Nagasaki Media

Kendo’s Healing Message for January

At the Retreat, the New Year’s weather has so far been surprisingly mild, very different to previous years – there has barely been a frost at all this winter and the roads haven’t even had to be salted yet this January. While this not-unwelcome break from the season’s usual biting chill has helped to somewhat kick-start our New Year’s optimism, it’s unfamiliarity is disconcerting, and rightly so.

Part of what Kendo teaches is that just because we can reason and rationalise and justify our actions, that doesn’t separate us from the ‘big picture’ of nature; true health and wellbeing spring from a sympathetic and holistic relationship with the whole of the natural world around us, of which we are inextricably a part. That’s the ‘subjective’ aspect, at which any enlightened person will arrive, but there is also an objective ‘bigger picture’ of increasingly pressing importance.

The Shinto aspect of Kendo’s holistic Zen philosophy illustrates that it’s a two-way street and that there’s more to an aware life than remembering our place in nature – humanity depends so much upon nature that we cannot survive without us ensuring that it is healthy and respected, and that’s going to require some enhanced awareness from us. When the internal combustion engine became more widely available we were never warned that its exhausts could reach toxic proportions and contribute significantly to warming the climate; when plastics became available as packaging we were never warned that they could not be digested by nature and that they would end up choking it; the ‘consumer’ blamelessly adopted the convenience of these inventions, but the consequences of their wide-spread use are now evident, and an example of the kind of forward thinking that we need to adopt.

Kendo suggests that for this New Year we all adopt a resolution of always being aware of the consequences of all our actions – not just on other people, but on nature itself. He accepts that of course we can’t all immediately buy electric cars or suddenly reject all foods packaged in plastic, but by being aware of how we use our modern conveniences, that conscientiousness will grow into progressively less harmful consequences of our lives, for which nature will reward us.

Whatever challenges we face, we still have a responsibility to the world around us, to people and to nature itself; Kendo points out that the ever-more refined awareness of how we live is a group consciousness which will support us all, as we support each other. We will all be doing the right thing by living aware lives and ‘paying it forward’ to the benefit of our future selves and our children. This is truly being the best we can be, for our families and communities and all our futures.

Kendo’s Healing Message for December

As the festive season comes round again, we have good reason to celebrate that it is the season for giving, because, as Kendo points out, perhaps the most important aspect of that is the giving of hope.

The ‘Kendo’s New Horizons’ project is moving ahead well, with more and more willing participants coming forward to offer support for our new day-care centre for adults with learning disabilities, and we’re finding that the reputation of Kendo’s work to empower others is gaining ever-wider appreciation.

This week the Foundation team attended the Christmas lunch of the ‘Good Turns Society’, a wonderful organisation set up by the late, great Sir Ken Dodd which raises funds for multiple good causes. It was a spectacular event, hosted as ever by the inimitable Ricky Tomlinson, with incredible entertainment and the perennial astonishing atmosphere of heart-warming good humour.

Through his Zen approach to life, Kendo has long advocated casting-off stress because whatever challenges we face, it only makes things seem and feel darker. He subscribes to the maxim that “laughter is the best medicine”, especially when it’s combined with peace of mind – how else could the man behind the mask be the vehicle for Kendo’s Zen works as well as tell such outrageous tales about Les Kellett, Mike, Marino, and Big Daddy in his book?!?

In the spirit of the season, the Kendo Nagasaki Foundation thanks all at the Good Turns Society for a wonderful event, great company, and continuing to remind us that taking a light-hearted approach to life is immensely healing, especially when good people of good humour join together to help others. Peter pays tribute to the late, great Sir Ken Dodd and to Lady Anne Dodd for so ably continuing his generous charitable legacy.

Whatever challenges you may face during this festive season, be of good cheer and reassured and encouraged by the fact that there are good-hearted people working ever-more closely together to help you.
 
PT+Lady-Anne-Dodd

Kendo’s Healing Message for November

In seeking to communicate the benefits of Zen peace to as many people as possible, Kendo would like to illustrate how universally positive ‘letting everything fall away’ can be.

This month marks the 55th anniversary of Kendo’s appearance, and on this occasion he is pleased to announce his Foundation’s new project, ‘Kendo’s New Horizons’, which will provide a Day Centre for adults with learning disabilities and autism, a sector with much need but little provision. Of course, adopting or practising Zen is not a requirement for attending, but the Nagasaki Retreat is built upon a foundation of complete peace which is why it is such a calming and healing place, and simply being in this environment could be of particular help to the many adults with what used to be known as Asperger’s Syndrome or ‘High-Functioning Autism’, now known as Autism Spectrum Disorder Level 1, or ASD1.

ASD1 is a complex variation of the human condition where there are often high levels of stress and anxiety linked to the hard work required for such people to function in social situations which they find challenging – this is often referred to as ‘masking’. It’s like being required to constantly ‘act’, following ‘scripts’ of learned responses for social interactions. Many ASD1 people have described masking as being absolutely exhausting, but a fortunate few who have found meditation have been able to let their stress and anxiety go and have a much better quality of life.

The numbers of autism diagnoses is rising all the time – it’s now thought to affect one in every 64 people but more and more adults are now being diagnosed – and Kendo’s simple and elegant ‘way of peace’ has already helped those who are ‘on the spectrum’.

Kendo has long advocated de-stressing because it allows us to see everything more clearly and ‘be ourselves’ more easily; stress and anxiety are obstacles to ‘being the best we can be’ and allowing our innate abilities to fully express themselves, and finding a way to let them go is positive on every level.

The current emphasis on mental health is an extremely progressive step for society as a whole, and finding peace amidst our own challenges is very helpful and healing for everyone, but particularly for those who find everyday interactions a challenge, such as those with social anxiety or ASD1. As the demands on us all increase in intensity and complexity, Zen peace can provide an extremely welcome way to feel empowered and productive and included.

As ever, Kendo seeks to inspire, empower, and heal. Whatever your situation, Kendo reminds you that taking a few minutes apart from your challenges and mindfully breathing deeply and slowly whilst visuaising your cares and worries falling away will be immensely healing to you; then you will naturally be the best you can be, which will benefit all those around you, and ultimately the whole of our society.

Kendo’s Healing Message for October

Is something in particular bothering you? Really bothering you, to the extent that it’s on your mind all the time, but you still have no solution?

There’s an old saying which goes, “If you can’t get out of it, get into it”, which sounds like true ‘motivational speaker’ stuff, but how can becoming even more mentally preoccupied with something help you? Isn’t the mind a limited thing which doesn’t even know when it’s out of its depth? Aren’t you supposed to let everything mind-based fall away?

Those who meditate already will know the answers to these questions, but Kendo has a technique which encourages both your mind and your intuition to work together on solving those really knotty problems. It still requires meditation of course, but it’s how you build up to it that matters.

Prepare for meditation in the usual way and begin to let your thoughts fall away, but make sure your big problem is the last thing to let go of, along with a confidence affirmation that your intuitive self will come to your aid – then meditate.

This process gives rise to a kind of synergy which brings multiple levels of your ‘self’ together; it’s a cross between meditation and mindfulness, whereby you enter your meditation whilst mindfully surrendering your problem. Your intuition will recognise this and deliver wisdom with its own unique reflections on the problem. It will actually do this on levels which haven’t even occurred to your more basic friend, your conscious mind.

Kendo observes that any kind of meditation is extremely good for your total well-being, but if something has been really bugging you, try this way. You can be confident that your intuitive self will always guide you well.

Kendo’s Healing Message for September

As Kendo makes clear, the need to still the mind is paramount, principally to let go of all the thoughts and wordless concerns that can distract us from living our lives wisely. In some ways this is a paradox – stepping away from the mind yet being ‘mindful’? There is an explanation…

Kendo has already said that one’s minds is one’s friend, especially when applied to ‘mind’ things, like navigating the everyday practicalities that routinely arise. Conversely, he’s also said that it’s important not to resort to the mind for things where it’s out of its depth, such as our feelings, and especially the deeper stuff, such as what we should do with our lives and what kind of person we are seeking to be. Those are definitely beyond the limits of the mind.

Kendo has, of course, counselled that meditation is the gateway to the kind of wisdom which sheds light on those deeper aspects of life, but for those who already meditate he has another approach – being mindful about the mind.

Visitors to the Nagasaki Retreat are introduced to various concepts that help put the mind into a better perspective, everything from ‘suspending disbelief’ in what Zen peace can do for you to visualising the many symbolisms of the eastern horizon; these ‘tools’ use the mind to open the mind to understanding how to be part of a team – you, your mind, and your intuition. And now he’d like to introduce a central practice of that team-work – discrimination.

Discrimination, done right, is not just an algorithm or a mechanistic approach – it is a wise position to apply to the mind to help it regognise when to ask the intuition for input. ‘Meditate on it’ is a phrase often heard, but this practice describes the highest form of discrimination. The greatest, deepest, most challenging problems in life should definitely be meditated on, and if you have that ‘light-bulb’ moment of realising that wise guidance is available to you when your mind and intuition team-up, reason through things as well as enabling your intuitive self with meditation, you’ll have used all your resources in the best possible way, and you will know what to do and how to do it.

Kendo’s ‘enlightened discrimination’ is one of his most powerful mind-tools, and by using it, all the aspects of your self will make a great team and you’ll certainly be the best you can be, to the benefit of your family and community.

What are you waiting for?! Practise enlightened discrimination from now on, and you’ll really make a positive difference in your own life and for all those around you.

Kendo’s Healing Message for August

This healing message is a little more advanced…

Kendo wants to illustrate the differences between mental activity and meditation, for example, trying to think your way to a place of complete peace as opposed meditating your way there – the nature of the experiences and the outcomes are so very different…

You’ll be familiar with the meditation guidance to let your thoughts fall away until you’re in a place of pure, inspiring peace, but have you tried achieving this with just your mind? It’s a bit of a struggle but it’s worth trying to show how poor the mind alone is at giving you answers to profound problems.

This can be done with a philosophical device called a thought experiment, whereby you ‘think’ yourself into a situation. Let’s use a thought experiment to let everything fall away…

In full consciousness, imagine that you are not bothered by any of the things that would normally annoy you, be they experiences or situations. Then extend that to not being concerned with any responsibilities, such as your job or having to pay bills. This means not having a house to live in or any means of support, but your mind can imagine never being hungry or cold. Then imagine yourself not having to interact with any people, but being away from strangers means no friends or family either. Now you’re totally alone with nothing and nowhere to be – how does that feel? Probably not good…

If you’ve got this far, it’s wise to reverse the process and remind yourself that you do have friends and family and a home and food and drink and a life, all of which brings you back to a comforting reality! But having survived this unsettling journey, you’re no wiser.

In meditation, you’re not using the basic tools of the mind to ‘construct’ peace, you’re briefly stepping away from those clunky and basic mechanisms to let a deeper and wiser voice wordlessly bring you wisdom – your intuition. It’s Kendo’s wisdom that gives you this concept and process so you can be all that your mind is, but much more too if you accept its limitations and enable your wiser self by occasionally stepping away from mere rationalising.

The idea is both an irony and a Zen koan – convince the mind that it’s a good thing not to use it, by choice, occasionally! The proof is that this apparently non-rational (- irrational?) process works so well.

Your mind is definitely your friend, and while it’s always a good thing to educate and refine and challenge it for answers, it’s essential to understand that it’s a specialist only in the field of mental things. Your emotional and intuitive selves need to be granted space for self-expression and growth too, and part of evolving into a whole, well-rounded person means knowing when to ask the mind to take a back seat for a while, occasionally. All the aspects of your ‘self’ shouldn’t be dominated by just one – they should be co-operating as friends and partners in pursuit of the best person that you can be, and meditation is central to achieving the balance that leads to that evolution.

Meditate on that!

Kendo’s Healing Message for July

Sometimes we can find ourselves longing for things to change, particularly when something negative has been hanging on and on with no sign of improvement. Whether it’s coping with a lingering health problem or wishing a misunderstanding with friends or colleagues was over or just dealing with our daily demands, sometimes the position we’re in can feel just plain oppressive. When that happens, it’s important not to let it get to us – if we dwell on enduring negativity it becomes a ‘thing’ in itself – another enduring problem we have to deal with on top of everything else.

This is where Kendo advises that it’s most important to let things go. The time-honoured phrase, “God grant me the strength to change the things I can, the grace to accept the things I can’t, and the wisdom to know the difference” gives a valuable perspective, but Kendo says that there is an additional perspective to consider.

The phrase essentially divides problems into the kinds you either can or cannot change, and provides the understanding that it’s ok not to be able to change some things. This is good because you’re being given permission not to dwell on things you can’t change, but sometimes the things you want to change are uncomfortable and unpleasant and all the strength you’ve applied hasn’t been enough. This can be depressing because it implies that we’re powerless to bring about change and that a bad situation might go on and on without improving.

Kendo says that it’s essential to break free from this kind of thinking because feeling this way is more disempowering than we realise. He reminds us that the conscious mind has its limits and can’t be expected to know all answers, and if it ends up going round in circles looking for answers it can’t find, it gets frustrated with itself, which causes anxiety. That’s the time to switch it off, and doing so even briefly can be very helpful.

Breaking-in to the above cycle stills the mental noise and liberates our intuition – we get a break from our problems and new insights come to us about how to approach them in new ways. This is the power of meditation, finding a moment of Zen peace.

Thus, Kendo’s additional perspective might be worded as follows:

“I will do my best to bring about positive change, and when that work is done I will let all my problems fall away from my mind, and in that state of freedom and peace I will be inspired anew to see things with a fresh perspective and with new insights to help me make more positive changes.”

If you try this, you’ll be amazed at how resilient and resourceful you truly are.

Kendo’s Healing Message for June

An unfortunate aspect of the human condition is finding ourselves waiting, often at times when we’re desperate for things to make progress. This can take many forms on all sorts of levels, like waiting for a development in a house-buying chain so we can finally move house, to waiting for exam results, to just waiting for someone to phone us back. If you’re waiting for something, especially if it’s important, then even waiting for the kettle to boil can seem unusually irritating.

Waiting can be at least annoying, sometimes truly exasperating, and at worst it can interfere with the rest of your life. How can we stop this kind of frustration from becoming so stressful that it affects our health?

The answer, Kendo tells us, is that time-honoured phrase – it’s simple, but not necessarily easy: let it go.

Once you’ve instructed your estate agents, finished your exam, and said, “Speak to you later”, you’ve done all you can, and you should remind yourself of that – there’s nothing more you can do, so let it go. As in a meditation, if the subject creeps back into your consciousness, let it fall away, evaporate, and turn back to the rest of your life.

This is one of many little tools of Kendo’s help you to stop being enslaved by your ‘monkey-mind’ by cleverly using it to direct itself. ‘Let it go’ is perhaps the most useful and most often needed – it’s always a good idea to meditate, switch off, and re-boot your mind, but by letting go of the things you can’t do any more to progress, you’re also being mindful about what’s in your mind.

So – take a deep breath, let it go, and you’ll be letting go of stress too, which is always healing.

Kendo’s Healing Message for May

Do you ever look back and think, “Well, that was a mistake..!”

When things haven’t gone well because of a decision you may have made, self-recrimination is a natural response, but perhaps you should give yourself a break. It’s only with the benefit of hind-sight that you can see how things may have gone a different way – at the time, you made the best decision you could.

Realising alternatives now means that you’re now wiser – your experience is broadening your outlook; you’ve become a better you.

So, Kendo counsels that far from reproaching yourself, you should welcome your broader vision, and especially what it means for your future decisions. This won’t be easy if you look back with regrets – you should instead look forward with confidence in your clearer, wiser vision.

So, as with any meditation, let any regrets fall away; in recognising the broader vision you now have you will be making the most of your experience and taking a positive step in becoming the best you can be, for yourself, your family, and your community.

Kendo points out that casting-off the negativity of regret and gaining self-confidence based on the validity of your wisdom will be a healing force that permeates all aspects of your life.

But he counsels, be mindful – remember to apply the wisdom of your experiences to the decisions you make now!

Onwards – with wisdom, confidence, and positivity…

Kendo’s Healing Message for April

190327_Buddha amidst Cherry Blossom
This spring’s cherry blossoms have been absolutely beautiful in the Anniversary Orchard.

It’s been mentioned previously that meditating on the simple, perfect beauty of cherry blossom has long been a Japanese past-time, and for good reason. Their fleeting but exquisite beauty stays in the mind’s eye, and when recalled even when they’re gone, the memory is just as enchanting as experiencing them again.

Recalling cherry blossom can be powerfully healing too; amidst life’s challenges one sometimes has to ‘count to ten’, or ‘take a deep breath’, but a technique for calming the mind that beats these is to imagine everything falling away and recalling cherry blossom, either massed on trees or just a single one.

Kendo has pointed out that visualising cherry blossom shares something with meditation – temporarily stepping away from all one’s concerns seems so counter-intuitive to the western mind, but intuitive is exactly what it is – your intuitive self can’t speak to you and guide you with wisdom that’s beyond mere rationalisation unless it has the space to do so. If you’ve already done this you’ll know the benefits, but if not, Kendo strongly recommends that you suspend disbelief and try it.

Whatever challenges you may face, Kendo hopes that the exquisite picture of this year’s cherry blossom can help you find a moment of peace and pure, simple beauty upon which to meditate, and find the pure, intuitive wisdom that lies within you.