth. Then, inhale into your belly. Focus your attention on maintaining deep, continuous belly breathing.
Attention goes where your eyes are looking. If you constantly look down to your last protection, you direct attention toward retreating and escaping the stress. Rather, direct attention by looking at the next foot- or handhold.
Gravity pulls down on you consistently. Don’t fight gravity to make progress. Instead, blend with gravity. Use it to determine how to engage your body. Relaxing and maintaining proper posture balances your body naturally over what supports it–your footholds. Maintain proper posture by rolling your shoulders back and down. Over-gripping and rising up on your toes also pulls your body out of balance. By relaxing your grip and shoulders and lowering your heels, you “cling” less with your arms, allowing your legs to move you through change in a balanced way. These adjustments shift the responsibility for maintaining balance from your upper body to your lower body.
By focusing on the BERP elements, you keep 100 percent of your attention in your body, on doing. Attention isn’t wasted thinking about what to do; it is focused totally on the doing itself.

Italy 2010 034-w900-h700The ability to climb harder routes is a skill, and any new skill you learn has to be embodied. In other words, your intellectual knowledge needs to be converted into experiential knowledge. You do this by taking your body through the stress of a route that is outside your comfort zone. As you focus attention on the challenge with a curious attitude, you convert that stress into comfort, embodying a higher tolerance for climbing situations that cause stress. To make this conversion effective and maintain that stress-converting attitude, focus on the four signals your body sends you.

These four signals are always the same, no matter what skill you are learning. I introduced the BERP acronym when we discussed falling, where it was used to determine how well your body processed stress when learning the skill of falling. Now the skill you are learning is moving.

How you breathe (B), where you look (E), how you relax (R), and your posture (P) are very similar for falling and moving. You need to breathe continuously, look in the direction of the developing situation, stay as relaxed as possible, and maintain proper posture. The main difference is an additional component in the (P) part of BERP. You need to use your body in a way that is appropriate to the task. For taking action the task is moving. Your body needs to move in an efficient way that maintains quality and keeps attention in the moment.

Let’s look at some variations to the BERP elements specific to the skill of moving. As you enter a challenging section of climbing, your mind will tend to resist that stress. You will hold your breath, tense your muscles, stop moving, and look down to escape.

Continuous breathing calms you and helps you process stress. If you notice you are breathing shallowly or holding your breath, regain a deeper breath by forcing air out with your belly and blowing it out of your mouth. Then, inhale into your belly. Focus your attention on maintaining deep, continuous belly breathing.

Attention goes where your eyes are looking. If you constantly look down to your last protection, you direct attention toward retreating and escaping the stress. Rather, direct attention by looking at the next foot- or handhold.

Gravity pulls down on you consistently. Don’t fight gravity to make progress. Instead, blend with gravity. Use it to determine how to engage your body. Relaxing and maintaining proper posture balances your body naturally over what supports it–your footholds. Maintain proper posture by rolling your shoulders back and down. Over-gripping and rising up on your toes also pulls your body out of balance. By relaxing your grip and shoulders and lowering your heels, you “cling” less with your arms, allowing your legs to move you through change in a balanced way. These adjustments shift the responsibility for maintaining balance from your upper body to your lower body.

By focusing on the BERP elements, you keep 100 percent of your attention in your body, on doing. Attention isn’t wasted thinking about what to do; it is focused totally on the doing itself.

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