Modern society expects so much from us.
We are always on the go, always connected...always tired.
Our attention spans get shorter and shorter as we struggle to do more and more with the little time we have and feel guilty if we "do nothing". Our schedules are already packed, and yet we try to do more...we are rushing constantly, and frequently late. Many of us feel extreme stress and anxiety during the day, and end up feeling mentally and emotionally exhausted when we get home, unable to have relaxing times with our families and friends. Weekends are spent sleeping, and then feeling guilty for not "doing something" or "getting out more". It's a downward spiral that ultimately can lead to burnout and depression.
Sometimes we need to Press Pause.
Happiness may not be about doing more.
Maybe it's about doing less...but doing it "better".
Maybe it's about being fully in the moment rather than just "doing the best we can with the time we have" and settling for less than the full experience we deserve. We need to pause in order to savor the moment.
Martial arts training is a great way to relieve stress by achieving a challenging physical workout. Ultimately, though, it is about so much more than this. It's about developing the confidence to go out and get the life you want - a balanced life - with time for the important things (and learning to remove the unimportant things).
Martial arts is about learning the importance of pausing.
Just like any good piece of music, the pauses are important - so important that we can say it isn't music without them. Many of us wait for our annual leave to try to "recover" from work. I would rather suggest that we need to manage our lives to have at least a few minutes daily to center ourselves and find peace in order to keep balanced.
At PWC, Sifu James gave us great, practical advice on meditation which I call "PBT".
P - Posture
B - Breathing
T - Thoughts
If we align these we can be meditating literally ANYTIME, ANYWHERE.
While I cannot condone levitating above the dining table in the company canteen (although it does sound like fun), I also think that we do not need a classical "meditation pose". Thius means we could use time on the train or bus, or even sitting at our desks, to meditate for a few minutes a day in order to clear our minds and stay relaxed. When the picture header for this article says "when you pause, pray", I think "when you pause, meditate".
To me they are the same.
Martial arts training helps us be in the moment and focused, without our minds wandering to what we did earlier or what we are doing next. We can stay focused on the drills and on our partners, training them just like they train us.
Martial arts training is about making small changes to how we move, how we engage, how we eat, how we feel which then result in big changes to how we live. The dojo is a lab where we test these changes and make them ready for use outside the dojo in our everyday lives.
Martial arts training is about respect --- respect for others (teachers, brothers and sisters) and especially for OURSELVES. We practice respecting our bodies by training safely, eating well, getting plenty of sleep, drinking lots of water. We also respect our time and the time of others, since that is the hallmark of any professional. We expect the best from ourselves, which helps us get the best from those around us. Learning to pause helps us appreciate the value of time a little more, ours and theirs, and remember how precious it is.
I have seen this martial arts transformation firsthand so many times.
People who come to class weak, unsure, timid, lacking confidence, shy. Victims.
Little by little they are transformed. Their bodies and minds get stronger. Their will gets stronger. They refuse to compromise on their goals and begin to achieve them - inside and outside the dojo. They become confident in who they are and how they are and develop a vision for who they want to be. Their lives CHANGE. Maybe they find their life partner. Maybe they get promoted or get a new job. Maybe they finish their degree. Maybe they develop better relationships with their family and friends. Maybe they become a better parent or mentor. People begin to see them as LEADERS and INFLUENCERS. They stand out from the rest of the pack.
My fellow Kasamas and Guros were not all born so. Their achievements are the result of years of hard work and dedication. They are regular people who chose to become EXTRAORDINARY people. I am proud to have them in my family.
However, it is important to remember that anyone, really anyone, could make the same choice. The beauty of success is that anyone can do it if they focus and do the work. Success really is for EVERYONE.
It starts with a pause...