Here at the frontier, the leaves fall like rain. Although my neighbors are all barbarians, and you, you are a thousand miles away, there are still two cups at my table.

Ten thousand flowers in spring, the moon in autumn, a cool breeze in summer, snow in winter. If your mind isn't clouded by unnecessary things, this is the best season of your life.

~ Wu-men ~

Monday, April 11, 2011

Changing Your Practice With The Seasons

A question that I've asked several martial arts teachers over the years was based on the principles of Daoism, how should we change our training along with the seasons. I've always been told that was a good question, then I saw a lot of tap dancing. No one gave me a satisfying answer.

To be fair, I have to take some of the responsibility for asking a question and having a preconceived idea of what sort of answer I expected. What I expected was that in winter we should do this and this, while in summer, we should do something else. I think the teachers I asked sensed what I was expecting and couldn't think of a response along those lines.

Then it struck me. It's so simple. We change our training in our Practice much like we train when we practice with a partner. Just as we yield, stick, listen and follow a training partner, we do the same as the circumstances of our lives changes.

We adapt. We change. During winter we spend more time indoors and therefore have less space. During summer we might spend a lot of time on outdoor activities, it's hot and humid and we have to know when to rest.

It makes no sense to beat our heads against a wall made up by some contrived standard when that standard is no longer appropriate. Every day our circumstances change and we have to be flexible enough in our outlook to change as well.

In the larger sense, this also applies as we move through the seasons of our lives. I trained one way when I was young and had no responsibilities; another when I was building a career and raising children and yet another way now that I am older and have an empty next.

There is an appointed time for everything, and a time for every affair under the heavens. - Ecclesiates.

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