Monday, March 24, 2008

Iron Zen

I'm not a very spiritual person. It's not that I don't believe we humans have a spiritual side -- it's just that I don't think about it that much. But sometimes I do.

I've heard meditation described as entering a state in which the ego is dissolved. The line between you and the world dissolves and you feel the energy of the universe flow through you.

I don't meditate, but I get that feeling sometimes, too. I get it through lifting. When you've pushed your body to its absolute limit on an especially heavy lift, or on the last rep of a particularly tough set, sometimes you push so hard that all you can see is a mass of color, and all you can hear is a high-pitched whine.

Your feet feel like roots, planted into the earth, immobile. Your body feels simultaneously like it's dissolving into the world around it and like it's permanent, immobile, legs and back and shoulders forever locked in support of the weight on the bar.

That feeling -- the complete unconsciousness of anything but the energy flowing from the world through you and into the bar, and the way that flow of energy negates your normal sense of yourself as a being independent of and distinguishable from the universe around you -- is, as the kids say these days, freakin' sweet.

I'm sure that the more scientific among us would (accurately) describe this feeling as nothing more than a brief period of semi-consciousness caused by momentarily interrupted blood flow to the brain due to extreme exertion. But those people are just killjoys. I call it iron zen.

It's why I love deadlifts and power cleans. For some reason, the heavy movements from the floor produce the intensity necessary to get this feeling much more often than squats or presses. I think that presses just aren't strong enough movements to produce the intensity necessary to reach iron zen, and I'm not yet proficient enough at squats -- during heavy squats I'm usually focusing too hard on keeping my form to give the all-out effort necessary for iron zen.

But however you reach it, it's a great feeling, it's a sign of a damn good training session (excuse my French), and it's a perfectly valid excuse for we non-spiritual folk to take a minute to think about the connection between mind and matter.


Charlotte said...

Very poetic! Gotta say that I've never reached Iron Zen myself. Maybe I'm just not strong enough yet.

MizFit said...

you completely described me.

people often say "you are so motivated to lift"


not motivated :)