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White Belt ~ Beginner's Mind

Posted on January, 27 2014
Grand Master Kim ~ White Belt Jessie

Grand Master Kim ~ White Belt Jessie

The start of a new year will typically inspire me to look again at my goals and priorities. I do find value in the custom of new year's resolutions, as a way for me take stock and be sure that I am taking the time to make changes that I may have been procrastinating on.

It is important to remember that I am in a major life phase now with our son leaving home. It has made even more an impact on me since he moved to the other side of the planet... New Zealand. Believe it or not, I still come home out of habit thinking that there is some reason I should be home, only to be pacing in an empty house.

New or old beloved hobbies like playing in my art room are always something I could do, but I was procrastinating on that too. My mood was becoming an obstacle to taking personal action ~ something I was familiar with when depression had snuck up on me in the past.

I have been aware that not having a routine in my life for exercise needed to be addressed for quite some time. Laurent and I have started weekend bike rides, which usually include a leisurely lunch somewhere en route, but that really is not enough to kick start my shift from lack of motivation.

Could there be an activity that integrated both spiritual and physical elements?

I had been entertaining the ideas of yoga, dance, swimming, or joining a local health club for so long but only finding excuses... I finally remembered another option, Tae Kwon Do.
Perhaps more unusual for a woman of my age, especially since the school that I was interested in is where our son went when he was about 5 years old! Henri studied there for the next 9 years, stopping just short of his black belt. 

So I knew a bit about what would be ahead of me physically and who my "master" would be. Very well respected in our community, Kim's Martial Arts Institute, in San Anselmo, has touched the lives of many students. Master Kim is a kind hearted, gently spoken, extremely talented and patient teacher who offered his best self to our son consistently over the 9 years he trained there. Fortunately for me, Master Kim still has a thriving school and is still teaching himself.

His first question to me was, "I am curious why you wish to study Tae Kwon Do". I did the traditional bow and answered,

5 reasons why I chose Tae Kwon Do:

  • to improve my memory
  • to increase my flexibility
  • to practice discipline
  • to strengthen my core 
  • to belong to a community 

Do you know the feeling of when you are in the right place? That happened to me right there and then and I was so happy! That first step was so important. I am sure that my experience will evolve as I continue on the path of becoming a black belt ~ a goal that I plan to achieve before my 60th birthday. That gives me four and half years... which seems reasonable enough!

I will post a new blog as I gain each colored belt. I now proudly wear my white belt. Having had only 2 weeks of private instruction, next week is my first group lesson. Master Kim has been working with me on basic moves and also assessed my physical strength and flexibility so I can successfully join a group class.

What I have observed is that Tae Kwon Do offers me:

  • a way to stretch my body and focus my mind simultaneously
  • to be part of a community while maintaining a clear sense of self
  • a path of instruction that leads somewhere specific that is tested and validated
  • an opportunity to trust others and myself

I am most grateful to have found an activity that suits me at this important time in my life. I approach this with a "beginner's mind", which refers to having an attitude of openness, eagerness, and lack of preconceptions when studying a subject. As I have blogged about before, I am ready to make the second half of my life even more fulfilling than the first half of my life. Becoming a black belt in Tae Kwon Do is part of making that happen.
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