Jiu Jitsu and Meditation

Updated: Oct 14, 2020

Since the 1960s, eastern teachings have gained favor in the west, with their proponents advocating meditation as a tool for mindfulness.

I have always had mixed feelings about meditation. One of the greatest spiritual traps is to mistake the means for the end, something the western world does to disastrous effects. The goal is not to learn to sit quietly but to live that way in the world. To meditate is simply to sit as an enlightened person would sit.

A raft is meant to take us from one shore to another, but in order to arrive at that distant shore, one must step off the raft. Meditation, like any spiritual ritual, must ultimately be transcended if one is to arrive at their final destination.

But mastery of mind exists on a seemingly infinite continuum, and to be mindful for 5 minutes is better than none at all. In a hyper-distracted world, meditation is a wonderful tool to quell the insatiable thinking mind and to feel at home in the present moment.

To the unintiated, there is nothing sexy about meditation, and that’s why so few of our contemporaries engage in this practice. This reveals why so many of us are drawn to the gentle art.

Jiu Jitsu is active meditation.

Meditation is often practiced with the aim of concentrating your focus to a single point, allowing yourself to be fully-engaged in this moment, free of internal dissonance. This is precisely what we experience while training Jiu Jitsu. With its heavy cognitive demand and physical work load, Jiu Jitsu requires a singularity of focus and complete engagement producing the same effects of mindfulness training.

Because Jiu Jitsu is mindfulness training.

Jiu Jitsu demands complete concentration on the task at hand, forcing us to accept the present moment, no longer resisting what is but acting optimally in accordance with the present experience.

Many students come to the mats to escape the rigors of adult life, leaving their bosses and mortgages behind as they carve out a portion of the day to return to a state of play and exploration. The faces that leave the academy always hold less tension than those that arrive. Every training session is an oil change for the soul, as we refresh our physiology through physical exertion and cleanse our mind through concentration.

Sitting alone in the woods under a Bodhi tree may not be in favor in the western world, but being in control of one’s own mind is paramount. Training Jiu Jitsu gives us all the benefits of meditation while providing all the physical benefits of the gym. In a world of ever-increasing responsibilities and obligations, we must attend to our mental health just as sincerely as we do our bodies. Thankfully, Jiu Jitsu serves both better than anything I have ever experienced.

Whether you are a monk in a monastery or a Jiu Jitsu practitioner on the mat, we all seek the same thing. Jiu Jitsu just happens to be the most enjoyable way to find it!

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