Lessons from Bruce Lee
Lessons from Bruce Lee and Qigong on Stress Management
Did you know that STRESS is the number one killer? Stress costs companies $200 - $300 billion dollars each year. The United Nations International Labor Organization has deemed occupational stress as a global epidemic.
What is TRUE Stress Management?
You manage stress by discovering and preventing the innate causes of stress as it applies to your body, mind and emotions. Stress is like lava flowing into a volcano. You can’t stop the lava from flowing. However, you can poke holes in the sides of the volcano, giving the lava an outlet and preventing a disastrous eruption.
Let’s go back for a moment and learn some lessons from Bruce Lee. In five films, Bruce Lee managed to popularize martial arts in the US. If you’ve ever watched a Bruce Lee film you might notice something remarkable about him. When he fights, he moves faster than the eyes can see. You have to actually watch his fight scenes in slow motion to figure this out. While many martial artists strive to look like Bruce Lee, most don’t. In fact many martial artists who begin practicing as children suffer many injuries and can be out of the game by their mid-thirties.
Most people completely ignored Bruce Lee’s tireless efforts to share what he learned about self-mastery. Consider the following quote:
Be like water making its way through cracks. Do not be assertive, but adjust to the object, and you shall find a way around or through it. If nothing within you stays rigid, outward things will disclose themselves. Empty your mind, be formless. Shapeless, like water. If you put water into a cup, it becomes the cup. You put water into a bottle and it becomes the bottle. You put it in a teapot, it becomes the teapot. Now, water can flow or it can crash. Be water, my friend. -- Bruce Lee
Bruce Lee was a Master of Qigong. Qigong is the reason why Lee could move faster than the eye could see. How does one come to move that fast - speed with excellence and exceptional precision? By first mastering the slow. Wouldn’t you like to excel in every aspect of your life with excellence and exceptional precision?
Lee was in the zone - that place where time seems to stand still, yet you can move at lightning speed while processing all that is around you with extreme clarity. Stress does not exist in the zone. At one point in the film, Enter The Dragon, Bruce Lee's teacher recognizes Lee for elevating his practice from mere physical techniques to the application of spiritual insight. How cool would it be if we could go in and out of the zone at will?
We can do so through self-mastery, but because we are often seduced by the "cool outer moves," we often focus more on developing outer technique than "emotional content." We then become stressed because we forcefully strive for results with the wrong energy and then are disappointed by the fruits of our efforts. When Lee’s teacher asks "What is the highest technique you hope to achieve?" Bruce Lee responds, "To have no technique." So how do these concepts play out today so that we may process stress and achieve a higher level of fulfillment and mastery in our physical, mental, emotional, spiritual, work and home lives?
The Power in Moving Slow
Whenever I teach Qigong, I say that we need to move like we are moving through water without making ripples. Why? Imagine for a moment that you are in a pool of water and you see a beautiful flower floating in the water. If you move through water so fast that you make ripples, your movement will push the flower away from you. But if you move slowly, you will soon be able to reach out and touch the flower, and as you reach out, the flower flows towards you. Qi is just like that flower. What are you striving for? Are you making ripples or are you allowing it flow to you?
Easing Into The Zone
The next Qigong concept I share with my students is to go into the place of no mind. The easiest way to do this is to pay attention to reality, listening to every sound that you hear around you. If you are actively listening you cannot also be thinking. It's not about ridding the mind of thoughts; it's about acknowledging your thoughts, as well as all of the happenings around you and in the midst of it all, choosing to stay connected to your breathing. You cannot breathe in the past or future, you can only breathe in the present so use it to help you to get and stay in the zone.
When you are able to keep your attention on your breathing while accepting the current state of your body and mind you are placed into the zone, the present moment, the now. This is where you have access to the truest part of yourself, your energy and your power. All that is required is a simple shift in perception.
You Already Know How To Do It Really Well
Listen to one of your favorite songs. As you listen, choose an instrument that you really like and focus on it. Somehow, it magically seems to become prominent to you even though the music has not changed. It was your perception that changed. You still hear all of the other instruments, but the one you chose to focus on caused the others to fade into the background. You already have the skill.
Applying Both Strategies Synchronistically
You can apply these strategies to every area of your life. Here is a fun way to practice. The next time you are having a conversation with someone, slow down and begin to focus on your breathing. Enjoy the silent pauses in the conversation. Acknowledge the presence of the activity in/around you, but choose to focus on the voice of the person who is speaking to you. Thoughts will still go through your mind, but you will let them float by, like boats in a river. Noise will be there, but you stay connected to your breath which keeps you serene and in the present moment and allows you to give one of the greatest gifts you can offer another: divine active listening. Give it a try ...