We’ve grown accustomed to our environment. Constant input. Especially over the last 10 years. I want you to think. Think hard. How often is it you have a period of 5 minutes without stimuli, and sleeping doesn’t count? Probably not that often. Maybe once a year? I don’t know, am I going out on a limb saying that?
I think over the last 10 years our lives have become more stimulated due to technology, mainly smart phones. That train ride, bus ride, visit to the doctors where you sat and enjoyed the peacefulness, or read a book, or went over your life. Those are gone now. Even social gathering are not the same. People no longer just sit together and enjoy the silence when talking is done. The phones come out and that moment is gone where you had the chance to just enjoy the quietness.
But, I think it goes deeper than that. I think we are slowly changing how our brains work. What might have happened during that 10, 20, 60 minute period where you were left to your own thinking? What process would your brain have gone through to keep yourself occupied? What electrical pulses would have fired, what chemical processes would have reacted? Are we reshaping our brains by not letting this happen? There is a strong belief that children’s brains are not developing the same way because they are over stimulated and are always having things done for them, in a sense. No longer are children left to come up with activities to keep themselves occupied, things like drawing, playing with blocks, spending time outside hiking around adventuring or just left to figure out what to do when they are bored.
How many of us have actually gone somewhere and not had any stimulus other than what the natural world has to offer? Even camping has changed. TV’s, radio’s, internet, phones, etc. I remember going camping and portaging through 5 lakes until I ended up somewhere where I was the only person around. I was on an island and there was nothing around me other than animals for about two or three miles. It was amazing. At night I had a beautiful star filled sky above me and nothing but quietness. It can be a profound experience, something that you come to yearn for. When you come out of that location it can be unnerving, getting back to the hustle of everyday life. The business, the impatience, the effect it has in wearing you down.
To the point
That’s interesting and all, but what does this have to do with fitness and health? It’s not everything but it’s something. Do you want to get more out of your workouts? Are you working on a specific goal? Is your physical activity part of a bigger plan, a goal to achieve? Our mind plays a role in this. It can help us achieve what it is we are going after our it can be our downfall.
Let me talk about the title of this post, Mushin. Empty mind, no mind. What does it mean? Not the obvious in that no mind does not mean you don’t have a mind. Let’s look at the two characters that make up the word mushin: 無心. The first character, 無 can be translated into nothing. The second character, 心 meaning heart, mind, or spirit (the word kokoro will also come up when translating this word. To the Japanese everything has kokoro, or a spirit).
So what does mushin mean when it comes to working out, or reaching for your endeavors. Think of it as blocking out all that doesn’t matter, nothing that is important at the moment. I have started to adopt this myself when working out . I try to empty my mind when performing kata or especially when sparring since the only thing I need to focus on or should be focusing on is my kata, or my opponent. But how does this come into play when working out? Simple. Focus on your body’s movement. Focus on your breathing, focus on your heart beating. Focus on your feet landing when running. Focus on your body movement when pressing weight. Take the earbuds out and focus on these things. It will change how you work out.
I want to talk about an experience I had recently when teaching a class. I have noticed recently that I would talk about specific technique, something such as keeping your hands up when striking and how when one hand goes out to strike the other hand reciprocates and protects the jaw. I talked about this for about 2 minutes, showing the technique, giving analogies to help drive home the point. ‘Ok, back on the bags and get striking’ is what I finished up with. The students started hitting the bags again and maybe one student was actually doing what I talked about. I think because of the constant ‘noise’ in our lives we have lost the ability to listen. We hear, but we don’t listen. I stopped the class and talked about this. I said that in this example you have to go up to the heavy bag and tell yourself what you need to do – you have to say it in your mind. It’s the only way your technique will change.
So what do you do? You have a stressful event coming up. You fear failure. You fear that you are going to walk into this event and fail. It’s unnerving. And that’s fine. If you didn’t have this fear of failure than what is driving you? But try not to let this fear consume you. Use the fear to drive you. And accept it. Let it push you and help you to prepare for the event. To deny it is to deny something that is a part of you.
Believe in yourself. Know that you have the ability and the skill to accomplish this because you would not be where you are if you didn’t. You will make mistakes. Once that mistake has happened it is now history. No matter how much you let it affect you, no matter how much you regret it, it can’t be undone. Gone. It can’t be reversed. Accept that and move on.
Mushin. Give it no mind. Give it no regard.
Mind your body, mind your breathing, mind your stance, mind your block. Mind your peacefulness.
Don’t mind history. That is for later as we use our experience to better ourselves. But that is not now.
Yours in health,