Psychotechnologies

Rafe:
That’s the likelihood of that path. Or I can try to take care of myself and follow what’s really meaningful to me, and I can rebuild my body and become healthy. And then maybe I can get something out of this sport for the rest of my life. So, that’s what I did.

Rafe:
I don’t remember when I ran into this, but I heard years ago some say that in mountaineering they say it’s not what the man does to the mountain. It’s what the mountain does to the man. And that was the key idea that started really generating around my practice. If parkour isn’t about me jumping further or isn’t about me winning a competition, it’s about how it transforms me. Well, how do I make that work as well as possible?

Craig:
What’s the optimum version of that practice, right? What does that look like?

Rafe:
What does that look like?

Craig:
I think part of the advantage of hearing you talk about things in like one, I don’t want to say one long string. So, when we record these interviews with guests, part of what I’m doing, a big part of what we’re doing, is creating a space where you can be seen in your best light. So, you can figuratively run and play with your topics and it’s clear. I’ve listened to enough of your material that I know that you have a large overarching concept for what you’re talking about. So, you’re clearing pulling out individual pieces and you’re presenting them here to me in an order that’s intentional.

Craig:
And I understand how some guests feel that they’re, “Oh my God, I’ve been just like talking and talking and talking, and it doesn’t feel like I’m interview.” And my point is that, no, having you unpack that with passion is like really critical, because it gets people to understand who you are and where you’re coming from and what your ideas mean to you, not just what your ideas are. The short answer is if you want to know what Rafe has to say, you should go read every anthropology book in the library and then go play. The journey is the point.

Craig:
But I think people need to see the result of the journey, and then to actually hear a person tell some or all of their story for you to really understand why the journey was necessary. And I can’t remember if we touched on this in recording or in the previous discussion, but I think we were talking about the necessity of the journey.

Rafe:
Yeah.

Craig:
That there isn’t maybe like a shortcut. Maybe if I go through the woods in a really rambling wrong thing at the end, I can go, “Stay to the left.” That’s a useful thing. And that’s a very common theme in martial arts. Find a good teacher and they’ll show you the way, but they’re not going to actually do the work for you. So, I’m thinking. I wanted to know because I love to find takeaways, but I’d love to know if there’s anything that you think people can do to help build those missing, and I forget the exact term, but the …

Rafe:
Psychotechnologies.

Craig:
Psychotechnologies. And I’m wondering if there’s anything that you can say to people like, okay, if what you’re hearing makes you think, “I might be missing something,” where do you go? I read a great story about how do you tear a barn down, and there’s two ways to do it. One way is to get a sledgehammer and just go whacking and you’ll quickly get exhausted. Another way to do is to get a crowbar and start peeling boards off one by one, and you can go and go and go. But the problem is, you need to figure out where to put the crowbar to peel off the first board. Once you get the first one off, then you really get into it. And I’m just wondering about that kind of thing. Where do people put a crowbar to peel into the first piece of those technologies?

Rafe:
Yeah, yeah. So, maybe I’ll answer that one later.

Craig:
And as I said before, go wherever you want. [Crosstalk 00:44:16]

Rafe:
So, what I wanted to say is this … I guess where I wanted to go next was once you make the realization that your movement practice exists to transform you as a human being, it’s kind of a big challenge, because now you have to look at it very, very differently.

Craig:
Yes.

Rafe:
Right? Now you’re not asking, “How do I get better at this jump?” You’re asking, “Does this jump make me a better human?”

Craig:
Right.

Rafe:
“Can I get better at how that jump makes me a better human? Is jumping even the best tool for me at this stage of my life?”

Craig:
Yes.

Rafe:
And so, what we’ve tried to do is, again, taking that evolutionary frame that we have. Look at the scope of practices that people could take on. And as I mentioned at the beginning, there’s an infinite set of practices. And I’m not claiming that the practices that we lay out are definitive or the only way to take this path to the mountain. But from an evolutionary perspective, I think that there is something really vital about developing an embodied relationship with your environment. Right? Become embedded in the environment. And parkour is a process that does that.

Rafe:
And I think there’s something that has to happen with interacting with other human bodies. You need to have confidence in moving with a human being. You need to have confidence in that. You need to be able to manipulate things and move things around with your hands. And then, you need to be able to take care of your body and make it healthy.

Rafe:
And then the last piece that’s kind of the one that we’ve installed last, and the one that’s been the hardest for me, is mindfulness. Right? I’ve been doing parkour for 14 years, I guess, and I think I’ve been meditating for almost as long. I do parkour usually at least nine hours a week. Right? That’s probably my average is nine to 12 hours a week over the last 14 years. And I can measure my progress, like boom, I got better at it. It was good. And it’s very enjoyable. Right? It was enjoyable from the beginning. But meditation was like I have no idea if this is helping me. It’s really hard to do.

Craig:
Right.

Rafe:
I’ll do it for a few months and then stop for prolonged periods of time. And it was only very recently that it started to feel like very specific dividends. Right? I have IBS, and I did a meditation where … Irritable bowel syndrome. So, I did a meditation where I meditated on slowing down the peristalsis in my gut, and it actually worked. Right? I was able to vastly decrease my symptoms of IBS just from meditation.

Rafe:
And I see it starting to show up in who I am with my wife and who I am with my kids and who I am with the people around me. It’s like my ability to be less reactive, to be more present, to be in a positive-sum space with people. Particularly right now I’ve been doing a lot of Metta meditation, which is loving kindness meditation. So, the mantra that I’ve been given, that I learned from my friend Mark Walsh, is may I be well, may I be at peace, may I love and be loved. And so, you could just say that, but you have to actually try to embody it.

Craig:
Right.

Rafe:
Right? So, when I think about being well, I ask what would it mean to me to be well.

Craig:
Today, right.

Rafe:
Right? So like right now, it’s like may I be full of energy. Right? Can I get over some of the fatigue that I’m experiencing.

Craig:
By the way, when you started you were like, “I don’t know how loud I’m going to be.” Not only did you change your entire body posture, you moved in real loud. That’s always what happens with guests.

Rafe:
So yeah. And then it’s like what does it mean to be at peace for me? When I think about love, can I be loving? It’s like what are examples that are real in my life? I have a two-year-old daughter right now, almost two-year-old. So, it’s like that moment where she comes to say hi to me when she hasn’t seen me in a while and she’s just beaming. It’s like can I embody more of that for the people around me? Can I give them that sense of being deeply seen and deeply cared for? And you just see the impact that that has on people, and you see that that’s meaningful. So, we do that.

Rafe:
And so, I’ve come to identify within Evolve Move Play what I think of as three axes of practice that optimally allow you to use these sets of psychotechnologies to engage in positive self transformation. And one axes is picking a set of practices, a scope of practices. Right? So, I kind of laid that out already, but there’s a mindfulness practice of body, health, and integrity practice, a body to environment practice. Right? Parkour in nature for me. Body and object practices. So, I juggle and play ball games and I swing a stick