Spiritual sage Thich Nhat Hanh said that “…if we know how to keep concentration alive, insight will come.”
In the Dojo, we meditate briefly at the beginning and end of class to potentially clear our minds and to change focus to the task at hand. This is an excellent practice, and I’ve learned to spend the few minutes kneeling in Seiza to empty my mind in order to be a better listener when instruction begins.
But what about as the class ensues? When your legs are burning and you’re getting winded from doing Ippon drills? This is where training can wane.
If you’re looking at the clock, or thinking, god, that old back injury is killing me, or my legs are burning like crazy, you’ve lost focus and you’re missing the essence of the training opportunity. We get one or two hours in the Dojo at a time and we need to stay focused in order to be able to push ourselves to get better and to truly get the lessons taught.
I’m merely a student of the art myself, but I do find that breathing is a key to staying in tune with my training. When I get tired, I breathe deeply and consciously, or if I’m hurting I do the same. I try to breathe mindfully throughout my Kata repetitions, as well as when we are standing in Yoi listening to instruction.
Concentration, after all, is a portal to insight…There’s no place in a murky, restless mind for learning.