Tag Archives: boxing focus pads

forgiveness ….

Tonight is Kol Nidre, so named as it is the old Aramaic prayer Jews around the world will sing annulling all oaths and vows made before G-d at the start of the Day of Atonement, or Yom Kippur.

If that felt like a lot, believe me, it is a lot. And hearing it sung feels as heart wrenching as it implies as it signifies the beginning of 25+ hours of prayer, self-reflection and fasting–along with entreaties to G-d and oneself to be written into the “good” book of life for the coming year.

This morning, like an ersatz acolyte in training, I figured I would use my time boxing at Gleason’s Gym to clear out my mind for the mental and emotional gymnastics that Yom Kippur would bring.

Meanwhile it was hot, hot, hot and humid, and as I went through my first four rounds of shadow boxing, I became bathed not only in my exertions, but a less than charitable feeling as I angled for the portion of the ring underneath the overhead fan against all comers.

“Oy,” I realized, “Yet another thing to seek forgiveness for.”

Still, by the time I was on the focus pads with my trainer Lennox Blackmoore, I was indeed more in the moment, less concerned with the fan, and working on the exact angle of my head as I dipped under to bob and weave among the other technical corrections I was seeking to make as we trained. I even felt like I could go for a fifth round of pads, and although I gulped sips of water between rounds, and I was just short of panting, whatever it was I was aiming for in the “clear one’s mind department” was starting to kick in.

But that doesn’t mean I was really any closer to getting the whole forgiveness thing.

Sure, I can forgive another their “trespasses” and mostly do. I work hard at that and do bear it in mind not to attach to the behavior of others even when it violates me to a degree. But I do bump up against things. The “big” violations that become harder to deal with. Frankly, the closer they are to my core being, the harder those, “I forgive you,” words become. And then I also have to wonder where the line is between not attaching to the behavior of others and the psychological state of disassociation I have entered into from time to time over the course of my lifetime from the deep pains and in some cases emotional trauma those acts have caused.

All of that is difficult and can set-up a spiral of clarity to defensive posturing as a tornado of the soul. But that is not my understanding of what the day is about per se. Rather the purpose is here and now–and has less to do with forgiving others than calling out oneself for the crap we’ve pulled all year, such as how not forgiving another may have set up behavior we need to ask forgiveness for. Subtle. Yes. But that’s the point. It’s all about one’s own behavior.

I hogged the fan in the ring… I was snippy to my husband… I didn’t take my friend’s mother’s call… I removed someone’s laundry from the dryer… I said I was going to make dinner, but binge-watched The Bad Batch instead.

We are talking countless acts that I will have to pound my chest about.

But it will be the deeper reflections that I have to really sort out:  Can I forgive myself for being me? For being less that perfect? For thinking a thing, but not always doing it? For my humanity? And frankly, to my mind, for those acts where I cheated myself?

I am grateful for the chance to renew myself. For taking a day to cleanse as I go forth into whatever the next space will be. Will I be perfect at atoning? No. I can’t even say for certain that I will fast for the full 25+ hours or stay online for all of the prayers. But I do forgive myself that. It’s my intentions that truly matter. My intentions for a good and full year doing all that I can to live my best life.

I will close with this:

To those I have wronged, I ask for forgiveness.

To those I may have helped, I wish I had done more.

To those I neglected to help, I ask for understanding.

To those who helped me, I sincerely thank you …

Gmar chatima tova – May you be inscribed in the book of life for good.

Cantor Josef Rosenblatt singing Kol Nidre from a 1930 recording.

Pointers for a Saturday boxing workout at the gym!

Pointers for a Saturday boxing workout at the gym!

Boxing Stance Diagram

For those of us who can’t get to the gym as often as we’d like for a serious workout, watching boxing training videos, while no substitute for the real thing, can help us to pick-up some pointers ahead of the next visit to the gym.

The following videos from YouTube were kind of fun — demonstrating “Mayweather-style” defensive moves in the ring with Coach Rick, the “Mittologist” from Southern New Jersey. For more information his website link is here.

One breath at a time

One breath at a time.

If there is one thing I’ve been trying to gain out of a daily yoga practice aside from the physical benefits, it’s been the reminder to take things as they come.

With yoga, one performs poses to the rhythm of the breath (or at least tries) and in doing so can be “present,” with the experience.  Or put another way, the mind helps push the body to extend itself to its best place — and through regular practice the possibility of great flexibility and strength, not to mention a more focused mental attitude and the *chance* for some clear moments free of mind-movies!

The practice, however, doesn’t always guarantee the focus or the release of all that mental junk that clogs the thinking which can hamper one’s ability to perform at one’s best.  Focus being another whole facet of every discipline and whether it’s yoga or boxing it requires a lot of inner strength to maintain.

That’s where in my estimation the emphasis on the breath in yogic practice can help in priming the mind towards focus:  a great way of tricking your mind into paying attention.  Kind of like Lennox Blackmore’s pop to my head as he yell’s “wake-up, wake-up,” when I make a truly fundamental blunder during our workout. It’s also a reminder to slow down racing thoughts that are extraneous to the task at hand.

This morning was a case in point for me.  Doing yoga, my mind wandering, I lost an entire pose, meaning, I *did* the pose, but lost to a mind-movie I “woke-up” somewhere at the end of it, not really remembering how I got there and in a teeter-totter not to fall down.  So yes, I did yoga, but I really didn’t because I lost the stream of what I was doing and without that, can I truly say that I practiced?

Try that in boxing, and one ends up in a face-plant on the mat, and frankly in yoga too, because so many of the poses not only require balance, but mental “presence” to truly gain mastery of the practice.  And it is that presence, that “be here now” concept that see’s one through so much of the daily struggles of life.

So, full-circle to the breath … take a few moments out of your busy day and remember to breathe and in so doing, slow down enough to be where you are one step at a time.

My gym day

My gym day!

Saturday is my gym day.

I walk my daughter to her Aikido Dojo — where she usually does her three hours split between the open and advanced classes — and make my way over to Gleason’s Gym for my own sweet 16.

Today’s practice will entail a straight no-chaser kind of morning:  four rounds of shadow boxing, four rounds of pads, four rounds on the double-ended bag with four rounds on the speed bag to finish the circuit.  Then it’s off to two-rounds of easy crunches on the sit-up chair as I mentally drift into a nice tired feeling in between catching glimpses of folks sparring in one of the boxing rings.

It’s become a kind of bliss.  My shirt half-soaked with sweat.  My face flushed.  Perspiration matted in my hair. My legs a little shaky as I make my way into the locker room to change; today kind of special, because instead of three hours, my prodigal will be spending her day at a seminar so free until 5:00 PM, I can tarry at the gym before taking my time walking home.

Reflecting as I walk; I know I’ll feel like summer: slow, deliberate, easy.  My body supple and warmed and ready for anything on my lazy meander up the hill near Gleason’s; smiling at the tourists under the Brooklyn Bridge overpass and finally returning to my usual self somewhere near Cadman Plaza where the rush of people will start to catch me back into the flow of a busy Saturday.