Kendo’s Healing Message for December

Kendo has long recommended that we always seek to be the best we can be – as he has – not only for ourselves but also for our families and communities. Any and all aspiration is worthwhile, but what should we do when we feel blocked, obstructed, or unable to make progress?

There is a little phrase that is central to Japanese culture that helps that Buddhist society in remarkably profound and effective ways – it is “Shou ga nai” (pronounced “shaw ga nigh”), and Kendo recommends that we consider its implications.

The literal translation is, “it can’t be helped,” which on the face of it sounds somewhat defeatist, but it’s not that simple. An enlightened approach to the concept reveals that it is actually an aspect of mindfulness – whatever is beyond our control should be allowed to fall away, as in a meditation, so that it no longer preoccupies our consciousness. Doing so frees up our resources to deal with what is actually before us, rather than having our frustration getting in our way.

Just because something ‘can’t be helped’ doesn’t mean it can’t be resolved – it may just need a different approach, or a little more time, and freeing ourselves from frustration will make viable alternatives come much more easily to mind. Likewise, something that ‘can’t be helped’ isn’t necessarily unimportant and should be forgotten about – being the best we can be means we should do out utmost to resolve the challenges we encounter, and freeing ourselves from the mind-set that it’s not possible means it remains possible, with the right state of mind.

“Shou ga nai” is therefore like a micro-meditation – it frees us from frustration and feeling defeated, and it maintains access to every possible solution. When confronted with such a conundrum, it’s perhaps an elegant approach to think of the Buddhist and mindful approach in its native language; say “Shou ga nai” to yourself, relax, and be prepared for your intuition to present alternative solutions.

At the very least, you’ll be able to de-stress, which is always good for your health, and finding those creative solutions will be good for your self-confidence too.

“Shou ga nai” may be the smallest and simplest component to the best “you” that you can possibly be, whatever challenges you face.

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