A Single Word Opened My Eyes One Day

And after reading this, it may do the same for you.

My taekwondo instructor – Master Suh – said something to me a long time ago. It was one word. But I will remember it forever.

Master Suh didn’t intend for it to become a transformational piece of advice. At the time, it was strictly about my kicks.

This one word, however, has become about life in general.

I go through some ups and downs every day just like everybody else. Sometimes, the going gets tough. Sometimes, it triggers tension or anxiety. Mindfulness can be helpful. Other techniques may work. For me, it’s often that one word.

If I do it right, what happens next is almost like magic.

It’s a learned response. I’ve tried it a bunch of times, and found a way to cajole my mind into giving me what I want. Ever since then, my mind and I know exactly the response we are looking for when I invoke the word.

Surprisingly, it is not intuitive to summon the word and enact the state of mind. In fact, the opposite seems true. Meaning, I tend to do what doesn’t work well before I realize it. That’s my knee-jerk reaction. For example, if I am anxious because I have a test then my initial response is to tense up. If only I could have the word work for me on autopilot…

There are all kinds of situations in my daily life that can be resolved better if I remember to call up the word first.

Alas, that is not how it usually works. At least, not yet. I am not free of stress, anxiety, and tension. These emotions come up first. I overcome them second.

The word became so powerful because when Master Suh uttered it so softly and caringly, it made no sense. At that moment, I was caught off guard. It gave me pause. I pondered. It was profound. Though it must have taken no more than a split second.

There I was throwing my legs forcefully up and sideways practicing my kicks, trying really hard, battling my body practically. I must have looked like I was about to break myself or pull a muscle.

Master Suh looked me in the eyes and said almost lovingly:


Relax? Now? While doing kicks? Ha?

And then I relaxed.

Lo and behold, doing kicks became way easier.

Lo and behold, life becomes easier when I relax.

Why something that is so obvious doesn’t just happen on its own? Why do I have to train myself to do what’s good for me? Am I wired to do what’s not good for me?

There are answers to those questions, but that’s another story. I’ve written about a couple of apps that help sort things out in our minds and relax.

Relax. That’s my word. I am still learning to use it. I still forget about it. I still have to repeat it a lot before my brain responds. I am still amazed at how well it works when it does.

Mindfulness teaches this as well. Letting go of interference helps gain control.

And so, the word ”relax” that my taekwondo instructor once said to me has opened my eyes, as it were.

I hope my story inspires you to find a trigger of your own that can set a calm state of mind. You will be surprised at how much faster and easier things will be. You will feel better for it. And, with practice and repetition, the feeling will begin to compound itself over time like a good investment.

Thank you for reading!

( image: pixabay )

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