It’s 10 p.m. The paper is white. There is still so much left that I must accomplish. 15 pages … all due tomorrow. A thought passes by. Better check my email. Why not watch a video on YouTube? Just one. 20 minutes wasted. Still, I haven’t written anything. Just received a text message. I better see who it is from.
I imagine many students can relate to the above. Though we all strive to avoid facing the obstacle of completing major assignments during the dark hours of the morning, we often cannot. We all lead hectic lives and often there is no choice but to bite the bullet. You grab a favorite energy drink or mug of coffee, so you have a chance of submitting a term paper worth 30 percent of your grade.
This isn’t an ideal situation; of course it should have been done earlier. But at this point, such thoughts are counterintuitive to completing the task at hand.
Yet, because we find the task daunting — since there are other things that we would enjoy doing, rather than complete an assignment of significant value in a tight window of time — we begin to lose focus and steer away from completing the task at hand. And now the assignment is even more daunting. And we procrastinate some more.
In the face of adversity and struggle, we must first develop a certain calmness of mind so that we may best tackle the activity at hand.
A concept, akin to both Zen Buddhism and Washin-Ryu Karate, speaks of the calmness of mind necessary for completing even the most daunting of tasks. It is referred to as mu no kokoro or mushin. Though I am not an expert in either of these disciplines, I do wish to share with you some of the knowledge that I have gained through my brief interaction with these concepts.
Mu no kokoro or mushin translate from Japanese to “the nothingness of mind” or “the mind with no thought.” A literal definition fails to capture the essence of these terms. Instead, they may be understood as the state of mind that is in total harmony with universal principles of our world. Master Ochiai, founder of Washin-Ryu and a resident of Binghamton, emphasizes that when one is able to reach such a state of mind, the mind intuitively knows what ought to be done in each situation.
This, Master Ochiai believes, may be done though meditative practice, where one may build mental discipline and awareness. As a result, one may be fully aware of what ought to be done at any moment.
Before facing any difficult task, you must strive to reach a state of awareness like that of mushin or mu no kokoro. It may be the case that you cannot reach a supreme level of awareness. Regardless, you must aim to reach a state of calmness and tranquility so that you may channel your energy to complete the task without any strain or mental difficulty.
This will make any task more manageable. With enough practice, tasks such as last-minute school assignments will be less intimidating.