As we all witness and experience the many challenges during this Covid pandemic, we have no choice but to face, head on, what truth means to each of us. We have been witnessing precious souls being taken from this earth, loss of jobs and businesses, political divides, social unrest, and UNCERTAINTY. Many are suffering and in pain. Many are finding opportunities to grow. Many are disconnecting from one another and many are finding ways to connect more deeply.
I see a strength in SPIRIT like never before. I am witnessing courage, fortitude and acts of true heroism emerging from the depths of pain, dedication, commitment and compassion.
I see Love.
I see the Hope.
I see the Good.
I see the Blessings.
One of the blessings my sons and I were divinely led to, is Shoshin Dojo and Sensei Hessam.
I discovered Shotokan karate when I was 18 years old. I practiced for many years and it brought me so much peace and connection. I felt like a beginner every day, as I showed up and stepped on to the dojo floor. Many times, I was so tired, as I was carrying a full schedule in college, a job and many other responsibilities. I never allowed fatigue to stop me and I always made the commitment to myself to show up to my karate practice. It was in that space that I truly was able to feel awareness. Awareness of myself, others, what I feared, what I longed for and what I needed. It was in that space when I first learned that I was in control of my mind, my thoughts and my body. I discovered I was capable. I was strong. I was free.
Sometimes, we would stand in kiba-dachi and shiko-dachi for the whole class. My Sensei was always reminding us of the foundation of karate; the basics. As I stood there, in that deep stance, punching, blocking and kicking, my body, eventually, made great attempts to take me out of the stance. My mind wanted to focus and maintain but the challenge was real. It was very hard. It took me showing up and working diligently to understand that the challenge was actually a gift to embrace. My Sensei would often stand right in front of me and I’ll never forget how that felt and what it meant to me. He possessed such peace in spirit and I yearned for that same peace myself. He stood there in support. He reminded me, daily, that I was capable. He would get in the stance right in front of me, close his eyes, and assure me that my mind could control my body. My breath could lead me through that moment in time. I only needed to believe. Each day, no matter what realities and challenges I was facing in my life, that is what I did. I showed up, I worked so hard and I believed.
I will fast forward and bring you to the present here with this extraordinary group, and Sensei, whom I now consider, my family.
During this period of uncertainty, my oldest son came to me one day and said he wished to take karate. I am definitely a believer in things happening just as they are supposed to and I trusted that I would be led to the right dojo and Sensei for my son.
I called Sensei Hessam and we had a beautiful and insightful conversation. I knew within seconds that this was exactly where, not only my son, Pierce, would begin his journey in karate, but I would be given the opportunity to continue on my own journey as well.
Under the restrictions and limitations of Covid, Sensei inspired everyone to join together in a park for training. My other son, Aston, decided he also wanted to give it a try and together, we headed to the park for our first practice. For almost 7 months we practiced a few to several days a week in the park and in various parking garages.
We trained, we focused, we thrived and together, we emerged from the challenges of living during this uncertain time. In such a short period, we became a family.
It has been and continues to be, a life-changing gift for each of us, every day. Sensei leads and guides us with true character, strength and wisdom while honoring and adhering to the true and traditional way of Master Funakoshi. He gratefully honors and carries on the legacy of his late Sensei, David Johnston, his teachers, and the tradition of Shotokan Karate-Do. I feel at home with this extraordinary group of fellow karateka and I feel so very grateful for Sensei Hessam. He is a daily, precious reminder, that a Beginner’s Mind will navigate each us on an amazing, internal journey of self-development and growth.
During these times, I hope we can all be reminded that we don’t necessarily have to do certain things and we shouldn’t consider hard things to be punishment. We get to do them. We are still standing. We are still here. Through all of the suffering, the struggle, the losses.
We, the ones still standing, get to be here.
We get to witness.
We get to survive.
We get to breathe.
We get to Live.
We don’t have to wake up in the morning. We are one of the lucky ones who gets to wake up in the morning.
We don’t have to help others. We are given another day to reach out and help our fellow neighbor, friend, one in need.
As we bear witness to our existence and all that we are feeling and experiencing, may we see this precious life and take in every moment. May we find truth. May we acknowledge Spirit. May we find the light and the Gratitude.
May we grieve and align in our spirit training and daily practice for all. May we thrive as we unite in Faith and Love.
May we appreciate what we, the ones still standing, get to do, for at least
I am beyond thankful for the gift of finding our way back to karate-do and to life, together. I have my two boys, an exceptional group of fellow karateka and the most remarkable, humble, gifted and kind, Sensei, to guide us. How wonderful this life is and how exciting it is to be on this journey, with each of you.
To all suffering
To all serving
To each and every one of you,
I see you.
You are loved.
You are honored.
You are a gift, you are a blessing and you are appreciated.
May our beginner’s minds be ready for anything and open to everything.
Your humble and grateful student,