One of my readers gave me the idea of indexing all of my Master Key writings for easier access and I agreed with it. The reason being is that all of us have different views and experiences that will influence and color any endeavor, including the Master Key Study. Therefore by sharing them, or really mine, I am hoping this would help give more clarity when someone else will take on this personal quest.
What I mean by this is two fold. 1) If what I write is agreeable and make sense, then please use whatever you learned from me to your benefit and 2) If you don’t agree with whatever I agree, then ask yourself what it is that you agree with and why? The latter part is a lot more “enlightening”.
Normally I would write a commentary piece on the lesson of the week and followed by a “report” which documents my experiences after practicing a certain meditation technique for a week or two. I will put in some other relevant stuff, such as my changes in meditation and so on.
There are other posts in which I would “do-over” but that’s mainly due to family drama that would blow up and pull me in. So be aware some drama in your life will also distract you from your self-cultivation. The best thing to do is to take an extra week in meditation practice. It will benefit you more in the end.
So I have gotten through the entirety of the Master Key System, it took me a long time, but it’s finally done. I am very glad at this point to be able to give an honest review of the course. I know there are people out there who read about it, or find that random PDF in the internet, and wonder what’s it all about.
The Master Key System is a meditation and visualization course written by businessman Charles F. Haanel in the early 20th century. It was first a mail-order correspondence course before it was compiled into book form. The course is comprised of 24 lessons to read with a corresponding meditation exercise to be done for an entire week. In my case, I would take longer because there were times I could not commit to meditating everyday, so I would start over.
Okay, that’s the blurb of the Master Key System. That’s something you would see at the back of the book or some advertisement, except for the whole “It took me longer than 24 weeks” part.
The question you might have in mind is, “Is this worth doing? Does this work?” After all, if you plan to study the Master Key System, you will have to commit to it for at least 24 weeks.
The short of it is Yes and No.
Let’s start with the “No” part. My life has not changed materially in the entire time I have studied the System. For what it is worth, everything has been the same for me. It’s the pandemic and I’m stuck in my parents house. I also lost my job because of it. It’s not like I became a senator and spend my days sitting in front of a palatial mansion while my wife or girlfriend dances in a bikini.
However, here is the “yes” part, I came to learn new skills that I can use for life and career. All of these skills stem from the meditation practices that one learns while studying the Master Key System. The most powerful skill that I have developed is that I have been able to have more control over my thinking which means more control over my actions. Oftentimes, people act in ways they don’t understand and many times to their detriment. Through the meditation practice, people can understand their cognition and change it accordingly.
I often think of my life before I did the Master Key System. I am surprised at how calmer and more self-possessed I am. I would even reflect on moments of my past and thought of ways on how I could have used my meditation in certain situations at work and at home. I would have been able to come up with ideas in enriching my life. I would have been able to use creative visualization more often to get myself workout or study harder. I could have at least used my meditation practice to unwind after a stressful day.
That was all in the past, but now that I have a lot more tools and abilities at my disposal, my future will certainly be different.
In the book (or course), Haanel writes his philosophy and thoughts about various subjects. My advice is to read his writings with a critical mind. His writings are not always well-thought out, but he was not wrong as well. So when reading the lessons for each week, embrace what you find applicable and reasonable and discard what you think is useless. Sometimes he has some good ideas and other times they are BS. He also takes for granted that you, the reader, is a Christian. If you are not one, like myself, simply use what is applicable in your situation.
In summary, studying the Master Key System won’t get you a mansion or a high paying job, but it will help you develop the techniques to acquire them in at least an incremental manner. You won’t live a life of love or adventure by studying the Master Key System alone, but after studying it you will have more clarity on how to live that kind of life. With new abilities comes new opportunities and you will find new ones after studying this course. So, yes I do think it is worth spending at least 24 weeks. It’s not the most perfect course and it does bear rewriting, but it will make you see the world around you in a new light.
You can buy this book on any bookstore available. However, if you are cheap and/or skeptical at the utility of this course you can easily find a pdf anywhere online. I actually read the entire book on Psitek.
If you ever decide to start studying the Master Key System, I wish you all the best!
The word “Tsundoku” has come in vogue recently. It’s a Japanese term that means one who buys books but don’t read them. That can somewhat describe me. I can build a small library with a week, no problem. It does get to a point that I hoard too many books, but there is a reason why I do:
I don’t like giving books away unless I read them. Once I finish them, that’s when I drop them off to this one local literacy charity that gives books away for free. I want others to enjoy the books that I have read.
There is one problem, though. I also struggle with some form of ADD. Up until my mid-20s I was a voracious reader. That was until I worked a job that had me go on the internet almost 24/7 which then damaged my attention span. I’m getting better at it, though, but it’s still of a struggle.
So, without further ado: the books I am trying to finish for now.
(By the way, you will notice how much I love science-fiction)
Emotional Vampires at Work by Albert J. Bernstein, Ph.d
This is a companion book to Dr. Bernstein’s original, Emotional Vampires. I haven’t read the original and chose to look at this one instead. Most of the jerks I have met in life have been through work. I had this one office job that is has its share of manipulative people. I also worked a lot as an ESL teacher in Asia. There is this stereotype that people who teach English in Asia are losers who can’t get a job in their home countries. 30% of the time, that is true! The 70% are really awesome people, but those 30% almost ruined my overseas experience for me. I’ve read a quarter of the way through and it has been very eye-opening and helpful. Wherever I will work next, I know I will be able to handle the weirdos I will meet.
Physical Culture and Self-Defense by Robert Fitzsimmons
Robert Fitzsimmons was born in England, grew up New Zealand, and boxed his way from there to Australia and to the USA. I became interested in the book when I found out that he once wrote to always exercise with dumb bells but none heavier that 3 pounds. This surprised me since I thought boxers would always go for the heavy weights. What also surprised me was that he was a legendary boxer in his own right, winning three title championships. I have read a fair amount of this book and thus far I have acquired some interesting, yet very unorthodox, fitness ideas.
The Analects by Confucius
Ah yes, Confucius! Famous sage and philosopher of the East, and even a vehicle for culturally insensitive puns and innuendo. My favorite one being,” Confucius say: Man who runs behind a car gets exhausted.” Any ways, one cannot deny the influence he has over cultures in East Asia. Sure the Chinese are Communist and are basically atheist at this point. Christianity is the fastest growing religion in South Korea. Japan is known as mostly atheist. Yet their entire social mileau is based on the teachings of Confucius, with strict adherence to social standing and hierarchy. I am not a fan of the institution of Confucianism that is manifested in East Asia. I have also read many books about its oppressive nature, especially by the likes of Lu Xun and Xu Zhimo. At the same time, though, since reading the Analects I do have some admiration for the way Confucius conducted himself in life. Will there be a way when people reread his works and maybe soften his more problematic aspects of his philosophy, such as obsession with “face”? Only time can tell.
Empress Orchid by Anchee Min
Anchee Min is one of my favorite writers. There was a time soon after I graduated college in which I read her books voraciously. As of now, I am still waiting for any new books she might be writing because I love her work that much. To be honest, I didn’t really enjoy this book at first, but I think it was because I never took my time with it and let myself get absorbed into it. So I am trying again. This is the fictionalized account of the Empress Dowager Cixi who was one of the most powerful, and reviled, woman in China’s history. So far it recounts her childhood of living in poverty in Beijing to her early days as a concubine in the Imperial Court. There is a sequel that I will also read which I think will cover her rule over the august days of the Qing empire.
The Chinese Bandit by Stephen Becker
You know what I love about American libraries? They basically hoard books that nobody reads and are not popular anymore. There are books that never get talked ever again and probably never made it on the bestseller lists. To me, these books are buried treasure. Maybe those books never got popular because they are bad, or maybe they are really good but didn’t have enough marketing. I never heard of this book before and was intrigued by both the title and the premise. It was also being given away by the local library so I had to rescue it before it gets thrown away. The book is about an American marine who basically went AWOL while living in Post WW2, pre-Communist China. According to the blurb, it’s the story of him transporting goods across Western China while avoiding the authorities for his killing a Guomindang general in a brothel. This is the stuff of adventures.
Mermaid and the Bear by Ailish Sinclair
This is a historical fiction novel set in the late 16th century of a young English woman who escaped to Scotland during the height of the witchcraft scare at that period. While the novel is in the genre of historical fiction, the setting of Aberdeenshire gives it a very fantastical mystique that seems so otherworldly. I know of this because I frequently visit the author’s blog as a follower of her page. Ms. Sinclair’s writing has a very romantic and mystical quality and it shows in her writing as well as her photography. Seriously, check out her page and let yourself get taken in by her photos.
A Princess of Mars by Edgar Rice Burroughs
I first have to make it known that this is a reread and the main reason is because I want to finish all the books in the series. The story is about Civil War veteran John Carter who, by accident, transported to Mars by astral projection. At Mars, he gets embroiled in intrigues and plots between different Martian races and nations all centered around Dejah Thoris, a Martian princess and John Carter’s object of love. When I first read this book, I felt like I was a kid again watching Star Wars for the first time. I never got to finish the entire series and I hope I can soon enough. By the way, I love Burroughs’ writing style as it really makes me feel like I am there in Mars watching the story unfold.
Battlefield Earth by L. Ron Hubbard
Battlefield Earth! A 1000 page novel written by Sci-fi author and cult leader L. Ron Hubbard. It’s also the basis of one of the worst movies ever produced in the 20th century. The story goes like this: in the year 3000 the entire human race has been subjugated by this evil alien empire known as the Psychlos. One fine day, a guy named Johnny Goodboy Tyler decided to lead a rebellion for Earth’s freedom. I picked up this book years ago and read it out of boredom. I never got to finish it, but I want to do so even now. It’s a pretty decent book and that surprises me. I tried to read other books by Hubbard only to want to burn it and yet Battlefield Earth wasn’t too bad. Is it perfect? No. It could have used an editor to skim off chapters about mining or try to make the characters more sophisticated. However, I enjoy it somewhat. The tragic part for me is that L. Ron Hubbard did have the talent for writing and could have been a good writer had he the patience for it. Instead, he squandered it in his cult due to his lust for power.
Little Fuzzy by H. Beam Piper
Although many science-fiction authors tend to be famous for sci-fi fans only, there are those who broke out of that mold and found mainstream success. Isaac Asimov was one as well as Arthur C. Clarke and Robert Heinlein. If there is anyone else I wish could be put on this list, it would be H. Beam Piper. Unfortunately, he killed himself before he made any money and his works got famous. It’s a shame, too because I have enjoyed his books for many years. Little Fuzzy is part “The Terro-Human Future History Series” which is a series of books that start from World War 3 to humanity’s exploration of the solar system and later to the galaxy. Piper was very well-read in history and used it as basis for his many stories. He took the story of the Rosetta Stone and incorporated it into a story of decoding a lost alien civilization. He also used the Sepoy mutiny in a story of humans fighting a native alien race. Little Fuzzy is a story of a man in an alien planet discovering a new species in a world that has been massively colonized by humans from Earth. The story is about the political intrigue behind the classification of the Fuzzies as sapient human beings.
I am finally done with the Master Key System! It took me a long time, more than 24 weeks due to lots of things, but I am finally done.
Right now, I want to focus on this week’s meditation and lesson as well as what’s going on in my life. Next week, I want to write an actual review of the entire course since I have been through the whole thing.
This week I was to meditate on the concept that the world is perfect, except we are not making it so. This goes back to the philosophical argument of “Are human beings basically good or evil?” The most famous debate on this was between Confucius and Han Feizi. Confucius always thought as human beings being basically good, but need slight corrections towards goodness. He also advocated each and every one of us, especially people in government, to be a positive role model and serve as an example in the family and the community. Han Feizi, on the other hand, thinks human beings are basically evil and can only be reformed through strict rules and punishment. No infraction is too small for retribution. Even though Confucius disagreed with one another, modern Confucianism absorbed Han Feizi’s Legalism.
I am inclined to agree that we are all goodhearted and that we basically screw things up through bad choices. Most of those choices are through fear-based egotistical emotions. I think of how I and other people succumbed to conflict because something in our being tells us that friendship, love, and even happiness is a scarce commodity. We could live better lives if we choose to do so. The first thing one must do is to establish a daily habit of contemplation. It doesn’t have to be meditation, just a daily habit of thinking over oneself and the actions one takes.
That’s my take from the meditation.
Now for what will happen from here on out.
I am still going to do the Canadian Air Force Workout, I have been skipping on kata practice but I will eventually get back to it whenever I can. Qigong is doing well. I am also adding a new exercise each week, to get myself back to doing the set from Carradine.
I will also keep on meditating. Since I will longer do the Master Key study for some time, I will simply focus on meditation. Speaking of which, I am in the process of writing my free course.
At this point, I have no idea what I will do next in terms of philosophical and spiritual study. I can read other books by Haanel, another 5 of them that he wrote. I could simply do a 100 day meditation challenge to which I simply meditate everyday without skipping. I could, as Master Key vlogger Helmar Rudolph once said, go back and start the Study all over again—that one I am not too keen upon.
The thing is, though, there is a lot going to happen. I have a family get-together. Next week I have to take my last dose of the vaccine. I don’t know how to effects will be. I will start looking for jobs in the US, Taiwan, and Thailand. I might also see, if I ever decide to work abroad again, if I need to drive around for paperwork such as a criminal record check or an apostille on my degree and transcripts.
So I will take at least month to decide what is next for me. Until then, I will write some posts that I have not gotten to writing about due to trying to keep a schedule on my Study. One time Haanel wrote that one should avoid challenges and I have been wanting to write a rebuttal for a long time. I also want to write my thoughts on the nature of belief, since the Law of Attraction and New Thought communities are all about that. I also want to write about the novels I am reading just for fun.
One interesting thing that has been happening lately, I finally got myself to read the “Analects of Confucius” which is the primary text of Confucian thinking. For the most part, I never really liked the institution of Confucianism. I would always see it as very oppressive and stifling, especially from what I have seen in both China and South Korea. At the same time, though, I am inspired by his philosophy of self-discipline and kindness to all.
It’s the same old story. The philosopher has good ideas, but other people warp and pervert them.
In all my Master Key reports, I put in pictures of Korean historical figures and what-not. That’s because I decided to make a weird little reference to the ITF style of Taekwondo. Each kata (or they say patterns) that one performs for each level represents an aspect of Korean culture.
For example, Week 1 has the picture of Cheon-ji lake in Mt. Baekdu. That’s also the name of the first ITF Taekwondo kata. Week 4 is a picture of Won-Hyo, another Korean figure with his own Taekwondo kata and so on. The last one that I put is obviously the Yin-Yang Taiji symbol as well as the United Korea flag. The name of the last Taekwondo form in the ITF organization is called “Tong-il” aka Reunification. Of course, in the Korean context, it’s about reunification of both North and South Korea. In my personal interpretation, it’s the unification of one’s conscious and subconscious mind, one’s light and shadow, and one’s yin and yang.
What can I say? This is probably one of the most beautiful chapters in this entire book. I plowed through this entire section because it’s so inspiring to read.
First, I’d like to address one issue that I disagree with. Haanel still preaches that we can manifest anything we want as long as we understand the “universal truth” that mind is everything. I still question that because there are physical laws outside of our cognition that we can’t bend just because we want them to.
Bringing up an old example: I can desire, meditate, and visualize myself being married to Hong Kong actress Maggie Cheung all I want, but there is no way it’s gonna happen. We’re in different parts of the world, have different ways of living, and are of different income brackets. Maybe if I was a Hollywood actor, I would have a chance. But as a regular Joe Schmoe, you got to be kidding me.
One of the abilities I have always wanted to do as a kid was fly like Peter Pan and Superman. I would still love to do that, especially since I could go to New York in 30 minutes for the pizza or Boston for its bread bowl soup. Again, laws of physics don’t allow us to fly like that.
So exactly what is meditation good for? Why do I advocate everyone to try it out, regardless of religious background?
Let me first bring up the concept of karma. In the cultural appropriated Western viewpoint, karma is a form of retribution. If you lie to, cheat, or steal from someone God, the Universe, or whatever will punish you for it. However, speaking as an Indian-American, there is another part of the equation that is missing—–if you do good for others and help them in any which way you can, then you shall be rewarded in some form or fashion. Doing more good brings about greater luck and happiness aka “good karma”.
If you ask me, too many people focus on “not doing evil” and less on “doing good”. It doesn’t have to be donating millions of dollars to an orphanage, although that’s nice. It can be picking up litter in the park, donating your unwanted books and other materials to charities. It could also be spending time writing a nice letter or email to a friend. If you want more ideas on building good karma, I recommend “Don’t Sweat the Small Stuff” by Dr. Richard Carlson.
What is it that brings about good karma? Good actions. What about bad karma? Bad actions. What is it that brings about the actions we perform? Our thinking. That’s what is one benefit of meditation. Once we meditate, we start understanding how and why we think and act. Through our meditation, we can monitor our cognition and change it accordingly.
You may not believe in karma, and of course not all good or bad actions bring about good or bad results, but all of our actions do have consequences. As human beings, it is in our best interest to bring about as many good consequences as possible.
Does that mean meditation is required? Not any more required than physical exercise, study, or eating vegetables. You won’t get into trouble for not doing these things, but it will help if you do.
There is a lot more to meditation than just simply understanding one’s thinking, as awesome of an ability as it is. As many have written before, creative visualization is a good way to navigate one’s life towards a certain goal. The more you will visualize attaining a certain goal, the more likely you will work towards it.
But let’s say you are still working towards your goals or you don’t really have one. Meditation still helps as well.
When you relax into a meditative state, there are times that you will come up with these amazing thoughts and ideas to try out. This is nothing mystical. Commonly this phenomena is known as “shower thoughts” as this happens when we are completely relaxed, like taking a shower. This is when your subconscious mind is processing all the input that you give it and then coming up with a new thought. Those inputs can range from what you see and feel to what you think and desire.
One of my favorite meditation techniques is the one I tried on Week 17. It’s not from Charles Haanel but from Earl Nightingale. It is a good exercise in brainstorming. Please click the link and try the technique. It feels all sorts of magical.
Even then, one of the greatest pandemics of the modern world is not COVID-19 as much as it is stress. We’ve been so used to stress that it feels really normal. Meditation is a great way to de-stress oneself after a busy day. Once we can de-stress ourselves, we can have a lot more energy in our lives to more things. We can also get a good night’s sleep if we meditate before bedtime.
If you ask me, one of the main reasons why a lot of people don’t exercise or work on their own goals is because they are too damn stressed to do so!
The best thing about meditation is that you can finally learn how to be free by controlling yourself. Many of us have been conditioned to let outside circumstances control us. We would feel happy if someone flatters us, but feel sad if someone insults us. If we are in need of a job or of a relationship, we’d feel powerless. If we have a job or a relationship, sometimes it feel precarious. Therefore, after a decent amount of practice of meditation, we will realize within the very fiber of our being that we can control our lives once we put control over ourselves. Once we control ourselves, we control our own destiny.
I believe in the utility of meditation so much that I will actually write an online course for free distribution. I know I say this for lots of things, but I will make this online meditation course a priority. I want to make it simplified–free of all theory, drama, and doctrine–for everyone to try.
If this course benefits at least one person, then I will be happy enough.
How was the meditation this week? Well, for one thing, it was difficult. For the first couple of days, I had a hard time sitting still and concentrating but it got easier over the week. I figured that was all due to the week before in which I got vaccinated and spent 2-3 days sleeping due to the side effects. Then I was still too tired to do anything else.
So let that be a lesson, I need to keep meditating as much as I can.
This week I was to meditate on the concept of money.
Most people think money as a way to exchange for good and services, which is true enough. However, there is a deeper meaning to money in the late 20th and early 21st century: it is the lifeblood of civilization.
I write this now as my computer is being plugged to the wall and my fan is spinning. Common sense says electricity powers both machines. However, so does money. If no one pays the bills, no one can use the electric appliances, the plumbing, or even the heat. As it is, I am against this idea, we still have to pay property taxes in order to keep our house. So we need money in order to keep a roof over our heads as well.
More importantly, our money is the oil to the “machine” of modern living. Why do we have to pay money for electricity, water, and heat? It’s so the people can go to work and maintain the systems that make our lives comfortable. Same thing with food. We pay money for food so that the grocery staff, delivery trucks, and farmers can work. What happens when they receive money from us? Simple, they use that money to pay others to help them live.
The electric worker receives money for his job of maintaining the grid. He then buys food to feed his family. That money goes to the grocery store as well as the farmer. Then the grocery store owner and the farmer pays money to help maintain electricity in their homes and place of business which goes back to the electrical worker. This is a simplified version, since the economy is a lot more complex.
It is interesting to realize that the money we use enable others to work. Maybe if the US government does something about offshore bank accounts, the trickle down economy might help us out.
I am also reminded of South Korean president Park Chung-Hee. He is still considered a controversial figure in South Korean history, mainly because he ran his country like a dictatorship just like his northern neighbor, Kim Il-Sung. However, he also helped overhaul South Korea’s infrastructure to make sure it has the best railroads, roads, telephone, electrical, and plumbing system in Asia. It’s through his policy that the South Korean government included the internet as an important part of the infrastructure.
As a result, South Korea went from being a third world nation to one of the richest in the world. For all the flaws of the late President Park, he knew that good infrastructure helps money flow from every corner of the country. Once that happens, people’s lives will improve for the better.
It’s too bad most American presidents in my lifetime have yet to grasp this concept.
However, there is one last issue to address: Universal Basic Income. While Andrew Yang has been credited with popularizing the concept, lots of others have predicted this as well. The first person that comes to mind is Kurt Vonnegut Jr. He used to work for General Electric in Schenectady, NY before becoming an author. He used his experiences working there in his first book, “Player Piano” which is about a fully automated society where only those with doctorate degrees can work.
Yes, we are now heading in a direction which only the highly educated can work. More and more unskilled jobs are being replaced by robots. There are certain restaurants where there is no cashier help. The customer just pushes some buttons and the workers in the kitchen make the food. There might be a time when we won’t have actual people working the kitchen. Someone invented a robot that can make pizza, by the way.
So the Universal Basic Income concept does seem plausible. If there are no jobs available, people can’t live. If only the top 10% can earn any type of living . . . heads are going to roll and it will be “viva la revolución” or even “ПРОЛЕТАРИИ ВСЕХ СТРАН, СОЕДИНЯЙТЕСЬ!” So people getting free money might mitigate this possible disaster.
That’s all I can think about in terms of money. I should read up more on economics and see what else I can learn.
So what else has been going on?
On the fitness front, not bad at all. As I have written in my last post, I am adding kata practice on top of my usual workout. Because I am lacking in foot work, I plan to focus on four main kata until I can move better. Funny enough, this reminds of a story in which a karate master only learned one kata and was considered the toughest fighter in all of Japan and Okinawa. So quality does beat quantity.
I do want to get back into Taiji training, but I’m not a huge fan of slow movements. I think what I will do instead is slowly build up my qigong routine to the one I used to practice in conjunction with Taiji, which is based on one of David Carradine’s books.
I’m still holding off on the job front. Again, I want to finish the Master Key System first. There was a time I was exploring options about working in Taiwan. Then I had a Thai friend trying to get me back to Thailand, which isn’t hard since I am in love with that country. Now, on Facebook, I am seeing lots of warehouse positions being opened. There is a lot of jobs being opened and companies want to fill them all up by yesterday. To me, Thailand is a land of smiles and happiness. On the other hand, though, American dollars can do a lot more for me than the Thai baht.
Next week should be my last week in the Master Key Study. I might take an extra week as usual, but I hope not.
These are the instructions by Haanel:
31. This week, try to realize that this is truly a wonderful world in which we live, that you are a wonderful being that many are awakening to a knowledge of the Truth, and as fast as they awake and come into a knowledge of the “things which have been prepared for them” they, too, realize that “Eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither hath it entered into the heart of man,” the splendors which exist for those who find themselves in the Promised Land. They have crossed the river of judgment and have arrived at the point of discrimination between the true and the false, and have found that all they ever willed or dreamed was but a faint concept of the dazzling reality.
If there is one kind of exercise I love doing, it’s martial arts. When it comes to the art of fighting, I’m in it to win it. I love martial arts so much, that I am also willing to do Taiji even though it’s still too slow for me.
I also like my current workout as well, which is the old Canadian Air Force program with some martial art moves. The only “complaint” I have with it is that it feels more like a cardio kickboxing workout than an actual martial art one. To me, a martial arts workout is more than just calisthenics and body weight exercises. Martial arts is about working on one’s fighting techniques in every form or fashion imaginable.
One of the practices I have been missing is kata practice. Kata is a Japanese term that denotes a “martial dance” one practices. I use the term kata as its more well-known, but it’s also referred to as taolu, poomse, or tul depending of which art one practices. The concept of kata is part and parcel to many Chinese, Vietnamese, Korean, and Japanese martial arts.
I have written before on my thoughts of the martial arts kata vs. Walter Camp’s Daily Dozen, of how I should have kept up with kata practice even if I wasn’t doing anything else as a way to maintain my “fighting shape”. Since I haven’t been able to practice martial arts in a more proper setting, I decided to get started with kata practice at first. Also, since I haven’t been able to do actual kata practice for a long time, I should start with the basic, pre-white belt versions.
Now these basic pre-white belt forms are not universal. Some schools practice them and some don’t. I’ve practiced one of them before, but then I got into the school’s actual curriculum. By then I discarded that one particular pre-white belt form. Either way, I felt it was best to start back from the beginning.
So I first went to this one Taekwondo site to see what beginner forms they have. I also consulted my favorite Taekwondo manual as well as my favorite Karate one. Obviously, I also went on Youtube to see what else is available. All in all, I compiled a list of 14 low level kata. It seems like a lot, but they should be simple to do.
Before I continue on, I would like to brag about my experience in the marital arts. I got a second degree black belt in WTF style Taekwondo, the main style from South Korea. While I am technically a white belt in Tang Soo Do, my master was training me with the hopes I “jump” to black belt. It didn’t work out that way, but I enjoyed the training nonetheless. I would call Tang Soo Do and Koreanized version of Shotokan Karate. Also, when I was in university and in China I did some Longfist Wushu forms. Last time in South Korea, I was trying to learn Sunmudo.
With my experience in the martial arts, I should be able to breeze through these beginner, pre-white belt forms.
Last night, I was about to find out how wrong I was.
I did okay when it came to my hand techniques. The blocks and punches, for the most part, were on point. Were they as powerful as I’d like? I will have to say no. Sometimes, I would try to execute a punch only to move my hips and waist in an awkward manner.
Then, there was the footwork. In martial arts, moving your feet in the correct fashion is what helps generate power in both your punches and kicks. Yet, here I was, tripping over myself half the time as if I didn’t know how to walk. Not only was I tripping over myself and acting all clumsy, my legs were shaky.
I also couldn’t seem to keep my body level. Usually when doing the kata, we should keep our stances low and our head in the same level from one step the next. The only exception to that are the people who do the ITF style of Taekwondo, where they go into a normal walking stance in transitioning from one step to another.
After I did the first kata, I just had to keep on reminding myself to slow down so that I wouldn’t get sloppy in my body mechanics and technique.
The weirdest part, though, was after I was done with each kata I had to catch my breath and my heart was beating quite fast. It could be that I am out of shape more than I thought. It could also be that I was just done doing my regular workout and didn’t rest enough. Either way, it was another blow to my ego.
That was when I really regretted neglecting kata practice for a long time.
But wait! There was more!
Through my research, I found that the Kyokushin style of Karate have their own unique set of beginner forms in which they do nothing but kicks. When I saw the forms, they seemed easy enough. Yet, once I stared all the forms, I found myself being dead wrong.
In my defense, most Taekwondo kicks are usually practiced in a normal walking stance. Whenever the kicks are done in a deeper stance, they are meant for kata practice and are usually the beginner kicks: front, roundhouse, and side.
Most of the kicks I was doing weren’t beginner kicks. The front and side kicks were easy enough. The ax and crescent kicks got me. The worst were the spinning back side kicks. Not only was I tripping myself over with bad footwork, I almost fell down through attempting spin kicks in a low stance.
After I was done with all the forms, and I was catching my breath, I had a bit of a flashback.
The dark side of martial arts practice is ego. Lots of guys (and girls) feel like they have to put other people down for not being as talented as he or she thinks he or she is. Also when it comes to the so-called traditional martial arts, as in anything that is not MMA, people treat their styles as a religion. If they find out you do a style different from theirs, you might be hated or ridiculed for it.
Actually, the same goes with some MMA people.
I used to write a lot about this Aussie Ninjutsu instructor I used to work with in China. There was a Wong Kiew Kit fanboi I knew back in college. I also knew a Wing Chun dude as well. There was a Japanese Jiu-Jutsu teacher I knew. Another guy did Chinese internal martial arts. I even had an entire Wushu club after me. What was the reason for all of this? Because I did, do, like, and love Taekwondo.
I was imagining them looking at my flaws saying things like, “Aha! I knew Taekwondo is a fake martial art!”, “Look at what you did there! This shows Taekwondo is useless!”, “Of course, Taekwondo is a waste of time. That’s why you can’t do that simple move.” With a theological ax to grind, any mistake is proof positive that my style is inferior to theirs.
I also had a few frenemies in the Taekwondo circles. I imagined them going like: “You suck at this, just give up.”, “You don’t have what it takes to master Taekwondo, you loser.”, “I thought you have a black belt, jackass.” With an egotistical ax to grind, any mistake I make is proof positive that I’m a complete schmuck.
I must be sounding sad and bitter right now. Quite the opposite actually. In fact, my runaway imagination has inspired to write this article to hopefully people like you to persevere in whatever pursuit you have on your mind. Of course, I will be speaking a lot more on martial arts.
I did have some regret that I didn’t start practicing kata sooner, especially when I did have time to do so. Of course, back then I didn’t think kata practice was worth it if I wasn’t doing anything else. Now I know better.
After all, making mistakes is all part of growing up and we never stop growing up.
Also there is this proverb that states: The best time to grow a tree was 20 years go. The second best time is now.
While my lack of proficiency did do a number on my ego, I am glad that I found out I needed to work on my footwork now rather than later. In all endeavors, understanding and facing one’s imperfections is what leads one closer to perfection. Therefore, it’s better to keep training to overcome my flaws than to quit and save my ego.
For that matter, conquering personal challenges is what leads to a stronger mentality. Those who get out of their comfort zone can do anything in the world and I mean anything.
What about those people I have met? The haters who went out of his or her way to insult me for doing Taekwondo or for not being up to par in their minds? Every morning, I recite the Optimist’s Creed by Christian D. Larson in which one of the lines read: “[I promise] to give so much time to improving myself that I have no time to criticize others.” You know who also likes the Optimist’s Creed? Chuck Norris.
That’s the crux of the whole issue. Those who go out of their way to trash talk other people and their martial art do so because they are not training hard enough. They are only getting by with minimum requirements and not challenging themselves enough. They are not looking into improving their techniques, forms, or even fitness. Even if they can’t physically train all the time, there are plenty of books to read and videos to watch to help deepen the knowledge of one’s chosen art. If he or she is actually putting the work in, then s/he would never have enough time to go out and insult others. To drive the point home: the more time one spends berating others, the less one spends training and improving one’s skills.
One last thing I have to say: just because someone gets a black belt doesn’t make one a perfect martial artist. Anyone who says otherwise hasn’t trained long enough to understand this.
Speaking of training, right now I am thinking of whether or not to continue practicing all 14 kata everyday of the week or concentrate on 4 until my foot work improves. Either way, whatever I will decide, I will have fun with it.
Well this will be a heady topic. I’m going to talk about money. The problem with money and economics is that, for all intents and purposes, it’s about as mysterious and obfuscating as astrology or alchemy. Yes, there does seem to be a science behind economics but it’s more of a soft science like psychology and less of a hard science like physics.
First and foremost, I have to address a little problem that I have with this lesson, but how I will come off as bit of a hypocrite as well. On paragraphs 14-17, Haanel relates a story how a middle-aged man in Chicago lost all his money and then gained all back again through his practice of the Law of Attraction aka New Thought. However, the biggest problem about that anecdote is that there is no way to verify it. It doesn’t help that Haanel calls the guy “Mr. X” who became successful working in “the ________ Company.”
At the same time, I have my own stories as well. I don’t know if there is any way I can convince you of the veracity of them, and I don’t blame you if you don’t believe me. Therefore, I can only ask you to keep an open mind.
If there is an actual philosophy I follow on becoming rich and successful, it can be easily summed up in Earl Nightingale’s recording: The Strangest Secret. Some of what Nightingale preaches in his recording also overlap with Haanel.
Nightingale preaches that in order to become wealthier and more successful, the first thing you must do is to decide upon a goal. It could be anything from starting a business, getting a promotion, or even having a bigger bank account. After deciding upon a goal, think about it often. Nightingale recommends writing that goal on a small card that you can see often to remind yourself of said goal.
After thinking about the goal, simply just work towards it. The more you think about the goal, the more energy and drive you will get into achieving it. Sometimes, and I find this to be true, constantly thinking about the goal drives the subconscious mind to come up with new ideas to help achieve it faster.
Nightingale doesn’t say this explicitly, but I will: it’s more important to work smart than to work hard. That is to say, it’s better to use one’s limited time and energy in a concentrated, constructive manner. Working hard is important, but it’s also important to work hard with an actual aim in mind. That way, all that work you are doing has more meaning than simply “I want to be rich and successful.” Define rich. Define successful. Then go from there.
Another thing Nightingale, as well as Haanel, preaches is that we should view our jobs as a form of service. The more we devote to our lives in “service” the more money and other forms of remuneration we can get. Furthermore, you should build trust between yourself and others such as your employer, employee, or customers. Defrauding people of their money would not only give you a bad reputation, you’ll be barred from future financial opportunities.
To quote Nightingale: The only way to earn money is by providing people with services or products which are needed and useful. We exchange our product or services for the other man’s money. Therefore, the law is that our financial return will be in direct proposition to our service.
I agree with Nightingale for the most part, Haanel as well, when it comes to money. If you do your job well, no matter how much you may not like it you can make a decent amount of money, get a promotion, or at least be more likely to keep your job when the company needs to do layoffs.
However, I am also not a Pollyanna bootlicker. I am very much aware of the problems of working in modern capitalist societies.
Here are some problems with what both Nightingale and Haanel don’t address—-
You can have too much ice cream, but you can’t have too much money. Some people, especially the “robber barons” in America, can’t stop making more money no matter how much they already have. While there is a certain nobility in earning one’s keep, as in working hard for your salary, most people would rather make money doing nothing, even to the point of having someone put in the labor while s/he gets the rewards.
This is why slavery existed for many thousands of years. That’s why in first world capitalist countries leaders of industry try to find loopholes to maximize their workers’ productivity while saving on wages. That’s also why many companies outsource their labor to poorer countries that don’t have any labor protections. That’s also why many companies are trying to have robots do our jobs.
As of this writing, there is a lot of outrage over Amazon deducting pay from their employees for using the bathroom and many are being compelled to more demeaning ways of relieving themselves. If you want a sad story of capitalism, read up on Taiwanese company FoxConn and how they exploit Chinese labor. Back in the 1990s, Nike was hated for exploiting Indonesian workers.
Also, it does seem reasonable that the more one works, the more money one makes. However, upon closer examination, not all work is created equal. People who do labor intensive work are often paid less than the administrative staff aka “the pencil pushers”. The janitor makes less than the office worker. The office worker makes less than the CEO. Often, for the most, the less work one has to do, the higher the pay.
Jesse Ventura, a man with who wore too many hats, but has been mainly known as former pro-wrestler and governor or Minnesota has this to say about the value of labor.
I also find it disgusting and illogical that some companies belittle the front line worker who run the day to day operations of the job, from the the burger flipper to the factory worker to even the data entry staff. There are even some private English teaching companies in Asia that treat their teachers, both foreign and native, as expendable and worthless.
I hear the arguments that these labor intensive positions are easy to do, that’s why they are not as valuable or respected. Yet the actual labor is the actual business. Amazon is not in the business of having managers sit in their office typing away in their computers. It’s in the business of shipping products from one part of the world to another. McDonald’s is in the business of making and selling fast food. Wal-Mart is in the business of selling various goods in their stores. That’s also why I am always nice to the wait staff at restaurants. They are the ones who bring food to my table, not the managers.
I am not saying management is not important, there is a need for someone to run everyday operations. I am saying that people, especially managers, need to respect the workers and laborers more for doing the heavy work. At the same time, experienced burger flippers, cashiers, and delivery help operations run more smoothly than some newbie who was just hired from the street.
Haanel writes in the third verse of Chapter 23 that “We make money by making friends.” In this verse alone he continues on about how we should treat each other well and that honesty is the best policy and so on. The dark side to this phenomena is that, for many corporations, work isn’t as valuable as social skills. You might be the best at typing TPS reports in the department, but if you are not “friends” with the boss or hanging out with him during happy hour you will be passed over for promotion. Most of the time, the people with the perks are the ones who charm the management and executive teams over people who do the actual work.
Time and time again, people complain about office politics. This guy likes to delegate tasks for others and takes all the credit. This woman tries to discredit this other guy because she hates his shoes. This guy would act like this woman’s friend while constantly talking behind her back. These are many stories of the underhanded ways people try to get ahead in the office. The crazy part of all of this is that many times the conflict is less on how well one works and more on how well one appears to work.
I am writing about these problems not to necessarily depress you, but to prepare you on how things can go wrong.
Long time ago, I read this essay called “A Message to Garcia” by Elbert Hubbard and it really inspired me to work my hardest. In this essay Hubbard writes about the importance doing one’s job as best as possible without giving the boss any grief. Hubbard even relates a true story in which 1st Lieutenant Andrew Rowan went to Cuba to deliver a message to Calixto Garcia, a Cuban insurgent fighting the Spanish Empire. Rowan did all this without any training in espionage and jungle survival and not knowing a single word of Spanish. When the lieutenant was order to delivered the message, he simply saluted his superior officers and went off to Cuba.
When I applied that “Message to Garcia” attitude to my work, my job got worse. Sure, the upper management loved my work and appreciated it to an extant. My ethic made sure I wouldn’t get fired. However, the harder I worked, the more assignments I was given. Not only was I given more assignments, I would get reprimanded for letting up and giving myself breathing room just a little bit. I had coworkers who weren’t as productive as I was and they would never get admonished. In fact, the supervisors and managers would cower at doing so because those same lazy people would fight back. I had one coworker who would have me to do her work to which she would sabotage mine as “thanks”. The only people who liked me were those below me in hierarchy, because I would try to make their jobs easier. I also have been passed for promotion too many times as well.
If you are in a job or career that you love, congrats to you. Seriously. Count your blessings. Many people don’t have the luck in working in a job or career they truly love.
Let’s say, however, you’re working a job that you really hate. What can be done about? While I advise you to do your work as well as possible, think of the ways to use your job and not let it use you. Think of ways to use the company or salary for better things. I used it to finance my adventures in Asia. One of my friends from that same job used it to build his experience and resume to get hired for a better one. Another was working to pay some bills so that he can concentrate on building his IT and computer repair business. Perhaps you can use it build up savings for another enterprise.
Last, but not least, I would like to write upon how daily meditation can help in this endeavor. Once you have been meditating for a month, for at least 15 minutes a day, you will have a lot more control over your emotions. If you choose to meditate before work, you can at least enter the workplace with a more positive attitude. If you meditate after work, you can relax and unwind after the daily grind. Another good thing about meditation is that you’ll often have ideas popping up in your head on how to make your work-life a lot easier, how to save money, or any other way to improve your quality of living. The meditation technique I used in Week 17 is great since you engage your mind in finding possible solutions to your problems. Of course, you can use meditation as part of a creative visualization exercise, in which you imagine your goal and working towards it. You can also do the meditation from Week 5 and take an imaginary vacation. It’s a free way to entertain yourself.
If you can find a good meditation course, I highly recommend it. Once I am done with the Master Key System, I plan to put up a free course on this site for everyone to use. It will take the techniques of the Master Key and focus on the the essentials so that you can get meditating and enjoy the benefits as soon as possible.
I didn’t plan for this commentary to be as long as it is, so thank you very much for reading the enter spiel.
Do I love it so much that I want to marry it? No, but I love it so much that I want to keep on doing it until I am too old to continue.
One thing I do realize, though, is that my situation is an anomaly. Most people try to get themselves to exercise, but they’d rather sit down and laze around or watch TV. It takes a lot of willpower to get off the couch and get some movement done.
It’s a shame, too, since there are too many benefits to working out. By the way, my favorite benefit is the release of endorphins, which makes people very happy after a workout. Go ahead, try it. Run around the block until you are sweaty and see how you feel.
I do understand why lots of people do not exercise. Part of it is discomfort. Whenever you exercise you are voluntary stressing your body out and subjecting it to repetitive motions. There are ways to mitigate this problem which I will address soon enough.
However, I think the greatest obstacle to exercise is our collective cultural understanding of it. Most people view exercise as a necessary evil like paying taxes or learning calculus. People also see exercise solely for us to lose weight and build muscles. We also get problematic messages from different sectors of society such as the entertainment industry, athletics, and the military.
Therefore, I would like to write my thoughts on my philosophy of exercise to help people like you start exercising and enjoy a smoother progression in health and fitness.
RULE#1 : MAKE FITNESS FUN
I wouldn’t call this a “rule”, but it rhymes.
Anyways, if you take up a workout program for the sole reason of losing weight or building muscles, you might be setting yourself up for failure. Why? Simply because it takes many months for your body to make visible changes. This doesn’t matter if it is weight loss, muscle building, flexibility, and so on. Any advancement will be slow, sometimes painfully so. Your body will start changing the moment you start exercising, but the changes won’t be conspicuous for a long while.
That’s why I suggest you make fun and enjoyment as your main reason to workout and view physical changes as aggregate benefits. You can either do that by either finding a workout that is fun or you making it entertaining.
You can pretend you are a ninja while doing cardio kickboxing. You can see your jogging in the neighborhood as a way to enjoy nature. Maybe you do yoga as a way to unwind. Perhaps you can pretend that you are Conan the Barbarian or He-Man while lifting weights. Instead of doing zumba to workout, you can do zumba to bring sexy back.
Whatever it is, find the enjoyment in your chosen exercise that will make you want to go back to it time and time again.
What really makes a workout effective is constancy. As long as you do the exercise on a regular basis, you will see results sooner than you would imagine. This doesn’t matter if you workout everyday or 3 times a week. As long as you keep a consistent schedule, then your exercise will reap lots benefits and rewards.
By having fun with exercise the same way you have fun watching your Korean dramas or having pizza and beer on a Friday night, you will get your result without any worry or anxiety. Besides, how does time fly?
LOOK AT YOUR STANDARDS
A lot of messages we in society get about fitness come from various parts such as entertainment, sports, law enforcement, and the military.
A lot of what people in those fields can teach us are fine and useful, but we have to reexamine their advice a little more closely. It’s not because those people are wrong or they intentionally mislead the general public. It is because of one simple fact: they have very high standards in fitness.
They have very high standards in fitness, but not the same aims. Entertainers need to exercise so that they can look attractive. They don’t have to be athletic, unless they go into action roles, but they have to look great on camera. The military needs as many able bodied men and women and as fast as possible, which is why there is an institution known as boot camp. The job of the athlete is be able to perform physical feats that wow the audience from slam dunking the basketball hoop to running long distances in a short amount of time. Bodybuilders workout for aesthetics and not for athletics.
The main question is: are you working for any of those fields? If not, then you can take some pressure off in needing to be as fit as Michael Jordan, Dolph Lundgren, or an Indian Marine Commando. Chances are you don’t need to be that fit anyways to function in society, although it helps.
That’s why I suggest you start at lower standard. Start at a level that you can see yourself somewhat attaining and then see if you want to work your way from there. Who knows? Maybe you will be as fit as an Olympic athlete, but don’t worry if you can’t.
MOVEMENT BURNS CALORIES
All movements burn calories. That is a fact. You burn calories typing a blog. You burn calories while brushing your teeth, You even burn calories making a bowl of cereal. Of course, there is a difference between the calories you burn playing video games and the calories you burn jogging.
However, here is the good news.
There are certain exercises out there you may not be able to do due to reasons such as living accommodations, physical injuries and disabilities, or even just not being in shape. There are some moves you shouldn’t even do if you are not fit enough.
However, just because you can’t do certain forms of exercise doesn’t mean you can’t exercise at all. Step jacks are good substitute to jumping jacks. Don’t like squats? Then stand up and sit down on your chair to your heart’s content. Instead of doing a full body plank, why not plank on your knees? There is always a decent substitute.
The nice thing is once you get yourself fitter, then you can always try more advanced versions to give yourself a little bit more of a challenge.
So do remember: even if you are not doing the exercises as well as you think you should, the important point to remember is that you are moving.
THERE IS MORE THAN ONE WAY TO SKIN A CAT
I didn’t like typing that since I love cats, but still . . .
According to the Mayo Clinic, there are five areas of fitness: cardio, strength, core fitness, flexibility, and balance. Other sites have other areas such as muscular endurance and body composition.
Also, lots of exercise systems tend to focus on area over another. Karate has some flexibility and some strength training, but it’s mostly cardio. Yoga has some strength, but it’s mostly based on flexibility and almost has no cardio workout. Weightlifting is somewhat of a cardio workout, but it’s mostly on strength and no flexibility is involved. Consequently, you and most people will develop a favorite area of exercise. I like cardio. I have a friend who loves strength training. I knew someone else who enjoys both flexibility and cardio.
This means there might be a time when you feel like you must exercise out of your comfort zone. You might have to do some strength training when you love flexibility or that you have to do some cardio despite hating it.
The best solution is to look for different ways to fulfill those areas.
For example: you want to improve your strength but you hate weightlifting. No problem, you can just do body weight calisthenics. You don’t like that either? Try isometrics. You need to improve your cardio but hate running? There is walking. There is kickboxing. There is dance. If you hate all sorts of cardio, there is this workout. What if you want to improve your flexibility but hate yoga? Most martial art books have flexibility routines that take no more than 5-15 minutes a day. I love this one video put out by Bowflex. The Japanese Radio Taiso workout also helps in flexibility as well.
Whatever you do, think outside the box. There is more than one way to improve each area of fitness.
TURN EXCUSES INTO PARAMETERS
The one phrase I hate hearing in the fitness industry is “NO EXCUSES!” or something to that flavor. All these muscleheads think the main reason why most people don’t exercise is because they are childish, weak-minded, and lack discipline.
The problem is, though, that they don’t know who they are judging. Are you childish, weak-minded, and lack discipline? Is that why you don’t exercise? Maybe. Maybe not. I don’t know, but I don’t think so. You probably have a job that takes up most of your time. Maybe you have kids. Maybe you live in an apartment and can’t/don’t want to go outside to exercise. There are many other obstacles I can’t even conceive.
What is important to understand is that nobody knows your life but you. Some meathead might say something about you being a big baby, but does he live your life? Does he take care of your kids? Does he type TPS reports for a living or does he lift all day?
It’s easy to judge another person when you are not living their life.
I understand how it’s like to want to exercise but had no way of doing so. When I was living in China, I went to a public park to practice Taekwondo since everyone else was doing Wushu. The people there were giving me evil looks for doing so. One time in Korea, I would plan out a workout schedule only to be told to spend my nights drinking with the boss since drinking with coworkers is part and parcel to work life there.
The best way to deal with that problem is to take your “excuses” and turn them into parameters. Parameters is an engineering term which means abiding limits in a project.
In this case, just write down your own limits to the workout program such as: “Must be standing only. Can be done in small spaces. No jumping or running in place allowed. Should be under 30 minutes a day . . . . “ and so on and so forth.
Chances are, you will be able to find the right exercise program for you that will match 80% of your parameters. There might be some lifestyle changes and sacrifices to be made, but as long as you have most of the parameters you have found the right fitness program for you.
RESEARCH IS EVERYTHING
Nowadays, in the 21st century, all you need is a library card and an Internet connection and you can learn everything you want to know. This includes different exercise and workout programs that you may not have heard about before.
Obviously, you can use search engines such as Google and Duckduckgo to find what you are looking for. You can also follow along workouts in Youtube and other video sites.
Another site that most people don’t know about is the Internet Archive. It’s the world largest online library with many public domain books, public domain movies, old government documents, and other weird stuff that you can find. Unfortunately, it will take some time to learn how to navigate through the site.
Pinterest is a bit funky, but you can find some things there.
This will sound corny, but also try doing your research in different languages if possible. If you know another language, or can enlist a bilingual friend, give it a try. You will find different systems that are not known to English speakers. The Japanese have a radio calisthenics workout. So do the Chinese. Bodyflex is a system founded by American trainer Greer Childers, yet the Russians have made a lot of innovations to it. The South Koreans has a program called Kuk Sun Do, a combination of yoga and qigong. By the way, legendary power lifter Louis Simmons has been known to incorporate Russian and Bulgarian training methods to his regimen.
DEVELOP THICK SKIN
Obviously if you want to start an exercise program, it would be wise to make sure your exercising doesn’t bother other people. If you live in an apartment, for example, you shouldn’t stamp your feet up and down or play your workout video with volume on too high. You also shouldn’t yell at the top of your lungs while exercising outside and see to it that you have enough room to yourself so that your moves won’t bother or hurt other people.
It’s not just common sense, it’s also common courtesy.
However there will be people who will not like your exercising, mainly because it goes against their ego. Either they feel sorry for themselves for not exercising or that they are hyper-competitive and feel that your exercising is a threat to theirs. Some will make fun of you. Some will passive-aggressively insult you in the guise of giving advice. Some will outright insult you.
This is where you need to stop caring about what others say about you. After all, you are exercising mainly for your own benefit. So think of that workout time as your time. Who cares if someone else doesn’t like you doing knee push-ups and want you to do plank push-ups instead? You can do your push-ups anyway you like! Who cares if someone else tells you exercise is a waste of time. It’s your time, waste it however you like (not that exercise is a waste, though)!
I am also a huge proponent of self-competition, that the person you are trying to win against is yourself. I also think it is the best way to develop confidence without needing to bolster your ego. How do you compete against yourself? Simple. See how well you perform your exercises and then try to beat that performance. Could you only do 5 push-ups? Next time, go for 6. Can you only to 1 pull-up? Try to do 2 next time. Once you are able to meet that goal, raise the bar. From 6 push-ups, try to do 7. From 7, go for 8 and so on. Same thing with running, weightlifting, yoga, and so on. Measure your performance and then try to beat it. It doesn’t matter if you are better than Rebecca Lobo or Mia Hamm. It matters if you were better today than you were yesterday.
Have that mindset and there is nothing out there you cannot do.
Anyways this is my exercise philosophy in a bit more than a nutshell. I am sure some of you won’t agree with everything I expressed, which is normal since we are all different, but I do hope you can take some of what I wrote and use it to your advantage and well-being.
Thanks for reading this long article and as He-Man (played by Dolph Lundgren) would say: Good journey to you.
And with physical fitness, and as hackneyed as this sounds, the journey is truly just as important as the destination.
I haven’t done nor written about the 108 bows in a long time. Despite this, however, I won’t give up on it yet. Hopefully when I move out and even get my own place, I can finally get myself back to bowing (among other things).
Still, if I were to die tomorrow, I would die happy having done the 108 bows at least once in my life. That’s how much I love doing them. I also wish other people try them out for a week and see how they feel.
Does anyone really need to be a Buddhist to do the 108 bows? Not anymore than being a Buddhist practicing Shaolin Kung-fu, a Daoist practicing Taiji, or a Hindu doing yoga. I also think meditation is good for everyone evidenced by the fact that Hindus, Buddhists, and Daoists all meditate. So it doesn’t really belong in one religion, nor should it.
In South Korea, where I learned of the bows, it still carries heavy Buddhist connotations. Thankfully, non-Buddhists such as Christians and atheists are trying them out. There is even a Catholic doctor who wrote a book on the bows.
When most people do the bows, they tend to simply count each one just like any other exercise. However, there are those who say a prayer or aphorism per each bow. In fact, some temples even give out a list of prayers for the practitioner to recite in a group or for individual practice. I used to recite this list from the Korean Jogye Order of Zen. The same organization published this new one. The Kwan Um school has their own version. The Chinese practitioners would do the bows in accordance to the Great Repentance of the 88 Buddhas. Personally, this one here is my favorite.
There are more lists.
With so many of them being around, I wonder: why didn’t anyone make a more secularized list? One of the lists I linked somewhat can fulfill that need, but I still think some people may not be comfortable reciting it.
That was when I had this idea: Why not take my own list of affirmations and expand it to 108 of them? That way, anyone can do the bows in a spiritual-but-not-religious manner.
That was the original idea. However, it was too much of a monumental task, especially since I found that a lot of affirmation lists tend to repeat each other and themselves.
Somehow I was able to make a list of 18 affirmations. That way, one can simply do six sets of “18 bows” to fulfill the 108 mark.
While I cannot really do the bows due to my home situation, I invite you to try it out for yourselves and see how you like it.
Right now, in my case, I am still going to recite this list as I would for my morning affirmations with the Optimists’ Creed.
Without any further ado, my magic spells plus the Creed:
Where I am right now is exactly where I need to be.
I have a purpose in this life.
I surround myself by those who make me better.
I am a magnet for joy, love, and abundance.
Money flows easily and effortlessly to me.
I am enough.
Every day and in every way I get better and better.
I change my thoughts, I change my world.
The more love I give, the more love I receive.
I am open to the abundance of the universe.
I am whole, perfect, strong, powerful, loving, harmonious, and happy.
I can be what I will to be.
I am thankful for everyone and everything in my life.
There are 1440 minutes in a day and I shall spend as many of them as I can in happiness and positivity.