Thanks so much for all the comments on my last post, and sorry I didn’t have time to respond to them all. I was surprised that so many folks have experienced similar reactions to a wide array of activities.
There’s one thing I want to clarify, though. And, like everything I write in this journal, this is just my opinion. You’re welcome (and encouraged) to feel differently.
I didn’t mean to imply that working out at the gym or running were in any way “less” than martial arts or yoga or dance. I truly believe that mindfulness is the key to turning any activity into an art. Although I can “lift weights” haphazardly in my house, a true gym aficionado has elevated the process to art. There is form, technique, breathing… you have to push through the walls, you have to keep learning, changing routines, etc. Running, what little I understand of it, is certainly the same. Technique, form, pushing, mental and physical stamina.
Mindfulness is the key. Being “in” the activity with your mind, body, and spirit. Different people prefer different activities, but I wouldn’t ever presume to say one is better than another. That’s the beauty of it — we’re all on our own paths, and they all wind though the woods in different ways. Your pilates is someone else’s bowling is someone else’s swimming is someone else’s fencing.
Ironically, I find myself calling on the word “kung fu,” which does not have anything to do with martial arts. It means “excellence” or “highly skilled” or something similar that you Chinese speakers can enlighten me with. But the point is, you can be a kung fu chef or a kung fu programmer or a kung fu writer. It doesn’t matter where you set your will, it just matters that you set it, that you approach the object of your obsession mindfully, and that you love it with all your heart.