We all know how important mental and physical strength is for our well-being. But in order to overcome any hardship, and create a life that’s not just ordinary, but extraordinary – we also need spiritual strength. When all three kinds of strength – physical, mental, and spiritual are present, we can become spiritual warriors.
Being a spiritual warrior doesn’t mean we’re super-human. It means that we’re able to overcome hardship. This is what the secret code of the Ninja – the shadow-warriors of ancient Japan – can teach us.
The Ninja taught that one should embrace hardship. We all know that the hard times when we have to grit our teeth and just simply continue walking uphill – step by step – are the ones where transformation begins.
The secret teachings of the Ninjas are based upon the ancient Chinese lore of the four elements: earth, water, fire and wind. It may sound esoteric, but this wisdom is really practical and down to earth.It can help us find new perspectives when we get stuck in life.
1. Be like the earth
This secret is about being grounded. When we are grounded, we are steady and collected in mind and body. In terms of martial arts, to be like the earth means to stand your ground. In life this translates as staying steady and remaining grounded in reality.
- Take off your shoes, go outside, and connect with the earth through your feet. Closing your eyes and breathing into your belly, imagine roots growing from your feet deep into the ground.
- Walking meditation is another wonderful way to become grounded.
2. Be like fire
Fire has tremendous power that can be used for survival – but it can also be destructive if not contained. A spiritual warrior embraces fire in the form of passion. The seat of fire energy is in the hara, or lower belly. Anger is also an expression of fire energy. Most times anger is destructive, but there are also times when it is a skillful emotion. Anger can give us the strength to stand up against injustice, and the courage to defend ourselves against all odds.
Animals use fire energy for survival. I’m sure you’ve seen how a kitten threatened by a dog can turn into a furious ball of puffed-up fur that goes on the attack. Even big dogs choose to turn tail and run when faced with such a fiery little monster.
In terms of martial arts, fire signifies an attack. In life, to be like fire means using passion in order to overcome barriers.
Place both hands on your lower belly and feel your breath there. Close your eyes and connect with the power and passion in your hara(lower belly).
2. Be like water
.The softest things in the world overcome the hardest things in the world.
Water finds its way to the sea. No matter what mountains block the way. A mountain stream (like in the image above) flows gracefully around rocks. In terms of martial arts, to be like water means to avoid, or deflect an attack. In life, to be like water means to find ways of reaching your goals by moving around an obstacle, instead of confronting it head-on.
Place both hands on your chest and feel your breath there. Close your eyes and connect with your steady purpose and quiet courage.
4. Be like the Wind
The wind can change direction at any moment. It has no fixed direction. As human beings, we suffer from the opposite: as life goes on, we become more and more fixed in the way we live and in the way we think. We become creatures of habit, and change seems more and more difficult.
In martial arts, to be like wind means to adapt to circumstances without pre-conceptions. In his book The Spiritual Practices of the Ninja, Ross Heaven says:
The Ninja reckoned that 80 percent of our available energy is locked into habits that stem from generational and social conditioning. They became expert warriors by using their enemy’s reliance on habit against them and employing the element of surprise – the other 20 percent – themselves.
Because we fixed in our ideas of who we are and what we are capable of, we miss countless opportunities to grow and develop. Doors open in life – but sometimes we don’t see them. We walk past because we don’t expect to see a door there. When we become like the wind, we can be light and flexible in our thinking an actions.
Stand up straight and stretch out both arms as far as you can – as if you are poised for flight. Close your eyes and feel the energy in your fingertips. Notice how light your body feels.
How to use these secret teachings
What I find really useful is to recall these four different modes of being when I’m faced with a situation in which I feel stuck. I take each energy in turn and apply them to the situation. Say, for example, that I was in conflict with a loved one. Each of the secret teachings can reveal a way forward. It may be that reflecting on earth energy would give me a sense that I need to stand my ground, and fire energy would give me the courage to speak the truth. On the other hand, water energy would remind me to keep true to my path in life, and wind energy would suggest that I move gracefully around the problem without confronting it directly.
Every time we are stuck, it helps to find new ways to think about the situation. And this is the beauty of the Ninja teachings – they are simple but deep.
Now dont Just sit there reading. MOVE!!