For a number of years when I served as a management consultant to fortune 500 companies my life style revolved around traveling to any where from three to five cities a week in some cases. Needless to say this made training regularly challenging and potentially frustrating. However, often I would return from a week or two of constant travel and my students would notice my skill level advancing in spite of my absence. Some in fact, I later learned, believed that I was actually secretly traveling to train with An-shu. They wondered, how was I getting better as a martial artist when I was spending so much time on planes, in meetings and stuck in hotel rooms? There are many pieces to that answer. One of the key components to the answer is this; the dojo in my mind.
Recently in a fabulous training weekend with An-shu Hayes in Tampa Florida students were treated to a clear model for developing a dojo in your mind. I was taught this piece of Yamabushi (mountain warrior mystics) Shugen training in the mid-eighties by An-shu. It has served me well on many occasions. For your own training, you can experiment with this form of visualization as a means of getting in touch with your own “teacher within.” The fundamentals are fairly straightforward.
You begin by placing yourself in a meditative state. There are a number of courses in the Online Ninja Training collection that will assist you with this first step. Then you visualize yourself on a path that leads to your private dojo. You arrive at the exterior of this dojo, which takes any form your prefer, then pass through the doors. With every visit it is important to add detail to the visualization. Once inside, if you are using this process for To-Shin Do skill development, you visualize yourself training. Perhaps you are getting a private lesson from a favorite instructor, or you could just be practicing alone or with partners. You may focus on specific skills or be more general in your approach. It would be an excellent practice to use this as weekly homework, reviewing what you are learning in class or from your online training courses. The key is to suspend self-doubt and even the restrictions of so-called reality. “See” yourself moving in absolutely masterful and astonishing ways. In my own case I made major breakthroughs in my training using this practice.
Of course there is much more detail to the practice and you would do well to keep your eyes open for an opportunity to be taught the full practice by a qualified teacher. There are specific mudras (hand and finger weaving positions) and mantras (spoken sounds) involved in the full practice. While these will most certainly enhance your experience there is no reason you should not begin to experiment with the basics. You may well be surprised by the results. In the beginning it will be new and different. Be realistic with your expectations. As with all new practices a degree of diligence and patience is required. As I have experienced in my own life the time and effort can pay off very handsomely, and the practice itself can be quite fun.