Kyudo, or traditional Japanese Zen Archery, dates back to around 660 B.C. Back then, it was used by the aristocracy for warfare and hunting. Despite its ancient origins, Kyudo continues to be practiced, not just in Japan, but all around the world. Moreover, Japanese Zen Archery has been likened to a form of meditation that people now use to help strengthen their mind, body and spirit. The best part is that the benefits of the practice can be applied to other aspects of life. Below, we’ll take a look at the different ways Japanese Zen Archery strengthens the mind.

A focus on personal development and awareness

In this day and age, the art of Kyudo has evolved into a mental, physical and spiritual discipline. Children in Japan are even taught Kyudo in high school, and many continue to practice it through university and in private archery halls later in life. One of the main differences between Japanese Zen Archery and regular archery is that an excellent aim and accuracy isn’t the main focus. What matters more is how Kyudo is used as a tool for personal development. Thus, mental awareness is important. Only the archer can know when they’ve achieved the true objective of Kyudo, which is when the archer’s mind, body and the bow are in unity.

People who practice Kyudo believe that the sound of a pierced target awakens the archer from a world clouded by ego and cultural conditioning. When all of that is gone, what we’re left with is the interconnectivity of self and nature. Japanese Zen Archery helps you grow as a person through being more in tune with yourself and your connection to the natural world, which in turn strengthens your mental awareness.

Teaching focus and attention

Kyudo is often called ‘standing meditation’ because it involves being fully centered on the present. It requires emptying the mind of worries of the past and the future. Mindfulness meditation means being focused and attentive through being detached from anything that doesn’t involve your current circumstance. Vox says mindfulness meditation increases cognitive performance and has even shown to improve performance in the classroom. Meditative activities like Kyudo help train the mind to attend to the task at hand, improving mental discipline in the process. When students are in a mentally stable place, they can absorb more information. A viewpoint that is being universally accepted through how global educational institutes now approach mental health. This has led to psychologists from Maryville University to point out newfound connections between mental health and learning success, which in turn has sparked the need for professionals who understand how psychology and education intersect. The psychological effects of standing meditation greatly influences education. It’s one of the reasons why Japanese students continue to learn Kyudo in school. If more educational professionals across the world understand how activities like Kyudo play a part in improving a student’s mental game and academic performance, we might get more support for these kinds of meditative practices in schools moving forward.

Our judgments are our weakness

In Zen Archery, archers are meant to shout when the arrow is released. This helps to release expectations on the result. To achieve success in Kyudo, it’s important to empty your mind from the attachments you have to success or failure. Instead of having a goal-oriented mindset, Kyudo teaches you to release judgments you have of yourself, which are considered unimportant distractions. This also helps you release judgments you have of others, which makes you more compassionate. In our post ‘Support and Teamwork’ we looked at how releasing all judgments of ourselves and others for the betterment of the group is also a way to strengthen your mental game while playing sport. It doesn’t matter what type of activity you do, strengthening the mind will lead to improved outcomes.

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Post by: JBarrett