Body Mind Mastery BY DAN MILLMAN For fifteen years I trained with great energy in the sport of gymnastics. Even though I worked hard, progress often seemed slow or random, so I set out to study the process of learning. Beginning with standard psychological theory, I read studies of motivation, visualization, hypnosis, conditioning, and attitude training. My understanding grew, but only in bits and pieces. Reading Eastern philosophy, including the traditions of Taoist and Zen martial arts, expanded my knowledge, but I still lacked the understanding I sought.
Eventually, I turned to my own intuitive experience for the answers. I understood that infants learn at a remarkable pace compared to adults. I watched my little daughter Holly at play, to see if I could discover what qualities she possessed that most adults lacked.
One Sunday morning as I watched her play with our cat on the kitchen floor, my eyes darted from my daughter to the cat and back again, and a vision began to crystallize; an intuitive concept was forming in my mind about the development of talent — not just physical talent but emotional and mental talent as well.
I noticed that my young daughter’s approach to play was as relaxed and mindless as the cat’s, and I realized that the essence of talent is not so much a presence of certain qualities but rather an absence of the mental, physical, and emotional obstructions most adults experience. After that discovery I found myself taking long walks alone, observing the forces of wind and water, trees and animals — their relationship to the earth. At first, I noticed only the obvious — that plants tend to grow toward the sun, that objects fall toward the earth, that trees bend in the wind, that rivers flow downhill.
After many such walks, nature removed her veil, and my vision cleared. I suddenly understood how trees bending in the wind embodied the principle of nonresistance. Visualizing how gentle running water can cut through solid rock, I grasped the law of accommodation. Seeing how all living things thrived in moderate cycles, I was able to understand the principle of balance. Observing the regular passing of the seasons, each coming in its own time, taught me the natural order of life.
I came to understand that socialization had alienated me (and most adults) from the natural order, characterized by free, spontaneous expression; my young daughter, however, knew no separation from things as they really are.