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Perseverance 忍 (rěn)

“I took note of the Buddha's teaching that in one sense a supposed enemy is more valuable than a friend, for an enemy teaches you things, such as forbearance, that a friend generally does not.”

Dalai Lama XIV

Sometimes when I get a bit down I like to buy something that cheers me up. Rather than just shopping therapy, I like to acquire something of meaning and value that will inspire me during difficult times.


Here is my new piece of Chinese calligraphy. The character 忍 (ren) means forbearance or perseverance, but specifically in the connotation of self control during difficult times.


It is composed of the characters of xing (heart or emotion like in xing yi) on the bottom and a knife on top. When I asked Xuan what the meaning was she said "Perseverance is not supposed to be easy..."


For those few people who have persevered with me training outside in the snow and rain over lockdown or joining me on zoom I am immensely grateful 🙏.


It isn't always easy to stay motivated when we are isolated from our community. Research has shown that people that workout with a training partner are significantly more likely to stick to their training plans and subsequently hit their goals. When we lack motivation, feel isolated and alone and are tempted to give up on our training/workouts it is important to reflect and return to our core values that drive us. From these values and ideas our rěn (perseverance) will flourish.


I would also like to draw some attention between the Western and Eastern ideal of perseverance. If you search for motivational videos on YouTube you will be bombarded with dramatic music and people (mostly aggressive men) yelling at you. This is the Western (and yang) form of motivation. 110%, get fired up, one more rep...etc, etc. Whilst this might help you get through a tough workout or a bad day it is unlikely to work year in year out.


Contrast this with the Eastern and yin approach. You do not drown out negative emotions with a load of positive ones, you let them come but you do not let them affect you inner world. The second approach is more mindful and more enduring, this is the essence of 忍 (ren).


Best of luck with your training everyone, however you are able to do it at the moment.

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