AiShinKai - Harmonious Heart Association - Achieving Peak Performance in Daily Life
Self-Mastery - Character Development - Leadership - Team Management - Conflict Resolution - Global Citizenship

The Case for Calmness

  The Case for

 
Calmness
   Reprinted from The Path to Self-Mastery: Mind-Body Coordination Exercises
  from the Martial Arts to Achieve Peak Performance
(AiShinKai Publications 2010)


  
Dr. Jonathan Bannister, Ph.D./Ma.D.Sc.
   AiShinKai Founder and President


Maybe I need new glasses.  I have a headache after writing for several hours, and it’s getting harder to read the finely printed instructions on frozen pizza boxes (for my son, honest!).  Any experience of internal discord is like needing glasses.  When we’re upset, psycho-chemical factors come into play in body and mind that serve to limit vision, create tension, and inhibit rationality.  Fundamentally, we cease being able to perceive conditions and situations clearly.  Even a slight feeling of ill-ease will cause the brain to react as if it were viewing the world through coke bottle lenses.  Naturally, this interferes with problem analysis and resolution.  Therefore, the cultivation of a dependable sense of calmness is essential to effective performance in every aspect of life.

As an educator, business leader, and competitive martial artist, I learned to rely on a sense of calmness cultivated during more than four decades of rigorous training in movement arts.  Calmness helps me to listen more clearly: a quality essential to all relationships.  It allows me to respond to what is actually meant, rather than what is merely said.  Just as children need to be calm in school in order to effectively learn, we all need calmness in order to grow, whether we are an employee or manager, teacher and disciple, husband or wife, athlete or programmer.  There is no activity or occupation that could not benefit from a measure of carefully cultivated calmness. 

Unfortunately, calmness is a perishable asset.  It has an intangible quality, with no taste, shape, color, or smell of its own.  Nevertheless, we must work continuously to preserve a calm mind.  It’s no good simply saying “Calm down!”  We must have a method.  The martial arts have taught me that most respects the mind controls the body, yet the condition of the body heavily influences the mind.  Consider the experience of illness.  The body is under attack.  The mind functions poorly.  We are slow to react, and often overreact as if surprised.  We are irritable and unhappy.  This suggests a critical concept: we can train our physical movements to polish the quality of mind.  We can learn to move with poise, precision and balance, and use our whole physique to accomplish the tasks are at hand. We can assess the efficiency of our movement, analyze for excess tension, and use observation to study what the brain is doing. 

This booklet contains concrete, experiential instruction in AiShinkai mind-body coordination exercises.  The system offers an accessible process to find the center of your body’s physical balance and make that the center of your mind’s focus.  Starting with simple movements - such as raising and lowering the arms - these exercises are extremely effective tools for carefully studying the mind’s response to changes in posture.  It is well-known that human beings tend to lose concentration in changing circumstances.  The exercises incorporate incremental mental and physical challenges that gradually foster tremendous resilience in the face of change.  This produces obvious improvement in the ability to apply the total assets of mind and body to meet any challenge.

One of the most important aspects of AiShinKai training is the opportunity to work with a partner who provides physical resistance to the movements.  Carefully controlled challenges serve to build confidence through the experience of success.  This results in first-hand knowledge of what self-mastery really means.  The ultimate goal of the training is create new habits of physical experience and movement so that the quality of mind and perception can be honed to meet the individual challenges and goals of the practitioner.  I have used these same exercises to cultivate the profound sense of calmness and resilience to change required to become an effective and internationally-recognized educator, business leader, and successful martial arts competitor.  It is a testament to the effectiveness of the system that I have used the tools to conquer a severe speech impediment, overcome serious physical injuries, and maintained composure and personal dignity in the face of huge political challenges that threatened to damage my spirit.  My daily regimen of martial arts training always begins with these exercises as they bolster my greatest asset: a properly coordinated mind and body, and the calmness and confidence that is the natural product of self-mastery.



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