by James Eke
from Warrior’s Way Podcast episode 112
I don’t think for a moment that anyone from crackpot-conspiracy theorists to hypochondriac germa-phobes and all the rest of everyone in-between will escape from COVID unscathed.
We have all been through something hard. Something bizarre. Something that has changed the way we think, act and feel.
Many people have lost those they cared about or lost businesses or simply their view of who they thought they were.
Where we go from here is anyone’s guess.
Will COVID ever be gone? At this point it doesn’t look that way. How will we have to respond to it? Well, it probably depends on where you live.
I’m in Canada and our government took things very seriously. My martial arts school for instance was shut down with imposed restrictions during the first lockdown, then we were allowed to open for a few months and had to stay six feet apart with masks on, then we were shut down another 8 months and as I’m recording this we probably have another month before we can open, likely with the same six feet apart rule.
More than one person has asked me what I think martial arts training is going to be like or, maybe more honestly, how they can feel ok with getting back to things like they were before.
My best advice is 100 per cent in line with my own personal blinking neon sign view of training – be kind and compassionate to yourself and to others.
What does that mean though?
COVID has been a very valuable lesson for us in terms of view of self and our relation to others. It has been valuable in teaching us patience and being in the moment.
Before COVID most people in the West looked at their lives as somehow solitary special moonbeams but suddenly we all had to realize that the things we do could not just impact others but could kill them – most importantly, the simple fact that all of us are connect to each other in ways we probably never realized.
I think that moving forward through the place we are with the pandemic and where we are headed it is important for us to be kind and compassionate with ourselves and others. Not everyone will be in the same place with this. We need to let go of the need to get things back to whatever normal used to be – whatever it is we remember that being. Truth be told, there was nothings so inherently great about the greedy, selfish, self-centred way things were before.
We have been given a chance to make a new normal for ourselves and for our world – a world that is kinder, more understanding, more supportive, more able to adjust to things.
We know now how important people who have our backs are and how important it is to have others backs.
We know now that we have to think about others perhaps more than ourselves.
We know now that we have to take care of this planet and our communities.
All of this is valuable.
As for what you need to do to move on from here, I think that first of all you need to make sure you are training your inner self to be resilient, calm and compassionate – this means meditation, this means learning to let go, this means training and cultivating compassion which can be a lot harder than learning how to sit and breathe.
I think you need to stay in shape physically. This means working out for sure but also getting back on the dojo mats and training. At first this might be some solo work or training that you can do at an arms-length.
Martial arts done in a kind and compassionate manner but allowing us to release frustration, allowing us to interact with others in a safe environment is going to be a salve for the wounds left by COVID.
We have to move forward. We have to follow that light at the end of the tunnel. We have to do it in a way though that is not going to harm others or cause any more misery.
Martial arts and training has always had a power to it – a power that has the ability to heal. This is going to be even more important in the months and years to come.
We have to have faith and understanding in our training partners. We have to have admiration for our teachers and schools that have weathered this terrible storm and ensured that we have dojos to train at when so many didn’t make it. We have to love our systems and styles that have given us so much and will continue to help us to evolve and grow.
Most of all though, we have to have compassion and kindness for ourselves. Don’t push ourselves too hard when what we need is to be slow and understanding.
This path of training is long and difficult but if we stick to it amazing things can happen. There is nothing to fear when we keep our light of compassion shining and our mind open and able to see what is right and what isn’t working.
We can push through this – we’ve made it this far together and we can and will be standing together in the new world that will replace that old one we have already lost. Let’s let it go and find something better together.