What goes in, must come out. What comes out, must come back in. This is the nature of flow. This is how we battle stagnation.
In my experience in relating with members of different places in the community; youth, parents, adults, seniors, mothers, fathers, sons, professionals, workers...this is a common theme as to why they turn to martial art: stress.
All stress, with all due respect, is a form of stagnation. We encounter a thought, feeling, memory...and we get stuck on it. We dwell and dwell and dwell and go insane until we need a physical impetus to release the stress (Muay Thai, Crossfit, Running, Martial Art, etc).
However--training is not enough. Training only helps with the symptoms of stress: frustration, anger and disappointment. It does not however, deal with the stressor.
All healing begins with movement. whether it be cellular, physical, mental and emotional, the solution to stagnation begins with movement. Like a tight knot, the first step to unknotting it is to loosen it up.
What, therefore does mental movement look like?
The first image is from a Mandala colouring book--blank tapestries in which you can colour whichever way you see fit, or feel. Colour, is one of the most basic ways to express one's emotions. Depending on how we feel, you will find yourself gravitate to certain hues and shades. The act of colouring (selecting a colour based off pure spontaneity) and putting action and motion to it onto a page is a release in and of itself. This has worked wonders for me. I'm a sort of introvert in the sense where revealing and discussing my innermost feelings is not a natural thing for me. I've found it to be highly cathartic to be able to express myself without the feeling of vulnerability to strangers.
The second image is the old school way--the written word. Most notably, cursive writing. Cursive writing is now a lost art; what with the advent of technology, we no longer use pens and letters to communicate to one another (and ourselves for that matter). Writing matters because it tends illuminate thoughts that we tend to gloss over (yet have such a significant impact in creating tension and emotion). Cursive writing matters because the process of making ones penmanship beautiful is a skill in and of itself; the skill of carefully handling ones innermost thoughts and feelings.
Simply because our thoughts are to be handled with care.
The following is my personal process. Feel free to copy, or perhaps come up your own way of doing so. In any case, this is just to elicit a start because it's helped me tremendously. I always keep three journals with me at all times:
I take my craft seriously. I'm very fortunate to be able to do what I love to do. I know, that it is a blessing. There are so many people in the world who are not afforded the ability or circumstance to make a living from ones passion, so I am well aware of the fact that I got lucky enough to be on the winning side of lifes' lotto. So it's from that perspective that I treat my circumstance in life with fragility.
This life can end in a flash.
So I make sure to stay on top of my knowledge. I don't obsess too much about the new stuff--I make sure record every single thing my teacher teaches me. Every. Single. Thing. I'm also fortunate enough to have a master guide me, but he and I know that won't be forever. So while he's willing to teach, I go the extra mile and make sure no lesson is lost. Understand, that our first teacher is ourselves. The relationship we have with our craft, is simply a manifestation of the relationship we have with ourselves.
So constantly review what you know. Remember what you forgot. Question your beliefs.
At the moment, my professional journal is more of a data log/summary of lessons from my teacher than anything. He knows so much that I'm simply not in a place to question anything and I prefer to record everything. When the teaching stops, and as I mature more in my profession I'll look back and reflect/refine.
*Choose a good journal. Your profession is going in this journal. It deserves the right feel. It should have good paper, and always written with the same pens/colour. A professional is someone who consistently delivers a high level of service to themselves and others. So write down your profession in the same way. Make your handwriting the highest possible quality, on the highest quality paper, with the best possible pen. Believe me, if you treat yourself that way, it will come out when you communicate to your audience about what you do.*
Nobody cares about what you know until they know about how much you care. So go out and demonstrate your level of self care.
I have a million ideas. So should you. I'm always aware of whats next. Things change, and situations force us to adapt, so it's from that perspective that in this world strength is not enough to survive. You need creativity. When things get tough, get creative and find a way out and on top.
With that said, I keep a large(ish) journal with any thought I wish to explore. Being that I'm an entrepreneur I tend to write about business ideas, so this is usually where my ideas that aren't ready for an audience yet gets its attention. I'll dissect an idea fully. If it can handle my own scrutiny, it can definitely handle others by the time I say it out loud. I think more than I speak. I evaluate more than I commit. Thats what this journal is for.
*Any journal will do. Any writing instrument will do. The ideas contained in this journal are rough drafts and are meant to promote free flowing thoughts so I hold my self under a very loose process. I won't care what colour pen or pencil I use, and the rougher the better. I also tend to use mind maps in this journal as a means to get a macro picture of what my brain is trying to tell me*
Understand, theres a difference, between what you do, what you think and who you are. This is where so much stress comes from--the inability to locate yourself in the midst of many situations. This is why when we feel 'lost' when we are stressed.
This journal is about who I am. Life has two important events: The day you are born, and the day you know why. I'm fortunate enough to know both things quite early on in life. But that comes with baggage--sometimes our maturity is not strong enough to honour our understanding of ourselves and can make detrimental mistakes that prevent us from meeting our potential.
Everything in this journal is about whether I am meeting my purpose, or if I am straying from it. That is the context. Content is king, but Context is GOD. Why I live, dictates HOW I love.
With that said, any issues, challenges or opportunities I have will be written here in the context of my purpose in life. If at the end of my entry I don't feel at peace with the situation then either the situation has to change, or my purpose does. And I'm not changing my purpose.
*This particular journal is the highest possible grade I could find. It's hand made, leather bound, with cotton paper, as the Egyptians once used to record scrolls. I only use a high quality fountain pen. Like my professional journal in which the ideas of my craft are handled with the utmost care, the journal about my life is handled with the utmost sanctity.*
Martial Art is about understanding the relationship between external and internal health. Treat the external self in a martial way, but nourish the internal self in an artful way. This is why historically we have seen the most fierce warriors (Samurai, Shaolin) also nourish themselves through meditation, poetry and artwork.
Too many times I see stressed out members of the community relieve their stress through physical training. Only for the cycle to be repeated week in, and week out. Can you imagine if every week you took your car to the mechanic to fix the same thing over and over again? Eventually you'd have to deal with the root cause of the problem.
Know your stressors. Know your options. But above all, know yourself.