Episode 16: Being Militant & Lacking Flexibility to Adapt
In this episode of the Martial Art of Self, we discuss a pattern of being too militant in our training, or life in general.
For me, I discovered how this militant approach towards my martial arts training, as well as to other parts of my life often lead me to burn out, and losing interest, and joy in the things I do, or which are part of my life.
Being too rigid with our plans or goal settings suffocates the necessity to be flexible and to adapt to real-time moments and contexts of what we are doing. It is good to plan and set goals, but I find all plans need space to breathe freely. After all, life doesn’t move as a straight line, but rather more like a wave that seems able to travel up, down, back and forth, and sometimes it feels like it moves in all those directions simultaneously.
In this episode, I talk about the importance of practicing sensitivity. It is vital to establish communication with what our body feels like and goes through.
Then we can assess a challenging moment in self-honesty and establish if such a moment is a chance to push a bit more for growth, expansion, and creation, or if we are demanding too much too soon from our body, mind, and self and should slow down.
Music by Fidelis Spies
[00:00] Welcome to the Martial Art of Self podcast, a podcast about bringing the essence of martial arts back to self.
[00:12] Hi everyone this is Aldin and thank you for joining me back to the podcast. It has been quite a while since I have produced my the last episode – episode number 15, and I am back after taking some needed personal time to work on my relationship to martial arts, and this podcast, and my path – my personal path forward, and I mean it has been a very transformative time for me, and that will hopefully equally map back to contributing further, in a positive way, to the type of content that I will share with you through this podcast in the future from now.
[00:55] And, yes – so thank you very much for being patient, and welcome back to the Martial Art of Self Podcast. It is finally resuming again. But back to today’s podcast though.
[01:08] In today’s podcast I would like to talk about a point that I’ve been personally struggling a lot for a very long time, and that I have finally decided to take on after being exposed to it, and being made aware of it through a personal friend of mine some weeks, or a month or two ago, which is the point of being militant, of being militant in for example my training and the way I train.
[01:42] I have accepted and allowed myself to be to militant within my training — That I have accepted and allowed myself to become very easily very militant within my approach to my martial arts training where are within that state of being militant I am literally not giving myself too much flexibility within the approach, in terms of how I train, the intensity at which I train, and the amount that I push, and the level of awareness or redness to be flexible to break that set routine that I set with and myself, of “OK, this is how many reps, or steps, or minutes I’m going to train, this is the amount of intensity, this is the progress – meaning how more intensity I will apply to this approach, and then I am literally very fixed within this set pattern of “This is going to be it, I’m going to train like this, and I will not back off.”
[03:00] Meaning that within this state of militancy – of being militant like this I very easily and very readily, if you will, tend to not really listen to my self-honesty. Meaning, tend to not be in tune and in awareness with my body and my actual real-time experience, where I will for example maybe miss the communication that my body, or my being, if you will, gives to me, in terms of that an exercise that I set for 10 minutes is becoming too intense after let’s say seven minutes, and instead of at the seven minute mark, and me being in tune with my body, and being honest with me, and knowing that yes I can push – that would be my honesty, but self-honestly – being honest with me I know that I should back off, back down because I am feeling like I’m exposing my body a little bit too much, and that I’m always pushing for more, and often I’m going past that mark of just pushing too much, and putting my body in too much strain too fast, and too quickly.
[04:27] And that being honest with me here I know that I should stop at the seven minute mark, and let the body adjust, acclimate, and process this new approach, or this new technique, or just today’s training session, because I see, I realize, and I understand that not all days in all training sessions are equal.
[04:55] Meaning that not during all days I will be able, or I will be at the same level like the other day, or next day – meaning that maybe yesterday, or the last two days I was able to perform a specific exercise for 20 minutes, but today because I’m not always at the same level, and our bodies, and our experiences are not always the same. Why? Because our life moves, our experiences move, things come, our bodies process things, our minds process things, we are different — we are just simply experiencing different things, and we change throughout the days.
[05:39] So, our potency or our potential, if you well, to execute or put in a certain amount of strain or pushing – for example in an exercise – will not always be the same; at the same capacity like the other days. It will change and vary. That is just the nature of life. That is just the nature of movement, of change.
[06:07] And, that for example yesterday I was able to train and push for 20 minutes, not overexerting, but really pushing, but today I’m only able to do 17 minutes, and tomorrow I might only be able to do 12 minutes, and the day after I might be in a state where my body is me maybe in an experience also where self honestly it would be that I would need a break that day. That my capacity is so low due to the circumstances, due to the process going on in my mind, body, being, etc. that it requires a break, it requires a moment of rest, if you will, for that day, and then the next day maybe I’ll find myself doing another 20 minutes again, or even doing a little bit more.
[06:57] So, I forgive myself that I haven’t accepted and allowed myself to see, realize, and understand that being too militant, in being too rigid and too set in what I define as my ‘today’s trainings goal’ — for example that I’m going to train a specific amount of exercises for a specific amount of minutes, or repetitions – is not giving me the necessary and requires flexibility to adapt. The ability to adapt to my current real-time state, capacity, and experience, and the processes that I am within, within my mind, within my body, and my being.
[07:49] And, to within that train, and exercise being more flexible, allowing more flexibility, and adaptability within my training routine, but still remaining within that self-honesty, having that starting-point of: Okay, I am going to be self-honest here, and I’m going to practice my self-honesty, and importantly I am going to practice my sensitivity, my sensitivity within self-honesty when it comes to me reading, and tuning into my body, my mind, and myself – myself experience – in being able to read, and see what — Okay, is — If I’m doing a certain training exercise, let’s say I am doing a particular set of standing-post within Taiji, and where there are five postures each five minutes, and I am within posture number three, and I am three minutes, out of five minutes, within posture number three, and my right thigh starts to burn. The lactic acid builds up, and it gets really challenging, and “painful” – You know how when your thighs start burning, when you’re stressing a particular muscle, and the lactic acid overtime starts building up, and it becomes challenging: To with in that moment there is a moment to practice my sensitivity. Meaning that: Okay, I calm myself down, if there are racing thoughts within my mind, with myself – I breathe, I calm my mind, I calm myself, because calming myself, calming my being I find automatically, or inadvertently leads to the effect of calming my mind, and calming my being and my mind thus my body equally responds to that, and becomes calmer.
[10:00] Now, within that calmed down, or calmer state within myself, mind, and body – while still in the third Taiji standing-post position with the legs, the quads burning, and it becoming really challenging to stand, and me just wanting to stop: I breathe, and I tune into my body, my self-experience within the starting-point of self-honesty, and I look at the thing: Okay, my thighs are burning now, within my mind I have thoughts, I have inner chit-chat, and I have the desire, the emotional- or the feeling-desire to quit, to give up, to let go. There is anger I see, and I just want to stop, and feel the sweet relief, the sweet experience of relief, of release from just stopping this exercise, and letting the quads, the muscles that are burning, or the unpleasant physical experience, and the emotional anger, or irritation, frustration, desire to give up, etc. – that is currently happening, and moving around in my mind – release, by me stopping the exercise.
[11:05] In that moment there I look at the point, and I asked myself the question: Okay, it is burning, I’m having all these mind emotional reactions and thoughts of wanting to stop and give up, there’s anger, etc. – but within my self-honesty I’m asking myself can I self-honestly without compromising my body, meaning without pushing too much within an ego state of wanting — of acting from a starting-point of emotional desire, want, need and arrogance towards my own body – Can I push myself, my mind, and my body for a remaining two minutes to stand, and breathe, and continue, and sink into the experience, accept it, embrace it, and push for another two minutes to strengthen myself, strengthen my mind, strength my body? Or, is it really at the point where it’s too much and I can see that I am overdoing it, and that I need to give myself, my mind, and my body a break here?
[12:12] That yes, yesterday I was able to maybe stand five minutes but today is a different day, is a different process that I’m going through in my mind, my body, my being, and it is best for me to start releasing, and moving to the next posture to relieve the particular muscles that are currently on the strain, or stress.
[12:34] But, the answer to that question I must make sure that I am absolutely honest with myself, because what I’ve found is that very often it is very easy to not push myself, to not push ourselves far enough, but to not — and to not really have that ability with that fine line to distinguish: Okay, this is some moment and opportunity for growth and expansion, and an opportunity for me to push myself while still not compromising myself in my body, not overdoing it, but to push myself to expand, to allow the body to train to expand, to allow my mind, myself to train and expand and become more and stronger.
[13:27] And, then we – or I noticed that I very easily give into that thought: Aaaah… okay, it’s easier to — I mean where I see these thoughts, this sneaking in of – within the nature of excuses, reasons, and justifications – to just not have to push, because what I realized is that we – or at least for me, very easily gravitate towards comfort zone, and the comfort zone that I created. Meaning that I will have a lot of thoughts in the form of excuses, reasons, and justifications to stay within the experience — to stop the experience if it is challenging, and hurting, and burning, if you will, and release it so that I can return to my already established comfort zone of, you know, feeling comfortable in the body versus pushing that extra little bit, an extra rep, half a rep, an extra minute or two because it is an opportunity within self-honesty that I see, and realize – to allow the body, the mind, and the self to grow, expand, and become stronger, more resilient, more grounded, more stable, more flexible – whatever it is that I am exercising or training or practicing here within the particular exercise, or set of exercises that I’m performing or doing.
[14:51] So, it is a very fine line I noticed between pushing ourselves within self-honesty, and using excuses, justifications, and reasons to not realize, and acknowledge that moment that is here, that would allow us to expand, grow, and become stronger, if you will, by pushing ourselves.
[15:12] So, that is why I am placing an emphasis here within the importance of really making sure that I am self-honest with me when it comes to this moment of being in a very challenging experience of “pain”, burning, and having all these thoughts, and backchats, and emotional feelings come of wanting to give up, of wanting to stop, of being angry, of being frustrating, being irritated, just wanting to run away from experience.
[15:49] To really within those moments, because those are moments that one has to practice in real-time while you are in that position, while you are in that state, that experience of it being challenging, and you having all these emotional/feeling reactions of wanting to give up, of being frustrated, angry, irritated, just wanting to run away from the moment, run away from the experience and return to the comfort that you already know.
[16:18] And, it being very important to practice — those are the real time moments where I find are the moments that actually count, that actually bring results in terms of the moments where you — were I have to practice this ‘being in tune’ with myself, practicing this communication with myself, with my body, with my mind, calming myself down, my mind down, my body down through that.
[16:52] And, asking myself that question to establish if this is a moment where self-honestly I can push myself a little bit more to expand, grow and become stronger in mind, body, and being, or is it really self-honestly a moment that I should step down, step back, and this thus the moment where I have to apply that flexibility within the goal or what I what I set myself to do for this exercise. For example if I set myself to do this third posture of standing for five minutes, but wishin my self-honesty in that real-time moment where it starts burning and I just want to give up and run away from the experience – and I calm down, I ask myself that question to establish: Is this a moment where I can self-honestly push to expand, grow – or is it self-honestly a moment where I’m overdoing it, I’m pushing myself, my mind, and my body a little bit too much, and I need to slow it down, back down, and thus apply thus this ‘Flexibility within the routine, within the set goal’ of: Okay, I’m releasing here after three minutes, or three and a half minutes, and moving onto the next exercise or the next posture.
[18:15] So, I haven’t accepted and allowed myself to see, realize and understand how being less militant and incorporating more flexibility within rigidity, within a set pattern, within a set goal, within a plan that I made is going to assist and support me to be more here in real time, and present and establishing that real-time communication with myself, my being, my body, and the moment in the context, whatever it is where I am – being able to communicate with the moment and everything that is here within the context of my moment, of for example doing an exercise – to communicate in real-time with myself, and see if this is a moment for where I have to push, where I can push self-honestly, or it’s a moment where I’m overdoing it maybe, where I’m doing too much, where I’m being militant and not being flexible enough in adapting to the moment and my current state, my mind’s current state, and my body’s current state. Maybe it all needs rest, or just slowing down and moving a bit slower, because we each are unique in our mind, body, and being, and each have different paces and different states, different days, and we can’t perform at the max of a particular day that we did perform to a certain extent, we might not be necessarily able to perform that the next day or the day a week from now.
[19:51] It’s not a linear progression I found. It is more — I find that if you keep practicing and being honest, self-honest within pushing to the capacity that this current moment that you are practicing and doing the exercise in to the utmost within being self-honest – is what is required and is enough, if you will.
[20:19] Thank you very much.
[20:21] Thank you for listening to the Martial Art of Self podcast. If you enjoyed this episode, then please subscribe and leave a review on iTunes. You can also follow this podcast on Twitter and Instagram. For more information about the Martial Art of Self, please visit martialartofself.com