In our last letter, we were talking about how there are 2 ways of learning movement: hard and easy.
I had learned the standing backflip, but through an incredibly arduous process. Basically, I tried too hard.
Several years later, I was back at the National Circus School doing some part-time training in between performing contracts. Then suddenly, across the gym I saw a guy jump into a standing side flip and land effortlessly like a cat. It was the very same type of flip that I had seen on an old Jackie Chan movie years before, and when I had seen it, I didn't believe that it was possible!
Here was an acrobat doing exactly that move that I thought was impossible.
I walked over to him and asked him if he could teach me.
The first lesson was about 5 minutes long. I tried a few of the moves he suggested, landing on a thick mat. After about 15 minutes I got bored of the same exercise. So - contrary to how I practiced my other flips - I stopped for the day.
The next day was more of the same. A few minutes of instruction and correction, and about 20 minutes of very relaxed practice. I'd try the flip, walk around a bit, and then return to it when I felt like it.
Repeat x 10 days.
On the 10th day, I set my arms in preparation, threw the flip without much effort or deep concentration, and landed perfectly upright.
I had done it. Something I thought was impossible.
Strangely, it felt normal. I wasn't overcome with joy for my achievement. Instead, it just felt natural.
And that's when I realized that there was an easy way of doing things.
It was a way that invited you to ask your body to dictate the learning process. My body cued me in to how much and how far I should push it, as opposed to my mind.
How do you know if the mind is pushing the body unnecessarily?
When you reach the state where you're moving in quicksand, try doing less and allowing your body to determine your training intensity. This is truly the art of doing less, and allowing the innate wisdom of the body to direct your training.
You may be surprised!
If you do try this out, let us know how it goes for you. Send us a message at [email protected].