Pay attention like an animal

Inspiration for mental training is everywhere. You may think you are not in a setting for improving your karate skills, but you are always surrounded by opportunities. Think about this the next time you see a squirrel in a tree.

But this much I know: My animals are masters of careful attention. When they choose to keep company with me, they see, hear and respond to me just as I am in that moment.  They are not projecting their own fears and hopes onto me; they are not preparing a response to what I am doing or saying. They are not inwardly composing a grocery list while feigning interest, nor critiquing my appearance or mannerisms. They are fully with me until they turn that same,  singular attention elsewhere.

This may seem a simple thing, and it is. But simple does not mean easy, and I have yet to meet a person as accomplished at paying attention as the most distracted animal.

Meditato EphemeraBe First A Good Animal

That’s a great observation. People are complicated. There are many threads of thought going on in a person’s brain at any given time. This is why it is so difficult for many karate students to focus. Animals are, in a certain sense, better at focusing than we are because they have less opportunities to become distracted.

Next time you’re in class, pick your favorite animal and do your best impression of that animal in class by focusing singularly on your training. You’ll be surprised at how much more you will get out of class!

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