I came across an old Chinese proverb recently: “The master plays the koto as if it plays itself.” A 琴 is a Chinese musical instrument, a kind of zither that is called koto in Japanese or qin in Chinese. This means if you really have mastered playing the koto, you can play it so naturally and innocently, without any effort or strain, that it looks as if the instrument plays by itself. It’s an ideal performance if we can act or do anything in our life in such a manner.
But you can often only do so if you are engaged in something you are good at (your specialty). The way you try too hard when doing something not of your specialty makes you stiff and tired, because it is not natural. For example, in any martial art (kendo, judo, aikido, jujutsu, etc.), the master will teach you not to try too hard or make yourself too tense. A truly good martial artist when he faces an opponent looks relaxed, calm, not rigid, and then suddenly moves quickly and nimbly when an opportunity arises.
We have to do everything in our life in such a manner. But how can we get to this state? How can we realize this ideal in our daily life? One of the best ways is Shin-shin-toitsu-ho, the “Unification of Mind and Body Method”—that is kumbhaka, pranayama breathing exercises, concentration exercises, meditation, and more. This art teaches how to use both mind and body according to natural laws. If you practice its methods, you can do anything naturally, smoothly, and effectively.
People living in this modern age of materialism think too much about the body’s strength when considering optimal performance in life. But they must also consider the mind and learn the methods of unification of mind and body. They are so impressed by the amazing progress of medical science that they tend to think of their performance only from the viewpoints of medicine or science, which tend to center more on the body and what’s visible. The result is many of us are too focused on diet, nutrients, etc., often forgetting the impact of the mind on the body’s strength and on human performance.
It’s regrettable. You often stick just to the knowledge you get from doctors on TV programs, which sometimes neglects the impact of mental strength on the body. Fortunately, Shin-shin-toitsuho unifies mind and body in a way that leads to a relaxed, natural use of strength and thus optimal performance.
This article was take from the IJYA Journal, the official publication of the International Japanese Yoga Association. Located in Kyoto, with members in many nations, the IJYA offers a free membership and journal subscription. Drop by www.japanese-yoga.com to learn how Nakamura Tempu’s revolutionary system of Japanese yoga and meditation can transform your life.