3 Ways to Unleash Your Warrior Spirit
Take a moment to close your eyes and sit with the word samurai at the forefront of your consciousness. What comes to mind when you think of this ancient warrior?
Maybe a samurai’s sword slashes through your mind, awakening the image of a man daring in spirit and full of bravery. Or perhaps your mind travels to a more modern interpretation - like Afro Samurai. The steely coolness of Samuel L. Jackson seeking revenge in a futuristic feudal Japan. It’s also possible your mind leaps beyond direct samurai reference to a film like Star Wars. The Jedi with their strict moral code, and a sense of honour that extends into compassion, to keep peace within the universe.
Whatever your conception of the samurai is, there is no doubt the lore of this warrior class has proliferated through the consciousness of popular culture. The philosophy behind the samurai – known as Bushido, can provide ancient insight of how we can optimise our lives in modern times.
“Rectitude is the power of deciding upon a certain course of conduct in accordance with reason, without wavering; - to die when it is right to die, to strike when it is right to strike.” – Inazo Nitobe, Bushido: The Soul of Japan
You don’t need to be as hardcore as a samurai - ready to fight and die when the right moment arises – to make rectitude work for you. Rectitude can be defined as moral integrity. Having a decisive backbone where you’re able to determine right from wrong, what will serve you in your life and what won’t.
How do you develop more moral integrity and decisive right action? Develop a meditation practice. You don’t need to sit under the Bodhi Tree in silence; you can create a practice that works for your life. Maybe it’s going for a long walk with your dog or swimming laps at your local pool. When your mind is quiet, you can discern what you regard as essential values to stay integral to yourself and others.
“A truly brave man is ever serene; he is never taken by surprise; nothing ruffles the equanimity of his spirit. In the heat of battle he remains cool; in the midst of catastrophes he keeps level his mind.” – Inazo Nitobe, Bushido: The Soul of Japan
It is said samurai mothers would let their sons down the steep valley of hardship, just as bears hurl their cubs down the gorge. This was to prepare the samurai from birth with the necessary strength to face pain and grief.
While you hopefully weren’t tossed down the side of a cliff, either physically or metaphorically, you can still use your own hardship to bolster your courage. We all have an experience of adversity that is unique to us – envision one of these moments in time for yourself. Try to feel all of the emotions associated with the experience: fear, anger, sadness, whatever comes up. Then envision how you dealt with this hardship, utilising whatever coping skills you had at the time. It may not have been perfect in how you handled it, but it doesn’t matter. The point is you overcame it and came out on the other side. With each successive hardship, you gain a little more skill and tact in how to deal with it. Celebrate each one! And one day you may find you’re able to deal with any adversity that arises with a peaceful state of mind and spirit.
“Love, magnanimity, affection for others, sympathy and pity, were ever recognised to be the supreme virtues, the highest of the attributes of the human soul.” – Inazo Nitobe, Bushido: The Soul of Japan
When you think of a samurai, benevolence and loving affection might not be the first things that come to mind. We tend to associate the image of a warrior with being an emotional fortress, focused solely on cultivating a daring sense of fearlessness above all else. In the case of the samurai, this was not so. The samurai were often poets as well as swordsmen. It was seen as a virtue for the spirit to be able to move freely – never too stiff or brittle by conforming to one way of life. The samurai was multi-dimensional in both spirit and mind.
How can you become a more well-rounded and emotionally intelligent man? Try going to a yoga class focused on backbends, where you’ll have a chance to open up your heart. Go to the park with a child and allow yourself to play – no phones or standing on the sidelines allowed. Maybe even try your hand at writing poetry. Allow whatever experience you choose to be an opportunity to truly feel the richness of life. Savour the spectrum of emotions that may arise – from joy to sorrow and all in-between – for you’ll really know what it means for the human soul to flourish.
Just as we started, take a moment to sit with word samurai in your mind. Envision yourself as this modern samurai - full of rectitude, courage, and benevolence. Take this warrior spirit with you throughout your daily life to optimise yourself and the world around you.
This article was written for us by our fantastic Brand Warrior, Michael Toru. For more information about Michael, please visit his page here