No Mind

“Like the calm still surface water that reflects the moon and a flying bird, true living calmness is the condition of our mind that reflects all things clearly.”

Tohei Koichi – Ki Sayings

A frequently heard comment from people coming in for acupuncture and shiatsu treatment is that they struggle with “over-thinking”, finding it difficult to quiet the mind as a thousand thoughts constantly race through their head.

This problem seems to be common for most people in our modern society and not just in cases such as anxiety, depression, or insomnia.

How does one quiet the mind? In traditional martial arts training is a concept known as mushin. Literally translated as “no mind” or “empty mind”, mushin is sometimes compared to the calm surface of a lake which provides a clear reflection of its surroundings.

For example, in the martial art of KoKoDo JuJutsu, powerful yet effortless technique is developed in part by the cultivation of mushin – learning how to abandon one’s physical and mental tension and stress while at the same time being able to relax and properly focus the mind and body.

Learning how to calm our minds takes a lifetime of practice. However, some useful daily habits to help people begin to develop a mental state of calmness include:

  1. Be in the moment – regular physical exercise can be helpful in calming the mind. Whether it’s participating in a fitness class, going for a bicycle ride, or just walking in the neighbourhood park, physical activity can be a simple way of engaging in the present moment and helping a person leave the day’s worries and thoughts behind them.
  2. Quiet time – turning off the tv, radio, cellphone, and countless other distractions and spending time just sitting and doing nothing alone in silence, even just 10 minutes, can be a good start. It may be difficult when first beginning, but with continued practice becomes more comfortable as we are able to remain in a state of relaxed silence for longer periods of time and with less distraction.
  3. Breathe – in Eastern thought, there is no separation between the mind and body – stress and tension in one can affect the other. Many people tend to subconsciously hold their breath when under stress. By becoming self-aware of this and relearning how to relax and breathe, both the body and mind are able to become more calm.

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