So it is said that if you know your enemies and know yourself, you can win a hundred battles without a single loss.
If you only know yourself, but not your opponent, you may win or may lose.
If you know neither yourself nor your enemy, you will always endanger yourself.
– Sun Tzu, The Art of War
The mind is primary, number one, any action or decision you take first starts as a thought in your mind and if martial arts is a set of movements you make in response to a set of movements your opponent makes, does it not make sense that you should train your mind first.
If we apply this to the arena of self protection, it is usually those people whose mind is aware, but relaxed and ready, that successfully defend themselves.
Martial Arts means, war like arts, and it is well documented that since time began warriors have had their ways and rituals for preparing the mind for battle, whether it is the native american braves in the west to the samurai warrior in the east and every culture and country in between they have all had their own “way”.
Most are tied in to the cultures dominant religion at the time, but at its heart is the ability to still the mind and focus your energies to a single point , on a single subject, or to make peace with themselves and their god if they were to face death on the battlefield.
The ironic thing is this was also the route that the men of peace use to reach enlightenment, and is at the core of all the major faiths around the world, the generic term used nowadays is meditation.
The benefits of a calm mind from meditation
Do you see yourself in any of these issues?
Do you get easily nervous before speaking in public,
Testing for your next grading?
Competing or sparring?
Do you get easily irritated: at your boss, superiors, trainers, peers?
Do you have doubts and fears about: your performance in training, or your performance in a real situation?
Do you have difficulties falling asleep at night because of: your concerns about your skill set, or lack there of? your training progress? how you compare to others? your physical issues?
Do certain thoughts keeping obsessing your mind, such as: your ability to perform in certain situations? past errors? the effects of past traumatic incidents? the opinion of others?
Do you have difficulty focusing your mind on: your training? your objectives? the situation? instructions?
there are a lot of benefits to meditation and calming the mind. here are just a few that can help your study, training and performance.
Ability to learn faster.
Enhanced physical relaxation.
Normally, you go about your daily routine in beta brainwaves, which can be physically and mentally draining. When you attain alpha and theta brainwaves on a regular basis through calming meditation, not only do you get an energy boost, you also get improved memory, increased concentration, greater relaxation, and a general overall feeling of happiness.
When first starting to meditate one way that is easy to remember is the Set, Sit, And Forget.
SET: Mentally set your intention. for example, “sitting here makes me feel more clam, centered and relaxed.”
SIT: Sit down and close your eyes. Put the tip of your tongue on the roof of your mouth and leave it there for the duration. Gently place your attention on your belly, your heart, or the area between your eyebrows, focus on it lightly. No stress or strain.
FORGET: Forget about whatever you think you have to do, need to do, or should do. Don’t try to relax. Don’t try to meditate. Don’t try to stop your thoughts. Forget about all of that and just breathe. Whenever you become aware that your attention has drifted away from your belly, heart, or between your eyebrows, just gently guide it back. Do this for 5 to 15 mins until you feel calm, centered relaxed. At the peak of this relaxation, connect your feeling with trigger words, “i feel calm, centered, and relaxed”.
In the future, when you sit down to meditate, slowly repeat these words to yourself a few times to deepen your experience. You can also use these trigger words to help re-enter this relaxed state any other time that you might need to.
Give meditation a go, you will find it is one of the best things you can do that will spill over into every area of your life, and once you get into the practice there are other ways to go further down the rabbit hole, such as visualization and peak flow states, that all top successful people in all walks of life have used for centuries.
We will look at flow states and visualization in the next blog.
Steve Jones chief instructor Dudley Port.