Soke's Corner

January 21, 2013


Another new year has arrived and closed the chapter of 2012 and many of you feel that it is an opportune time to make resolutions that will modify or change habits that are undermining your well-being. What a better time to begin new habits with a clean slate. So with pen in hand, your goals are written down and the eager spirit has all the positive intentions in reaching its destination. Yet as the weeks and months disappear, the goals become clouded by excuses and most of the resolutions become mere scribbles that have no meaning at all. Why do you think this occurs more frequently than not?

I believe that although your intentions are honorable, they may not be realistic in the way it is prioritized. For example, you might want to quit smoking or lose weight. At the beginning of your quest, you quit buying cigarettes and attempt to eat more nutritious foods. Then after a few weeks (if you made it that far), a cigarette suddenly appears between your lips and your cravings allow pop, chips and fries find its way down the hatch. Amnesia then enters the brain along with some destructive philosophy. “I can’t remember if I already had one cigarette or two cans of pop. Oh well, another one won’t hurt, I’ll just start fresh tomorrow.” Sigh, another year of good intentions gone by the way side.

This year, instead of making resolutions that are destined to failure, try a different approach. Take on activities that will give your life a meaningful purpose. In other words try a paradigm shift when setting your goals.

Managing stress
A more realistic resolution is getting your mind right, or in other words, better manage your daily stress. That is to say you need to learn how to defend yourself against negative stress. Stress will cause you to side-step all your well intended goals. Learn to manage the way you deal with your children when they do the things that upsets you. Don’t allow your spouse or co-workers to sabotage your peace and calm. Deadlines and demands often times cause you to become irritable, restless and put you on an emotional roller coaster. You might even have a difficult time in saying no to other’s request but rather suffer by spreading yourself too thin. The results of unmanaged stress may even be astonishing to you. Where do all those swear words appear from? And where do all that ranting and raving come from?

Stress often causes headaches, tension, mood swings, digestive problems, anxiety and even heart dis- eases. Stress then throws well intended objectives in the hopper.

There are several methods of managing stress that will help you keep on a positive course. Stay active in doing things for others, such as volunteering your time with schools, churches or hospitals. Take time to walk your dog or cat, or go to the barn and brush your horse. Have an aquarium in your office or home and consider a koi pond if at all possible. You may even release stress by talking to your pets for they lis- ten very well without placing judgement on you. Of course being a teacher of martial arts, I will strongly urge you to take up any of the arts such as karate-do, aikido, kendo, iaido, tai-chi or yoga. For those of you who are less physical, take time to get a pedicure, manicure, facial or a regular massage. When the weather permits, go outside and just sit. Breathe the air as you watch the bees dance and make their living gathering pollen from gracious flowers. Whatever you decide, to manage stress effectively, you must do it regularly even if it is for a brief moment.

Take time for lunch
Whenever I visit Japan, I am impressed by those that make it a daily ritual to break for a good lunch or “obento.” It is not intended to hasten the meal down just to satisfy their appetite, but rather a special gift that is presented in an artful way with appealing color combinations. The obento is healthy, nutritious and very tasty. Talking about work ceases and it is a special time for solidarity and camaraderie.

Why not learn to take the time each day to relax and sit to have a good meal without hurrying just to get back to work or run your errands. Leave your cell phones off and give yourself a break to refresh yourself while enjoying a tasty meal. You might also consider a power nap if you have the time. I recall when I was in the Air Force stationed in Hawaii, I would eat a good lunch, dismiss myself in a dental operatory, recline the patient chair, pull the overhead lamp close to my chest to keep warm, and take a quick snooze for 10 to 15 minutes. The sound of the trade winds caressing the palm leaves harmonizing with the soft music erased all the stress and restored my energy to begin the afternoon with a healthy attitude.

Sleep a must
Sleep is the magic that restores you from your work, play, school and many of your daily activities. Sleep should be a priority in your new year’s resolution, for it is essential for you to have adequate and high quality sleep to restore your bodies vitality.

Some of the things you should consider in order to make your sleep enjoyable. First make sure your bedroom is a comfortable sleep environment. Keep it clean, fresh and as dark as possible. Try to maintain a regular sleep-wake schedule. Avoid heavy meals, alcohol, caffeine or snacks too close to your bed time.

Consider a hobby
Martial arts is an excellent hobby. When you finish beating on a bag, practice your routines or spar with your partner, you’ll feel invigorated and happy that you have successfully accomplished something healthy for your physical, mental and even social well-being.

Golf is another great hobby. Similar to martial arts in many ways, golf can be enjoyed by both sexes and enhances confidence, courage and leadership. Find a few good people to play with and you’ll laugh lots as you deal with pressure, triumph and even humiliation. I began playing golf regularly about 10 years ago and it brings a healthy balance to my weekly work responsibilities.

As you provide yourself with realistic goals, an amazing discovery will be revealed. While managing your stress thermometer and by taking time to incorporate the things I have discussed, it will be a natural step to rid yourself of bad habits and crutches that you no longer require. Your spirit will soar and you will have learned how to achieve your goals while preventing unhealthy obstacles to sneak into your life.

By Del Saito

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