I like to view climbing challenges as risks. Some of these are risks in the commonly understood sense: there is a chance of serious bodily injury. Other climbing risks involve little or no physical danger, but may be intimidating or frightening for any number of reasons. You risk a thrilling but safe air fall. You risk the feeling of “failure” or embarrassment in front of onlookers. You risk “blowing your redpoint.” You risk putting yourself in a situation where you need to hold on uncomfortably hard for uncomfortably long, etc. Psychologically speaking, these risks are as real as the risk of physical injury.
In the Warrior’s Way® method, taking a risk involves three phases: preparation, transition, and action. In preparation, you gather objective information about a risk. Once you’ve done this, you move into transition and make a decision about whether or not a risk is appropriate. If the risk is appropriate, you move into action.
Here we are concerned only with preparation and the best frame of mind for that task. For proper preparation, you need to break out of your tendency to rush or stall and do active, focused thinking. Active thinking uses intention. Intention is attention focused in the direction of a choice. When you are at a rest stance, your choice is to focus your thinking processes on gathering information in preparation for the next challenge.
“Information” means objective information. If you begin thinking about how difficult the climbing will be, then you’re being subjective. “Difficult” basically means “stressful,” a signal that your mind is straying off task and beginning its comfort-seeking tricks. This kind of thinking is not intentional. It is habitual, based on how you have dealt with stress in the past. Instead of actively thinking, you are allowing your mind to run its habitual stress-avoidance thoughts through your mental space.

First in FlightI like to view climbing challenges as risks. Some of these are risks in the commonly understood sense: there is a chance of serious bodily injury. Other climbing risks involve little or no physical danger, but may be intimidating or frightening for any number of reasons. You risk a thrilling but safe air fall. You risk the feeling of “failure” or embarrassment in front of onlookers. You risk “blowing your redpoint.” You risk putting yourself in a situation where you need to hold on uncomfortably hard for uncomfortably long, etc. Psychologically speaking, these risks are as real as the risk of physical injury.

In the Warrior’s Way® method, taking a risk involves three phases: preparation, transition, and action. In preparation, you gather objective information about a risk. Once you’ve done this, you move into transition and make a decision about whether or not a risk is appropriate. If the risk is appropriate, you move into action.

Here we are concerned only with preparation and the best frame of mind for that task. For proper preparation, you need to break out of your tendency to rush or stall and do active, focused thinking. Active thinking uses intention. Intention is attention focused in the direction of a choice. When you are at a rest stance, your choice is to focus your thinking processes on gathering information in preparation for the next challenge.

“Information” means objective information. If you begin thinking about how difficult the climbing will be, then you’re being subjective. “Difficult” basically means “stressful,” a signal that your mind is straying off task and beginning its comfort-seeking tricks. This kind of thinking is not intentional. It is habitual, based on how you have dealt with stress in the past. Instead of actively thinking, you are allowing your mind to run its habitual stress-avoidance thoughts through your mental space.

This Post Has 6 Comments

  1. Hola Arno,
    I find this lesson really important and real to me. Sometimes I feel really tired on a route and when I rest in a stance my mind try to avoid the effort and the intention by telling me that that’s all, I’m finished and somehow when I surrender to that easy solution, I deeply feel how my ego wins the battle.
    I’ve been trying really hard to use breathing as a tool to focus my attention but sometimes I just can’t control myself.
    I’ll do my best to set a proper preparation phase before I start climbing.
    Thank you

    1. Hola Roberto, Gracias for your comments. Our next lesson will address exactly what to think about when preparing. This will help you direct your attention away from the limiting thoughts and onto thoughts that will help you prepare.
      Arno

  2. One of the things I love about climbing are the parallels it has in so many other parts of our lives. Recently I have started to practice silent meditation twice a day. A recurring theme in this meditation has been the voice inside my head that wishes to express itself with angry thoughts and visuals. Through continued practice the voices have quieted down by not focusing on these subjective distractions but rather the immediate. These being my breathing, the sun on my face etc . The lessons we learn in climbing are life lessons and the three you mention here are a formula to success in all parts of our lives.

    1. Hi Ian, Yes, we need to act in the same empowering way in all aspects of our lives. Then we learn to use attention well in any stressful situation, not just when climbing. Arno

  3. Hey Arno
    This subject is nice in that I sometimes skip this process and jump right into action, especially if my mind is controlling the process. An example would be thinking that a climb is easy so I jump right in only to be stalled at some point because my mind (ego) is still running.
    Other times I don’t even get started because of the egoic mind. An example of this would be thinking that a climb is too tough, over analyze, and shut myself down before even getting on the wall.
    I do, however, love how I can relate these experiences to everyday life, and I am aware that although I still fall back into old habits, I often can break the cycle of avoidance or distraction a little quicker each moment, time, day, month, year. It’s is a process, yes?

  4. a big part is the decision of what you decide. Then your planning, research, verification influence the decision to make. Emotions are to be controlled and not a source to make decisions,

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