If we can prevent ourselves from being thrown by heightened emotions and instead learn to flow with them, the physiological responses they produce in us can help us defeat obstacles. To harness feelings for a defined purpose, we must first develop an understanding of and tolerance for inner turmoil. We should learn to observe our passions; understand their sources and their unique character. Then we will be able to transform them into creative inspiration for successful action. Once we have an in-depth awareness of our personality and the ways we react to external stimuli, we can use our minds to evoke a powerful internal physiological state at will and channel it to great advantage.
In Josh’s Words:
To walk a thorny road, we may cover its every inch with leather or we can make sandals.
– Indian parable
We are built to be sharpest when in danger, but protected lives have distanced us from our natural abilities to channel our energies. Instead of running from our emotions or being swept away by their initial gusts, we should learn to sit with them, become at peace with their unique flavors, and ultimately discover deep pools of inspiration. I have found that this is a natural process. Once we build our tolerance for turbulence and are no longer upended by the swells of our emotional life, we can ride them and even pick up speed with their slopes.
Further reading: Chapter 18 Making Sandals
The first obstacle I had to overcome as a young chess player was to avoid being distracted by random, unexpected events- by the mini-earthquakes that afflict all of our days. In performance training, first we learn to flow with whatever comes. Then we learn to use whatever comes to our advantage. Finally, we learn to be completely self-sufficient and create our own earthquakes, so our mental process feeds itself explosive inspirations without the need for outside stimulus.
Further reading: Chapter 5: The Soft Zone, Chapter 7: Changing Voice, Chapter 12: Using Adversity
From THE ART OF LEARNING by Josh Waitzkin. Copyright © 2007 by Josh Waitzkin LLC.
Reprinted by permission of Free Press, a Division of Simon & Schuster, Inc.