…Through the virtue of training, Enlighten both body and soul — Morihei Sensei

Archive for September, 2010

Training, Mysticism, Concert & Discord

Martial artist practicing solo kata

Are your daily activities, training, and practices working in concert or discord to move you along your path?

Martial artist practicing solo kataI’ve been contemplating the interrelatedness of training and how that compares to my premise of the interrelatedness of all mystic traditions, and how that relates to the specific idea of warriorship.

A couple of distinctions:  My view of training is a little specific.  There is learning, practice, study, exercise, and training.  Training involves all the others in different ways depending on the exact thing you are training for.  However, there lies the key:  One needs to be training for something.  If you are not preparing for a specific event, then you are not training.  You are simply exercising, or practicing, or studying.  It is when one puts an event on the calendar, and commits to that event, that training begins.  This is an important distinction especially in relation to mystical practice, because it raises the question of Why are you doing this? What is the purpose of your actions.

I have raised this question of What are you training for? in relation to real-life emergencies.  Here I would like to extend this idea of training to mystical practice.  I have approached connections between running and mysticism, also, running and warriorship.  However, these discussions have focused on more physical trainings like running & swordsmanship–easily associated with warriorship.  But what of other trainings, like meditation, or reading?

Again, a distinction. My sense of mystical practice is global in that it should encompass all the realms of our lives, from the mundane, to the profane, to the “spiritual”.  It is not enough meditate every morning, and then be a stressed, distracted wreck all day.  How does your meditation inform your mundane, put food on the table activities.  And how does the insanity of soccer car pools, and rush hour traffic enhance your spiritual practices.

Which of course, brings me back on topic, to how our activities intertwine to move us along, or distract us from, our path.

The interrelatedness of trainings. I recently ran my first triathlon.  One of the most striking aspects of the preparation, was how training for each event affected my training for the other two events.  On top of this were the additional layers of preparing my equipment, and preparing for the transitions between events.  These latter two were surprisingly stressful, and the time I spent on them in preparation, ended up saving me precious minutes during the competition.

More interesting here is how the equipment and transition preparation only had meaning in the context of transitioning between events.  In other words, training for three different disciplines to be executed together created its own unique set of additional preparations.  This is what training in the real world is like.

Another example, is business, particularly a small-business owner, who must wear many hats, and execute those tasks more or less simultaneously.  One can study accounting, and study a specific craft, and study marketing.  One can even practice each one of these as a profession.  But when one runs a small shop and must execute all three sequentially, and simultaneously, the entire affair is transformed.  In this transformation, each task can be elevated by the others, and make the whole operation better.  Or they can detract from each other, so that none are done well.

This is how it is in life.  The catch is that we are often unconscious of this interrelationship.  We run from event to appointment, and move from task to task, but never stop to see how they relate to, elevate, or detract from each other.

Each of the unique facets of our lives come together to create unique confluences, like the triathlon transition.  What are the unique confluences in your life?  How can you layer the facets of your life to move you along the Path?

It is like this in spiritual practice as well. We meditate.  We pray.  We practice kindness.  We follow truth & integrity.  How are these elevating each other?  Then we layer mundane life on top.  We need to eat and stay warm, so we work.  We need to work, so we do what our jobs demand of us.  Our kids need growth experiences, so we sign them up for sports, or dance.  They need to get from school, to soccer, to dance, do their homework.  We need to get up in the morning, work, cook dinner.  We try to practice Spirit.  But how does all of this enhance the circle?  Does it enhance the circle?  What are we trying to do?

The idea of training, remember, points right at the questions of Why and For What? In preparing for a triathlon, a typical training schedule is six training days a week.  Whereas my typical running schedule may have three or four running days alone.  Then layer on sword training, and gym workouts, and that alone is a lot.  Thus, in triathlon training one becomes very sensitive to what is beneficial and necessary, what is superficial, and when one needs to rest.  Additionally, one strategically layers each training so that it elevates the others.

If we look at life itself as training, then there is a lot to be learned from the triathlon analogy.  We need to pay special attention to how the different aspects of our lives work together.  Do they enhance our lives more together?  Do they come together to detract from our progression?  Are we spending energy on superfluous activities which could be just let go?  In short, are your daily activities, training, and practices working in concert or discord to move you along your path?

It seems that I often end with more questions than answers.  That may be just as well, as we’re each unique with our own individual path.  Who am I to lay down hard answers?  Though, I have probably laid down more than a couple such answers in this very piece alone!

Please comment.

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