Karate came into my life about a year ago now (https://sagiashidachi.wordpress.com/2015/03/08/one-year-on/) and frankly I am not sure how I coped without it…..especially in the context of the month I have just had (am still kind of having). Even when things are on an even keel though it’s always good to have highlights / high points…..OK….highs!
People have many different ways of coping with stress. And when I say stress, I am referring to distress not eustress (the positive sort that gets you going and focussed / on target).
Many people talk of having a medicinal brandy or retreating to a bottle. Personally I prefer a medicinal dose of bunkai to get my brain thinking hard about something else (ie not ruminating about whatever situation is stressing me out) and retreating into some basic drills to clear my mind.
Some people like a relaxing spa to recharge their batteries. I can relate to that…..I find sparring recharges my batteries too. There is nothing like having a fist or foot flying toward your head to wake you right up! 🙂
Recreational drug users find ketamines useful in escaping reality. I find using kata helps me to escape…..I even managed this earlier in the week when the sheriff officer accidentally left the door from the jury room to the corridor unlocked after lunch delivery……got in some basics and some “claustrophobic kata”…..amazing what you can fit in 1×2 metres of space really….but I digress.
I am not a drinker (I have never been drunk and now rarely have any alcohol). I don’t use and have never used recreational drugs or smoked. I don’t find much solace in sitting idly watching television (I don’t have the patience or attention for it unless it is really gripping…..mostly I find that it isn’t…) and although I like reading, if I am really stressed and or tired I can’t find the focus I need to absorb stories. My stress relief needs to be active (mind and body) and non harmful to my health.
I have several recreational outlets / “passions”, if you will.
Singing and playing music (and even writing it) and writing poetry / lyrics can sometimes be useful for me but I have to have a level of inspiration for the latter and I have to be in the mood for and awake enough for the former. It can also depend on repertoire (which is not always my own choice).
I do yoga regularly (have done for 7 or more years) and I also try to meditate but find that unless I am quite active (and on my feet) one or both of two things result depending on my state of mind and my level of sleep deprivation at the time. 1. My mind wanders off in sometimes less than useful directions and / or 2. My mind switches off completely……and I end up asleep (and let’s face it; snoring in class is kind of embarrassing!)
Cooking and food preparation are things I generally enjoy and can be used as a mindfulness meditation but ultimately they are something that I have to do and if I am really worked up about something my mind will still wander.
Enter Karate: Perfect medicine for me in good times and bad.
1. Can be done anywhere and no need for special equipment. – check!
2. Can be done alone or in company. – check!
3. Is active. – check!
4. Is challenging physically and cognitively. – check and check!
5. Requires 100% attention and concentration (leaves no room to think about anything other than the task at hand – well for me that is the case anyway). – oh yes!!
6. Gets your heart going and your muscles pumping producing all those happy chemicals for a natural high. – Check!
OK so it probably isn’t for everyone but it works for me and when you are onto a good thing, stick to it.