Kendo’s Healing Message for January

As we all know, change can take many forms. There are the anticipated positive changes that we look forward to at a New Year, such as those we seek to bring about with our New Year’s Resolutions, there’s the change that a great many of us hope for in the form of winning the lottery and how we imagine that would change our circumstances in so many positive ways, and there are the changes we actively make on a smaller scale, such as re-decorating or holidaying somewhere new. Change can be exciting and something to look forward to.

However, we are likely to feel very differently about changes that are unwelcome or unexpected. A bereavement, an accident, or an illness are examples of such changes, and it’s human nature to resent having to deal with them on an emotional level, let alone finding ourselves forced to divert time and energy to addressing them.

Kendo would counsel that all change is good, depending upon how you look at it; he would argue that it’s the unwelcome changes that give us the greatest opportunities for growth. That may seem of no help at all when we’re in the midst of a really challenging situation, but please bear with the reasoning…

We are all likely to have worked hard to set our lives up just as we’d wanted, and it doesn’t seem fair to suddenly find the status quo overturned. The theatre of wrestling can provide an excellent metaphor here – despite all their best efforts, countless ‘baby-face’ wrestlers lost matches to Kendo Nagasaki, and the audiences hated him for being such an efficient agent of destruction! However, the flip-side was that Kendo was admired for the excellence of his craft, and there was always the hope that his opponents would raise their games and return to triumph over him. Kendo may have been ‘evil’, but he was a necessary, inspiring, and motivating evil.

Actually, Kendo represented a ‘Zen Koan’, a challenge for which there was no immediate or even logical answer; facing-up to the kind of challenge he represented was going to require deliberation, inspiration, and good old hard work.

The same can be said of the challenges we all face. Kendo encourages us to consider them as Koans which draw upon our best selves to face them. Fine words perhaps, but how, where to begin?

Meditation can be an immensely powerful tool, particularly the approach used in Sensei Abbe’s wonderful Kyu Shin Do. Firstly, recognise that your conscious mind is probably panicking and whirling around and giving you none of the answers you need, so it’s a good idea to switch it off for a while. As you still your mind, visualise all your problems, old and new, at a safe distance from you – in orbit around you, still associated with you but not oppressing you as they have done. Then concentrate on your own peace of mind, then complete stillness of mind, and understand that you have now enabled your all-powerful intuitive self. Just a few minutes is all it takes to have a refreshing, restful break from your problems, as well as becoming informed by the subtle and wise guidance of your own highest self.

Kendo would remind you that when adverse change strikes, the panic of your conscious mind obscures the fact that you are far more able than you ‘think’ you are; you can get beyond that ‘rabbit in the headlights’ state by getting beyond the limitations of your conscious mind. It hasn’t let you down, it’s just out of its depth, but you can make the wise choice to open it and yourself the power of your own intuition.

So, when change strikes, you can have unshakeable confidence in your ability to meet it. This is true even for illness – meditating and dissipating all your stress gives your body the best possible chance of fighting back, employing its own wisdom, just as your mind will when stilled and informed by your intuitive self.

Change – it might be good to think of it as a wrestling match, but you’ve got Kendo’s skills – you can’t lose!

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