Years ago, when I first began writing martial art articles, I wanted to inform people about the true nature of Jeet Kune Do, to write cogent articles that would help people understand JKD better and/or offer them a new perspective on martial art training. While I occasionally wrote (and still write) technical articles, I didn’t want to simply write the same old articles about such things as how to throw a kick or punch, use different types of footwork, etc. I have always believed that if a certain percentage of the readers aren’t perturbed by what I write then I'm not doing my job properly.
What I have found over the years is that some people simply don’t want to hear. They have “cogniostasis.” Don’t bother looking the word up in the dictionary because it’s not there. My friend, Pete Sisco, who is an expert on strength and fitness training and author of several best-selling books on the subject, coined the term himself.
As many of us already know, the term “homeostasis” refers to the body’s ability to maintain biologic equilibrium or stability when conditions vary from normal. It is always seeking a state of balance. According to Pete, many people’s beliefs seem to operate in a similar manner. Tell them something that makes them uncomfortable or out of harmony with what they ‘believe’ and they’ll tend to push back against it so they can keep believing what they’re used to believing -- staying within their own normal conditions. This is what he means by cogniostasis. Cogniostasis is not ‘skepticism,” because skepticism is actually a very rigorous philosophical discipline that involves careful, objective scrutiny and the use of scientific methods.
How does cogniostasis make its presence known? As a kind of “fixed” or “locked-in” thinking or perception; a refusal to look at any other sources or listen to any new or varying opinions, and reluctance or resistance to change. This can occur both in individuals and in groups of individuals. Some people (or groups) become so rigidly fixed in a belief or a set way of doing something that they ignore or refuse the opportunities for growth that change offers them.
How do we counter cogniostasis? If a new thought or idea challenges something we believe, rather than immediately fighting against it, we should take the time to examine it to see if there is truth in it, and what applicability it may have for us. But we must be careful to not look at it through any lens of conditioning we might have, looking to merely support our own current view or belief or disagree with the other. We need to try and look at it clearly and without any form of prejudice or preconceived ideas.
Cogniostasis can block us from new ideas, new thoughts, and new perspectives. It can prevent us from growing and moving forward. We need to maintain fluidity in our thinking as well as independence of thought and inquiry. Remember the ancient Chinese proverb, “Be not afraid of growing, be afraid only of standing still.”