Article from Inside Kung-Fu Magazine.
You’ll agree, I’m sure, that the inability to keep yourself under control is not a virtue, but rather a self-depreciating vice. So why do we see so much of this ugly trait displayed by sports heroes?
To understand this, let’s examine how the ancient Taoist sages viewed the mind. The mind was considered as a dual instrument. One mind (called yi) was the faculty of discernment and the resulting gift of wisdom. The yi mind is the mind that carries your intention. Intention is an interesting word, in that it means one moves forward or toward (that’s the prefix “in”) and you are stretching (the prefix “tends”). Thus, your intentional mind is often strained. However, you hold on to the control of the yi mind by becoming tenacious.
The ancients called the second aspect of the mind xin. This mind is related to the heart or emotions—the emotional mind. It’s believed the only way you’ll ever have a super-strong body is by the wisdom mind, which is also your will balancing your emotions. The wisdom mind must be able to control or direct your emotional mind. We know that the warrior must possess a strong spirit. No matter how bulging your biceps are, you’re a weakling if your mind fails you. Never let your mind fail you!
The problem that we all face, however, is the power of the emotional mind to control the wisdom mind by imagination, which is an awesome power. For the average athlete (and even more so the general population), when imagination and willpower meet, the will gets its butt kicked big time. That’s because the wisdom mind hasn’t been sufficiently trained.
When you use your emotion and imagination to positively reinforce your wisdom mind, you are a virtual powerhouse of strength. Yes, both mental and physical. Here are a few examples from my own training. Let’s say you want to bend a nail, spike, or horseshoe. Your mind at first rebels, since you’ve accepted the idea of difficulty and filed it away in the subconscious.
Even consciously, you know this is no easy feat. But the subconscious has accepted the difficulty factor on a far deeper level. The subconscious does not make any decisions; it only obeys the images and beliefs the conscious mind provides. Then the subconscious sends the appropriate message to the glands and nervous system. This in turn governs both performance and results.
Let’s say you now use the imagination factor of your emotional mind and view the nail to be bent as a piece of copper wire. If your mental vision is vivid enough, your conscious mind relays the image to your subconscious and suddenly, you astound yourself at your newfound physical strength. Where did the strength come from?Was it your muscles or your mind that gave you the power?How is it one minute you can’t lift a certain weight and the next moment you can?If you visualize, internalize, and then emotionalize a successful behavioral profile, you’ll be awarded the victory.
You’re probably like me and watch various mixed martial arts events. When was the last time you saw a calm, self-composed individual enter the cage, confidently look the opponent in the eye, smile broadly, and offer a bow of respect? If such were my opponent, I’d have to fight the strong tendency to stop a racing mind. Once a few years ago, I sized up a huge and massively built competitor. I politely asked him about the few of the rules for the contest. Big mistake. He growled like a bear, stuck his face close to mine, and in an angry tone of voice, said, “If a big guy like me falls on a little guy like you, there ain’t gonna be anything left!” I smiled, looked him in the eye, and quietly said, “Oh really? I’m sure we’ll both find this interesting.”He huffed off mumbling something.
Now here’s where his emotional mind began to rattle him. From his size and muscularity, any bystander would certainly have bet on him to win. His friends, also wrestlers, chided him when they detected a break in his emotional armor.
“Hey Bill, this guy’s gonna kick your butt big time. Boy, did you make a mistake!”As a side note, I hope your friends never say this to you before you compete. What happened next even surprised me: Bill withdrew. I suspect the image of being humiliated by a smaller opponent was too much for his ego to bear. I didn’t whip him—his mind simply failed him. Never let your mind fail you!
Keep in mind this quote from Frank Moore Colby: “Many people lose their tempers merely from seeing you keep yours.” Like I said, an angry mind is a weak mind. A weak mind soon becomes a sick mind. When your most powerful tool—your mind—fails you, all your strength drains from you. We all know what it’s like when you feel like a wrung out dishrag after an emotional battle. Don’t let your mind fail you!
Another exercise you can use to test your mind power is the “wall chair.” Sit with only your back supporting you against the wall. Keep your thighs parallel to the floor. Set a timer for “x” number of minutes and vow to die before you’ll ever allow your mind to fail you. This means your body will at some point drop to the floor, but you’ll know it wasn’t your mind, your intention, or your will that failed.
Controlling the mind, not allowing the emotional energy to be dissipated, allows that energy to be used in the fight, not in some infantile “stare down” or in a vomit of unintelligible expletives. Rather, release it by controlled measure by pairing the wisdom mind and the emotional mind in harmony. You’ll never have to fear mental midgets, no matter how massive their muscles may be. The reason being, you know by their “showboating” that they’re stomping their foot on the adrenaline accelerator.
Many fighters, on the other hand, know they can bluff and terrify their opponents with such antics. That’s until they meet the calm demeanor of someone who never lets his mind fail him. That’s flat-out spooky! So, never let your mind fail you!