Longboarding And Spirituality – Part 3 – THE STOKE OF INSIGHT
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The next question I asked concerned how longboarding cleared people’s minds. I wondered how it helped people refocus their thoughts and give them unique insights. I know that I have found this to be the case, but was intrigued to see how longboarding affected others. “Skateboarding has to clear your mind by definition,” says Peter. “The amount of focus and determination that goes into a lot of the gnarlier forms of skateboarding makes it so.”
Peter says some serious days of skateboarding impel him to reassess aspects of his life. “It’s an addiction in the sense that as soon as one session is done, I cannot wait for the next, and it’s all I think about at work and sometimes [at] school. It makes me re-analyze myself, whether it’s my physical strength or mental strength. It almost makes me feel elitist, knowing that I have discovered this incredible sense of freedom and strength that so few people have.”
Sam says longboarding does wonders for him. “When you’re freeriding or downhilling, your main focus is on your trick or on your downhill position,” he says. “I focus all in it … those moments when bombing a hill or busting some sick slides, I feel free from the world. I feel like I am just free of all pain and worries. It’s just me, nature and my longboards.”
Adam said longboarding was profoundly liberating: “There were no high school dramas, no judgments, no bulls—t,” he wrote. “It was simply moving around in a fun and calming way, going with an imaginary flow that simply was out of this world in the sense that it brought you away from your troubles and woes. It was just skating around without worries.”
Adam also wrote about how longboarding can allow you to get out and see new places and view them in a different light: A city walk would be completely different from a city cruise; a drive on a mountain would be different compared to bombing the hill with a whole group of people.
Finally, he wrote, “It also helped me view the world differently somehow. Before longboarding, I was more of an introvert, locking myself in my room playing computer games. Even skating, I’d skate alone. I hated being connected with other people because of the complexity of relations. However, every time I cruised around, I’d meet people intrigued by what I was doing. People whom I would never bother to talk to if I were to simply walk, now suddenly talked to me. Before, I’d view people as just a bag of bones. Now, I view each individual as a gateway to another life, new experiences, new personalities — and longboarding was simply a small key to start conversing to them.” Before long, Adam started conversing with people without the help of longboards, and this slowly built his confidence. Longboarding became a form of meditation to him and an invitation to view places in a much more beautiful and different light.
Devon finds that longboarding has become one of the only methods he can use to clear his mind. He will skate for hours on end by himself: “It gives me insight into issues that may be on my mind much better than anything else I could do,” he says.
Devon says he finds it hard to concentrate on a specific problem in his mind with so many distractions around. “But when I’m out skating,” he says, “there are very few distractions. By finding resolutions to these problems, I find it much easier to relax and clear my mind by not stressing over them so much.”
B. Lane was a little more introspective when it came to this topic. “The ironic part of this question,” he wrote, “is that the three things you reference are all functions we associate with happenings from the neck up. For me, this mental restoration and enlivening is a wholebody experience. It takes finding my footing, feeling springs in the legs, attuning to center … for the brainy aspects to start chirping. Once the key for that day is found, the chirp often becomes a symphony in no time at all.”
“Longboarding, especially long-distance pushing, provides me with a viable form of exercise including a super cardio workout,” says Mitch. The adrenaline and endorphin rush he experiences when carving a hill or sliding sideways is a natural way of getting outside of himself. “This is a Natural High!” he says. “Once I have spent a time in this ‘flow state,’ I am far more able to focus on the more mundane tasks such as work and other necessary daily activities.”
Mitch also says the time spent on a board also is a great “alone time.” It enables him to think through any of the issues and items he needs to contemplate in order to achieve his goals.
Israel says longboarding puts things that matter into real focus. “When you hit that hill or carve left and right, that is all that matters,” he wrote. “When the perfect run down your street unfolds through your body down through your feet to your deck, trucks and wheels, you become a living masterpiece!”
At times, Israel says, he feels like a hawk dive bombing for prey, or even the ocean waves churning: “In those moments I feel so fulfilled.” “When I step onto my board I step out of the physical, connected world and into my spiritual disconnect,” says Kiry. “I let go of my troubles. It isn’t forced; it is the natural effect of skating for me.” Longboarding is what Kiry does when she’s upset, angry or anxious.
“My problems work themselves out as if I’m pushing through them,” she says. “I always come up with my best ideas when skating.” David’s morning sessions are quite often push/carve sessions along the trail of the Memphis Greenline, a paved trail along a disused railroad track running through the heart of Memphis, Tennessee. “It is a place of escape from the city,” he says. “Native trees and bamboo run along the sides of the Greenline, and seemingly take the rider to another place where the city and urban sprawl have not touched.”
A few quick pushes lead to pumping and carving through this faux forest. In less than 15 minutes, David says, all the stress of parenthood, work and financial responsibilities disappear. “I can literally feel my shoulders and mind relax as the board and I work as one to propel me down the path,” he says. “This is the Zen of skateboarding.” Owen says longboarding helps him clear his mind because it forces him to live in the moment. “You have to focus on the task at hand,” he says, “and that helps you to push the stresses of daily life out of your mind, focusing you on the present.”
Micah says he finds that he rides more when he has had a bad day or has to work through something that’s going on within himself. “It distracts me from the negative in my life and focuses my energy into something positive,” he says. “For example, [if I am] having a rough day, I’ll practice a trick that I haven’t gotten down yet. I can let out all my frustrations and focus all my anger on getting the trick down, instead of taking it out on others.”
Micah believes skateboarding is very therapeutic in that way. “Sometimes just cruising helps to clear my mind as well,” he says. “There is no better feeling than longboarding on a beautiful day, being outside and experiencing nature. That alone is very spiritual and calming to me.”
Written By Michael Brooke
Art by Chris Dyer