There’s a quote of mine from a while back that’s become fairly popular:
What does this mean, exactly?
In the Japanese martial arts, we often refer to mind, body, and spirit. We seek to improve each:
- To sharpen our minds to see answers under difficult, stressful situations
- To build endurance, health, and strength so that we can overcome challenges
- To develop our spirit, the energy that gives us resilience in times of trouble
The quote above reflects the latter. Our spirit is the essence of who we are and why we fight (when we have to). A strong mind and a strong body are largely unhelpful if your spirit withers easily under duress, if you give up too soon, if you can’t withstand difficulty.
How do you find your spirit? One of the best exercises I’ve done is a simple inquiry-based meditation, where you make a list of all the things you think you are. You are brave, you are strong, you are good-looking, you are smart, etc. as exhaustively as possible over the period of a few days. Then you start considering how true those statements are, whittling away at them.
- Are you brave? Are there conditions under which you would not be brave?
- Are you strong? Are there life circumstances that could render you not strong?
- Are you good looking? For how long?
When you’re done, repeat the exercise with new inquiries. If the first round of attributes are transient, inquire within yourself for things that are less transient, things that have always been there, and then whittle away at those.
Repeat the process until there’s nothing further you can do, and what you have left is you, the essence of you.
That’s how you find your spirit; after that, you need only work on strengthening it by testing yourself (usually under the guidance of an expert teacher like my teachers Mark Davis and Stephen K. Hayes) until very little can shake you.
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