For someone as impatient as me, learning to stand (and eventually walk) on a slackline is a pretty frustrating experience, but it is an invaluable lesson in patience, which I so badly lack.
I’ve always wanted to try out slacklining, but between climbing, work events, and attempting to still see my non-climbing friends, I’ve found it hard to find the time for it. Now that I’m injured seemed like the perfect time to give it a shot.
So on a Sunday my friends and I took advantage of the nice weather and took the slackline out for a day in East London’s Victoria park (along with a hula hoop for good measure).
My aerial circus instructor always talks about the importance of lines in aerial dance, and watching your form to create a beautiful shape on the equipment of your choice. I’m bad at that, so she would constantly shout at me to “point the toes!!” (love you for that, Astra!).
Slacklining requires a similar kind of elegance, where the body traces a line between the crown of your head and the foot that is holding your weight to make it easier to balance.
My friend Tamsin showing off her skills
To be honest, I thought I would just be able to stand on it on my first attempt, no problems. I was quickly proven wrong. Maintaining balance on a slackline is surprisingly hard! I suppose I should have known, considering my wobbly attempts to do one-legged balances in yoga.
If you’re good at balance in yoga, you will pick it up really quickly. Apparently two hours is all you need to learn to stand on your own. Then it’s practice, practice, practice.
And guess what that means? Patience.
I’m learning patience, and I reckon I’ve been quite a good student so far.
When I look at the slackline, everything inside me is screaming: “I want to walk on this damn thing already!!” But when I push my body upwards with my foot, the concentration and focus needed to stay on the line overshadow all my frustrations and impatience.
It’s like meditation. The surrounding actions and noises just sort of disappear as I focus my eyes on tree branches in my line of vision and try to relax into the balance. The moment the slackline stops fluttering wildly under my foot and stays still is when I know I’m finally in control.
But the moment never last long enough. A millimetre shift in either direction, and I’m back to flailing my arms around wildly just to stay on the line.
Prolonging those moments of inner and outer calm is worth learning to be patient for, though.
If you’re interested in giving this a try, you can get your own slackline for just over £40 and it is pretty user-friendly. The only caveat is that it is prohibited in any Royal parks in London, so that rules out anywhere central.
NOTE: My friend Tamsin (whose picture I have shamelessly stolen for this blog post) is looking into giving lessons for a small fee, so this would be a good place to start.
Details to follow. Comment on this post to register your interest.