Jishin yori mo heijoushin.
Not confidence, but your normal relaxed mind.
This is what’s important in kyudo, and what you can learn at tournaments.
It occured to me this morning when I was talking to someone at kyudo this morning.
She asked me, “How was the tournament?”
“I did horrible.”
“Even though you hit the target so much before?”
“Yeah, I know. I was super confident, but once I started shooting it all fell apart.”
She went to shoot arrows and I went to pull the ones I had shot and then it hit me:
Confidence isn’t what’s important cause it will come and go and flutter according to outside conditions. What’s really important is this heijoushin, a normal relaxed mind.
In kyudo we’re trying to get to the bottom of things. Deep dark things. Pure light things. Down underneath the skin, under the muscles, under the bones, under our minds … in the depths of our soul and the nature of the world, that is what we’re working with in kyudo. As far as I’m concerned, heijoushin, is the Mariana Trench.
When we go and shoot honestly, confidence means nothing. Shooting in kyudo is not about feelings. Kyudo is not about feeling good, or bad, or happy, or down. Regardless of all of these feelings, our shooting should be constant and true. What propels that stoic attitude is not super confidence, “Alright, no matter what I’m going to be like stone and hit the target.” What propels that infinite perfection is heijoushin.
So what exactly is heijoushin?
I translated it roughly as “normal relaxed mind.”
My most trusted online translator, Nihongodict.com, translated it as, “One’s presence of mind.”
But I like these less than the understanding I get from seeing the Chinese characters: 平常心。
平 means: flat; level; even; calm; ordinary; common; peaceful.
常 means: ordinary; calm; normal.
心 means: mind; core; heart; soul.
(Definitions found in “Kodansha’s Essential Kanji Dictionary.”)
In my mind, I take the liberty as roughly translating heijoushin as: level normal spirit.
But let’s just call it, heijoushin.
Heijoushin is what we train and learn to use in kyudo. It is our weapon behind the bow and arrow. If we can achieve heijoushin in our shooting, we can shoot anywhere. Anything else, and we’re total victims to our environment.
Heijoushin is the connection between regular training and tournaments.
How should I practice for tournaments, tests, or better shooting?
The answer’s all the same: Heijoushin.
What does heijoushin feel like?
Like a vast calm ocean.
What does heijoushin look like?
The gaze of a lion.
Heijoushin is the secret technique we all want.
Good luck to us all.