The following is written from personal experience. My insight is from finally beginning to understand how much pain and fear have been embedded deep inside my mind and how I have kept myself from letting the fear and pain in and how keeping myself blocked like this has kept me from healing deep wounds. Real healing work is both profoundly challenging and rewarding at the same time.
This kind of awareness has not come from my martial arts practice. I have been seeing a friend for bodywork for the last 15 years – Darlene Drewniak. It is with Darlene’s support that I have come to understand the depths behind the mechanics of the mind and how I keep myself isolated from my wounds. While I see the similarities between physical training and how it relates to and supports the discipline I seek with my mind in order to heal – nothing comes close to the depth of awareness I am learning about from my work with Darlene.
Life is a journey. We all know this. Deep down. If we are open to listening we can hear ourselves, our Hearts whispering to ourselves in the wind as it blows through the tress and the way the waters of a stream kiss the banks of the bed that is its home.
Walking through life means learning to live. Learning to live requires a great deal of courage. Why courage you ask? I mean you live right? You get up and you go to work and you have a family and you hang out with friends and maybe you go to the gym or not, maybe you work in the fields planting food for the world to eat – maybe just enough for yourself.
Life requires courage because of the decisions required to be alive. NOT just going through the motions, living in the system of opinions and perceptions hoisted upon us by the mass of unconscious programs of the society, or the family we were born into. Learning to feed our minds and hearts can take a lot of courage and discipline of desire to want more and to reach for more.
What is this more? What more could there be? Well a lot really. If you are living in the system of programmed assumptions about the world – this includes all the drama and all the fears and all the judgements and limitations that go with it … you are not really honouring your Self. Now why would I bring up honour? Is that not an ancient outdated warrior code thing? Well … yes and absolutely not.
Yes, ancient and modern warrior societies and codes all have a version of honour that parallels their societal and cultural norms. Except in modern times and when it comes to Living with genuine presence, Honouring one’s Self is about respect and acceptance of Self, no matter what, regardless of what the external world has been telling you since you were born. Respect is not earned through aggression or fear. Often as humans we are conditioned to use those two main modes of operating to build an illusion of respect through varying degrees of intimidation – bullying if you will.
This kind of respect is based on a lack of value for others because of how little we value ourselves. This is why the aggression and fear are so common place. Often an event will happen and we will get caught in the emotional/feeling impact of the event and not understand what has happened to us. The Way we choose to use our minds determines HOW such an event really does affect our reality. What do I mean our minds affect our reality? Well … just go back and let yourself feel such an event – if you can. See how much luck you have with that. How did that feel…? Could you let yourself feel such an event? Do you have the strength to go back into a traumatic event and let yourself feel it and to without judgement or fear ALLOW yourself you FEEL how you attached to it and how you have used it to define who you are?
Can you feel the way you mind limited by the attachment and energy used to keep the trauma isolated tries to distract you and keep you from being present with the pain? Being able to be present with the pain is an art and requires a great deal of courage. Courage is something we all have. There are depths of courage within all of us that are truly breathtaking when it rises to the surface and we ALLOW ourselves to step out of the box of isolation and train ourselves to LIVE through the pain of the traumatic event and become an expression of Living Art.
Training in the martial arts mirrors the internal process of waking to our pain and finding the courage to step forward. Indeed the parallels of healing can be found everywhere. Perhaps this is why so many of us seeking our own healing quite often without seeing at first what it is we have brought to ourselves. Become Living Art by Honouring yourselves and ALLOWING … sometimes allowing is about forcing our minds to face the pain … because the limited ego program based mind does not like to see the pain we have held onto for so long.
As a martial artist I see the parallels in healing and training all the time. When you are training something physically demanding like the martial arts … if you are just training your body and not being deliberate with you mind you are really only training about 10% of your deeper potential as far as I am concerned. And I have met plenty of martial artists that ‘play’ at the training and train as if they were living their little mental box and repeating the broken record over and over and over.
The mind is the key to unlocking the body. In the internal martial arts like Taiji and Baguazhang and Xingyi …the key is to be relaxed but fiercely aware all at the same time. Training any kind of physical art requires focus and determination … and those moments when we are tired and exhausted and feeling broken by the hours and hours of training ….we have two options. We either shutdown and push through and push the pain down and bottle it up and ignore it or we let the pain in and let it fuel our desire to reach for more of ourselves. Welcoming the pain in neutralizes its momentum, absorbs all the energy the mind has built up to isolate it and build walls to hide it, and finally letting the pain in will let everything dissolve and pass through you without becoming another brick in the wall keeping you from feeling the depth of your courage.
Being open to hear yourself is an art and is how we can really learn how to be alive. The path is full of twists and turns and tricks the mind will play on you – shoving limited opinions in your face like a sandstorm. Anyone can give themselves the Gift of becoming Living Art .. all it takes is a little courage. Sometimes it is hard to find the courage … other times the momentum from putting the time in training the mind and the body makes it seem easy. And then we go deeper.
In the end it all comes down to how much you value yourself and what you are choosing to believe in. How far can you go and how far do you want to go? How much courage will you reach for to open the Path even more? Amazing how deep a little rabbit hole can seem some times.
Living is more than one system of opinions. Everyone has that broken record in their collection. Sometimes it feels comfortable to put it back on the record player and listen .. wistfully pinning over old memories… but when you open your music library up to other artistic expressions …well then the air changes a bit and seems more alive and once you have realized how much more to Living there is …when you realize how much Art there is in the world.
Everyone has their own expression and their own Art of Living their lives. To stand and be present and accountable for one’s own expression is what opens you up to more of who you are. Training the mind, waking the body up to feel and allowing one’s Self to fully feel and to not shutdown but to embrace what you do find when you really look at your Self. That is Living Art.
Becoming Living Art only takes a bit of courage … and everyone already has the keys to their own art inside them. Training in the martial arts has shown me that the mind and body are deeply connected. Within that connection is where I have discovered a path to find my own keys. This path has always been full of challenges that change with each new key I give myself. The more I choose to look inside the more I challenge myself with accepting what I find. A little bit of courage can really go a long way. Learning to Live is the most amazing journey anyone can ever choose.
And remember … all those keys are inside you. Already. Breath and listen.