Early on in my rebound exercise career, I recognized that an easy way to mentally organize and understand the benefits of bouncing was to apply a kind of alchemical elemental paradigm. (Note: If you want to learn more about alchemy, a good place to start is with the great Swiss psychologist, Carl Jung.)
So I mapped the five traditional Western elements—air, earth, water, fire, and spirit—onto my rebounding activities in the following way.
Often associated with the direction of East. While bouncing, we move vertically through a great deal more air than we normally would or could. And a lot more air moves through us, in the form of breath coming in and out of our bodies. Doing breath work while bouncing is an obvious, important, and valuable kind of work that always intensifies the bouncing experience and is always available to be done.
Often associated with the direction of North. It is the gravity of the Earth that makes bouncing possible in the first place, and this element also reminds us of the kind of grounded knowledge about ourselves and our bodies that we can connect to through bouncing.
Often associated with the West. This element is clearly brought into play through the great lymphatic and other fluidic circulations (e.g., blood, cerebrospinal fluid) that rebounding brings about. This includes the notion of being kind and loving to our bodies, by giving ourselves the undeniable immune-system boosting gift of lymphatic circulation.
Often associated with the South. Not only does bouncing raise the body’s metabolism, that is, its internal fire, but it also serves to marvelously focus energy, attention, and willpower.
Associated with all directions. Spirit is the underlying canvas (the mat?) on and through which all rebounding happens, and into which all other directions and elements merge. If Spirit is the ground of being, then that’s what a rebounder rests on.
Following upon these associations, I created for myself what I called the “Great Alchemical Sequence,” or G.A.S. Whenever I get tired or feel even a little bit down during a rebounding session, I simply give myself some G.A.S., as follows:
Starting facing the East,
I do some jumping jacks, and breathe in deeply to connect myself to the element of Air with its attendant inspiration and vision.
I then turn to the North,
and do some moderately high-off-the-mat bouncing, so that I become very aware of the gravity of my situation (literally). I experience the grounded energy of the Earth necessary to keep rebounding safe.
Next, I turn to the West
and do some arm circles in each direction. I think of opening up my heart as I visualize the Water in my body, especially the Water that is the main constituent of lymph fluid, and see this Water as powerfully and lovingly circulating, cleansing, and renewing my body, mind, and soul.
Then I turn to the South
and move my arms quickly, throwing them out and bringing them back, experiencing one-pointed concentration and the Fire of my human purpose and will.
Finally, I come to Spirit,
usually doing a Twist as I turn around the mat and take in all that is within and before me. Sometimes, I will allow myself to get “lost” in this final movement into Spirit, bouncing for however long I want.
This kind of inner work and visualization is not for everybody, but it can be a lot of fun. Give it a try if you feel drawn to it. My sessions perk up quite a bit when I remember to give myself G.A.S.