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Overcoming obstacles: mental parkour

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Parkour is the art of overcoming obstacles using only your body with the objective of getting from point A to point B as efficiently as possible. Watching it is almost like watching a dance or circus acrobat’s routine except it’s in the middle of city using found spaces and objects.

Here’s a video of it, skip the first minute or so to get to the good stuff:

What interests me about it is that practitioners report a mental change when they become experienced. Their world ceases to be walls, buildings and fences and becomes an easily navigable landscape. The physical world changes for them because obstacles are no longer obstacles, but tools that they can use to launch themselves. After a while, they start to think that way as well.

Here is a quote from Andreas Kalteis as it appears on Wikipedia :

To understand the philosophy of parkour takes quite a while, because you have to get used to it first. While you still have to try to actually do the movements, you will not feel much about the philosophy. But when you’re able to move in your own way, then you start to see how parkour changes other things in your life; and you approach problems — for example in your job — differently, because you have been trained to overcome obstacles. This sudden realization comes at a different time to different people: some get it very early, some get it very late. You can’t really say ‘it takes two months to realize what parkour is’. So, now, I don’t say ‘I do parkour’, but ‘I live parkour’, because its philosophy has become my life, my way to do everything.

Imagine if all your problems and obstacles were just a playground for you!

We can treat our mental landscape as they treat the world. Sliding, twisting, jumping and ignoring what has been set up before us. Instead of a mental block against something, it becomes a springboard for a backflip. Instead of taking the safe route to a conclusion, what if we just repel down the side of it.

Mental parkour can be a powerful metaphor. I am going to experiment with it for a few days and see if anything happens. Anyone want to join me?

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