Last week in one of our meditation talks, I interviewed Dan Bolton who has been a student at the dojo for years. His children, who are in high school and college, are also enrolled in the program. We discussed his life, practice and how it has influenced him and his family.
To hear our discussion, listen to the podcast “Live From The Mats Ep 1.”
One thing Dan touched upon shed new light upon an old idea at the dojo. We often say things like, “Be the master of your actions and not the prisoner of your reactions” or I’ve talked about how meditation gives us the ability to “be the person we want to be when we want to be that person,” regardless of external factors. Dan took it a step further with two simple words: “All day.”
It’s really a simple idea. Dan was saying that it’s easy to be good for small moments of time, but can you be that person all day? In my opinion, this idea is so profound because it is so true.
Think about commitments you’ve made in your life. Maybe you’ve made a commitment to a diet, exercise program, or to meditation. You always start off strong and things will be going well for a while. But then, for whatever reason, you hit a speed bump. If the bump is big enough, you can get knocked completely off track and lose momentum. Once that momentum is gone, typically that new good habit is gone too.
Momentum doesn’t care if it’s positive or negative. It just is what it is and reinforces whatever you’re doing or not doing. If you stick to a habit long enough, and build it into your life, it becomes integral.
Similarly, and conversely, if we don’t do things, then not doing them becomes the habit.
The secret is to have a clear idea of exactly who and what you want to be. Then structure your life in a way that makes that vision a reality.
The Beginning of a Habit
In almost all things, the first day is the hardest. Think about the last time you came back to working out or eating right after a long break. There were probably a lot of things going through your mind dissuading you from getting back on track.
I have had thoughts like, “What’s one more day?” I’ve already missed 7, so what would one more really matter? That can easily turn in to 8 days, 9 days and 10 days. In these cases, it’s important to remember:
We are all powerful rationalizers and that is why it is so important to be in control of our own minds before anything else.
Start or Renew Your Goals
Take a few moments to set goals for yourself. If you’ve already done this, then review them. After some thought, give yourself a grade. Are you really doing all you can to be the person you have decided to be?
Our lives are the products of our decisions.
An example I use often is referencing the dojo on Woodward Avenue in Royal Oak, MI, since the dojo is located on a busy street. You could be standing on the left side of the street and be totally fine. You could be standing on the right side of the street and be fine. However, if you spend too much time in the middle of the street, you’ll probably get hit by a car.
Go in All the Way
Too many of us spend too much time “in the middle of the street.” In order to have a feeling of fulfillment and purpose, you must commit strongly to whatever your specific goals are. You must dive wholeheartedly into the pursuit of your goals. If something means a lot to you, then don’t cheat yourself by pursuing it halfway. At the same time, if you find that something doesn’t really matter, then stop wasting energy on it.
This focus extends to habits, hobbies, or even relationships. Once you are clear about who you want to be, don’t let anything cloud your mind or lead you from that path.
Exercise the mental disciplines you’re learning in Sifu’s “Lessons in Mindfulness“ and your meditation to help uncloud your mind and allow you to maintain your focus.
The middle is a bad place to hang out. You have control of your mental focus and your energy. Devote it to becoming the best version of yourself that you possibly can. ALL DAY.