karate does for your body, meditation does for your mind. Just as
karate will strengthen and discipline your body, practicing meditation
strengthen and discipline your mind. And just as a strong body without
equally strong mind is limited, karate is incomplete without
we have a well-developed body and a clear mind working as one, our
honestly, powerfully, and appropriately. Such harmony can be achieved
through karate and meditation. Meditation is not religious. It is not
or worshipful or cultist. As practiced in Seido Karate, Meditation is
religion, nation, or organization. Meditation, in fact, involves only
behind Seido meditation is simple: in order to get the most out of your
you must first clear your mind. To clear the mind we practice seated
meditation, during which we sit and concentrate only on our breathing,
exclusion of everything else. All we are doing is sitting and
are doing it with our full selves.
we meditate, we work on our breath. We concentrate on the breath, often
counting our breaths to keep focused. We pay attention to where our
originates and try to make it as deep and full as possible. We monitor
frequency of our breath, letting it naturally slow down and freeing it
constant goading of our anxieties. When we can control our breath, we
control our minds.
Karate, each class begins and ends with a short period of zazen.
In the beginning of class, it is used to clear the mind and to focus it
training ahead. After class, it is used to reflect on what was covered
and what needs to be studied, as well as to prepare the student to
the outside world.
the basic form of meditation is zazen or seated meditation. Zazen has
physiological benefits, including lowering the heart rate, reducing
pressure, improving oxygen exchange in the lungs, and improving
function. However, our reason for doing zazen goes beyond these
sit, the two major issues are how your weight is supported and the
your body. Your weight is best supported by a tripod or pyramid. When
on the floor or a cushion, your two knees and your buttocks form the
the tripod. When seated on a chair, the supporting tripod is formed by
soles of the feet on the floor and the buttocks on the forward edge of
seated postures, to some degree, place stress on the front part of the
which must stretch and hold that position. There are two solutions you
to alleviate this problem: a seiza bench or the combination of a
thick, rectangular mat) and a zafu (a pill-shaped cushion). Experienced
practitioners can sit without these aids, but it is not necessary to do
These aids elevate the body slightly, removing some stress from the
preventing slumping of the spinal area. In addition, the zabuton
bones just below the kneecap from contact with a hard floor.
doing zazen, the hands are kept in a position called the "cosmic
mudra." Put the blade of your right hand, palm up, on the hara, the
about four fingers below your navel. Place the left hand inside the
and join your thumbs so that the tips are touching lightly. This hand
is called ho-in in Japanese (meaning "neither mountain nor valley")
and has been found to help direct the focus inward.
are not closed during zazen because we are more alert and aware with
open, and we are less likely to daydream or doze off. The eyes are kept
half-open (hangan), and their focus should be soft and slightly
directly in front of us.
Faced with difficulty, jump up, mature
We face many different konnan. As soon as you have finished with one
difficulty, there is always another one to face. However,
if you had no difficulties, if your
life was smooth and free of problems, there would be no hiyaku.
Instead of translating the word konnan as “difficulty”,
think of it as “opportunity”. Through
difficulties you sometimes have the opportunity to realize where your
points lie. We might find that we have
more ability in certain areas than we might have expected.
This gives us new confidence.
Instead of looking at a problem as if
it is so big that we
cannot possibly handle it, becoming upset and discouraged before we
why don’t we try the opposite? Face the
problem, and perhaps there will be opportunity there for hiyaku. Even when you feel that your ability does not
equal the problem at hand and you want to back away from it, if you can
push yourself through it, you are giving yourself the opportunity to
and become stronger.
You have to try with maximum effort to
difficulty without too much worry about the outcome.
What difference does it make if you
fail? We are only human.
The most important thing is your sincerity
and you concentrate with one hundred percent effort.
The results will come out naturally.
Our weak point is that we try to
calculate the outcome
before we even begin. Sometimes we
expect too much and when things don’t turn out as we expected, we are
disappointed. Even though we haven’t give
percent of our effort, we give up. The
problem only becomes larger, and the pressure builds until we ask,
of life is this?”
This is the wrong attitude to have in
facing problems. There is no way we can
problems. We always have to expect some
new difficulty to arise. Running away
will only make you tired, and the problem will still be there facing
you. We have to face our difficulties and
logically estimate the best way to resolve them. It
is an opportunity for hiyaku.
This is the kind of mental and
spiritual strength I want you
to develop through your training here. I
also want you to remember, as you stand so straight on the dojo floor,
many small pieces of boards were put together to make this nice floor. If the floor were rough and uncomfortable, it
would be difficult to move around and there would be injuries.
In the same way we should try to care
for each other. If you think of only
yourself, you will never
be happy. It is caring for other people
that make us happy. However, we must not
neglect our responsibility to ourselves.
It is wrong to believe that our
abilities and talents are
solely responsible for our success. We
can do nothing without others. This is
why we have to open our eyes and understand each other.
I want you to enjoy your training here and,
at the same time, this is the kind of strength I hope you will gain
lectures are excerpted from One Day - One Lifetime: An Illustrated
Guide to the
Spirit, Practice, and Philosophy of Seido Karate Meditation by Kaicho