24/7 365… Our thoughts loom large in our heads, never stopping, insistently rolling like waves on the beach. The correct thoughts can make us feel happy, elated, glad to be a life, negative thoughts however can lead us down a darker road, to sadness, guilt, misery or depression. Correct karate training with the correct mental attitude and instruction will lead to “control” over our thought process, allowing us to control our emotions and thoughts leading to calmer, less stressed lives.
Think of your thoughts (mind waves) like ripples in a pond. You want to get ready of the ripples (lets say stress). By throwing a pebble into the pond we get more ripples, so we throw a larger stone and get more ripples, which collide and bounce off each other creating chaos. The way to get the ripples to stop, is to leave the pond alone. Let the ripples fade of their own accord. So too it is with the mind. Aimlessly sitting in front of the TV, does nothing to reduce stress or benefit the mind.
Karate or meditation, and they are two sides to the same coin focuses your mind, giving it something to concentrate on, to allow our thoughts to settle and stress to melt away. The purpose of training is to develop Zanshin (awareness) or mindfulness and later to develop Mushin (No Mind). See other articles in this series for explanations of these terms. Your practice the correct mind set in class. Calm, focused, alert, positive, proactive. At first your practice is limited to moments within a class, then filling an entire class, then becoming a sustaining habit your entire waking life and in the fullness of time sleep life. Leading to calm, controlled stress life, where you learn to respond, not to react to the world around you. As your studies progress you gain insight into your negative triggers and purposely condition more positive responses.
The secret to this mind set… is practice. Correct physical and mental practice. Goal setting is important but do not be concerned with your destination. Just practice. Initially on the dojo floor, and then later in your life outside the dojo. Practice for practice sake. One step at a time, one class at a time, one thought at a time. We all have a unconscious tape playing over and over in our minds. It is with our whole lives that many are unaware that they are listening to it. But this tape may be holding your back not making you happy and your dreams come true. How do you know what the tape is saying in your head. Listen to your feelings. Ask at any moment of the day how your feeling? The answer is what your head is saying to you. If your feeling sad your having sad thoughts. If you are happy you are listening to happy thoughts etc.
Proper training will lead to greater mental abilities, like those shown by master in martial arts movies throughout the years. once this great power has been achieved it becomes nothing, commonplace, like child birth. Ask any expecting mother in the glow of pregnancy and they will tell you it is a wonderful thing. But once the child is born it giving birth becomes more common place. So it is a special thing and a ordinary thing at the same time. So too are the mental stress relieve abilities of a high grade karateka, a special thing to taking years of practice, that becomes everyday ordinary once it is achieved.