By now, most of you readers are pretty familiar with the brutally honest, but right-on-target, style of my writing, on the topic of health & fitness. And you can expect the same dose of candor with today’s article, yet with a new and profoundly simple message… However, before you start getting too cozy in the idea of “simple”… this message still requires you to get off the couch, eat right and, in this case, get into the “I am the next Bruce Lee” mentality.
I realize this might seem like reaching for the impossible, but here’s the thing. …I don’t believe in impossible.
So, just a few months ago, I noticed my six-year-old son, Tiger’s, confidence skyrocket after starting Jujitsu. In the blink of an eye, Tiger went from being a shy wallflower at school to an outgoing and helpful initiator. I wasn’t quick to credit Jujitsu for all of his progress, but soon the evidence was too overwhelming to ignore. I had to understand the magic behind what I was witnessing. So, I decided to experience it for myself.
Confession: You know I’m not a stranger to pushing my energetic & physical limits but, for whatever reason, I had always seen martial arts as something out-of-reach. And, as a pro dancer, the last thing I needed was to get injured trying to do some “wax on, wax off” parlor trick…. So, believe me when I tell you that I entered into the endeavor cautiously.
It’s tempting to hide behind age, weight & current fitness levels when it comes to shifting our habits toward optimal living. Balancing love life, children and work is no easy task. And even though we know exercise is important, it can seem like the addition of another activity might just tip the scales rather than help. If you’re nodding your head at this, martial arts might just be your knight in shining armor.
Very early in my training, I learned that martial arts could never add to an imbalance, because the very nature of martial arts is to create balance. This was clear in the very first lesson and I have already gone on to apply it to every aspect of my life with plenty of success.
Martial arts and family:
Since starting martial arts, I have learned to see the world in slow motion. You may know from experience that inspiration strikes when you’ve slowed down enough to connect with the moment and fully absorb it. This is why slowing down to speed up is one of the very first things we’re taught in martial arts. The awareness that comes from slowing down, grounds us in the reality of the present and makes us much more sensitive to everything that comes our way. I have already seen this phenomenon enrich the time I spend with my kids, letting me be more receptive, intuitive, & patient in all interactions. And we all know that when mommy is in balance, everyone is 🙂
Martial arts and love life:
Another confession: I created many problems in my own relationship by prioritizing professional dancing over partnership. But, in my defense: not only did I want to maintain peak fitness, I didn’t want to give up my dancing titles! Should I have to?? Being a competitive athlete is not a fling for me – it’s part of who I am and makes me feel fulfilled. The way I see it, you should never be forced to sacrifice one true love for another. But, Martial Arts proves it’s possible to have your cake and eat it too! It has taught me to balance my time and make the best of each moment, whether it’s with my partner, children or friends. And that’s with plenty of time left for dancing. … and more martial arts. So. How does it work?
First: Wherever you are, really BE there – mentally, I mean. You need to turn your phone off PERIOD. Don’t divide your attention. It is amazing what you can accomplish with FULL focus.
Secondly: In conflict, don’t be right; be thoughtful. And let him (your opponent) win every once in a while. You are automatically the winner when you take one for the team. Trust me, if your partner is worth keeping, they’ll notice your ego sacrifice (even if they don’t say so).
Try it today. You can begin healing your relationship by facing your opponent (your partner), saluting, and understanding that you both want the same things… Well, he’ll probably always want sex (and so do we – but maybe not as often as they do…). But, my point is, we both want love, right? And we want what’s best for our children. And, of course, we both want to be happy. Sounds like plenty of common ground to me!
Martial arts and work:
As a successful business owner and writer, I thought I had it all covered… until martial arts happened… and now I humbly say, “boy, was I sooo wrong.” It’s at work that I feel I’ve gained the most groundedness, since this journey began. In fact, my confidence has actually been boosted by applying the art of listening to my communication with patients, clients, employees, etc. I’ve learned that true listening is an art and science; as is truly learning from what’s being said. And it requires slowing down. When we’re rushing around, we’re always 3 places at once and 3 steps ahead – which means we’re never in the scene at hand. And this makes us miss so much of the learning that’s available to us during interactions. Everyone wants to have a voice and everyone has something to teach you. This grounded listening is a foreign concept to most, but everyone is capable of it through disciplined practice. Also, what I said about relationships goes for business colleagues too. Learn to zip it, lock it and put it in your pocket. Choose your battles. This is the key to a successful business. Learn when to listen … you don’t always need the last word.
Martial arts as a professional dancer:
In dance, technique and flirtation rule how well I perform. In martial arts, connection to breath defines the performance. Martial Arts teaches us how to strengthen the relationship between body, mind and breath. It teaches that breath does not originate in our lungs or chest, but from The Mind. This is why a thought/idea and inhalation are both referred to as “inspiration”. No coincidence. Breath can root you in the moment and shoot you to the stars. If I really take the time to slow down and center myself every time I dance, I can find and root my breath, which fuels every movement and helps me fall in perfect flow with my dance partner. It makes me feel powerful, as it did my little Tiger at school. At this point, nothing is out-of-reach in my mind. …And you can be sure I try to be Bruce Lee every time I hit the dance floor.
To control the breath is to control the mind. And, when you can control the mind, you can move mountains. Or in my case… move competitors off the dance floor.
Just slow down…. And breathe.
By Esmie Gallemore