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Martial Arts: Zen, Meditation, and the Martial Arts

Getting Perspective

By Christopher Caile

I'm sitting here on a huge rock, 50 times my size. It is perched up on top of others, one among countless thousands defining the rock strewn shoreline of Maine.

The experience gives life perspective.

It is soothing and tranquil. Nature can do that. It takes you out of your cocoon, your everyday world of stress and activity. It makes you stop thinking.

The rock reminded me of its hardness. The sea pulled at me, my eyes fixed at the distant horizon where sea reaches up to meet the sky whisked with clouds lazily filtering past.

My rock was but one of a thousand along the rocky tentacles of the peninsulas that reach out to the sea along Maine's coast, a ragged shoreline cuddling countless coves, inlets and harbors. It is clawed land and pockmarked, littered by fingerprints of rock scraped and deposited among upturned bedrock, a fingerprint of timeless history, land shaped by geological plate shifts, weather and the imprint of glaciers -- unfathomable pressures that pulled at the land, carving it like soft putty over centuries that ticked past like seconds on the watch of time.

I feel the timelessness, the raw nature, its power and vastness. It pulled me outside of my own limited life. There is a penetrating soothing.

The experience gives me a sense of peace. We all need this at times -- to escape our narrow world of habits and existence -- our closeted life, lost in everyday struggle and stress, where problems of work, deadlines, money, and family loom in front of us like mountains closing us off.

We forget to step back. This is where getting away, however briefly, can provide solace and a larger perspective.

I have felt a similar experience on Cape Cod, a sea community not far from Boston, MA. Away from major cities, pollution and industry, fresh sea winds blow across the peninsula. On a clear night the sky is often brilliant with millions of star pricks forming a cloud of our galaxy ranging across the sky. You can be drawn into the absolute vastness that reduces huge bright stars into tinkles of light reaching out to your eyes across thousands, even billions, of light years.  

For me this is always an awesome experience. It alternatively draws me into its silence and depth, while also provoking contemplation. It prompts questions of existence, of endless space, and human proportion amongst the unthinkable vastness..

My wife when in grad school in New York City often needed to escape the intensity and pressure. She found a simple way to commune with nature.  She would take a train to a less populated area beach and just sit and listen. For her she needed the soothing sound of the sea, its waves rolling in, crashing against the sand, and then withdrawing to regather again -- rhythmic sounds, the cadence of the sea. It only took a short repute to clear her mind and quell her tensions.

My wife's watching the waves created within her very much the mind set I found sitting high up there on a rock on the sea coast of Maine or staring at the night sky on Cape Cod.  Nature creates an intimate connection that draws you out of your own world. It can clear the mind and take it to a central space, a kind of poor man's Zen mind, free of emotion and everyday thought, a state that lets the inner self rest and be freed, for however a short time, of everyday stress and worry, a mind set that is inherently at peace.

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About The Author:

Christopher Caile is the Founder and Editor of

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meditation, Zen, nature, nature's effect, the mind and nature

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