How to Focus like a Legendary Samurai Archer

Eugen Herrigel, a German Professor moved to Japan in the 1920’s to teach philosophy in the city of Sendai, a few hours northeast of Tokya.

To get a better and deeper understanding of Japanese culture and customs, he enrolled to learn archery under the legendary archer, Awa Kenzo. His training for the first four years was shooting at a bail of straw just seven feet away.

Eugen was completely frustrated with the almost glacial speed of his tution and got impatient with his tutor. Kenzo advised him to be patient with the process, as weeks, months or years don’t matter when you want to master an art, he said.

Finally, when he was allowed to shoot at a target, his performance was dismal. He completely missed the target on all shots. Discouraged, he remarked that his aim must be very bad. Kenzo told him that the problem was how he approached the task and not his aim.

Eugen challenged him to prove his point. Kenzo invited him to witness him shooting in complete darkness. His first arrow hit the center of the target and his second shot went clean through the first arrow.

Kenzo had hit a double bulls eye in complete darkness.

He had mastered the process to a perfect shot using the complete awareness of his mind and body. The Japanese call it Zanshin, translated it means “mind with no remainder”.

Zanshin means living your life with a purpose and not getting distracted with whatever comes your way.

One should approach all activities and situations with the same sincerity, the same intensity, and the same awareness that one has with bow and arrow in hand
Kenneth Kushner One Arrrow One life

The world is obsessed with results. However, if we were to learn to focus on the process the result would simply be a side effect. A deliberate focus on the process will ensure we achieve our desired result.

Harmonize the actions of your body and the thoughts in your mind and embrace the boredom of doing the work and you can achieve anything you set your mind on.