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Let Go to Grow

I’m sure we’ve all experienced it at one time or another during our training. You’re working hard but you don’t seem to be making any progress. You’re stalled for some reason; or that you feel like you’re stuck on a plateau. Perhaps you start to feel apprehensive or anxious about it. So you work harder, and then even harder. But nothing changes. Then perhaps you get pissed off about it and upset with yourself, which in turn inhibits your progress even more. It sucks.

What can we do when this happens to us? We can free ourselves up by letting go of the need to make progress. Notice that I said the “need” to make progress, not the “desire” to. We should all have the desire to make progress and grow.

Sometimes by letting go of the need to make progress, you progress faster because the body begins to support your evolving experience kinesthetically rather than cognitively. “Kinesthetic perception,” as I stated in another blog, relates to the ability to feel and perceive the physical motions or movements your body is making, and includes being aware of and sensing how the muscles, joints, etc. work and move.

If we’re not careful or paying attention, the need for making progress can become an attachment, which can cause us problems. Sometimes, for example, in an effort to make fast progress, we can become tense physically and/or mentally. The resulting tenseness can hinder us in the process of doing things we already know how to do or learning to do new things. It can distort our perception of ourselves and our abilities and such things as negative attitudes and self-criticism can rear their ugly heads.

When it comes to our development as a martial artist, we all want to progress. No one wants to remain where they are, be it physically or mentally (at least I don’t think so). But the bottom line is that you cannot force progress to fit into some kind of timetable you’ve designed for yourself that is replete with specific dates noting how you plan to get to a certain point by a certain time.

If you feel that you’re not making progress, don’t sweat it. Recognize that growth and improvement is never a straight line that moves diagonally upward, but rather a series of steps moving upwards, with flat spaces at point along the way. While each of us may experience flat points during our growth and development, there are some things we can do to help ourselves keep moving forward:

• Open yourself up to progress – Desire it, seek it, but don’t demand it

• Accept where you are at any given moment in your personal progress

• Continue training and practicing – Practice with your entire being, with all of your senses

• Trust the work -- Trust the process

• Train with a sense of limitless time