Immersion and exclusion

From the moment I step on the mat, I’m free. The concerns, the worries, the anxiety, the problems, the obligations, the responsibilities. Everything that occupies my mind melts away. I don’t think about my family. I don’t think about Molly. I don’t think about my friends. I don’t think about work, or writing.

That’s how I feel when I practice jiu-jitsu. Liberated from the assaults of the world.

I’m sure you’ve had a similar experience. Most of us have discovered salvation in physical pursuits. It could be hiking or longboarding or cycling or football or cricket or rugby or weightlifting. Whatever it is, the truth remains. Physical activity allow us to decontaminate. It allows us to shed the infectious bacteria that is life’s problems.

I think I know why this is. 

How would you define immersion? A quick search pulls up this: “…concentrating on one course of instruction, subject, or project to the exclusion of all others for several days or weeks.” That’s the positive way to frame it. As paying attention to something. But immersion is just as much about ignoring things as it is paying attention to them. Immersion is about the distribution of your focus, and more importantly, what you choose to disregard. 

Seen this way, it’s easy to see why physical pursuits offer such a revitalising tonic for the ailments of everyday existence. Immersion is exclusion. And what is exclusion but the blocking out of all things extraneous things?