For those of you who don’t know what I do professionally you should read my bio before reading this post, otherwise it won’t make sense to you. With all the holidays my people experience between the end of September and the end of October, this is undoubtedly the most stressful time of the year for me in my professional life. Being in a new place, with new people and new traditions, you can imagine how much there is for me to learn and how nerve racking it can be to have to lead several thousand people when you’re the newbie. So in order to get through these last few weeks and the weeks to come I have been spending as much time as possible in my comfort zone of martial arts – I always find that it’s helpful to balance the unknown with the known, so since everything here has been new and stressful, I have spent a lot of time re-reading old martial arts books, meditating, and practicing in order to feel rooted and grounded in the things that I “know.”
I also found that I have gotten through these past days because, to some extent, I haven’t had the time for self-doubt or too many conscious thoughts to make themselves known- there is just too much to do. This has been very enlightening. Simply due to the circumstances of the last few days, my mind has not had a chance to enter into the picture whatsoever. I think this has been the secret to my “success,” these weeks and I have found this to be a powerful lesson. One could apply the same principle to a promotion exam or a tournament, a demonstration, actual self-defense, or any other case in martial arts where you’re success is imperative. By not allowing your mind to take over with its thoughts of self doubt and what ifs, you simply “perform,” you simply do what it is you’re trying to do because there is nothing to prevent you from doing it, and really there is no alternative. I realize how overly simplistic this sounds but I think this is the answer to many of the “koans” of life…do not give your mind anywhere to go, or anything to do, and you will be able to go anywhere and do anything.
A similar sentiment is summarized in one of those books I have been re-reading, The Unfettered Mind by Takuan Soho (a definite must read for any martial artist!)
We say that:
If one puts his mind in the action of his opponent’s body, his mind will be taken by the action of his opponent’s body.
If he puts his mind in his opponent’s sword, his mind will be taken by that sword.
If he puts his mind in the thoughts of his opponent’s intention to strike him, his mind will be take by those thoughts of intention.
If he puts his mind on his own sword, his mind will be taken by his own sword.
If he puts his mind on his own intention of not being struck, his mind will be taken by that intention.
If he puts his mind on the other man’s stance, his mind will be taken by the other man’s stance.
What this means is that there is no place to put the mind.
Just some food for thought!