Mindful vs. no-minded mind

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Mindful vs. no-minded mind

Postby Bill Glasheen » Mon Aug 23, 2010 3:22 am

I'm here alone (so far) in Louisville trying to establish myself in a new career as well as learning the area so I'll know where to set up home and dojo. The family is still back in Virginia, so my hermit existence has its advantages. Among other things, I can throw myself into my new career without a lot of worries about coming in early or working late. I'm even doing work on weekends. That has its advantages. Even a day's work on Saturday can be fun if I finish it off by wandering the streets of downtown Louisville on a Saturday night. And let me tell you, this city is a lot of fun. It has a personality like no other. The best way to describe it is a libertarian's dream. I've never seen so many different kinds of people doing their own thing out in public, with tolerance of all others around them. Can you believe it has an enormously high Catholic population, and yet an openly gay population even out in the suburban malls? Yup... that's Louisville. In that way it has kind of a college town flavor (which it is), but it's very much a business Mecca. One day...

So it's past 9 PM on a Saturday night, and I'm doing the 4 block walk down Main Street from my office high rise to the parking garage behind the Louisville Slugger bat factory. Even as far north as Main Street, the city is fun. Horse drawn carriages replace the cars that you see during the day. All kinds of people are out walking the streets, with no apparent fear. (A visible police presence helps.)

So I'm walking down Main Street, still very mindful of the mix of new and old architecture. The city is in a bit of transition, where buildings that are 100 years or more old are being gutted but the unusual facades preserved. It's eye candy for a kid whose father was once an independent contractor before he got into the stock market.

Understand that I'm by myself. I'm not really... Family calls for every little emergency. Dad's in and out of the hospital. Friends keep me company on the phone. My battery is constantly running out on the phone.

But still... It's tough living alone. And it's tough not having my dog.

So I'm walking west down Main Street, and something catches my eye. I look to my right across the street and see two men walking a most unusual dog. My pattern recognition centers go into overdrive, and I begin to do the differential breed diagnosis. Could that actually be... yes... It's a harlequin-colored Russian Wolfhound - a.k.a. Borzoi. How many of those have I seen in real life? Zero. I once found a (1) Russian Wolfhound that had wandered from his master at UVa. I caught him, got his tag numbers, and got him back to his master. You just don't see a dog like that every day.

This is the closest I could come from Google to finding pictures of what this dog looks like.

Image

Here's what the head of one of these guys looks like.

Image

Here's one of these guys (a hairier variety than what I like) moving as if on the hunt.

Image

Yep... I'm looking to my right. I'm syncing my pace with this beautiful dog. I've done the differential diagnosis, noted the color pattern, and felt the pang of wanting to meet this beast. I am about to open my mouth to say "Can I pet your..." and then

BAM!!!

My first thought was "that didn't hurt, but it's gonna leave a mark."

I look. I walked straight into a very tall, black, iron street lamp. It's right in the middle of the damned brick walkway. Yep... it's strange.

So pride hurt, but I'm alright. I think... I reach up and feel my face. And next thing I know, I can't even see through my left eye. The blood is pouring out that quickly.

Facial cuts do that...

I immediately knew I was going to need stitches. It's my facial structure. I've seen it a lot in martial arts. The pole hit me with my face turned to the right, and it hit the sharp ridge of bone that protects the eye socket. Eye is fine, but skin is split open like a knife gutting a fish. And since facial skin is highly vascularized, I have a mess.

I am right in front of a nice restaurant. I take my chances and walk in. I get a look of shock... but I don't smell like alcohol. I'm able to convince them that all is well, and I just need to stop the bleeding before I walk the rest of the way to my car.

All ended up fine. I got a gauze and stopped the bleeding. I cleaned myself up, as well as the sink. I thanked them and promised I'd come back and eat there. I found an Emergency Room with my car that was just a few blocks from my apartment. The ER was empty, and the NP who got right on me was completely in sync with my needs and my awareness of it all. I was out in 40 minutes with a really nice piece of suturing. Five stitches.

It looked good that night. But as I suspected, even ice wasn't able to stop the shiner I have today. It'll be interesting in the office Monday. God I wish I only had to tell this stupid story once... :D

More in a bit. There's a reason for me posting this.

Bill
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Postby KentuckyUechi » Mon Aug 23, 2010 9:25 pm

Bummer! :(
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Postby Glenn » Tue Aug 24, 2010 6:02 am

Glad you're OK!

I think there is definitely something to be said about the hazards of a new environment, and the need for increased awareness in one. Most surprises like that occur in places where we have little experience. Today was the first day of the Fall semester here at UNL and first thing this morning, before the first class even started, a pedestrian student was hit and injured by a car driven by another student in an accident that I suspect was at least partly caused by unfamiliarity with the area.

A couple of weeks ago I heard a news report about a study showing that accident rates increase when skirt length decreases (wasted money on the obvious in my opinion), maybe you could author a similar study on the hazards of canine distractions Bill. :D
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Postby robb buckland » Tue Aug 24, 2010 11:03 am

I know thats a tough one too admit to but , it was very well written ...... :lol:
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Postby CANDANeh » Tue Aug 24, 2010 11:22 am

When the "machine" moves it needs constant sensory information on where it is going...visual is a plus. Centuries ago a lion could now be extruding your cell phone as a result of not being one with your environment. Not judging as recently I paid a huge price as well for not being aware (got myself run over). Like my dad always said "what did you learn?" . Life is wonderful, even when one looks in the mirror and has a regret. Very thankful you are not seriously injured.
I would make up a better story however...give those coworkers something to talk about :wink:
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Postby Glenn » Tue Aug 24, 2010 1:38 pm

Maybe a story that starts out "I was exploring down Highway 31W and stopped off at this bar in West Point..."
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Postby Panther » Tue Aug 24, 2010 2:04 pm

A simple smile will keep them guessing... and probably get you some students too! :wink:
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Postby f.Channell » Tue Aug 24, 2010 2:16 pm

Dogs? Sure....
She must have been a looker! LOL....
:oops:
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Postby MikeK » Fri Aug 27, 2010 10:33 pm

Hmmm. I remember someone walking into the restaurant looking for your going away party and somehow not seeing anyone until you grabbed him. :lol:
I was dreaming of the past...
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Postby chef » Sun Aug 29, 2010 4:41 am

OUCH! So sorry to hear about your mishap, Bill. That is awful!

I had a crummy day today. After being ill, bed bound, and trying to get my appetite back, I acquiesced to my hubby's idea to go out for breakfast. As I was sitting in the back texting a good friend, my stomach lurched and immediately upon parking, I burst out of the car very sick and fertilized the lawn there. Awful! I sat at the curb, thinking "this isn't starting to be a good day'.

After feeling better, I went in (with no appetite now). I excused myself to family and went to used restroom. Wouldn't you know, some lazy female urinated all over the toilet and there was about 4 squares of TP left on that roll. I exited the toilet stall to hear a kind woman offer me a roll, letting me know that one was out. I thanked her, turned back to the stall and BAM! The door had swung open and I hit that door with a boiiiiiinnnnng!, literally resonated. My nose and forehead was really so sore!

I didn't end up like you, but man, talk about situational unawareness! The rest of the day went rapidlly downhill from there.

Truly hope you are feeling better, Bill. You could always say you had a ruckus and had to use your karate. Tell them the opponent was tough but you walked away.

Cheers,
Vicki
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Postby mhosea » Sun Aug 29, 2010 8:12 am

Awful! I sat at the curb, thinking "this isn't starting to be a good day'.


Here, I think, may have been a missed opportunity to look on the bright side. You made it out of the car! Hooray! :)

Truly hope you are feeling better, Bill.


Actually, I don't care that much about Bill ;), but I do hope your day today will be a good one.
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Postby Jason Rees » Sun Aug 29, 2010 8:41 am

Wouldn't you know, some lazy female urinated all over the toilet...


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Postby Glenn » Sun Aug 29, 2010 4:21 pm

chef wrote:Wouldn't you know, some lazy female urinated all over the toilet

I would attribute this to a young child. When I worked at fast food restaurants during high school and college, which included cleaning the restrooms, the womens' restrooms were always the worst because mothers tend to take young kids (boys and girls) to the bathroom more than fathers do. No excuse of course, for messy seats is then the result of a parent not cleaning up after the child.
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Postby Bill Glasheen » Mon Sep 06, 2010 12:31 am

I tend not to talk much about others' personal lives. But when I'm having a bad day, it pales in comparison to what either my dad or chef (a.k.a. Vicki) are going through right now. Same problem; different body systems. As I am want to say these days, There but for the grace of God go I.

Dad's back out of the hospital (3 visits already this year), and we have more therapy lined up. He's still sharp as a tack, he's still paying more in taxes than most people make, and he's technically still a full time worker (trader of securities). And he's paid INTO Medicare for a lifetime (up to 88 and counting), and paid into the BCBS as well. Sooo... as his medical power of attorney, I remind doctors of this when he wants to live a bit longer and enjoy life. I just visited him on Friday, and gave him an engraved cane in the form of a Louisville Slugger bat as a gift - custom made at the Louisville Slugger bat factory.

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My dad by the way played baseball in college. He was a pitcher, and a submariner at that. Very rare talent. I saw him still able to throw his submarine pitch with my son when he was 85.

I had the factory engrave his name in script on it (where the baseball star typically has his), and his nickname below (The Warlock). Long story on that one, related to years doing neighborhood watch into the wee hours of the morning, and putting a lot of bad guys in jail.

Miss Vicki hopefully is getting some extra clinical attention of her own this week from some specialists at a major medical center. Fingers crossed. And I have another gift coming her way, but not a bat. Another piece of wood, and one I think she'll appreciate. And one that will guilt her into getting better soon, or my gift will be wasted. She was raised Catholic you know. I know how to push those guilt buttons on her. :twisted:

- Bill
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Postby Bill Glasheen » Mon Sep 06, 2010 2:07 am

So why did I start this thread?

Well for one, I wanted to make it clear that we ALL wear Fruit of the Looms - no matter how much training and experience we get. And the more I know and learn, the more humble I've learned to become. It's just ignorant making one's ability out to be anything more than being just a little better, smarter, and safer than you were before you put all the time in. But nobody's Superman, and we all have something to learn.

Plus... I have no shame. :lol:

It's been 15 days now. The black eye is mostly gone. The stitches came out after 5 days, and the cut is barely noticeable. The scar follows the natural path of my eyebrow. Just like the stupid thing I did on Main Street in Louisville, that also was a bit of dumb luck. And after all... any scars will make this face look better. ;)

But what else?

Indeed this was about mindful vs. mindless mind. They are two entirely different states of mind. Each has a purpose. Each is useful in very specific circumstances. And each has some pretty severe drawbacks in the wrong situation.

My oldest son is the classic example of where mushin (no minded mind) is a problem. He gets into a class and after about 15 minutes, his mind has drifted into mental nothingness. We tested him, and he's sort of like that MC Escher drawing - neither fish nor foul.

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He's not classically ADD, and not fully "normal." He's "just a dreamer." And we're all entitled to be weird in our own ways, so long as we find ways to compensate.

Drifting into no-minded mind isn't a good thing when you're trying to learn calculus. But if you're Einstein, well there's a time for that. Folks once measured EEG activity on him, hoping themselves to be inspired by something possibly unique about his brain. They found out he could do integral calculus in the alpha state (e.g. mushin). Only when he encountered a new problem did he pop into attentiveness. Meanwhile, he could just pop into "the zone" and crank stuff out without a lot of thought. Literally no less!

If Einstein can do integral calculus in mushin, well maybe a few gifted martial artists can fight bad guys in the same. That's the Platonic ideal, anyhow. The reality unfortunately is often very different.

When I teach concepts and make corrections in karate class, it's necessary for the student to get into a mindful state of mind. When they're making corrections and you want them NOT to keep repeating that same ^*@#$ @#$#!!!! mistake they keep doing again and again, you MUST get them into a mindful state of mind. You must have them think through the changes, and pay close attention to the detail. You must have them do this many times, until it begins to get automatic. THEN (I tell them) they can go into auto pilot, and practice the movements (correctly) the approximately 1000 times it takes before it's internalized to any reasonable degree.

So we see that a mindful mind has its uses in the karate class. And guess what? It's also pretty much automatic whenever you're in a new area. I was explaining what I had done to myself to one of my older sisters, who by the way has been head of personnel for several large (and well known) companies. She started rattling off the reasons why I had done it, telling me of course what I already knew. But she was spot on. There was the new city, and my dad in the hospital, and my number 1 Richmond karate student being struck by a bad illness, and trying to raise my family in another city, and a new job, and working late on a Saturday night in the office in a downtown area, and getting to experience Louisville city on a Saturday night, etc., etc. And before I knew it, I had developed physical and psychological tunnel vision. I was so into the process of new information input and savoring the moment, that I had completely lost the "scatter vision" of the perfect no-minded mind (mushin). So I walk down the street admiring this beautiful dog along with everything else on my mind, and there was just no way that my peripheral vision was going to see that pole that I had so foolishly walked into.

And no, I did not hurt the light pole. :lol: Those beautiful Main Street street lamps are about 30 foot tall and made of iron. If a Ford F150 ran into one, I think the pole would win.

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So when we practice martial arts in my dojo, I talk a lot about the need to develop BOTH mindful and no-minded mind. Each has a function; each needs to be optimized.

Here's the thing. We can spent all our time chanting Oommmm after eating granola, and do Sanchin after Sanchin until our mind is happily drifting into nothingness. We can convince ourselves that we've got it down. Nope...

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Many of us - who haven't done our homework - similarly convince ourselves that we have what it takes to handle life when the samurai jumps out from behind the bushes. But reality can be very different.

For one... I'm re-reading Rory's Meditations on Violence now. It's a fun read for plane flights. In it he talks about how "typical" fights start and end quickly, and how one person often gains (and keeps) the advantage very early on. Good warriors and nasty predators know this, and take advantage of the elements of surprise and distraction. What is "The Wolfhound and The Street Lamp" in my everyday silly life is The Distraction and The Bad Guy in an assault or a "Shock and Awe" military operation. The perp WANTS you to be mindful - of something other than you. This is also one of the oldest games in the book for pickpockets as well. One guy does the bump, and the other does the snatch. They work as a team, and you never know what hit you until it's too late.

And for another... We'd all LIKE to think that years and years of training of our mushin in kata alone will prepare us for when we face The Grim Reaper But will it? I won't go as far as some who discount training and reason totally. Even my friend Rory does this in his book, and I have to call him on it. He says experience is so much more important BECAUSE he has so damned much of it. Meanwhile... I've had damn little, and find (much to my surprise) that in some self-defense encounters you really CAN get it right. And you wouldn't have if you hadn't had the training and the good mind.

BUT.....

You're an absolute fool if you haven't done your homework on the neurophysiology of extreme states of neurohormonal stimulation. Me? That was my systems physiology training, and I've had years in the dog lab to induce these states pharmacologically.

To the point, "tunnel vision" is what we don't want when the predator or (much worse yet) predatorS approach us. But tunnel vision - like poo - happens when things go very wrong. And if you're not aware of it and/or don't compensate for it, you're putting yourself at risk in a bad self-defense situation.

Seisan by the way teaches us to "scan the horizon", as do several other traditional kata (including my Fuzhou Suparinpei). If you don't understand the physiology of neurohormonal extremes, you won't have a clue what the choreographers were trying to communicate to you. Three Sanchin thrusts in three directions after taking out the bad guy for WHAT REASON??? (Never mind the extra two no-shoken shokens before you get up.) Ooohhh... :idea:

Anyhow... Hope you enjoyed my own Meditations on Stupidity. ;)

- Bill
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