We’re 11 days into 2022. Are you being kinder to yourself so far?
Or are you beating yourself up for not sticking to your New Year’s resolutions?
I mean, why do we beat ourselves up when we already know it won’t help?
Why do so many of us struggle with self-compassion?
Is there another option?
In the 2003 movie, “The Last Samurai”, there is a scene where Algren (Tom Cruise) is defeated in a sword sparring match by a samurai named Ujio (Hiroyuki Sanada).
Another samurai, Nobutada, says in broken English that Algren’s problem is: “Too many mind.”
“Too many mind?” Algren asks.
“Yes. Mind sword, mind people watching, mind enemy,” Nobutada says. “Too many mind”
Nobutada was actually talking about the Zen concept of No Mind (Wuxin, 無心).
The Zen swordsman aims for a state of Wuxin where there are no thoughts of the sword technique, no thoughts of the people watching, no thoughts of the enemy. Even thoughts of life and death fade away.
We shoot for the same thing in our qigong practice. We aim for a Zen state where we don’t have Too Many Mind. For example, the qigong technique called Entering Zen helps us to relax the body, let go of worries, and empty the mind.
Here’s a Zen tip for you. Instead of trying to squash your thoughts, instead of trying to force a state of No Mind — try embracing your many minds.
For example, if you already broke your New Year’s resolution for 2022, acknowledge that you have Too Many Mind.
Maybe your resolution was to work out 5 times per week in 2022. That’s a noble goal, and part of you certainly wants to do it. But another part of you — one of your many minds — does NOT want to work out.
Part of you probably equates working with shame or failure.
And so that part of you rebels. Like a teenager, these rebellious parts can be incredibly strong willed.
Modern, integrative approaches to psychotherapy recognize that we have several sub-personalities. Even 100 years ago, Freud talked about three sub-personalities: the Ego, the Id, and the Superego. So this idea is not new.
If we look through this lens of multiplicity, then it’s not YOU who broke your New Year’s resolution, but rather one PART of you. It was a sub-personality.
One of your parts is dead-set against working out (or quitting drinking, or whatever), and this part is causing problems for other parts of you.
Many of my students have told me that they found a home in qigong.
Whereas they struggled to make a daily habit with other arts, they finally succeeded with qigong.
Qigong is a ritual of self-compassion. When we practice qigong, we accept and embrace all of our various parts.
We bring our many minds into one big group hug, even if just for a moment.
Last week, I sent you some tips for being kinder to yourself. Here they are if you missed them:
- A few times per day, view yourself as a 5-year-old version of you. Speak nicely to this innocent child! Give yourself (the child) some love and encouragement!
- After you successfully do something nice for yourself (qigong, going to bed early, eating well, etc.) give yourself an internal high five. You did it. Woohoo! Be like a parent who compliments their child and celebrates their wins.
- If you mess something up, if you fail at something or make a bad decision, take a moment to say, “fall down seven times, stand up eight.” Say it out loud! This is an old Japanese proverb, and it has kindness built into it. Why beat yourself up for falling when it’s literally the first word of the proverb?
- Finish this sentence: “I want to thank myself for ______ .” (Here are some ideas: trying to better myself; for not giving up; for learning qigong; for my compassionate heart.)
These tips are not just about self-compassion, but also about unifying your many minds.
When you unify your many minds like this, you bring yourself closer to the Zen state of Wuxin, or No Mind.
Pick one of the tips above and really try to implement it for the rest of the week.
It’s time for a group hug! Bring those many minds together! From the heart, Sifu Anthony