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Looking at the Wall, Thinking About Nothing...
By Pete Kautz 2004

As a youth I was introduced to mediation by my Shorinji Kempo teacher.

I remember him announcing that we were going to meditate, and following along hesitantly as everyone in the class dutifully went and sat, facing the wall.

The problem was, I didn't know what to do. This was all new to me! In the beginner's class we had only done physical exercise; stretching, basic punches and kicks, joint locks, and so on.

Now, on one of my first nights in the advanced class (read as "everyone above white belt") I was worried - I sure didn't want to be found out as the doesn't-know-how-to-meditate-yet new guy!

I tried hard to do as he had said, but it really tied my 12-year-old brain in knots. How the heck was I supposed to think about nothing? Here I was, sitting facing the wall, and I found myself thinking about "thinking about nothing"!

Even though the meditation was short (and I luckily was not found out for the confused meditation faker I was) it bugged me for the rest of class. Before I left, I asked Mr. Kimura again about how to do this mediation thing. As if there was a trick to it.

He thought for a moment and repeated the same advice, "Just you looking at the wall, and thinking about nothing.", even more sincerely and with more thought than before.

I got in the car with my dad that night and kept thinking about what Kimura Sensei had told me. I wasn't sure if it was true, or some mystic bunko, but he seemed so sincere I knew he believed it honestly.

As we drove home, I told my dad how we meditated, and what Kimura Sensei had said.

My father burst out laughing.

He was quite familiar with mediation and other practices from around the world, being a lifelong student of history and religion. He found Kimura sensiei's advice to be funny in that "things you know are true can also be truly funny" way.

I didn't quite get it, even after my dad explained, but I tried.

Later, during a particularly hard workout, I remember Mr. Kimura telling us to look at one point in front of us in space, and focus on it with all our concentration, and keep fighting towards that point.

Flash forward to the present day…

It's now a quarter-century later and I hear myself saying the same things to my students.

We are doing 200 pushups and 300 squats in a pyramid format. This is just a warm up for class.

Everyone knows that tonight it will be followed by over two hours of wrestling drills and free-play in which we feed in a fresh opponent every minute to wrestle you.

As we dip up and down in a rhythm doing our calisthenics, I hear myself saying things like:

"Just breathe and let the exercise do is self"

"Look at one point, make that point your focus, and don't let your mind wander from that one point. Keep looking at that point and make it your whole world."

Inside, I laugh at how crazy this must sound to my students.

I feel that I might as well tell them to look at the wall, and think about nothing…


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