New PCC blog post: Aspiration, Inspiration—And The Quest For Enlightenment Through Calisthenics, By John Du Cane
Back in the day, I practiced Zazen for a period, including a painfully exquisite five-day retreat. The beginning meditative practice was to count the soft inhales and exhales, with attention at the nostrils. Counting up to ten breaths. Then starting over. When you failed to stay fully attentive to ten breaths in a row, you would go back and…start over. For hours per day…Very challenging indeed, yet finally very rewarding.
And how does sitting like this, completely immobile, counting your breath hour after hour, relate to calisthenics?

It has to do with two breath-related words: aspire and inspire.
Two of the most powerful keys to successful physical cultivation are mastery of the breath and mastery of attentiveness. The word aspire translates simply as to breathe. However, aspire has evolved to mean to dream of, yearn for or set one’s heart on. Thus the meditative Zazen practice of counting breaths becomes an aspirational activity. We breathe consciously as we aspire to greater heights. The final height is known as enlightenment, be it achieved suddenly or gradually.
When we practice calisthenics (“beautiful movement”), we ideally engage in a Zazen-like, aspirational discipline—refining ourselves by extreme attentiveness to every subtle nuance. We enlighten our bodies as we enlighten ourselves mentally and spiritually. There is no division, no separation as we practice in the conscious moment.
In this context, Al Kavadlo’s new title Zen Mind, Strong Body is aspirational in its intent and message. A longtime proponent of conscious practice in bodyweight exercise, Al Kavadlo is a perfect exemplar of how that attentiveness can pay off in real-world results. Al aspired to climb dizzy heights as a physical culturist—and has succeeded both in form and function. You just have to look at...read complete blog post: Aspiration, Inspiration?And The Quest For Enlightenment Through Calisthenics | PCC Blog