A Question From a Derby Queen
In my last post I began answering a question by Amanda Risser a spiritual practitioner and roller derby queen.
My initial response to her was too long for one post so here is the second part.
Here is a brief recap of her question:
Here’s my current challenge:
– I am working on being more effective at performing the kinds of blocking and hitting that exists in my sport.
– I struggle with finding a place within myself to draw the kind of energy that is helpful in doing so.
– My blocks and hits are suffering from over thinking and hesitation. They need to be more fluid and easy. Some of this will come with more practice and skill; the rest needs to come from a different connection between body and brain.
– Many of my teammates work on this by vocalizing or imagining they are hitting someone they hate, or visualizing some kind of animal that helps them connect with the aggression.
I don’t feel comfortable harming someone I hate (and can’t figure out if there is anything or anyone I ‘hate’ anyway) and visualizing an animal being aggressive doesn’t help, and actually gets in the way! (…) I think that I’m a better contact sport player the more I take care to be an excellent sportswoman, teammate, opponent which seems more controlled and responsible than a wild dog. Compassion and care is wrapped up in there somewhere but I’m having a hard time untangling it.
Zen masters through the ages have been anything but gentle and often their actions helped their students achieve awakening. These masters had high intentions when they acted in a fierce way. In addition they also used fierce compassion with a great amount of skill.
First, it’s important to set down what your intentions are for your roller derby. When writing down intentions don’t just state the obvious.
For example if you are trying to exercise more you might say, “I exercise more so that I can be in better shape.” Instead try to think about why you want to be in shape.
Maybe you want to live longer to spend time with your family. Maybe you want to look better so you will feel more confident. Maybe you want to block better so you can support your team. Whatever your deeper intentions are write those down.
Then once you have those intentions try writing a simple dedication, prayer, or motto that states those intentions.
One dedication I have used is,
“I am as impermanent as everything else. Nothing I will do can change this. I dedicate the merit of my effort to the freeing of all living beings. May my every action embody my deep vows, strengthen my mind, and open my heart.”
For example, when I am cycling uphill on my bike, I chant internally, “Transforming karma, I ride for the dharma!” This mantra extends my intention to spread compassion through my actions.
When I use this mantra, I find I am more present with both the pain and the joy of a challenging task. The mantra helps me not think too much about the discomfort. In addition it brings my intention and actions into alignment.
Try to create a mantra you can say each time you block a person. For starters you could try the loving kindness mantras: may you be free from suffering.
Try striking on the last word for emphasis. If that’s too long you might try a shortened version. You might just say, “BE FREE!”
It doesn’t really matter what words you use so long as they:
- Are simple and easy to remember.
- Resonate with your hearts desire.
If you were to combine the two practices of intention setting and mantras I believe you will be able to overcome your hesitation.
The most important thing is that you be clear about your intentions and then use tools that are in alignment with them. If you can do that any practice you engage in will help to free yourself and those around you from suffering.