Saturday, January 31, 2009

Last Day For A New Year’s Blog!

January 31st; we’re already 8.49% of the way through 2009! Thus my belated last ditch attempt at blog for the New Year. I’ve thought of this often, ever since the 1st of the month, but after today, it’s too late! How’s that for self-motivation?

How many of us make New Year’s resolutions? It doesn’t seem as big a deal as it used to be. How many of us made martial art resolutions? In some places that is a tradition, more solidified and culturally reinforced than the kind of wishful thinking so many of us do as a parlor game and then so quickly forget.

In Japan, you may find the members of a dojo at the beach, standing in the surf while throwing 1000 punches, or maybe doing meditation under a waterfall in the mountains. This is a way of setting one’s focus and determination for the upcoming year, planting the seed for reaching one’s goals. It takes dedication to one’s practice to do such rituals, but our minds tend to note and follow more highly energized stimuli, so this is good self-programming which refreshes one’s attitude.

Using a memorable date provides a powerful anchor by which we can measure our commitment and progress. In Western society we go by calendars, so it’s never to late to start a new program. The first of the month, a birthday, anything can be used to set a starting point.

Modern calendars are reliable but not always in sync with natural rhythms. In older societies passage of time was marked by observing celestial transitions. Lunar cycles in particular are good for measuring shorter passages. The new moon often sees the setting of new goals, which then symbolically evolve as the moon waxes, or one could project one’s aims to coincide with the full moon, or use the waning part of the cycle for more closely guarded endeavors.

For slightly longer phases, one can go by seasons. Those who follow a more natural diet, whether by local availability or preference, might note the effects of seasonal produce on their bodies, just as animals do in the wild. Spring foods might be cleansing and restorative after the winter, then summer foods for energizing and building strength. Autumn is a time for fattening up, while winter is often lean, when we live off our stored resources.

So on New Year’s Eve I had my weekly class. Not surprisingly, some whom I’d expected didn’t show up. Perhaps the party spirit prevailed, though my class ends early enough to do both. The next day I practiced with one of my students and we kicked the new calendar off with a good dose of intensity.

So far I’ve been carrying that through these following weeks. I’m training harder myself and with students, and some old faces have popped back up for refreshers. I'm going back to more serious conditioning routines that have been neglected over the past year, in particular resistance training and hitting the wooden dummy.

2008 was a rough year; here’s hoping 2009 shapes up as a better one!