Body, Soul and The Mind

Image: Samurai Art I search the vastness,The deep recesses of my mind.I close my eyes, but it only turns me blind.Staring in this void,No answers I can find.An epiphany occurs,The pieces of puzzle I must bind,Body, Soul and the mind.So, I plunge in my heart, I heard that’s where the Soul resides.The darkness rings a […]

Body, Soul and The Mind

Dangers of Falling into …

Cleansing one’s self of the diseases that plague the heart is a continuing process. The moment you think that you have wiped away an evil aspect such as jealousy, envy or hate, that’s the moment you have to be careful for it to not come back. I do believe, our hearts are different. Hearts are born with different qualities but more importantly, how we nurture our hearts becomes the deciding factor as to what qualities it possesses. If you constantly remain on guard to not get angry, to not backbite, to not speak ill of others, to not harbour grudges, to not feel envy, the more likely you are to increase yourself in qualities such as gentleness, forbearance, calm temperament, contentment.  When we see others with faults, those faults are also reflected within us. That’s true in many cases, but it’s not always true.

Sometimes it is a matter of seeing those faults in others and separating yourself from such people who possess them. Your environment, your boundaries, your company is a thing to be mindful of. There is a saying, Show me your friends and I will tell you who you are! And at times, just hearing the toxic conversations is enough to make you fall back into those diseases that plague the hearts. With this I have a question for you! What is the norm? Confront the person directly to point out their faults, mistakes, shortcomings or any behaviour you find odd? Or do you indirectly convey the message through indirect talk or talking about their actions without specifically mentioning them? I am usually aware but I tend to ignore other people’s habits as long as they don’t affect me. Perhaps there is a lesson to learn here too, who not to be like? What qualities and habits to steer clear from? How to conduct yourself in day to day dealings with others?

Writing everything isn’t evidence of my wisdom. I write, so I can perhaps gain an objective insight into myself. I am full of faults, although I am mostly calm, anger is something I have struggled with most since childhood. At some point, I learnt to manage it. But even now sometimes the frustrations, irritations, stress and whatever else bottled inside, can quickly explode at times if not released through other mediums. 

I am writing this to assess the link between different diseases of the heart and whether any outside influence is responsible in lighting those evils? Responding to what comes at me is a choice where I exert influence. It mostly always comes back to me as an individual, how I respond, how I react, what is my demeanour, how is my behaviour, what is the state of my mind, what is the tone of my voice?

Picking up on this as the new year starts. 2022, here we come! The year begins with reflections upon death. So, I guess I might as well talk a little bit. I fell off the tracks mostly because of my own thoughts were overwhelming me. Because of the many events that have happened in the past, mixed with current issues, I was having suicidal thoughts. Not that I will act on them, but still they were present and getting me really down. So, I spoke about them to some close friends and after some reflection, I realised the underlying reason for it was that my self-esteem was hurt. I have always had great expectations from myself. When I fail, it’s often a struggle to pick myself up.

Fast forward to today, I mentioned earlier that I am finishing writing this article tonight. I wrote this in October 2021. Right now, I am sitting, fully awake, grateful, yet quite distressed. Distressed because Noor is nearing end of his life. The speechless boy I wrote about before. For the past week, Noor’s health deteriorating has been occupying my mind. It’s also making me reflect on life, a blessing! It’s making me reflect on death too. You see, no one knows how many more breaths he has got left to breathe. No one knows, how many breaths they themselves have left to breathe. Every soul shall taste death. It can come anytime in good health, good times or poor health and difficult times.

Noor has lived a wonderful life. The best he could have, even though he is not fully capable. Everyone around him prepares to part with him. I keep wondering if the miracle continues living. His survival for the past 30 years has been a miracle. He defied odds over and over. He clung to life. His will to live is strong. Even now, he breathes, rhythmically. He takes 3 to 4 deep breaths and holds it for 8 to 10 seconds. This pattern has further slowed, he now holds it for 20 seconds. He only has one lung functioning. The rest of his organs are slowly shutting down. Yet, his will to live is as strong. I am hoping that tomorrow, as the new sun rises. He gets better because he has taught me that life is precious. Too precious for any human’s intervention to try cut it short. However long we tarry on this earth, death is a certainty for us all.

Life is a blessing. Life ought to be lived fully. It is not a bed of roses. It is tough, the world can be cruel, circumstances can be harsh. No matter, it is still a blessing. A blessing to be grateful for. Give gratitude with each breath.

I sit here next to him waiting for him to breathe his last, yet I don’t know if I would breathe my last before him.

This makes me question the life I have lived, whether I done enough good. Whether I enjoyed it in good times, whether I remained patient in difficult times. Whether I have been grateful enough! Nothing else matters except a sound heart. Do I have one? I know Noor does, his heart was never tainted with the diseases. Even if his body suffered, his heart has remained pure, his heart is full of light. If you listen closely, you can hear him praise the Creator, his heart sings praise. His body suffers, we can only try lower his pain. All of this and much more that I can’t put in words has been occupying my mind.

It has also lit the spark inside me. He has helped me realise what a blessing life is. Life is beautiful if you are grateful for the things you have. Count your blessings.

He doesn’t want to see us cry or shed silent tears, so he breathes and his will to live remains strong.

Blind Spots

One of my biggest blind spots that has continually sabotaged me has been trying to stay and act strong. When in real time, I am mentally exhausted, my emotions are not in my control.

I don’t know whether to call this a personality or character fault. It happens under high pressured scenarios where FFF response hijacks me. Looking back I can see situations where my biggest mistakes were made in freeze or fight back mode. I am trying to think of a situation where flight caused me to make mistakes. If anything, taking a step back or fleeing/ running away, seems a better option when hijacked by the emotional brain i.e., amygdala. There is no shame in surviving, live to fight another day.

As a martial arts practitioner…. what will I choose when hijacked by my emotional brain? Fight, flight or freeze? Definitely not freeze… it’s either fight or flight and the judgement call somewhat comes from experience and practise. Exposure to fighting experiences. Once more there is no shame in surviving to live to fight another day, from a position of strength. A martial arts practitioner is a smart fighter, who knows when and when not to engage in battles. He understands that there maybe losing battles, but the war is won by strategy and plan. Damn… I am starting to sound like Sun Tzu. 😅

I am writing this because I am trying to assess why in different situations, my nature is to fight back but that’s because in real time, I cannot tell that my emotional brain has hijacked me. This happens under high pressured scenarios.

Going forwards what procedures or process can I put in place to avoid this pitfall? Flight is a good option that gives me a chance to step back, cut the loss short. It gives me a chance to step away, however, it will only be effective if I can be aware in real time. The emotional brain can be very tricky and often it is very hard to know what is happening until the damage is done.I have failed to do this over and over again. I have made a lot of mistakes in life, in high pressured scenarios, in high performance activities. I guess the only way to overcome these faults of mine is by sticking to a process. It’s easier said than done in real time. But if I am able to take corrective action especially to something I have been blind for so long. I can avoid pitfalls and sabotaging behaviour. I can minimise it, I can keep it under check.

I also know that it will not happen overnight and that it will take further practise. In pursuit of any craft, deliberate practise with focused attention is what builds the necessary skills. That said, I am glad to at least have gained this knowledge through constantly reviewing my own work, performances and analysing fights.

The reason why I like to compare my behaviour and my responses in martial arts to other high performance activities is because my experience and skills are greater in martial arts than other high performance endeavours and skills I am pursuing. It provides me an opportunity to assess my nature, my learnt behaviours. By nature I am fiesty, I do not like losing, I am competitive. I like to do better each time. I am impatient and act often without thinking. Knowing all my faults, the only thing that can save me from myself is a process- one of deliberate practise with focused attention.

To summarise this to myself and hopefully it helps you too, my biggest blind spot is keep on fighting even when hijacked by the amygdala. Why? Because my character has been shaped over years such that I act strong even when I am not. Here perhaps what I am seeing is the double edged sword that resilience is. However, it is not resilience that keeps me fighting. It is my emotions.