Training: Commune with a Deeper Humanity

Shane Trotter


Mansfield, Texas, United States

Strength and Conditioning, Kettlebells, Youth Development


Training: Commune with a Deeper Humanity - Fitness, body awareness, mindful training, mind-body connection, daily exercise, outdoor fitness


The air is crisp, cold, and smells like January at 4 am. Other than a few leftover Christmas lights, there are no signs of life as my feet pound the pavement. Trees rustle, stars boast, and I run, taking each step in stride. I have no music, no podcast, no phone “for emergencies”—nothing to distract from this transcendent sense of harmony.



Weaving through backroads I eventually pour out onto Matlock, my community’s most trafficked street. It’s empty and uncharacteristically beautiful. Overwhelmed by a sense of euphoria, I playfully bounce across the medians that separate lanes of traffic. It is freedom, pure, raw, and rare. I’m all alone and yet I’ve never felt so connected.


“These waters must be troubled before they can exert their virtues.”

Edmund Burke


Connection is absolutely essential to humans. Sebastian Junger’s book, Tribe, contends that we need connection, authenticity, and competence to be fulfilled. We need to feel bonded with people behind a greater purpose.


Today, immersed in such opulence that our collective survival requires no contribution, our world promotes self-absorption, alienation, and impulsivity. Without the survival context, it is far harder to create a transcendent experience and escape from the modern malaise.


Connection Is Essential

Most humans spend their days as passengers, riding along the surface, driven by gossip and unintentional living. I often have trouble relating with the masses, mindlessly consuming as the foremost directive of existence.


Don’t get me wrong, I enjoy simple interactions and can laugh at silly nonsense with almost anyone. Furthermore, I’m unknowingly duped into thousands of impulses each day, just like everyone else. Still, there seems to be a gulf driven by perception and intent.


I’ve found the concerns of other’s are rarely mine and my passions are typically met with awkward silence. Over time, I have amassed a cadre of philosophical brothers and sisters bonded by far more than proximity and convenience. Yet, the connections I feel go far beyond these treasured friends.


“In Japanese we have a word for those feelings that are too deep for words: yugen. Yugen gives us a profound sense of the beauty and mystery of the universe.”

Dr. Qing Li


There are universal themes of human existence that allow us to commune with a deeper human experience. Last spring I backpacked in the Ozark Mountains and slept next to a stream. The beauty of the experience haunted me for weeks and still does to some degree. The same is true of my first early morning in Kauai, staring up at those stars.



You almost certainly have had a similar experience with a sunrise, a campfire, or a secluded beach that suddenly pierced through the superficial drivel that consumes most of our lives. Every civilization across time has some sort of reference to the sublime sense of connection the outdoors can elicit.


Deeply Connect Through Your Training

I experience the same phenomenon when I tap into my body, whether in meditation or exercise. Communion with nature and our bodies allow us to access timeless experiences that transcend technology and social conditioning.


“It is better to be a human being dissatisfied than a pig satisfied; better to be Socrates dissatisfied than a fool satisfied because there are higher and lower forms of pleasure.”

John Stuart Mill


Training is where I often feel most deeply connected. It is a beautiful melding of nature, physicality, and effort that consistently produces unpredictably pleasant emotions. On a solitary 4 am run through the neighborhood, I feel an overwhelming harmony with all those other souls who are driven by a subconscious yearning to grow—the deranged few who also love the smell of 4 am.


I am brought back into communion with the discipline of a Spartan warrior and the freedom of a Cherokee running through the Appalachian Hills. I am united with all those millions before me who’ve gone on similar runs and all those currently pulled by some internal force to keep striving, whether towards physical mastery or to write that book which burns within. Without ever having spoken a word, I know these people at a depth many contemporaries and acquaintances never could.


We can all access this connection, even though it can’t be forced. Define your purpose. What stirs you to action? It can be as simple as a strong belief in the primacy of health. Craft a plan and then show up. Immerse yourself into the work without expectation for any immediate outcome. Like the canyons carved by water, consistency and time will win.


“Only the paradox comes anywhere near to comprehending the fullness of life.”

Carl Jung


I recommend a weekly workout where you are completely unplugged from the world. Enter the practice without expectation and with loose bounds. It can be a run, a hike, a lift, or a free-flowing compilation of calisthenics and gymnastics.


The idea is to auto-regulate based on your desires. See where the exercise takes you. Dial it up or pull it down to a slow and steady. By disconnecting and entering ourselves, we, paradoxically, gain access to a deeper human connection.

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