It’s been a while, with that “work” thing getting in the way. I can’t complain because I volunteered for the task but the psychological/spiritual toll was more than I expected. I continued at the dojo — my oasis — but my mind was often elsewhere. I wonder if my teachers noticed a difference? Probably.
But in the time “away” I seem to have come through the other side of the “rock and a hard place” tunnel into a new sort of landscape. One key has been to pay scrupulous attention to avoiding any twisting in my body, while at the same time keeping the arrow parallel to the line of my shoulders (or the sanju-jumonji generally). Psychologically what seems to do the trick is to decide that the target is just a mark, while the thing I really need to concentrate on is internal… my body, the bow, and the various forces in play. Except concentrate without objective concentration: no separation between me, the concentrator, and me, the thing that is the object of that concentration. Words, words, words. As a 8-dan teacher recently told me, “You think too much. You don’t need to think.”
My bad habit.
It’s taken a couple of months for that to sink in, but it finally came to me the other night, while I was sitting with dojo friends at a dinner. For some time now my teacher has been telling me that I needed to develop 澄ます (sumasu) , kind of a tricky word that seems to imply a kind of clear-minded concentration. Kyudo literature seems to emphasize it at several different points during the shooting process, and one of the odd things I’ve noticed is that, when it goes well, there is no sense of time. It feels to me like my shooting is very fast, but my teacher approves, so it must not be. And indeed I’ve noticed the same thing in sitting meditation sometimes, when the period will suddenly be over and it feels like it just began. Maybe the same. Maybe not. Still working on it.
This weekend we have our local shinsa, so I’ll be helping. It’s gotten really cold here all of the sudden, and the wall is up at the front of the shajo, but it comes down for the shinsa, regardless of wind, rain, sunshine, or snow. It’s going to be a long day. I hope everyone does well!