April 5 , 2017 / 6 minutes, 31 seconds


Author: Annette K. Scott


This is what a guy recently messaged me, “let’s hang out” . . . I can’t tell you how unimpressed I am by those words. What I wanted to say was “sure I would love to waste my time and life and do nothing but hang out and drink with you, would you like to pay my bills for me?” but I politely responded with “gosh I’m sorry I just don’t have the free time at the moment.” This isn’t unusual in the social media world, getting hit on with various and sundry messages. The more you use social media the more messages you receive. Even if you barely post any photos and your pics are far from gratuitous. The ones that do post the types of racy pics to get attention get a lot of it, and then surprisingly complain about it? Hmmmmmmmmmmm I’d say there’s a disconnect there but more on that in another blog.

I recently had the privilege of being in the presence of a very powerful famous multi billionaire. This isn’t the first time in my life I’ve been around that kind of money and power but this time I was intentionally there for inspiration. I’ve been lucky to hang out with the rich and famous and not so rich and famous.  What I notice amongst people that I know, whether billionaires or not, who are raising the bar of success in their chosen field or passion were similarities. An unrelenting drive and focus was the main one. Zanshin is a word used commonly throughout Japanese martial arts to refer to a state of relaxed alertness; an effortless vigilance.

In the 1920’s, a German man named Eugen Herrigel moved to Japan and began training in Kyudo, the Japanese martial art of archery.

Herrigel was taught by a legendary Kyudo master named Awa Kenzo. Kenzo was convinced that beginners should master the fundamentals of archery before attempting to shoot at a real target and he took this method to the extreme. For the first four years, Herrigel was only allowed to shoot at a roll of straw just seven feet away.

When he was finally allowed to shoot at targets on the far end of the practice hall, Herrigel’s performance was dismal. The arrows flew off course and he became more discouraged with each wayward shot. Herrigel was convinced his problem was poor aim, but Kenzo replied that it was not whether you aimed, but how you approached your goal that determined the outcome. Frustrated with his teacher, Herrigel blurted out, “Then you ought to be able to hit it blindfolded.” Kenzo paused for a moment and then said “come to see me this evening.”

After night had fallen, the two men returned to the courtyard where the practice hall was located. Kenzo walked over to his normal shooting location with the target hidden somewhere out in the night. The archery master settled into his firing stance, drew the bow string tight, and released the first arrow into the darkness of the courtyard. Herrigel would later write, “I knew from the sound that it had hit the target.”

Immediately, Kenzo drew a second arrow and again fired into the night. Herrigel jumped up and ran across the courtyard to inspect the target. He discovered it was in the middle of the black. In the case of Awa Kenzo, the master archer was so mindful of the process that led to an accurate shot that he was able to replicate the exact series of internal movements even without seeing the external target. This complete awareness of the body and mind in relation to the goal is known as zanshin.

In other words, the mind completely focused on action and fixated on that task at hand. Zanshin is being constantly aware of your body, mind, and surrounding without stressing yourself. In practice, though, zanshin has an even deeper meaning. Zanshin is choosing to live your life intentionally and acting with purpose rather than mindlessly falling victim to whatever comes your way.

There is a famous Japanese proverb that says, “After winning the battle, tighten your helmet.” In other words, the battle does not end when you win. The battle only ends when you get lazy, when you lose your sense of commitment, and when you stop paying attention. This is zanshin as well; the act of living with alertness regardless of whether the goal has already been achieved.

As for the poor soul who wanted to “hang out” . . . I bought him a bow and arrow.

Written by Kristen Carla Blogger/Acupuncture Physician www.facebook.com/kristencarla

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