"How old are you?" and "How old do you feel?" are two very different questions. They are questions of external versus internal; questions of authenticity versus a pseudo-you; and questions of freedom versus inhibition. Your outward appearance tells a very different story than your inner truth, if you can reveal it.
The world around us is surrounded by pointing fingers, lines in the sand, and razor sharp words of criticism. The amount of inflexibility in those who enact these destructive motives grows larger every minute they get older. The physical body, as it ages, changes in similar ways. Muscles get tighter; blood vessels get narrower; synapses in the brain fire slower; and our steps get shorter. It seems like we are heading downhill at an alarming speed as we age. But, as I like to say, that's one way of looking at it.
When was the last time you did something your parents told you growing up was either dangerous, difficult, or dirty?
Another way of looking at it is as if everyday we are getting younger. How do we do this? With each day your body gets older, you hold on to the young, free-willed, inspiring, and open-minded you. Can you remember one of your most precious and happiest childhood memories? When was the last time you let yourself experience it? When was the last time you skipped down the street? When was the last time you did something your parents told you growing up was either dangerous, difficult, or dirty? Perhaps you tell your own children these things!
If parents, teachers, and adults in general have the most influence on how children grow and develop their own personalities, then what are you doing to maintain your own inner child?
Can you access him or her at anytime you want?
Could you dance freely in the middle of a busy sidewalk?
Could you sing out loud in a big park?
Could you make up a song with only silly bathroom words that we yell at our kids for saying?
Your experience in life is determined by your ability to enjoy every moment. And if you have a difficult time letting go of your thoughts and beliefs about how life should be or about how other people should act, then your experience is going to be even more of a challenge. So much of a challenge that others will have a hard time being in your presence.
My suggestion to you is to awaken your inner child by first focusing on the most enjoyable experiences of your childhood. Close your eyes and re-experience them. Then, find a way to bring them back to life. Re-awaken your inner child by shedding the shrouds of judgement; the expectations of adulthood; and the belief that the good days are behind you. For the best days are ahead of you if you continue to look forward, move freely, and perhaps even dance a little on the way.
So, go nudge the little one inside you and tell them it's time to wake up.
You may have seen recently that I have decided to start a kid’s martial arts class starting on September 10. I want to share with you a few reasons why I chose to restart this old journey. First though, let me share with you a story about how I began working with children.
Nearly 15 years ago, in a small western Pennsylvania town, I was offered my first opportunity to teach my very own children’s martial arts class. When I received the news, I was both excited and fearful. I knew it was something I was prepared to do, but I had zero experience doing it on my own. I thought for days about what material I should focus on when teaching these rambunctious 4 and 5 year olds. Dare I teach them to how to make a proper fist, how to kick, how to eventually wield a long wooden staff or metal sword? Was I qualified to do so? I mean, what was it my teacher saw in me that said “teacher” written on it? So many thoughts ran through my head, I had trouble standing on my own two feet from the weight of it all.
Then, all of a sudden, one single image entered my mind.
I imagined myself being a child. I wasn’t sure why, but I was immediately moved to tears. I began imagining myself standing there with these precious children having no other responsibility than simply trusting and following the instructions of the teacher in front of them. Then I began imagining myself being a child standing at the front of the room, as the teacher. Sounds silly, but let me share with you why this image completely changed my entire perspective on teaching to this day.
In order to be a fearless leader, you have to be a fearless follower.
I believe that in order to guide others, you must be able to imagine yourself walking with them, speaking their words, carrying out their actions as well as their ways of being. You have to become one of them for as long as it takes so that you understand how they best learn and absorb the in knowledge you are teaching them. And in order to be a fearless leader, you have to be a fearless follower. I had to make the decision to not be afraid to be a child again. I had to build trust through finding a way to connect, and in the moment of imagining myself as a child again I found exactly what I needed. I had no obligation to meet another adult's wishes or expectations, nor did I have any obligation to teach these children to do perfect punches, kicks, tumbling techniques, or prepare them to win a national championship like I would do several years later. I was simply there to teach. To teach like a child, to build a sense of trust, to be their friend, and to be their leader. I finally realized my ultimate goal when it came to working with children 15 years ago, and even to this day, was to help sculpt the future of every child by leaving a lasting positive impression in their minds and perhaps even a few words of wisdom all by seeing myself as a child.
Our potential should never be clouded by the thoughts of another but rather lifted up by them.
Our roles in life are so often clouded by our own expectations of what we think other people want us to do that we forget what it is we actually CAN do. Our potential should never be clouded by the thoughts of another but rather lifted up by them. The responsibility I see myself having as an instructor is to walk side by side with those I teach. My skillset and experience are the guiding instincts leading us together on the journey inwards to self-understanding and then again outwards to understanding the people in our lives.
So, if you think I am starting this new class to expand my business and add a little revenue to my balance sheet, you’ve only focused on the portion that matters to your typical business owner. I, however, am not your typical business owner. Yes, these factors are certainly important, but I believe focusing on people like you is a much more valuable approach, and it is the driving reason for what I do. My purpose, whether it be while I teach classes, treat patients, or speak at events, is to help as many people as possible, children and adults, experience what it truly means to live life at their fullest potential and help them understand how they can do it every day of their lives.
In the end, my contribution to society is to enhance the future of our world by starting at the very beginning, with the pure and uninhibited minds and bodies of children. If I can help even one single child explore the amazing world around them through gentle guidance and endless encouragement, my purpose in life will have been fulfilled.
With that said, I hope to see you at our first class on September 10.
(More info on the class and registration can be found here.)
Peacefully and Passionately,
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inspirational ideas on healthy living through eastern medicine, optimism, and possibility through empowerment.