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Anxiety

This month I want to tackle a big one! Anxiety!! I’m sure most if not all of us experience some form of this through a big portion of our lives.

anx·i·e·ty

[aNGˈzīədē]

NOUN
  1. a feeling of worry, nervousness, or unease, typically about an imminent event or something with an uncertain outcome.

I wanted to talk about anxiety this month because of how the holiday season can be a nightmare for those of us suffering through anxiety. I remember some Holiday Seasons growing up where my mom tried to commit suicide. In fact the first Christmas I can recall was spent in the E.R. I had gone to bed on Christmas Eve like every other kid excited and full of hope that I had been good enough for Santa to come visit! I was awoken by the man my mom was married to in the middle of the night. Of course I thought it was time to open presents, but that wasn’t why he woke me up. I remember asking him if Santa had come and he told me he wasn’t waking me up for that. He was waking me up because we had to go find mom. What do you mean? He said mom had gone off during the night and he didn’t know where she was. He loaded me up in his truck and we went driving around town looking for her. We lived in a small town so it didn’t take long. The image of how we found my mom has been seared in to my brain. I will never forget it! She had rammed her car in to a telephone pole. Her door was wide open and she was hanging half way out of her vehicle with her head on the ground, bleeding, and her feet still by the pedals of the car. I couldn’t comprehend what was going on. I was in total shock. We got her to the E.R. where I spent Christmas Day and then by the end of the week she was headed to her first of many stints in rehab. I have a lot of these types of memories which have done so much damage and caused me to experience anxiety in so many situations that I often times come across as the biggest jerk you could imagine. I have been protecting myself.

Through this journey of Brazilian Jiu Jitsu I am experiencing an awakening like no other! I am facing anxiety every time I step on the mat! I know that each person I roll with at any point can tap me out or possibly even seriously injure me. I am learning how to apply this to my life because essentially am I not faced with the same problems off of the mat? Is an upset coworker not just an emotional armbar? Is an angry spouse not just an emotional baseball choke? Is the potential of some negative experience not just an emotional single leg take down? If I can deal with these on the mat, I can deal with these in life. I am learning. I am getting better. I am healing through Brazilian Jiu Jitsu!

 

So I will get up, grab my Gi, step on the mat, and I will Become…

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Vulnerability

Alright guys I’m going to dedicate some time each month to a specific emotion or experience that has, for a lifetime, been a negative experience for me. Maybe you’ll find some help here, that’s my hope anyway. So this month I want to talk about vulnerability.

vul·ner·a·bil·i·ty

noun

  1. the quality or state of being exposed to the possibility of being attacked or harmed, either physically or emotionally.

 

For me, this is the root to all of my negative experiences. Due to circumstances beyond my control I learned at a very young age that it was not ok to be vulnerable. It was not ok to let people in. It was definitely not ok to be exposed to the chances of being hurt! I feel like as I grew older I hardened more and more to the point that almost any interaction with another person came across as hostile and intimidating, which of course took me down a path of self loathing, self doubt, a severe lack of confidence, etc. What I am learning through Brazilian Jiu Jitsu is that you have no choice but to face these things. They are there, in your face. Will I crumble before them or will I slay these demons that prevent me from reaching the higher level of actuality? On this path of Becoming Jiujiteiro, I believe I will ultimately be ok with being vulnerable! This is an experience the universe has offered me and I’m realizing there is nothing wrong with being vulnerable. Brazilian Jiu Jitsu is teaching me to enjoy this experience because as I open up to it I’m beginning to feel all the love the universe has put in my life, whether it is through the few friendships I have or through my wife and children!

So I will continue to get my ass up at 5 A.M., grab my Gi, step on the mat and Become…

Water Is Water, Dirt Is Dirt

Having listened to Jocko Wilink and Tim Ferriss discuss an excerpt from Musashi on how Myamoto Musashi had to adapt his farming style I came to a realization, an epiphany! For a time I felt that I could inspire people to change their own behavior through leading by example. I thought if I sacrifice enough of my personal time, if I get enough people out of trouble, if I show them that we can make the company submit to our will that the people I was trying to change would see it and say wow we need to get out sh*t together! What a foolish endeavor! Water is water and dirt is dirt and people are people. While my actions did inspire some they didn’t inspire the whole. The people I did inspire were already inspired all I did was validate their thought processes. Which I am grateful to have had that impact! What I’ve come to realize is I can’t force change on anybody. All I can do is seek my own truth and let others be. In this seeking, those that will become inspired by it will make themselves known and we can move forward together in this never ending journey for the truth. What I did learn during this process is that awakening is a very unpleasant experience. During this process we realize who was actually a friend. We realize who actually loves us. This journey is struggle and in a society that has forgotten how to struggle, awakening becomes painful. The beautiful part of this, though, is we get to experience a reality that has been hidden from us. Billions of dollars have been spent to keep this reality from us. Water is water and dirt is dirt, the struggle is to understand this and adapt ourselves to it because water will do what water does and dirt will do what dirt does without any regard to our wishes or desires.

So I will get up, grab my Gi, step on the mat, and I will Become…

Life Is Jiu Jitsu, Jiu Jitsu Is Life

As I continue on this wonderful journey that is BJJ I see more and more the life metaphors found in the experiences on the mat.  I am learning how to let go which is probably, for me, a huge step in resolving a lot of the anxiety that I have over life situations. I often doubt myself as a father and husband and certainly as a friend. In Discipline Equals Freedom Jocko Wilink writes:

There is only  hard work, late nights, repitition, study, sweat, blood, toil, frustration, and discipline. Discipline. There must be discipline.

Man does that strike a chord or what?!? In all things there must be discipline. As I discipline myself I find that I become more at ease in life and on the mat. Sure there are going to be frustrations! My kids aren’t doing their chores, someone I thought of as a friend completely disregards me and my feelings on a particular subject or situation, I AM SUBMITTED BY ARM BAR FOR THE 5000TH TIME! My dedication to discipline, my dedication to self mastery, is what keeps me going. I know that someday I will submit by arm bar. I know that someday I won’t experience the anxieties that I experience today. I know this because I am already experiencing less anxiety today than I did 6 months ago, a year ago, and so on. BJJ is a constant struggle, for a beginner, and I suspect even for those that have earned the title Professor but it is a noble struggle. It is a life metaphor! As I continue along this path I am able to see things in others that I don’t like about myself which I am able to identify as a source of anxiety. As I make that identification I can work toward removing it, thus, removing a source of anxiety. This in turn helps work toward self mastery.  Continue reading “Life Is Jiu Jitsu, Jiu Jitsu Is Life”

Giving Back

Through BJJ I am learning the importance of giving back. I always knew in my the back of my mind that giving back was important, but being surrounded by the walls of spiritual concrete I never had the confidence to give back. As I take this journey and begin tearing down these walls I am learning that giving back is probably the single most important endeavor we as human beings can be a part of! I hope that I can lift others up because I feel like if I can lift them up that maybe, just maybe, my small little world will be a better place. Giving back can come in so many different forms. From volunteering to just sitting and listening to someone going through a hard time. If we, as humans, as Jiujiteiro, just give a little each day we could change the world!

So I will get up, grab my Gi, step on the mat, and I will Become…

Embrace The Suck

A good friend of mine was in the Marine Corps and he told me that early on he learned the saying Embrace The Suck. Now by no means would I ever compare learniing BJJ to what our Marines endure but I think the phrase still applies to really anything we go through in this life. I am learning how to embrace the suck of being a white belt! While it is very easy to get frustrated, I am learning to let these frustrations pass because as I come up against them I become aware that this current frustration, whatever it is, is just Jiu Jitsu showing me which piece of marble it plans on chipping away next. I really have so much joy writing this post because I can see the improvements Jiu Jitsu has made in me already. I came home from class last night frustrated at myself and woke up at about 330 am thinking well this is the next journey! Jiu Jitsu is carving that frustration away from me!

They say the difference between a master and a beginner is the master has failed more times than the beginner has ever tried. Well it’s safe to say I am well on my way to mastery!

So I will get up, grab my Gi, step on the mat, and I will Become…

Finally Opening To Vulnerability

During this morning’s reading I came across a passage in Chris Matakas’s The Tao Of Jiu Jitsu that I thought would be perfect to close out this month! He writes:

The opportunity to win implies the opportunity to lose, and one only loses when he lacks the courage to be vulnerable.

This spoke volumes to me! When I accepted what BJJ wanted from me I began to bust away the spiritual concrete that had left me unfulfilled, spiritually speaking. BJJ has made it clear to me that I had the courage to be vulnerable all along I just looked upon that with blind eyes. To me courage meant being hard as nails. Unforgiving and uncompromising. I’ve opened my heart to the courage to be vulnerable. These are, for me, the first steps of a long journey! Will there be pain? Likely. Will there be experiences full of a joy I’ve never known? I believe there will be!

So I will get up, grab my Gi, step on the mat, and I will Become…

Freedom To Be Myself

When I began shutting down my vulnerability I began losing a quality that so many people want but don’t know they want it. That is the freedom to be myself! I lived so many years ashamed of my story and that shame was a key ingredient to the spiritual concrete that formed my walls. Through Brazilian Jiu Jitsu I become more comfortable with my vulnerability. I still find myself putting that guard up on the mat when I get frustrated because I got tapped for the 633rd time during that rolling sesh but I am at a point now where I recognize where that frustration is coming from and I am able to let it pass which in turn opens my mind to the potential joys of being vulnerable. I can assure you when some guy or gal that weighs a hundred pounds less than me throws that leg across my face and puts me in an arm bar I have no choice but to accept the growth that comes from it. I thought that I chose this journey but in reality this journey chose me and I must allow myself to be vulnerable so that I can learn the lesson of the technique, which in turn teaches me a lesson of the spirit.

I saw the angel in the marble and carved until I set him free.

-Michelangelo

I am the marble and Jiu Jitsu the artist. I will enjoy the freedom to be myself!

So I will get up, grab my Gi, step on the mat, and I will Become…