“Let the sword become an extension of your arm.”
I’ve never used a sword before, but that phrase is said so much on television it’s practically common knowledge. The same phrase goes for tennis racquets and cooking knives and dumbbells; they’re all “extensions of your arm.”
I recently began practicing bike riding. I was never very into biking, but since I’m going to the Netherlands in the fall everyone said that I should relearn, as, “they bike everywhere over there.” So I took the bike out for a spin on Sunday. Besides a seriously uncomfortable seat, it was a pretty good time.
I’ve been trying to ride more like a grown up, steering primarily by leaning instead of using the handlebars and stopping with the handbrakes instead of skidding my feet. I’m getting there.
The interesting thing about steering by leaning is that I began to feel the whole “extension” thing, as if I was a part of the bike. It was me making the bike turn, not the bike itself. It felt more responsive, less wild and dangerous.
I’d always treated my first car like a living being, mostly because she acted like one. She was temperamental and sometimes didn’t do what I asked her to. She also only went up big hills if I gave her a pep talk. I didn’t feel like she was an extension of my body, unlike the bike. She was always something I was working with, like I was riding a horse.
When I used to do archery, I shot best when I cleared my mind and let the bow do the work. Instead of the bow becoming a part of me, I became a part of the bow.
We should probably pay attention to how we interact with things, because it says a lot about who we are. Every object represents a relationship. Do you tend to use people the same way you use objects? When your computer is frustrating do you slam the mouse on the table? Or shut it off completely? Or wait for it to come to its senses? When your car won’t start do you punch the steering wheel or beg it to work with you? Do you ever stop to admire the beauty of the way your pen writes?
There are no wrong answers; it’s all practice in being mindful, and applying our internal relationships to the external. Try to relate how to treat objects to how you treat people. You may be surprised to find which of your loved ones you treat as an extension of your arm.