Alex Olson has been skateboarding’s one-man-band for quite some time now. He seems to have put skating on the backburner and has taken up yoga, surfing, and raffling off RVs. His newest venture is an online meditation course released through District Vision, a self-described “center for inner peace.” What that means is that they make sunglasses for runners and have also recently started releasing meditation courses online.
As I was meddling about one day, I got an Instagram ad for Olson’s video course. How could I say no? While most Instagram ads are for garbage dropshipping websites, this one gave me the opportunity to learn from someone who has created some great brands over the last decade.
Once you buy the course, you’re greeted with a landing page that has all six of Olson’s lessons as well as some vital information along the sidebar. Whether you want to know the local temperature, your lucky number (mine is 60), your horoscope, or what quantities of polluting gasses are in the air, it can all be found on the home page. They really thought of everything.
I’ve never done meditation before so I am not entirely sure what to expect. I have done some yoga, so hopefully, there is some crossover between the two. I am definitely interested in working on setting myself at ease and learning to clear my mind, control my breathing, and center myself. In such an overly connected modern world, stress builds up easily and sometimes I find myself always needing to keep busy (AKA be on my phone).
As a growing boy, I’m definitely concerned about how my generation’s constant connectivity will impact us in the future. We spend more time than any previous generation with screens inches from our face or working. Hopefully, a little meditating will connect me to my ancestors and bring me back to a pre-NFT world. If that doesn’t happen, at least I’ll learn how to do that stomach jiggle thing.
The first video lesson is all about Qigong, “a system of coordinated body posture and movement,” according to Wikipedia, and “a form of medicine,” according to Alex. This was fairly similar to yoga except it was less about stretching and holding a position and more about warming up the muscles and preparing your mind for some more serious mediation. The poses had catchy names like Ape Swing and Shaking Tree. I actually found these pretty useful and enjoyable. I would turn off the lights in my room and close my eyes. I think that not getting any sensory input actually improved the experience.
As I was rocking back and forth doing Zen Swings I began to focus on the subtle details of the world around me. I started to listen to the sound of my clothes swaying around on my body or my necklace jostling up and down. These rhythmic sound effects were soothing in their ability to quiet my mind.
Olson said that I should do each of the poses for 15-20 minutes, but I don’t know if I could ever last that long. I probably did each pose for two minutes maximum before I called it quits. Time moves extra slowly when you attempt to stay present.
The next lesson is about Sama Vritti, which is essentially just counting your breaths. Alex says that he wishes that this was the first thing he learned so naturally, Alex waits to teach it until the third video. I guess I should have known to start on the third video and work my way back. Rookie mistake.
For the third video, he teaches Kapalabhati, which Alex also calls Ego Eradicator, Shining Skull, and Breath of Fire. I think they had the WWE’s help when they were coming up with the names in his course. Breath of Fire is the stomach-wiggling thing, so I am not going to make any jokes about it. However, Alex does warn that you could pass out from doing this and you probably shouldn’t do this if you’re pregnant. I guess the baby would get all shaken up. Alex claims that he felt an ecstatic feeling from doing this. In reality, what I felt was like I was about to faint.
I feel like you’re basically just tricking your body into having a panic attack by breathing in and out super rapidly. I don’t breathe this heavily when I’m running long distances or charging up the steps to make it on time to my first period class on the fifth floor.
My preconception of meditation was that it was meant to be motionless and still. However, I learned that there is meditation and breathwork and breathwork is not always the serenity that I have associated with meditation.
The last video is just five minutes and 37 seconds of Alex making a deep guttural reverberation. It’s the “ohm” that has become the main stereotype when you think of meditation. Alex makes the ohm really deep and it sounds like it’s probably doing more harm to his throat than all of the cigarettes he probably smoked at a young age. I found it difficult to get into this exercise. Such a loud and obtuse sound is pretty ear-wrenching, and you also feel the vibrations ringing from your neck into your head. It’s not what I consider relaxing. I would only do this exercise for a few repetitions and certainly not as often as Guru Olson would have liked.
All in all, I felt that this course was a good intro to get people interested in meditation and breathwork. I doubt that Alex is the best meditation teacher ever or that this was the most informative course. But, Alex’s name and personality certainly piqued my interest and got me to buy the course and try out meditation and breathwork.
Out of all the lessons, I enjoyed Qigong the most because it allowed me to find peace through still movement. I also liked that it seemed to combine yoga and stretching with meditation and breathwork as opposed to some of the other practices Olson talks about, which only focus on one aspect. This felt like a complete exercise that engaged all parts of me. I would often find myself doing Qigong when I was left to my lonesome and I hope to look into it more in the future.
However, I do not think that this course has brought me that much closer to my goal of finding mental clarity in this increasingly convoluted world. A lot of what was taught just led to me becoming very involved in one specific action and my brain would hone in on that. I think that this is because through this course Alex is presenting his personal solutions as solutions for all. I know how to clear my stress and mind through skating, running, and journaling, but Alex achieves that through meditation.
I’m really a fan of Alex’s so it is definitely disappointing to see how the original 917 disbanded. Everyone is quick to point fingers and say that it’s X or Y’s fault, but at the end of the day all of the old teammates have rebounded on FA or Limosine. And I’m glad to see that Alex is finding his footing in another field too. I know that he’s a guy with a particular mindset and I am sure that this will help him find success in life. Meditation just wasn’t for me.
Maybe I would have had better results if I used District Vision’s $120 Meditation Cushion. I guess we’ll never know.