"When I forget my ways, I am in The Way"

21 June 2013

Turning Negative into Positive


I didn't get it. How could I turn feeling negative into feeling positive? All this talk by my Jiu Jitsu instructor made no sense - turning negative energy into positive energy.

Over time, however, something happened: I began to see I could do it. Here is an excerpt from a Q&A from my Instructor Certification Written Exam, in 1995.

Q. What Does the "Dynamics of Teaching" mean to me?

A. … They remind me to accept who I am, where I am, and what I know - and to feel good about that. They provide me with inspiration - such as "be positive". I find that phrase early in the day. I'm working that point, including the seeming contradiction of turning negative energy into positive energy. This concept [of transforming the polarity of energy and attitude] seems to violate basic principles of engineering and physics. But I'm doing it!

So, what was I learning about? It was like learning how to take a river which could flood homes and businesses, and turn it into something positive - like a producer of electricity. It was learning how to take the negative of a physical attack, and transform it into something better.

I was learning that the way to overcome negativity in the world began with learning how to overcome it within myself, and how to - in a very real sense - become one with it, become one with the attacker. And it wasn't about simple affirmations, like "be positive." Simple affirmations don't work when someone is taking a swing at you. But that affirmation was a trigger each day, to help place me in a Jiu Jitsu mindset, a mindset represented these days by The Monastery of Nothingness.

I was learning about universal principles. At first it was mental, a lot of intellectualizing. Next, I began finding ways to apply them in my everyday life - along with continued intellectualization  But over time, the intellectualizing stopped, because over time the everyday, practical applications seeped in. They became part of who I am.

In martial arts it is said that it takes 3,000 to 5,000 repetitions for something to become a conditioned reflex. So, I did my everyday life repetitions. I practiced far more off the mat than on the mat.

And after a lot of years and thousands of hours of study and training, some life lessons have emerged. For example, a question arises - what am I practicing? And is it taking me in the direction I am needing to go?