I’m three weeks into the Iron Palm Level 1 Procedure. It’s been quite the ride thus far. Each day has been different. No two meditations have been the same and the mental game has provoked a vast array of thoughts and emotions ranging from disappointment to blissful awe.

I find I battle between two different mindsets. One mind set enjoys going with the flow and feeling the energy under my feet as I glide across the face of the wave of life hurdling over milestones as they come. Tumbles through the washing machine are expected and simply part of the process. The other part of me likes to question, actively search for solutions before problems even arise, push the envelope, show the world what I am capable of doing, and is quick to lose confidence. Failure is not an option.  It’s a battle between the soul surfer and its antagonist, the ego. This last week has been a classic example of the struggle between the two.

The beginning of last week started out with excitement. The sensations I felt during my meditations were increasing and I was discovering many other things, which I will keep vague in respect for others who have not gone through the procedure. I was hitting the bag harder and starting to strike with a more effortless power that had a distinct sound and feel. Sifu Dennis said it was time for my first coconut break attempt session. My mission was to get three white coconuts. I must preface this story with admitting that I really do not enjoy the taste of coconut so don’t eat them and thus, don’t really know much about them. At the time I thought all coconuts were brown. Sifu recommended “white” coconuts because they are softer than the brown ones. So, while shopping at Sprouts I found both brown and white coconuts. Brown was hard and the white young coconuts definitely soft. I bought 3 white and 1 brown just in case he wanted me to try the harder one too. I showed up to the gwoon (school) with my coconuts and pride. “Yeah, I’m gonna break some coconuts!”. Sifu Dennis instructed me to grab them and bring them outside. Excitedly I grabbed my bag and picked a white one out. Immediately, both Sifu Dennis and Sifu Anton start laughing. Apparently, the young coconut, though white in color, was not what he meant. The soul surfer joined in on the laughter with the attitude “hey, I’m blonde and I’ve had one too many blows to the head. Yup, this is pretty funny!” I apologize if I have offended blonde readers. I digress. While the soul surfer was in stitches, my ego apparently didn’t find it amusing. I was left with trying to break the much harder, brown coconut. As I unsuccessfully laid strike upon strike, my ego got even more frustrated. “Failure is not an option. It’s a sign of weakness.” says the ego. When it was time to hit the bag, I found myself trying to beat it into oblivion as fast as I could throwing everything I had trained my mind and body to do up to that point out the window. The ego, I, was throwing a temper tantrum. Sifu Dennis said it sounded like a machine gun. “Slow down”!  At the end of my bag hitting session I had a brief discussion with Sifu leaving me with wise words passed to him by Grandmaster Doo Wai. “If you look for results you won’t find them. When you stop focusing on the result and instead go through the procedure the results will come.” The soul surfer immediately understood while the ego, now reduced to the mental status of a two year old who didn’t get her way, stood there puzzled still fixed in her pouting state of mind.

Since my last blog entry I read a book titled Prime Ski Racing: Triumph of the Racer’s Mind by Jim Taylor in preparation for helping my student-athletes (Mammoth Mountain Ski Racers) set goals for the season. I was reminded of how attitude is everything and being able to recognize the shift in attitude is key. When I look back on all my races and all the games I played, I did best when I was smiling. One may ask, was I smiling because I was doing well or vice versa? My answer. Does it matter? In Jim Taylor’s book he spoke of the psychology behind smiling. The muscles used to smile actually trigger the neurons in the brain to release “feel good” chemicals regardless if you are happy or not; an entire science lesson in itself. This past weekend I tested for purple sash w/stripe. About halfway through the test I noticed the look on all our faces. We were so serious and had a slight frown. I don’t know about the others, but I was feeling tense, nervous, and unconfident.  As I looked at myself in the mirror I saw my ego. I thought back to the other night and smiled at the image of my two year old self kicking and screaming on the floor. I could feel my muscles relax as my smile reflected back at me in the mirror. My attitude shifted and I had more of the mindset of the soul surfer. Let’s take things as they come. You prepared. You are not perfect. Mistakes are valuable lessons and lead to further improvement. Have fun. You love this stuff! I felt relaxed during my lessons. My forms were not my best performance, but I was able to shake off the nerves and execute them. Last, but not least, I had fun! In the end, the desired result came. I earned the stripe.

Tomorrow I will have an opportunity for another coconut break attempt. This time, however, my ego will sit off to the side and hopefully gain some understanding by watching the soul surfer go through the procedure.

“In life you find that one of the most desirable qualities you can find in a person is flexibility. The ability to change with changing times, to face adversity with the same attitude one would have in facing victory”.  – A Guide To A Happy Life