Boxing, my meditation
By Neil Perkins
Nothing compares to boxing. I am sure other combat sports such as MMA and Muay Thai give the combatants the same inner peace? I am not talking about the boxing workout of bag work, skipping and fitness drills, I am talking about sparring, fighting and combat. Recently as part of my self-development I have been listening to pod-casts and reading books, this is a desire to become a better version of myself. My downfall is sometimes I am so obsessed with getting ‘there’ that I fail to take stock of my achievements and also don’t necessarily ‘plan my route’ to success as I charge forward….or sometimes I forget where I’d actually like to be – my mind is always ‘busy’.
Combat offers me peace, it is the one place in the world I feel completely at ease. As an early teen I was petrified of violence, in my early 20’s I was fronting some of the most troublesome nightspots and by my mid 20’s I was trading punches with the most destructive punching boxers on the planet – a somewhat cataclysmic transformation. In my experiences, I have found that combat no-longer causes me fear, rather it gives me definitive focus.
Back to my current self-development and looking at the tools of successful people and there is one thing I am struggling to comprehend – a clear mind. I am aware that my goals would be more defined, my route would be better, and I would become more successful if my mind was clearer and less ‘busy’. Meditation is commonly used. The ability to ‘zone out’ and think about nothing is a powerful tool, and I like many other people really struggle to switch my ‘monkey mind’ off. I realise that during my early years at Fighting Fit (2008/2009) I was less stressed than I became from 2010-2016. My decision making inevitably became better with business acumen, but my clarity, stress and direction was better early on, recently I have understood why.
In 2008/09 I was boxing professionally, whilst running a new business. Admittedly, I was a little naïve to the depth of the task in-front of me, but I could switch off from it – how I ask myself? I had no choice but to. My dual career saw me regularly sparring with some of the most dangerous men in the world. Many people who run businesses or have stressful careers struggle to switch off from their work and the mountains of tasks they have to perform? When your driving to London to spar a world champion you have no other option but to concentrate about what you are about to do and during the 6,9, 12 or 48 minutes of combat time, one mistake could get you seriously hurt. Equally, ‘shit or bust’ and relying on your ‘monkey mind’ wouldn’t enable you to survive with a novice amateur boxer, yet alone a world champion. The only thing you can concentrate on is what is in-front of you – you need a definitive focus. After the event of sparring and competition my mind had been cleared – a bit like when you clean your house or desk from top to bottom – it is incredibly rewarding and refreshing. No other training has ever replicated this sense of escapism and release – it gave me inner peace. Even now, when I ‘work out’ business, work, debt and family are never far from my mind. Working out alone doesn’t do it for me and I am struggling to get full clarity even when I meditate.
When I do manage to have moments of clarity my objectives and targets are simplified. Switching off your mind gives it clarity – this is something boxing always enabled me to do – boxing was my meditation. I realise that for me that boxing is something I can’t do forever, although I am always willing to help out recreational boxers with sparring – providing I am not likely to get damaged. Switching your mind off from the stresses of the world and escapism is a very rewarding experience. That moment of ‘clearing your desk’ of all the clutter in your head gives you a new stating point and a fresh perspective on things. This perspective makes decision making easier. If ever you want to ultimate switch off, take up a combat sport and progress to sparring. Initially your mind will be cloudy and adrenaline filled throughout combat experience, but as you learn to relax it will give you a clarity of mind that you can not explain – make boxing your meditation. You are always welcome in my church.