Finding the Beat

I just returned from Japan.  I took a group of 12 high-achievers on my exclusive, invitation-only Mushin WayExperience — a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to journey to Japan and immerse yourself in the birthplace of The Mushin Way.

As regular readers of this blog know, I lived in Japan for 10-years studying the martial art of Aikido, practicing Zen meditation, and working as a consultant in the expat business community.  And whenever I return to Japan, I am still completely in awe at the exquisite, ancient surroundings that awaken my senses and soul in ways that defy description.

Taking a group of 12 people to Japan for a 10-day retreat is a lot of work — before, during, and after the event.   If I am not careful, I can easily become overwhelmed, burned out, and extremely frustrated.  This happened early on when I started taking groups to Japan in 2001.  The groups were too big or too small, the mix of personalities wasn’t quite right, the logistics were off, and the list goes on.

Yet now, I find myself completely refreshed, reinvigorated, and rejuvenated having returned just a few days ago.  And I want to share one way I achieved this “win” with you.

While in Japan, I had the opportunity to have my group hear a traditional Japanese drum, called taiko, being played.  If you have ever seen a taikoperformance, you know it is transformational — the Japanese drummers are connected deeply with their drums and together they produce a deep, resonate beat that you can feel in every bone in your body.

Yet think about what creates such a beautiful sound.  The drum itself is not a complex instrument.  As a matter of fact, its quite simple — a wooden “barrel” covered with skin on one or both ends.  And what is inside the drum to produce such a lovely sound?  Nothing.  Nada.  Zippo.  As a matter of fact, what happens if you try to cram something inside the drum?  It distorts the sound, disturbs the rhythm, makes it unplayable.

Much like when we try to cram too much into our minds — we worry, we fret, stress builds up.  Our fear and ego take hold of us and can easily cause overwhelm and upset.  Yet when we embrace Mushin — no mind — we can shed these burdens and produce breakthrough results in our business and personal life.  This is how I came back from Japan after 10 exhausting days refreshed and refocussed.  I didn’t cram distractions into my mind.  I let go of the chaff.  I embraced Mushin.

And if you are having a hard time emptying your mind, download a taikorecording to play on your smartphone while you are walking or driving to help you let go of distractions.  Better yet, catch a live taiko performance if available in your city.  It is transformational.  Or you can always take a peek at this clip on YouTube.  Boom.  Boom.  BOOM.

(Photo credit:  Vivienne Azarcon)