On Failing MovNat Certification – And Why It Might Just Be Good for YouPosted | 14 comments
I failed my MovNat certification.
I am afraid of heights. Or, more succinctly, I experience a visceral fear reaction whenever there is too much empty space above me and below me. I will happily climb a tree (with lots of handy branches to hold with hands and feet). Or hike a mountain. I don’t mind flying in planes. Height where there is solidity above and below and to one side and the other and within reach is not a problem. However, a horizontal bar 7 feet high and 2” in diameter is just a bar slicing space. Nothing extra to grab onto, to catch with your foot, or brace with your body to help you stay up or to catch you if you fall.
So, I practiced the elbow swing up technique rarely. It didn’t tax my body so much as my fear. I dreaded it. And I felt inept. And these two emotions fed each each other.
I knew even before I stepped on the plane that would carry me from New Orleans to Santa Fe that I would fail the climbing portion of the physical competency test. I also knew that going through that process was going to help unlock my physical and mental resistance.
Iron can be changed by fire. And a big hammer. Sometimes, it takes going through something that feels like fire and a hammer to burn off what’s not serving us and make room for change. Intuitively, I understood that I needed a challenge that pushed my fears to the wall. And what could provide more fuel for the fire than exposing your physical and mental vulnerability and awkwardness in front of your team and a bunch of superhero-style athletes at the first MovNat Certification event?
When my turn came to do the elbow swing up at testing time, everyone already knew it wasn’t my forte. They’d seen me in practice, clinging for dear life to the bar and barely, half-heartedly pulling myself away from the sweet, solid earth.
But this is when things started to turn. And this is just another example of why MovNat is more than just the techniques, the drills, the philosophy, the system, the physical parts of it.
The physical education system is special in and of itself. But beyond this, MovNat just attracts great people who want to be, as Erwan puts it so simply “healthy, happy, and free,” and who want to help others feel and have the same for themselves.
Erwan asked everyone in our testing group to stand beneath me while I attempted my climb, so that I would feel the support of the group. Their good will, their encouragement and their physical presence filled up the empty space and made it solid. Erwan looked me in the eye and told me I had the power to do this. I could do this. I looked back at him and nodded, wishing that I had his confidence. But the spark was there and it was enough.
It worked. I got up. One side. Heart pounding, hands slipping, mind pulled between fear and determination, feeling the opposite of moving with ‘ease, power, and grace.’ But I was up. That was my more coordinated side. I failed on the other side. It mattered, but it also didn’t. The important thing had happened. I realized that I could get myself up on the bar and not die.
The mental resistance might have shifted, but the physical hurdles remained, so when I returned to Louisiana I began practicing in earnest.
I had to get stronger and find the rhythm of the movement. I gathered advice from our MovNat team and some great trainers in my home and virtual communities and sifted out what I could feel in my body would be most helpful for me.
I did various modified “pulling up” drills for short periods every day in our studio and practiced the full technique at the local park.
In the short video you can see where I was on my first practice (a little over a week after returning from the cert). I had to jump from a platform, I wasn’t quite strong or confident enough, and was using gloves to protect calluses torn from daily practice. I healed my hands, worked on strength and with the work and training the movement came confidence, as well as ability. In another 4 weeks, I was able to jump from the ground, grab the bar and swing into the climb from a dead hang.
You can’t feel what I felt on the inside every time I practiced, but by the time we shot the last set of videos, there was no more fear left.
I still have this split second of resistance when I jump up to grab the bar – my brain says ‘it won’t be there!’ But you know what changes that? Making yourself do it and getting hold of it every single time. Mind over thought. Heart over thought. Practice over thought. The fear is wrong. The bar is always there.
Now, I practice for ‘ease, power, and grace.’ A whole new world has opened up because I know I can diminish the fear. My son, Nick, likes to practice a ‘don’t touch the ground’ course he made up where you cross the playground without touching the ground, sometimes on very narrow ledges fairly high above the ground. I’m right up there with him. The fear still rears its head, but I breathe, take my time, remember my cues, challenge it – and move. And I’m okay. It’s a lesson for me every time and I like to think, for Nick, too. He’s watched me and practiced with me throughout this entire process and I’m grateful I had the opportunity to share it with him and learn together.
Most of us fear something – often in a way that is not helpful. Maybe it served a purpose at some point. But it doesn’t anymore. Movement (and look this up – the science is all there – you don’t have to trust my metaphors) is like a sunny window and fear is like a dark room: let the sun in – MOVE. Do, as the amazing Mrs. Roosevelt invited, ‘the thing you think you cannot do’ – and things will change. The thinking and mind parts are often the biggest obstacles in your way.
Take action. Movement, intentional action, can change your thoughts and your mind. Literally.
You may be surprised at just what you are truly capable of – not only with your body, but in every part of your life.
Liz Bragdon wears many cool, creative, & movement-oriented hats in her professional and personal life. One of her favorites is Editorial Coordinator for MovNat. Her latest is MovNat Certified Trainer.