One thing that often separates a traditional martial arts school from most sports or MMA schools is meditation. For instance, in my school, before a student even sets foot into the dojo they are expected to meditate. We have a narrow hallway in which I lay down some carpets for the students to sit cross-legged and meditate. Students are expected to close their eyes, clear their mind and focus on their breathing.
The purpose of the meditation is to prepare oneself for class. If a student steps into class without meditating they may have lots of thoughts running through their head that could negatively affect their karate training. For instance, perhaps they had a bad day, had a quarrel with someone or are stressed about a family issue. All these things take space in the mind and affect a person from performing at their best. In clearing out these thoughts one can relax and live in the moment without the baggage of these other thoughts weighing you down. Think of meditation as a tool to help you focus, relax and therefore perform at a higher level.
Meditation may conjure up images of a yogi sitting in the lotus position, chanting "Om" and hovering over an Indian rug. But, it doesn't have to be that complicated. A person can meditate in a chair just by closing their eyes and taking deep breaths. In fact, a person can even meditate standing up, walking or laying in bed! The important thing is that meditation is NOT sleeping. Some meditations even encourage you to keep your eyes open. In meditation a person is relaxed and is focused on one thing. The one thing can be your breathing, your heart beat, a single word, a candle flame, the sound of a bell, a sound in nature, a positive affirmation or a bible verse. These are just some ideas on what you can use to focus your meditation. You may find other things or thoughts that you wish to use in meditation. Whatever you choose, it should not be a distraction or annoyance. It should be something that helps you focus and brings you peace.
I believe that everyone can benefit from meditation. As a student, a meditation right before a big test can help you focus and perform better. As an adult, before an important presentation at work, a meditation can help relieve stress. As a job seeker, meditation can help ease the nervousness that often accompanies a job interview.
One particular meditation that I find especially helpful is a morning meditation. In my life I have spoken to many successful entrepreneurs and business people who attribute morning meditation as an important part of their life. For most people the morning is a rush to get ready, eat breakfast, complete last-minute tasks and quickly shuttle out the door to school or work. It's rush, rush, rush from the get go without stopping to focus on the positive. Would you like to change your life? Would you like to start each day with a smile? Try this morning meditation on for size:
Step 1. Get up 15 minutes earlier (it may mean going to bed earlier)
Step 2. Get a cooking timer that you can set for 5 minutes at a time.
Step 3. Find a quiet, private spot that you can meditate in a comfortable position. For instance, a cushion on the floor, a chair or a place out doors.
Step 4. You will do three 5-minute meditations.
Vashon Borich, Sensei teaches traditional karate & kobudo in Branson, Missouri. She considers herself a life-time student of the arts. Her blog is an open journal of lessons learned in the martial arts. If you are a martial artist and would like to contribute to her blog please contact her.
©2012 Branson Karate & Kobudo™