by Sandra Radja
In Ayurveda we are conscious of the requirements of non-suppression. There's a list of things to not repress such as sneezing, coughing, sleeping, eating, urination and well, you get the idea. Body functions that have to pass. And then there is the list of things we should try and control such as anger, lust, greed, sexual promiscuity and those kinds of things. Mostly in the vein of emotions. But the mind controlling the mind is a hard one and only for those that can use their intelligence to a point and then have the wisdom to no longer rely on it. And even then, it is always highly recommended to use the guidance of a teacher. The reason being that in the beginning, self honesty and reflection is a difficult journey because of a limited perception. You know this - reflect back on any situation in your life that you might have done differently with the benefit of hindsight.
Martial arts, taught by a person that has spent the time in reflecting on their own soul, can become the path that takes the excess of energy produced by any of the doshas and transforms it into prana or chi. The right teacher is important. I once took a martial arts class to see what it was all about. The teacher wanted to prep our minds by establishing a scene where we were in an alley way and about to be attacked. His approach was so intense in the telling of this story I stood in sheer shock of the possibility of the event actually transpiring only to visually imagine a wall I could climb over. This was my imagination and that's how my drama played out, damn it! As you can imagine I never went back and only after some time did I realise that I would need to review the teacher before signing up for any classes. I learnt to apply that lesson thereafter in any new ventures I took on.
I ended up taking tai chi classes from an excellent teacher who taught us to move slow, to move with the breath, to ground the legs and feet before moving upward. I learnt the expression that the legs represent the earth - they should always be strong and supportive, and the upper body was like the heaven - soft and at ease. I learnt to use my imagination with the elements, to flow like water and remain earth strong when I needed to. I felt a stronger connection to feeling these elements out in nature. I connected myself to how nature moved and could observe it. My yoga practise became stronger and more flexible. I was no longer in a rush to move through a vinyasa because I felt the prana move through the subtle aspects of my body. I felt stronger from being soft. I was able to pay more attention.
Making an art your own requires patience and perseverance. You must begin somewhere and when you can slow down and check in you notice your body moves a certain way, your mind moves a certain way. Having a technique that is between the repression and the wild expression helps to create an internal energy. An overt emotion is exhausting. We find ourselves in loops of thoughts because the thought is an energy waiting to be transformed into something more refined. It waits for us to direct it. If we have no technique it becomes the master of us. There is that idea that the freedom of a country and its citizens is about saying what you want, the freedom to express your ideas, no matter who you hurt in the meantime. I would perhaps advise that there be a mediator between humans and their output. To not harm another with your speech is to know your inner mind and the thoughts that are produced from it, which can turn into actions. To employ a technique as your daily practise of moving the emotions into refined energy can be helpful.
In practise, I observe young men in this world and the confusion that they feel at their identity. I say young men but it probably relates to men of all ages, if they haven't had a strong male role model in their life. In our need to express as women, we seemed to have lumped ALL men as having the potential to be violent with us, to have immoral thoughts from a sexual point of view and to have the need to degrade us in the workplace and though the media. Within the idea of self-expression it may occur to some men to just lay low than be accused of doing the wrong thing. Man vs woman - as much as we may be different beings, in our summation we never take into account the spiritual development of a soul. Put that idea with an astrology reading from the papers and we have figured everyone out - all female cattle go into this yard and the male over there. I have seen positive results from men that work their anger through a transformative process in martial arts. Not everyone likes to chat their issues out. The innate desire to need to protect not only themselves but their family is honoured. You train because you won't need it.
The art of war has always been about yourself anyways. There are masters out there willing to teach you how to feel positive about yourself. Let them. Not every man or woman is geared toward the silent momentum of tai chi or yin yoga. Whatever your capacity and personality, choose a path that is suited to you. Choose a teacher whose personality you respect. Sticking to your ideals is a tenacious act ready to be tested by enemies and lovers alike.
Bruce Lee wants you to authentically express yourself. There is a way to move through feelings of being stuck but you need to make effort. May we encourage more rather than belittle men toward the transformation of their energy.