How Hapkido Helps You Beat Stress by KJN Ronald Stone
Are you a busy executive or mom trying to do everything? Are you getting so stressed out that it seems like you’re not accomplishing anything? If so, you can use Hapkido training to combat that stress! Many of the skills and techniques used in martial arts training are the same skills and techniques you can use to rid your body of stress.
So, you might be wondering how a skill that is commonly depicted as a fighting tool can reduce stress… Some of these common images of martial arts aren’t completely accurate. The cartoons, video games and movies showing martial arts as a fighting tool are only showing you one small facet of the art. The skills necessary for training martial arts can teach you how to balance your mind and body and give you the confidence you need to face the stressful events in your life.
It has been often said that the best weapon is the brain and that those who lose their tempers and rationality tend to lose the fight. For centuries warriors have been taught ways to control their emotions during combat to overcome the incapacitating effects of fear and stress. These same principles have become a standard in Korean martial arts training and can help almost anyone who studies and applies them.
HOW DO YOU DO IT?
Two of the techniques used to create a mental and physical balance are managing one’s breathing and the application of meditation techniques. Both help you take control of your mind and body. There are different types of meditation: sitting, standing, kneeling, and moving. Find the position that works best for you. Here’s how to start.
1. Breathe in through your nose and out through your mouth.
2. Breathe deeply. To make sure you’re breathing deeply enough, put your hand on your stomach. If your stomach isn’t pushing out as you breath in, you’re not breathing deeply enough. Try to pull the air all the way to your navel before you let it out.
3. When you breathe out, keep your tongue on the roof of your mouth. This keeps helps minimize your saliva and swallowing.
In the Korean way of thinking, breathing like this is completing a path: The mouth is a gate and the tongue on the roof of the mouth allows your vital energy called “Ki” (pronounced “key”) to circulate throughout your body. Ki is what helps your mind and body connect.
After you’ve gotten the physical aspects of breathing down, you can start counting your breaths. This is a form of meditation that many experts teach during stress management courses. Remember to start short and work your way up.
1. Begin with a count of 4 as you breathe in and a count of 6 as you breathe out.
2. As you go along, extend the in and out until you can get a count of 6 as you breathe in and up to 24-30 as you breathe out. Just remember that you want a short, deep breath in and a slow, long breath out.
The legendary Jackie Chan once said that sitting still and doing nothing are not the same thing. Meditation is the method of dominating one’s consciousness to achieve a sense of mental peacefulness and physical wellbeing. When meditating the mind must be cleared of all worldly contact. One must practice eliminating thoughts of discomfort, worry, fear and anxiety. The true meditative state is hard to reach initially but once achieved has remarkable benefits for everything from posture to digestion to mental clarity.
By way of example just remember how women are told during childbirth to focus only on their breathing and to perform a special kind of deep breathing exercises. This has been shown to facilitate the birth and to eliminate fear and worry from the woman and in doing so decreases pain.
WHY DOES IT WORK?
This mind and body connect through breathing works because stress is a mental state that manifests itself as a physical symptom in your body. This physical symptom then acts as a trigger to tell your mind to do something about it. As you become more aware of your body, you’ll be able to notice the
“trigger” before it becomes something unbearable such as dealing with a severe neck problem or a migraine headache. Once you notice your trigger, you can stop and do something about it such as practicing a breathing technique. For example, I previously suffered from stress-induced migraines that would leave me out of commission for a whole day. Now, I’ve come to realize that it starts in my lower back as a small thing. If I let it go, it works its way up to my head. Now, when I notice this trigger in my back, I stop and practice my breathing techniques. This allows the issue to surface so I can deal with it and I don’t have to deal with a subsequent migraine.
We all have those moments from time to time when we experience stress (some more frequently than others). The overall benefits of training Hapkido for the mind and body (including self-awareness, self-confidence, focus, concentration, and physical conditioning) lead to reducing that stress. You owe it to yourself to start relieving the stress in your life with the skills taught through martial arts. The best place to find these skills is at a fine Hapkido school. Why not give it a try? You have nothing to lose and everything to gain.
Ronald W. Stone, D.V.M
7th dan Grandmaster, HaeMuKwan Hapkido
American Dragon Martial Arts
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