Archive for June, 2013

A Longer Life

Posted: June 25, 2013 in Sprituality
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Find something bigger than yourself.
Negative thoughts will stay away when you are involved in something that is much more important than your little life.
I went to visit my Grandmother’s grave yesterday. First time I had been there since she died many years ago.
I went with my father who is now 75. He was extremely happy that I went along, that I asked that he take me.
As we were making our way through the rows of headstones looking for his mums name to appear, we came upon an area set aside for the clergy.
Father Thomas, Sister Maria, sister Isabella.
As we were wandering past the headstones we noticed the number of people who had reached well into their 90s that were religious people. The denomination didn’t really matter. As we walked into the area where lay people are buried, the average age dropped at least 20 years.
I doubt if God kept the priests alive because they were on his side.
I believe prayer and meditation gave them a calmness that increased their life span.
I suppose it’s a bit hard to be depressed when you are working for God.

Something bigger than you.
As we dig deep we find that after our initial physical needs are satisfied we need to find spiritual rewards.
To lose ourself in a pursuit.
If that pursuit involves improving the well being of others, it miraculously improves our life and increases our life span.

Unbelievable, but true.


I don’t even remember the punch coming.
I still remember the impact and my head moving.
My head returned to the same position but my nose stayed 1 cm to the right.
The rest of the round is a blur. And the next round, and the next.
I do remember afterwards looking down at the blood on my shorts. It seemed there was more blood than shorts.

Months later, I stepped into the ring and won.
One of those times when everything went right. Lesson learned. Thank you very much.
The person who delivered the punch was Gary. A semi professional boxer in the UK, he had once sparred Frank Bruno. He knew that to perform well in competition you must make your training harder.

The last time I saw him was when I visited him in jail. He greeted me like I was the only one who had visited him.
I’m sure I wasn’t, as his wife must have visited regularly. Maybe his kids too.
But on that day I was his only visitor. Firm friends before and after the big punch.

Decades can pass but some images don’t dim. Blood all over my shorts and his smiling face during visiting hours.

Sitting here, writing about the experience, other details – long forgotten – come back.
Gary was a heavyweight. After him was a welterweight who was much faster than me. Blood still all over my shorts, I had to find a way to survive being hit for another round. I had to learn to be effective. I had to adapt as this opponent was fresh and very different from my last.

The Lesson Is In The Details
My lesson that day (apart from never to trust Gary again) was to be effective.
Don’t run away.
Achieve a result.
Disregard whatever I have done before, use it if it was useful, but to be effective this time around. Just because something has served me in the past doesn’t mean it will serve me now.

Sometimes to embrace the future we have to let go of the past.
Letting go of what happened to us.
Much easier when your nose is closer to your cheek than the middle of your face.
Nonetheless, it’s true.

State Title

Your ethical standards must rank higher than your personal feelings.
Strangely enough, your ethics are based on your personal feelings.
In my job as a martial arts business coach, I am asked to advise other instructors on the running of their club. Last week I was sent a certificate in the mail. It was a rank certificate for an instructor who is grading himself to second dan black belt. Now, keep in mind that all martial arts styles started with one person ranking himself. The most successful organisations in the world started with one person ranking himself. Is this instructor worth a second Dan?
My personal feelings say yes. He has an extensive military background. Years in unarmed combat. Mature and worldly. So will I sign the certificate? No. My ethical standards say that I can’t grade someone that I have not personally seen perform.
Where is all this heading?
Every drama in my personal life has been a result of my personal feelings taking precedence over my ethical standards.
Easy to say. Hard to live with.
• Being true to yourself.
• Doing what’s right.
• Saying what’s right.
• Walking your own path.
• Saving more than you spend.
• Telling the truth.
Instant gratification is more rewarding than long term benefit.
No getting around that.

As we become settled in our surroundings, we look to change.
My daughter told me today that she never seems to be content with what she is doing, or what she has.
“Situation normal”, I reply.
“That’s no help”, she thinks.

Acceptance is one thing. Becoming comfortable with difficulty, and letting it go, is another.

At 18 years of age she is a great example of what I felt at 18. At 50 I haven’t changed, except I have accepted this is a normal thought process. The trick is to keep striving but be happy with what you have now.

Let’s look at another culture as I am looking through Western eyes.
It seems to me that calmness has been in other cultures for thousands of years.
Buddhists have always reminded themselves that true happiness lies in acceptance of your current situation.
This doesn’t mean you don’t strive for improvement.
It also doesn’t mean pain goes away. It just means the Buddhist accepts.

Japanese martial arts aims for acceptance too. To totally focus on the situation at hand. To deal with a life threatening situation without fear. The Samurai looked to Buddhist philosophies to help them deal with an acceptance of death.
Again from Japan, the Tea Ceremony stipulates careful action, focus on breathing and intense concentration on the current move.
A famous book on Archery was entitled, ” One Breath, One Life”.
The release of the arrow symbolised the life of the target, and the life of the archer.

As Westerners we need to embrace this idea to help us stay grounded, and calm.

Your next step, is … actually … your next step.