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Offered by: Willy Strohmeier – Colorado Karate Club

Yeah, that’s me in the weeks before Christmas. My wife thinks I’m a sort of Grinch who doesn’t enjoy the Christmas spirit, and maybe she’s right. Don’t get me wrong, I do like Christmas, I am just annoyed at the constant noise,  ashing lights, crazy shopping, and overly poppy cheerfulness of it, which expects me to prance around the snow ringing bells and spreading joy like fairy dust.

Not much of a “Silent Night” for my taste. You see, I think that we have come to a huge imbalance between the noise of life, which multiplies during Christmas, and the silence required for reflective thought and prayer. And it is not just around Christmas that we are haunted by noise and flashing lights, but throughout the year, and I am guilty of this as well. We keep the TV on even just for background noise, jump in the car and the radio plays, go for a run, or a bike ride and got headphones strapped to our ears. Our phones ding non-stop with email, texting, and instant messages, or with notifications from Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter. We seem to have become uncomfortable with silence and being alone with ourselves and with our thoughts.

At the start of our Karate class, the students line up, sit on their knees (seiza), and the senior student calls for “Mokuso”, which means “to meditate”, it is a moment when we close our eyes and keep silent in order to clear our minds and focus on the upcoming training. This is an inherent part of the class, because we believe that a proper “mokuso” helps greatly to improve a student’s (and the teacher’s) performance in class.

In the same manner, I believe that a few minutes of silence at the start of our day can be tremendously helpful for reflection, recollection, and unencumbered thought, especially in preparation for the day ahead. In a busy world, so full of distractions, meetings, chores, and conversations, remember that the most important conversations you may have, are the ones that you will have with yourself in the silence of your mind. I hope you make the time to listen to what you have to say.

Best wishes, and yes, Merry Christmas to you!
Willy Strohmeier – Sensei