I have owned and operated a martial arts studio for five years now. The studio focuses on mindfulness and dealing with the volcano of emotions that rises up when we are put under stress. Stress is your training partner hitting you, or choking you. If you can stay calm under those conditions, you can deal with the strikes of life.
It’s all fun and friendly, as the point isn’t to “win” against your training partner, but to surf the tide of emotions that rise up under those conditions.
It is normal in martial arts to pressure test your skills in sparring or rolling. You try your techniques against a resisting opponent, with a different body type, personality, and skill base. It is a study, an experiment, and curiosity is the best emotion to feel.
But the battle is within.
The more experienced guys know that the key to having an easy round is to get in the head of your opponent. If you can do that, the rest is easy.
As Napoleon is attributed to have said, “never interfere with your enemy when he is making a mistake.”
But sadly, the enemy is all too often in our head.
I have started to do Ashtanga Yoga. The final pose is called the Corpse Pose. We lie on the floor, facing upward, and relax with our eyes closed.
I say relax because that is what I do. But others in the room can’t deal with it. They can’t deal with being still… With only their thoughts.
I LOVE it! You think I haven’t faced my thoughts before? You don’t think they have haunted me with crazy visions of the future, or distorted versions of the past?
This isn’t my first rodeo with anxiety and depression. Now it’s just a curiosity.
What’s my mind’s next play? What will you do to try and bring me down?
I see it as training. Just like I train on the mats, I like to train my mind. My wife calls it “brooding”, and supports me, but doesn’t understand it. Why I sit in the dark… Thinking.
But I am training, sparring.
Preparing for that fight, when they come back stronger than I have experienced them being before.
I need to be ready.
Originally published at goodmenproject.com