Robbie Maltby

March 5, 2022

Getting over the hump

About 5 years ago I attended a mindfulness retreat at Plum Village with the late Thích Nhất Hạnh, known as Thay by his students.

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It was an amazing setting, deep in the French countryside near Bordeaux.

My cousins and a friend of ours were picked up from the train station and taken straight to the community where we were greeted by monks ticking our names off the register.

The place was so serene and calm, but there was a lightness in the air.

The people who practice in Thay's tradition (Thay means teacher) aren't usually as hardcore as the out-and-out Zen monks.

Thay's style was much more gentle.

Anyway, it seemed like an awesome place.

We were due to be there for a week, and each day attended group meetings with our 'family' where we shared about our experiences during the retreat and how it related to our life.

I think it was on the second or third day that I started to really struggle.

I wasn't used to retreats and was becoming kind of fidgety.

I'd had quite enough of all the niceties and actually just fancied going to the pub to watch the world cup which had started a few days earlier.

It came my turn to speak during the meeting and I just thought what the hell, I'm going to be honest.

I told them the truth, that I was struggling to focus, and I really didn't want to be there...and would rather be watching the footy!

It actually went down pretty well with people laughing and giving me their support, but during the session one of the monks made a mini-speech about Plum Village and it felt like it was directed squarely at me.

I'll paraphrase but he said something like:

Plum Village is set up to practice mindfulness. You can practice walking, talking, eating, listening, playing football - and everyone will support you. When you're here you have the ability to strengthen your attention much more easily than other places, and if you just give it a try you'll soon 'get over the hump' and then you'll realise what an amazing place you're in. I suggest you give a try. What have you got to lose?

So I did, along with my cousin who had been feeling the same way.

From that moment on we put 100% focus into our steps, our breath, our eating and our observations and after a day or so, we experienced it.

It was as if I turned back into being a baby.

Everything around me seemed so new and full of possibility.

It was an opening of the mind I will never forget that forever changed how I perceive things.

Andrew Huberman calls this getting over the hump 'limbic friction' and I think it could be the main cause for us not doing what we want.

What makes this much more difficult is when you don't have a group, or an accountability partner to help you identify and push through that friction, to create new habits that set you on the right path.

After completing the altMBA a few weeks ago I continued on, pushing through the friction.

I've been working with 3 different groups creating new side projects, while driving on all fronts for my clients.

Today I have a day off and my sister suggested I go and chill by the pool.

It's funny but now the friction isn't there (or at least not as strongly) it's the last place I want to be.

I'd prefer to be reading, writing and shipping new work.

It's like I can see the road ahead of me, and it's more exciting that it's ever been.

Anyway, I highly suggest listening to the podcast - it's a masterclass in habit formation and learning how to be the person you want to be.

About Robbie Maltby

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