Episode #44: Zen Practice, Martial Arts, and Everyday Life
Today’s podcast is all about Zen.
Zen, a philosophy that carries much ado and marketing buzz, really can be summed up in one simple idea – being present right where you are now. It’s obviously easier said than done, but certain activities naturally lend themselves to discovering this state of no-mind easier than others, martial arts being one such avenue.
George Lucas incorporated these ideas into the character of Yoda (essentially a Zen master in a galaxy far, far away) in his teachings of the Force and the way of the Jedi to a young Luke Skywalker, so that’s an easy way to think some of the ideas behind Zen if you’re familiar with the films but not Zen.
But you don’t have to travel far to find Zen and its applications in daily life. This episode focuses on a few segments from the book Zen in the Martial Arts by Joe Hyams:
There’s an excerpt on being present in the moment, accepting your limitations and using them to your advantage, and deep breathing, a gateway to meditative practices.
For years, I’ve found aspects of tai chi practice helpful as a kind of moving mediation. I like this particular video since it’s so easy to follow along with, as the movements are reversed for the viewer so you don’t have to mentally adjust left and right in your mind to match what the instructor is saying (a common issue with learn by video):
Click for an excerpt
Aspects of Zen were behind this particular passage in The Thirteenth Hour, where Logan eventually does the counterintuitive and, after centering himself, relaxes instead of struggling to get out a magic spell that makes him immobile.
No, I won’t give up …
I summoned all my energy and with a shout that rang in my ears long after it had faded, I slowly scooped myself off the stone floor. I fell back immediately. I tried again and managed a short stumble to the wall. I clung to it for support. Tears and bad words. You didn’t give up. Good. Now relax. Relax your muscles. They screamed in protest, as did I, with them. Boy, I must have been a sorry sight – sputtering and crying, unshaven and haggard, malodorous and malnourished – but in my own dystonic way, I managed to lurch along, bit by stumbling bit …
… My arms and legs still seemed incredibly heavy, like lead. I could have made better ground running in quicksand. But by concentrating on relaxing my cramping muscles, I had broken the spell, and with every step I took, the life that I had almost given up flowed back into my veins.
Now that you have a sense of what Zen is, how have you encountered it in your life? Leave your comments below, and we can discuss in a future episode.
As always, thanks for listening!
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