May 30, 2018


Warrior Mindfulness

Mindfulness is a practice designed to minimize the discursive thoughts taking place within our mental atmosphere and opening the field of perception to a greater sense of awareness.  Mindfulness practices have been developed over many centuries by the monastic, religious, and even warrior disciplines as a means of creating more choice in individual lives so as to live with greater potential and performance.  Realizing individual goals is a matter of focus and remaining on task despite the distractions that the world around us can frequently offer.

The physical body is constantly sending messages to the mind and while these are valuable signals that offer relevant information to the state of our being, they often become white noise that inhibits the ability to accurately perceive situations and respond in ways that are resourceful.  Relaxing the body is one of the most important ways to enhance mindfulness.  Seeking out and deliberately reducing the areas in which tension is held in the body allows for a subtle adjustment, skeletal alignment, muscular relaxation and, thereby, a more quiet mind.  The preponderance of mindfulness practices normally begins with a focus on the body.

Breathing Through Mind And Body

Usually, focusing on the breath allows for connecting the autonomic and central nervous systems by even and deliberate breathing.  Focusing on the breath also gives the mind a point of attention that allows all other thoughts to drop away.  Concentrating on the breath automatically brings about relaxation in the body and quietness in the mind, and it is no accident that mindfulness traditions have adopted this respiration centric approach so broadly.

Breath oriented mindfulness has even entered into the modern lexicon of warrior disciplines. SWAT teams, special operations military forces, and martial arts practitioners frequently use breathing techniques to enhance their physical performance in the field of combat.  Again, mindfulness allows for greater perception so as to anticipate threats and respond accordingly.  Opening the aperture of cognitive inputs allows for dealing with problems before they manifest.  In this way, the quiet mind can stop problems through skillful and swift action at the earliest stages.  This is why Sun Tzu talked about the skillful warriors not needing a great reputation for bravery because they were able to squash threats prior to them reaching crisis levels.

Expanded Perception

So too should the modern warrior focus on prevention and order maintenance rather than trying to engage in a pitched battle against a formidable foe.  It is better to seek more efficient resolutions than wage destructive conflicts.  The skillful warrior needs mindfulness to make sense of the stimuli offering clues about problems as they are forming. Mental acuity and flexibility allow for creative solutions to emerge spontaneously and in more efficacious ways than resorting to a contentious use of force.

Soft power, then, becomes a means by which destructive clashes are avoided and order is maintained while property and life are preserved. This is the path of true Budo, the way of stopping an armed confrontation through wisdom, foresight, and courageous action.

The way of the warrior is dependent upon elevated mindfulness.

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