Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Being Present and Coming Back

Morihei Ueshiba, know as the father of the modern martial art of Aikido, was reputedly asked by one of his students how he remained so present and apparently unperturbed in the midst of a fight. Whether apocryphal or not, he is reputed to have said that he did not consider himself particularly good at being continuously present in a fight but what he was really good at was ‘coming back’ from being distracted.

When people first begin Mind-Body Relaxation training, almost universally they report that their major difficulty is staying focused. Their distress about being distracted is usually allayed when they understand that the practice of Mind-Body Relaxation involves, like the skill of the Aikido master, getting good at ‘coming back’ from distraction. One learns to be tireless, remorseless, and unperturbed by the tendency of one’s mind to wander away from the object of focus.

“Getting good at coming back from distraction is as important as being good at staying focused.”

Beginners often feel various degrees of frustration, irritation and remorse when they find that their attention has wandered off into what they’re having for lunch or some distressing thought about their symptoms, whatever they may be. As one progresses in this relaxation practice, one learns to return attention to the chosen sensation they are focusing on without any emotion or internal comment about being distracted. Coming right back from distraction without emotion or internal comment is what it takes to get good at ‘coming back.’ There is no quick way to achieve this – practice, practice and more practice is the often unwelcome secret.

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