Thursday, January 24, 2013

Quantum Shifts

The blue pill maintains the blissful ignorance of illusion and the red pill allows escape into the real world. After taking the red pill you can see things that you couldn’t see before…

Each new level of perception is like taking another red pill. Since freeing up his locked hips Haluk can now see things in good skiers that he couldn’t see at all before. That’s how perception works – we can only see what we understand, though most people mistakenly think the opposite is the case! “Understanding” however is not just an intellectual process it is an experience.

Douglas Adams in the Hitchiker’s Guide to the galaxy had a wonderful way of describing this issue of perception:

An S.E.P or 'Somebody Else's Problem field' is a cheap, easy, and staggeringly useful way of safely protecting something from unwanted eyes. It can run almost indefinitely on a flashlight battery, and is able to do so because it utilizes a person's natural tendency to ignore things they don't easily accept, like, for example, aliens at a cricket match. Any object around which an S.E.P is applied will cease to be noticed, because any problems one may have understanding it (and therefore accepting its existence) become Somebody Else's. An object becomes not so much invisible as unnoticed.

A perfect example of this would be a star ship covered in an SEP field at a cricket match. A star ship taking the appearance of a large pink elephant is ideal, because you can see it, but because it is so inconceivable, your mind can't accept it. Therefore it can't exist, thus ignoring it.

An S.E.P can work in much the same way in dangerous or uninhabitable environments. Any problems which may present itself to a person inside an S.E.P will become Somebody Else's.

An S.E.P can be seen if caught by surprise, or out of the corner of one's eye.”

The Grande Motte – Tignes

Val d’Isère Village

Creative Process

I explained to Haluk that his joy at moving his skiing up to another level (which he describes as equivalent to surmounting a cliff)  will eventually and progressively be replaced with frustration as he starts to become aware of other limitations. This degenerates into a sense of confusion and feeling of incompetence – but this always happens before another new breakthrough – it’s the pain of “giving birth” – a creative process! This by the way is Haluk’s analogy not mine so any women taking exception to the “birth” analogy need to address him directly and not me.

Whereas Haluk uses the analogy of surmounting a cliff to describe the quantum change in his skiing, Rowdy has a more colourful description: “It is as if a surgeon has taken a chain saw to my huge fat arse.”

Pivot – Off Piste

Today we practiced jump turns on the steeper cruddy slopes where each turn was unpredictable. This entailed a wide stance with independent pivoting of the skis in the air (always pulling inwards). Haluk improved but remained a bit two-footed for this to work really well. Reflecting on the subject I realised that all forms of pivot on the outside edge appear to require a reduction of pressure on the ski – from falling due to gravity, the pole, through flexion or jumping. Once the ski is on the inside edge then pressure can build up to complete the turn. I was playing with alternating between reducing pressure for airborne pivots and dramatically increasing the pressure at the start of the turn with strong dynamics assisted by standing hard on the support leg at the turn initiation. The dynamics is far smoother but relies totally on accelerations – so where caution is required the pivot is probably best. If jumping – the jump comes mainly from the downhill leg.

Conscious Process

The greatest thing about skiing is the personal relationship with the incredible and wild natural environment. This relationship however depends on the quality of an internal process which brings our focus entirely into the present. Not only does this wash away the stress of everyday life but it resolves immediate fears and it becomes our own mentor and source of self-reliance. If there is one reason above all others why accurate coaching information is essential then it’s to ensure this internal connection. Inaccurate information generates nothing but confusion and blockage –both physically and mentally. Accurate information and feedback opens doors both externally and internally – the relationship grows.

Being “in the zone” is when there is a complete harmony with the mind, body and environment and it is unconscious – the result of both skill and instinct. Skill exists is when new movement patterns have become integrated into the unconscious through training. This “zone” however is not the goal though most would expect otherwise. The goal is the process – the connection and relationship described above – which gets you into the zone. This is defined simply through basic rules, often very counterintuitive, that make us aware of the body. Inefficient and inappropriate movements are either emotionally driven defensive ones or a response to illusions and limited perception, understanding and skill. Learning is the process of overcoming all of those issues and it requires conscious feedback and monitoring – as well as receiving accurate information. To demonstrate a precedence regarding inaccurate information consider how for over 2000 years until Galileo the entire Western educational community taught incorrectly that gravity accelerated objects in proportion to weight – and nobody questioned it. We know formally through Newton that acceleration due to gravity is independent of weight – giving acceleration due to gravity a constant value of approximately 9.81 metres per second per second. The internal “connection” first requires good information – the right “picture” so that visualisation is automatic. Visualisation uses all of the senses and if the instructions and commands given to the body are incorrect then visualisation becomes impossible and the internal connection is broken. Conscious feedback and monitoring take place when the visualisation process is compared to the actual physical process. As skill develops then the process moves on to finer and higher levels – each opening a hitherto unperceived door to another level. This process interacts with the external environment constantly – whither through the sounds produced from a musical instrument or the control and mastery of descending a wild, snow covered mountain.

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