Ahhh. I am into the final stretch of my karate promotion which culminates tonight with a round of kumite or fighting. I haven’t taken a fight class in what feels like years, although it likely hasn’t been that long. I will probably end up a bit more bruised of ego than anything else. I’ve never been a particularly strong fighter; I move slowly and tend to walk straight into things when I should be using angles and avoiding the offensive movements of my sparring partner.
But will I remember to breathe? And if I remember to breathe, will that help me to be more present, more aware of the dance I am engaged in? Because after all, sparring is a dance of sorts, just as kata is. (Kata is a series of formalized, fundamental movements in a pattern, used to learn both how to move, and how to execute particular techniques.) It is these dances that make my karate practice such a delight. I have always loved dancing, moving. In fact while driving the other day, I remembered again, that movement is what works for me. A long drive is great for problem solving, idea generation, a sense of calm. Long walks and hikes work, too.
Sitting, breathing, just being vs. doing, have always been a challenge. I am a nervous sort. Too many ideas. Too many worries. In fact, what pops into my mind immediately, is the admonition that I myself am too, too much. It’s one of those Lucy voices Sharon speaks of, the voice of criticism that can’t help us but only points out what is wrong with us.
Still, stillness works for me too, thanks to my grandmaster who introduced me to Zen meditation more than 20 years ago. Thanks to Sharon whose teachings make sitting, breathing, so instantly accessible and ultimately, irresistible. Thanks to everyone engaged in this Real Happiness Challenge, because community is connection. And thanks to the miracles of body, breath and being that are happening at every moment, without an iota of effort.
Will breathing more mindfully help me to engage more easily, fluidly, expertly tonight? Breathing in, I hope so. Breathing out, I hope so. Excitement, fear, anxiety, I know these feelings well. They rise and fall, rise and fall, like my breath.