Beyond Emotional Injury: Dojo Training for Everyday Life
- a piece for men to reflect upon, and relevant to all.
Navigating emotional intensity: an everyday experience for us all, which could include
- someone else's anger, tears, disappointment, rage, upset, joy, being ‘too much’ in any way ...
- outbursts, withdrawals and confrontations in any form
- your own internal emotional experiences, and how you accept and express these fully and authentically in the moment (...or not)
- sexual energy ... yours … theirs ... the meeting, merging and evolution of these together … containment where appropriate (which is most of the time) … while being in full ownership of all that is there ...
These are fundamental interactions we must all learn to artfully dance with in everyday life, feeling our nervous system limitations, emotional injuries and habitual closures as they come up, and finding healthy ways to practice beyond them, if we are willing.
This is the path of conscious living.
But how do we learn and practice this 'dance', beyond these habitual ways of being?
What are the pieces to work with?
What does 'practice' even mean?
We have all experienced the examples outlined at the start of this post, and how instead of courageously stepping into any of these situations from our mature, adult self, we often find our childhood patterns, traumas and emotional woundings suddenly flood the moment and take over the entire show.
Our breath becomes shallow and short ... the body tenses in different ways we may notice, or may not even feel because of the sudden overwhelm, or some form of trauma response ... our focus becomes narrow ... our thinking limited ... the mind spins as the self-protection autopilot takes over ... we become unavailable in different ways. … emotionally, intellectually, verbally, physically ... we are no longer able to be fully engaged in the moment as all systems shut down and want us to bail out ... lash out ... fight our way out ... withdraw ... push back ... or escape in some other way ...
Drink. Drugs. Porn.
Staring and scrolling on some kinda screen.
Whatever your thing may be ...
We've all been there.
Trouble is, if we don't learn how to practice staying conscious ... open ... relaxed ... available ... our deep-seated nervous system programming will rapidly take over in these moments, and we will simply entrench these old habits even deeper into our bodies.
This does not serve our growth, our maturing, our freedom, and our engagement with all we love and care about.
A fundamental principle I share is that you are always practicing something.
Right now, you are practicing a certain way of breathing ... holding your bodily structure ... mind clear and relaxed, or spinning in chaos … being in stillness, or fidgeting ... being focused, or in distraction ... being fully here, or only being half engaged.
Whatever your habitual way of being, it is likely to show up across many layers of your life.
All of this impacts how people feel you, how they respond to you, how much they can trust you and relax - especially feminine beings, who are highly attuned to this entire unspoken realm - because of what you transmit through your body, not because of what you say, what you’re wearing or how much money you make.
When you really get this, beyond your mind, and in your body, everything shifts.
From this moment on - right now - you can choose to commit to what I call 'practice based living’ - learning to navigate each moment as fully as possible, practicing full breath, relaxed body, spacious mind, open heart, fully engaged, bringing your authentic self, living from your deep body wisdom rather than your logical thinking mind.
These are just a few examples of how this might look ...
You can begin right now by taking in a full, slow belly breath and slowly letting it out.
Allow your spine to straighten, your shoulders to drop, your head to sit aligned above your body, the weight of your lower body and legs connecting you with the ground as you relax, and relax some more, dialing into your awareness of all of this, and all around you.
Take a snapshot of what this feels like.
Because within seconds, you will most likely stop breathing, slump your spine, allow your familiar tensions to re-emerge, and go straight back into your thought habits ... those same thought patterns you’ve been having for years ...
We all do this to some degree ...
How do we learn to move beyond this way of living?
The most powerful way to do this from my own experience over the past 15 yrs is to learn and practice under someone’s expert guidance in a safe 'practice' environment (for example, after my many deep-dive training intensives with David Deida) - a safe container with clear boundaries and agreements in place, and with other practitioners committed to serving each other in becoming more open, grounded, conscious, loving men, as they too practice stepping into this way of being.
Being in this safe and supportive yet challenging environment with other good men willing to go deep opens up a whole new realm of embodied learning, where you get to experience ‘in your body’ what it’s like to feel your nervous system patterns and limitations come up at the edge of your capacity, and be guided to practice beyond them, again and again, step by step, until your body knows what this feels like and how to get there.
In the same way we train in the dojo, we start with fundamentals - basic 'kata' (structured practice for consistent improvement) - to train the bodymind how to breathe, move, relax, let go of tension, be fully here, be fully available ... and have other men offer their reflection on how you feel to them in that moment.
This is in many ways similar to my experience of dojo training with black belts, where we offer reflection and refinements when practicing different ‘techniques’ - to make a wrist lock more effective, to feel what needs to shift to take someone’s balance, to stay at a safer distance when practicing sword techniques, yet still make an efficient clean cut and kill ...
In a practitioner training environment, this reflection is a deeply powerful and profound piece, with many layers of learning for all - an offering of clarity and refinement in loving service from one man to another - so that each man may learn to give and receive heart felt truth without judgement, feeling what needs most attention in his way of being in that moment, having the opportunity here and now to train his body, mind and breath beyond the limitations of lifelong habits.
Each man can then take these practices back into everyday life, knowing in his bodily experience what feels aligned, true, conscious and free, and also what to actively practice when those challenging moments trigger old ways of being that no longer serve.
For those men ready to live beyond their old limiting habits, and be in the practice of bringing spacious liberation to each moment ... an invitation to attend a truly unique martial-arts based training that will transform your way of being in the world, inside and out.
The Martial Art... of Relationship
A Dangerously Fun Workshop for Men
Lincoln Cotton | South Australia
"This was different from any other workshop I’ve ever done - using Martial arts training skills to allow inspiration and clarity to occur on the way we live life, the way we love others and ourselves.
'Be in the moment'. I have heard this lots, but to do it - ACTUALLY "be present" physically - has helped me feel and do it, in every day moments.
I am often a bit cheeky (smart arse) and this process centred me.
This will allow me to maintain my integrity and clarity of thought when the tough times come."
Greg Barwick | South Australia
"The most valuable thing I got from today is this piece around embodiment ...
... to actually make an integrated change in my body ...
... able to show up as a different man.
That’s what today has given a taste of, that I can feel it in my body, and have a reference point to come back to at a later date"
Jan Turtun | South Australia
"It’s been different (since the workshop). I’ve just felt like when I’m around (my partner) , my level of presence has increased ten fold. There’s been a couple of times where she’s gotten emotional, I’ve stood my ground, reassured her and she’s felt almost immediately better. Big shifts, brother. Thank you.
I was a little skeptical when leaving that anything would flow into my real life but I was proven wrong."
Luke Di Sessa | South Australia
“I cannot recommend this highly enough! the training from this weekend for me has turned into everyday practice and has such a positive impact on my being and my relationships. Get amongst it men, do yourself a favour! And its fun too!!”
The Martial Art... of Relationship
A Dangerously Fun Workshop for Men