This week I’m curating a guest post from Jonathan Mead, a friend who inspires by living life on his own terms and sharing what he can with others. To quote from Jonathan’s own site, Illuminated Mind: “The reason for everything: To create a revolution based on authentic action. A social movement of people liberating themselves through living on their own terms.”
While this may sound like a recipe for narcissistic individualism in the hands of the wrong guy, it can also be a pretty accurate description of mindful living when combined with the essence of compassion and an understanding of interdependence. Fortunately Jonathan has based his own life and what he offers to others on a well-grounded mindfulness practice. Between Illuminated Mind and his free eBook The Zero Hour Workweek, Jonathan offers insights from his own experience that can cut through the fog of your day like a lighthouse beacon. It’s good, authentic lifestuff. – Jerry Kolber
SOMETIMES YOU FIND ENLIGHTENMENT BY PUNCHING PEOPLE IN THE FACE
by Jonathan Mead
Could it be possible to find enlightenment by punching people in the
face? How about while sitting on the toilet, or staring at peeling
paint on an old wooden fence?
The formal practice for mind-training begins on the meditation cushion. Nothing can or should (in my opinion) replace that. Just sitting is about as potent of a spiritual practice as it gets.
But then there are those other 23 and half hours in the day. What do you do with those?
After all, it doesn’t matter much if you’re calm as a Hindu cow while you’re thinking the thought of no thought, but you’re as mad as a box of frogs while you’re not.
In order to live effectively, we have to move our training beyond
the cushion and into our relationships, our work, and our habits. We
refer to these as mindfulness practices, and some of the well-cited
possibilities can be eating, walking, or standing in line at the
grocery store. But there are some less obvious opportunities for
cultivating conscious awareness.
One such opportunity I’ve found is punching people in the face.
It’s easy to label something like martial arts as a chauvinistic,
violent, or ego-driven pursuit. To be honest, the reason I first became
interested in martial arts was almost purely rooted in an ego-based
interest. I thought it was cool. I thought it was “manly.” I thought it
would make me a badass.
I still think some of those things are true. But practicing Jeet
Kune Do (the martial arts system I practice, also known as JKD) has
become much more than just a surface-level endeavor.
I now see my practice as an activity of self development. It’s an
opportunity to practice mindfulness. It allows me to practice humility,
focus, and kindness. Yes, even that.
When I practice I get direct response feedback of how mindful or
unmindful I am. If I’m not practicing self kindness (going against
myself), my technique suffers. When I beat myself up for not being as
amazing as I think I should be, I see it manifest physically and
immediately. No delay, no lag time. I don’t have to wait for reality to buffer.
That’s what I love about JKD. There is no duplicity, no hiding. It is 100% unadulterated truth.
What I find particularly interesting is the irony behind it — that
an art rooted in violence can become a practice for liberation.
But, isn’t this true in most other cases as well? Isn’t our deepest
pain often an opportunity to connect more deeply with joy? Negativity
and falsehood is a practice for realizing positivity and truth. By
moving through it, and facing it directly, we can grow.
Whatever art you choose to pursue, you can transform it into a way
of liberation. Maybe that’s writing, maybe it’s break-dancing, or maybe
it’s Jeet Kune Do.
Finding a physically mindful practice is a way for you to take your
training into visible, corporeal realm. The more you work at your art,
the more you’ll start noticing the tangible results of your
mindfulness. When you are present, kind, and compassionate, you will be
rewarded. When you are not, it will be apparent.
I’ve found that I can turn most anything into a practice of self
development. The way I train physically is just one expression of this
Nothing makes up for the formal practice of sitting on your ass, but I think there are many other way we can practice living consciously.
Punching people in the face just happens to be my preference.
I guess sometimes liberation can often be found in the most unexpected of places.
For more, check out Jonathan’s free e-book The Zero Hour Workweek.