By Shotokan Karate Leadership School in Santa Rosa, CA
Knowing yourself gives you insight into other people. That’s where you start. Without self-knowledge, your basis for understanding others is incomplete. So, what does this mean? It can mean many things and my understanding of it continues to grow as I continue to practice but for now here’s a synopsis. Knowing yourself means to know your mind, body and spirit both separately and together as one. Knowing your body means to know if you are healthy or sick, weak or strong, in pain or comfortable and to what degree you are all of these and in what way are you all of these. If you are weak in body for example what part of your body is weak? Your legs? Your arms? Your torso? And what do you have to do to make them stronger? Once you know how your body is weak then you can work to strengthen it. Knowing your mind means to know what you are thinking, and to know what you know and what you don’t know. However, as Mark Twain said, “It ain’t what you don’t know that gets you in trouble. It’s what you know for sure that just ain’t so.” We tend to think that what we think is fact when in reality it’s only our opinion and often isn’t true. You must be able to tell fact from fiction. And you must be willing to say that you just don’t know something.
Your spirit is your life force, so knowing your spirit means to know the strength of your life. How are you coping with life? Are you overcome by the sheer enormity of it? Are you taking life on and meeting it’s challenges on your own terms? Are you worried and filled with doubt? Are you experiencing peace and serenity? Do you have dreams for what you’d like your life to be like? Have you set goals? Are you working towards those goals? These are all an indication of your spirit. If your spirit is strong, you can accomplish just about anything. Of these three – body, mind and spirit – spirit is most important. It is what makes you alive. Knowing the condition of your spirit is critically important to your success. Deep breathing, relaxation exercises, and focused effort will do wonders to bring your spirit back up.
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