Martial Musings: The Blessing is Next To The Wound
These past two weeks have been rough in the dojo. One student has a herniated disk in the neck, another has hurt her foot really bad and the third hurt his back during a fall from his bike. One asked me if s/he should still train and what advise I would have for them. So I shared my own personal story.
I had abused my body for many years, pushing it to limits - someitmes in the name of performance, and sometime becuase I did not know better. Just the previous week I had hiked up Dana Peak on a shugyo with my boys.
Today mother nature had other plans.I heard a pop and the ligament in my knee gave way. The pain shot through my leg, straight into my brain. After that most of my Menkyo test - perhaps one of the most important days in my Martial Life was a blur.
I completed the test in deep pain and dont quite remember a lot of it. Afterwards I walked with knee braces and a cane for many months. The slightest pressure would set off bouts of pain.
During this time, I had to learn other ways to train and move. And had to learn to respect my body and its limits, including my age. The road to recovery was slow, and it introduced me to the wonders of Chinese Internal Martial Arts (esp BaguaZhang and Neija) and Energy Medicine.
I learnt a few valuable lessons (if it interests my readers will dedicate some posts specifically on the points listed below) 1. Never push an injured body part 2. Respect your body's limits, and infact I now train at only about 70% of my limit 3. RELAX and loosen the body esp the Kwa, the Spine and Shoulders 4. Understand the kinesology, the anatomy and the energetics of the body deeply - do this first to heal and then to hurt 5. Changed my diet towards making it as raw as possible 6. Functional exercises only and away from fads
One of the students asked me if s/he should still train "given the foot hurts so much"
I responded "Our body is our best teacher. Sometimes our injuries tell us what we are not paying attention to. So look deeply into the wounds and see what it says. Look to how you might now adapt your fighting and training."
Some things were now clicking and I could sense it. As s/he nodded I continued " In war you are likely to get injured, and what you do next will decide how you live/die. So train to adapt to new ways of moving and not moving. Look for what else you will do when motion is completely blocked off in one limb or direction."
One of the newer students asked me "what is the best way to proceed."
"The brain cannot tell the difference between what is real and imagined. When you imagine a technique in your mind's eye, your body percieves it as real, and responds. So now when you body is not in a position to move fully, train the faculty of your mind to become sharp and perhaps create the nueral pathways this way."
"Always go one level deeper than the problem you are trying to solve. When the body presents the problem, go into the mind. When the mind presents a problem, look into the will/intent/spirit. And when the problem is in the spirit, then perhaps look into the void/emptiness. Go deeper into the rabbit hole."
"The word blessed means to marked by blood, to be wounded. Therefore when you are wounded, it can be a blessing to bring your true gifts forth. Dont take them lightly or just at a physical level - go deeper into the rabbit hole and yourself. Both your release and healing unfold there."
Your body-mind-spirt always speaks, pay close attention, for in it you will also find your release. Dont give up and feel lost when faced with these potholes and hindrances in training. They can be your guideposts. Remember this little Native American poem anytime you do feel lost or are about to give up
LOST Stand still. The trees ahead and bushes beside you Are not lost. Wherever you are is called Here, And you must treat it as a powerful stranger, Must ask permission to know it and be known. The forest breathes. Listen. It answers, I have made this place around you. If you leave it, you may come back again, saying Here. No two trees are the same to Raven. No two branches are the same to Wren. If what a tree of a bush does is lost on you, You are surely lost. Stand still. The forest know Where you are. You must let it find you.
That fateful day of my knee injury opened up CIMA, Energy Medicine and Sports Medicine and transformed my life. Dont let the injuries and hindrances derail you... slow down... pay attention like the poem articulates... a whole new world is about to open to you. BE PRESENT and LISTEN DEEPLY! The blessing is right next to the wound.
Come by our dojo sometime, would love to chat/train/learn with you. Signing off from sunny California.
Mahipal Lunia, Sensei www.MountainViewAiki.com www.TheRenaissancePath.com www.RadicalChangeGroup.com