Below is a guest blog post by Aspire athlete, Jess Schulz. She’s gotten into the practice of minimalism, and we asked her to tell us a little more about how it works, and how to incorporate it into our daily gym practice.
I am sure you have been hearing a lot about this thing called “minimalism” (if not from me, some other post you have seen on social media). Minimalism can mean many different things to many different people. Some buzz words you might hear are: freedom, less, declutter. For me, practicing minimalism means that I am intentionally trying to remove the excess from my life that is preventing me to get to where I really want to be. In simpler terms, many would consider minimalism to begin with decluttering your space to make room for the things and people that really matter. But it is important to note that it is just not your physical space or the stuff that you fill it with, but it is more about asking why you engage in this behavior.
Throughout my short minimalism journey, I have started to ask myself, “Do I really need this thing? Does it add value to my life?”* In part, my desire to live a minimalist lifestyle could probably be related to my parents’ excessive tendencies to purchase things, but it also brings a sense of freedom that could otherwise not be gained. A purchasing decision is not a single commitment. You are committing to not only buying the thing but whatever else may come along with it. This practice has also transformed how I interact with friends and family. Instead of buying things** for friends and family during the holidays or their birthdays, I will give them something that everyone could agree is expensive and fleeting–time. I try to share experiences with the people I love and care about instead of buying a gift*** that will probably just be regifted next year.
It would be remiss of me to not also mention how minimalism has made me truly focus on presence and meditation. Everyone is busy. We all have a laundry list of activities we need to accomplish on a daily basis. That is why it is so important to be present. This is something that I am constantly trying to address my life. I know I am not the only one who will probably work for five or ten minutes on a project and then pick up my phone or open a new tab in Chrome to check Facebook, Buzzfeed, Instagram, The Verge, or whatever site that I can mindlessly scroll. I have been trying to remember to focus on a single task. This includes spending time with people and not aimlessly scrolling through your social media feed while you are physically present with each other. The idea of minimalism helps me return to a space where I can truly focus on the things and people that I care about.
I think one of the things that we all love about CrossFit is that it can help alleviate the daily stressors we encounter. On my most stressful days, I yearn to get to the gym so I only have to focus on one thing (maybe two): get that damn barbell off the ground and/or get my damn self off the ground, while I’m dying during burpees. Attempting to live with intention and having a singular focus at a time**** helps reduce my stress levels, especially during CrossFit. You could have a project due tomorrow, an assignment to finish, an argument with your significant other, family member, or child, but when you are in the gym, nothing else matters except for picking things up and putting them down. During my most difficult WODs, I can feel my mind straying to, “You forgot to do that analysis. You have to grade papers. You have to drop this off. Why didn’t you do this?”, but inevitably, you have to focus on the present moment, or the weight will crush you.
When you’re in the gym next time and you feel your mind wandering, try to return it to the task in front of you. When you feel like you might not be progressing in an area or achieving a PR, perhaps just focus on one thing at a time. When you’re at work, maybe try to be more intentional with your time so you don’t have to spend an extra hour finishing that project. And when you’re with the people you care about, try to make that time meaningful, even if it’s just sitting on the couch binge watching a show together.
*Thanks The Minimalists.
**I will still buy someone a really funny shirt that he or she can wear to Aspire if I think it might bring value to his or hers life. 😉
***Unless you really want that gift card…
****Multi-tasking doesn’t work.