DO — Devotion and Opportunity
Every practice is an act of devotion, and devotion to any practice brings with it opportunity. The more dedicated one is to a practice, the stronger that practice will become. The stronger a practice becomes, the greater the opportunities that can be derived from that practice. A student practicing piano once a week will never reap the rewards of a student practicing five times a week. This is true for every type of practice or study.
Devotion leads to opportunity.
Martial arts is a practice of devotion. Devotion is the cornerstone of our practice. It is our level of devotion that fortifies and raises the level of our respect, discipline, focus, determination, commitment, confidence, and faith. It is these qualities within our self that open us to opportunities, possibilities, and fulfillment. Opportunity comes with any consistent practice, but personal fulfillment is only achieved when one's devotion is well-directed and in alignment with one’s spiritual values. Without spiritual alignment, one could easily end up like Elvis Presley or many of the greatly privileged performers, athletes, and wealthy who had so much but yet destroyed their own lives.
So, if the true key to success in any practice is devotion, the first act of devotion must be to one’s self. One who doesn’t have self-respect can't truly respect others; one who has no self-love cannot fully love another; and one who cannot commit to their self, can’t commit to a practice or person.
To develop devotion one must start with the self. We must first have a healthy relationship with ourselves. This starts with our bodies, then our minds, and then our souls.
This relationship should be a loving relationship, sacred, like a marriage. Yes, a marriage. Your vow to yourself should be like the vows in a marriage: to honor, love and cherish, to have and to hold, for better or for worse, for richer or poorer, in sickness and in health, til death do us part.
Although it starts with the body, most people do not honor their bodies this way. Many treat their bodies like there is no tomorrow and there is only today. The way to develop a loving relationship with your body is the same as developing a loving and healthy relationship with another person. It starts with listening; listening to your body and hearing what it's expressing when it’s happy, unhappy or concerned. Then you must care for it. When the body says it’s thirsty you should be loving and kind and give it the best water. When the body is hungry you should give it the best food. When your body isn’t feeling well you should do everything in your power to make it feel better. You should never force your body to do things that are harmful to it. You should always be devoted to the health, wellbeing and happiness of your body. In training, one should be asking the body and not demanding of it. You should never force the body to perform. Instead you should act in harmony with your body, moving and flowing with it as in a well-paired dance.
Be gentle to your body in stretching, be kind to it in conditioning, and most of all, be loving to it when it requires recuperation. Always remember your body doesn’t come with any replacement parts and there is no other body like yours.
However it does come with a lifetime guarantee, but only if it is used with proper care. Always come from a place of acceptance, and never from a place of rejection. This is critically important when it comes to the conversation you have with your body. Just as plants, animals and even water can be affected by words, so too can your blood be affected by your words. There is a spiritual connection between water, blood and words.
You can look up much of the great work by Mr Masaru Emoto and the proof of words and thoughts changing the structure of water. The Emerald Tablets, the Tanach, the Torah, the Koran, the Bhagavad Gita, the Bible - all speak of the power of words and intentional vibrations.
When developing a healthy and loving relationship with our bodies we must also be skilled in the opposite side of communication. After listening (YIN) also comes speaking (YANG). We should always focus on fortifying talk and avoid poisoning talk.
Some examples of poisoning talk; “I’m so weak,” “I have a bad back,” “I have poor flexibility,” “I have no balance,” “my ___ stinks,” “my____ is horrible,” “my ____ is a disaster.” This kind of talk is poison. It should never be used toward yourself, and it should never be used by an instructor unless they have been trained personally by me to use poisons and medicine.
Some examples of fortifying talk; “my body is improving every day with every breath,” “every day my body gets stronger and my health improves with every heartbeat,” “my balance improves everyday with ease,” “my body is a miracle of life and vitality,” “my form improves even when I sleep,” “I am blessed with physical gifts I have yet to discover.” You must understand that even when you’re not aware of it, you are talking to yourself in your mind. So you might as well be aware and take control of your navigation by choosing and saying the things that will support you and your body.
Examples from Various Scriptures
The Spirit, and the water, and the blood; and these three agree in one.
– John 5:8
For she said within herself," If I could only touch his garment, I know I will be healed".
– Matthew 9:21
Death and life are in the power of the Tongue
– Proverbs 18:21
Set a guard, O Lord, over my mouth: Keep watch over the door of my lips.
– Psalm 141:3
The mouth of the righteous is a fountain of life.
– Proverb 10:11
From the fruit of their lips people are filled with good things, and the work of their hands brings them rewards.
– Proverbs 12:14
We are fed by the fruit of our lips
– Proverbs 18:20
A man will eat good by the fruit of his lips
– Proverbs 13:2
A gentle tongue is a tree of life
– Proverb 15:4
Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouth, but only such as is good for building up
– Ephesians 4:29
But the tongue of the wise brings healing up
– Proverbs 12:18
One of the greatest scriptures revealing the incredible power of your wordsis Mark 11:23: "Whosoever shall say to this mountain be thou removed and cast into the sea, and does not doubt in his heart, what he has said; he shall have whatsoever he saith".
Notice that it starts with "whosoever". That means whosoever rich and whosoever poor, whosoever good or bad, whosoever wise or not. Your words are a powerful universal force, just like fire or electricity can be used to cook a person's food, it can also cook a person. So keep in mind your words can help build your body and mind, or your words can destroy them. Honor, protect and treat your body with love, in return your body will do the same till death do you part.
This is only a tiny example because I understand that many reading this would rather these articles be kept short even if it is only once a month. But I hope it helps some to appreciate the power of the word, and inspires some to research more and make good use of this global ancient knowledge to improve your relationship with your body. Maybe next time I will go over how this all applies to the relationship of the mind and soul in your Martial Arts Journey.