A PATH TO THE ART OF PEACE
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Brown Belt Essay by Max Bishop

Mindfulness from dojo to the outside world

Zanshin: a state of awareness, of relaxed alertness, in Japanese martial arts

 

Zanshin doesn’t just help with mindfulness in your aikido movements, it is that. Zanshin is a state of achieving full awareness of everything that is around you, but without having to spend a lot of energy by focusing on it. “your awareness is brought into a direct knowing of experience. This is not just a momentary knowing, but rather it is a knowing that is sustained moment by moment.” Stated The Mindfulness of Aikido: 5 Characteristics of “ZANSHIN”. and, “Zanshin is nothing less than the natural state of our consciousness.” These quotes state that zanshin makes you fully aware of your surroundings, but in a natural form. This is achieving mindfulness in your aikido movements because it makes you aware of what you are doing while being aware of a natural, relaxed way.

 

Zanshin is important for everyday life as well instead of only aikido because, in order to see what is going on around you in everyday life, you need to have a large amount of awareness. For example, if you are using zanshin while you are walking somewhere, you will be able to notice the leaves on trees brushing on each other, the birds chirping, the cars rushing, and stay relaxed while noticing all of it. This is important because you can understand what is going on around you, and you can apply that to real problems that require understanding everyone’s views and ideas while being relaxed.

 

Zanshin has also helped me as well when I am in the dojo. For example, when I do techniques, I typically start out very tense and robotic. However whenever I reflect on zanshin, that negative, tense energy inside of me pushes down into the ground, causing me to now be in a state without any of that tenseness and keeps me calm and relaxed while staying focused and aware.

 

Zanshin also helps me outside of the dojo. For example, once during school I had a surprise test that had new concepts in it that I didn’t fully understand yet. At first, I was very tense and disorganized; unable to think properly and constantly getting stuck. However, I remembered that in aikido when I am tense, I use zanshin in order to help stay relaxed and yet focused. Because of that, even though I did not understand the new concept very well, I was able to stay relaxed, making me be able to backtrack what I have previously learnt about the concept and finish the test in time. Because of zanshin, I went from most definitely getting something like a 60% (D), into an 80% (B).

 

Overall, mindfulness in your aikido movement (zanshin) will help you in other areas of your life.