Autosuggestion in Japanese Yoga & Budo
by Sawai Atsuhiro Sensei
This article appeared in the "SMAA Journal" Volume 13, Issue 2
My teacher Nakamura Tempu Sensei was the founder of the Shin-shin-toitsu-do system of Japanese yoga and meditation. One of his central teachings was the use of autosuggestion to alter the subconscious mind and thus change negative habits. I learned various forms of autosuggestion directly from Nakamura Sensei, and I’d like to explain how they can help you to become more effective and cheerful in your daily lives as well as more powerful in your martial arts practice. But first, you’ll need to know a bit about the nature of the mind.
The Conscious Mind and the Subconscious
When we think in everyday life, this thinking takes place in our surface waking consciousness. We can call this surface awareness the conscious mind.
Elements in surface consciousness are influenced by elements that are kept in the subconscious mind. The subconscious lies deep beneath the covering of the conscious mind, and we’re not typically aware of the workings of the subconscious during our waking hours.
During our sleep, however, the subconscious rises to the surface and the conscious mind is moves into the background. This is why a number of authorities claim that dreams are a manifestation of the subconscious.
More than just the motivator for our dreams, the subconscious is a kind of storeroom for most of the elements in the mind. If the elements stored in the subconscious are negative in nature, the conscious mind cannot think positively. If elements stored in the subconscious are positive, the conscious mind thinks positively. In short, the subconscious records past experiences, events, and especially feelings. The elements stored in the subconscious constantly influence our conscious thoughts, emotions, and actions.
Even if we consciously try to be positive, we cannot easily do so if negative elements are in the subconscious. Elements in the subconscious minds of many people are negative, and this influences their conscious minds. As the result, they tend to think pessimistically. They are inclined to take a negative attitude toward anything. They are easily angered, complain often, and are fearful of even small matters.
“Suggestions” are sometimes defined in psychology as something that enters the mind and has an impact on it. Such suggestions are received by the conscious mind and recorded by the subconscious mind.
When we see, hear, or say something repeatedly, these suggestions have a large impact on the subconscious. A happening that is dramatic or traumatic also has a great impact on the subconscious. Whatever is stored in the subconscious tends to have an unconscious influence on all of our conscious actions.
There are many sources for these suggestions such as spoken words, letters in books we read, our behaviors and that other people. Any phenomena around us produce some suggestions that are recorded by the subconscious.
We should be aware of what kind of suggestions we receive in everyday life. Such awareness is necessary, because both positive and negative suggestions exist. A positive suggestion influences the subconscious to be bright, cheerful, energetic, and brave. Negative suggestions do the opposite.
Those who are weak in mind are inclined to accept negative suggestions and reject positive ones. Those who are strong in mind are not negatively swayed by discouraging events. The purpose of the various forms of autosuggestion, or jiko anji, is to create a positive, vigorous, and powerful mind.
Many people do not understand the nature of the mind. They may have accumulated numerous negative elements in their subconscious minds. These negative materials in the subconscious produce many negative habits like smoking, pessimism, insomnia, and others.
Fortunately, you can readily grasp the relationship between the conscious mind and the subconscious mind if you receive clear instruction and information about this topic. So it is important to realize that we can easily change negative habits into positive ones. And this will allow you to quickly adopt a more positive mental attitude, which is also extremely important for success, health, and happiness.
I’d like to offer you four simple methods of autosuggestion:
1. Renso Anji
2. Meirei Anji
3. Dantei Anji
4. Hanpuku Anji
Renso means “to think of things one after another.” Anji means “suggestion.”
In Renso Anji we simply think of positive things one after another as we’re about to fall asleep. From the time we get into bed, until we are asleep, we must not imagine anything negative. In other words, avoid thinking of something that makes you angry, fearful, or sad.
The surface consciousness blurs and the subconscious arises and becomes more active, when you are sleepy. So autosuggestion is easiest and most effective at this time. (Any suggestions we receive right as we’re about to fall asleep penetrate the subconscious more directly, in that they don’t need to filter through layers of waking consciousness.)
When you are sleeping, the conscious mind is resting and the subconscious is active. So, as previously noted, dreams are reflection of the workings of the subconscious, which is why some psychiatrists analyze dreams to understand the subconscious motivations of their patients.
When we are falling asleep, we easily accept any suggestion into the many depths of the subconscious, because right before sleep, the conscious mind and the subconscious are in a process of transition. The most ideal time to positively influence the subconscious is, therefore, the moment before we fall asleep.
If we think of positive matters one after another, they will enter the subconscious easily. And the content of our subconscious will gradually become more and more positive. In a few days or months, many people find themselves changed. One example of such a change can be found in the nature of their dreams. Why not have happy dreams instead of unhappy dreams?
Budoka (“martial artists”) can try running through the movements of a kata, or prearranged “form,” as they’re falling asleep. Try to see yourself performing the kata dynamically and correctly.
Although they are more highly educated than in the past, many people in modern times hold on to negative feelings like anger, fear, and sorrow. As the result, they weaken the mind’s power. Even rich people, who eat gourmet dinners, are often plagued by insomnia stemming from their fears and sorrows. Simply being well-educated and wealthy isn’t enough to guarantee happiness.
For such people, the situation will not change until they change the nature of their minds. One way to do this is to change the nature of what they think about before falling asleep. Then they will sleep well. Deep sleep is very important. Sleeping lets us receive a great amount of ki, or “life energy,” from the universe. The time when we sleep is the time when we relax completely, and in a state of deep relaxation, the universe and the individual are closely united.
We can create a stronger form of autosuggestion by using a mirror just before falling asleep. It’s called Meirei Anji.
Meirei means “ordering or commanding.” Anji means “suggestion.”
In Meirei Anji, we utter a single simple sentence, which serves as a positive suggestion. Shortly before we speak this command to the subconscious, we watch our face in the mirror, or more exactly, we look at our reflected face between the eyebrows. Then, we speak to our reflected image and strongly order ourselves to become what we want to be.
Examples of positive suggestions for Meirei Anji are:
“Your confidence will become strong!”
“You will not be worried about your illness!”
“You are not afraid to fall in jujutsu!”
You need not speak loudly, but you should be very serious at the moment you make this suggestion to your subconscious. Just one suggestion is good and effective. If you use many suggestions, they may confuse the subconscious.
Quality is more important than quantity. Say it just once, then immediately go to sleep. Intensity is important.
I hope you will soon feel the effects of Meirei Anji, but even if you don’t notice sudden results, I advise you to continue to practice it every night. Just as it took time to develop negative habits, it may be some days before you feel the effects of Meirei Anji.
We have acquired bad habits over many years. It is unrealistic to expect these harmful habits to be gone instantly by using Meirei Anji.
A French psychologist taught Nakamura Tempu Sensei this form of autosuggestion using the mirror. But he suggested we do it as often as possible during the daytime. Nakamura Sensei modified it and advised us to do it before falling asleep, because it is psychologically the most effective.
Furthermore, Nakamura Sensei was skilled in shodo, Japanese brush calligraphy. Students, who want to improve in shodo, can use a sentence like this:
“You will become fond of shodo.”
This is more effective than “You will be good at shodo.” If we come to like something, we study it harder and naturally become good at it.
Children that wet the bed during sleep can use a sentence like this:
“You will wake up when you want to urinate.”
People who want to correct their stuttering should not say, “Your stuttering will be gone.” Rather they should say, “You will not care about stuttering.” A person’s psychological state and ability to speak are closely connected. If we stop worrying about stuttering, we often stop stuttering.
The same can be said of many problems in life. We create problems by worrying about them.
People who are ill should not say, “You will recover from the illness.” They should say, “You will not worry about your illness.” This is not to indicate that you shouldn’t get medical treatment, it is more an indicator of the psychosomatic effect of the mind. The mind controls the body; positive mental states have a very real impact on our health.
The sentence we use for this autosuggestion should be an imperative form, not a prayer or a request. For example, “Your confidence will be strong” is an imperative sentence. “Please make my confidence strong” is more like a prayer or request.
In addition, we must order ourselves (the face in the mirror) to change. We should use the word “you” instead of “I” in Meirei Anji for this reason.
Don’t be impatient in practicing this method. Be diligent and keep going. I promise that the time will come soon when you can recognize the effectiveness of this method for changing your personality and habits.
Dantei means “affirm.” Dantei Anji compliments Meirei Anji.
When we get up in the morning, we can respond to the previous night’s order that we gave our subconscious. We can, in short, affirm the previous night’s command we spoke to our face in the mirror.
We need not use a mirror in Dantei Anji. Your sleepy face isn’t perhaps the best image of yourself or the first thing you want to see in the morning.
If your suggestion the previous night was “Your confidence will become strong,” then upon waking say aloud, “My confidence has become strong.” In this way, we affirm the previous night’s suggestion.
You can repeat the same suggestion even during the daytime. Frequent repetition of a single suggestion is very effective, and you can do this mentally or out loud, with or without a mirror. Hanpuku means “repetition.” Again, work on only one suggestion at a time. Once you’ve boosted your confidence or stopped smoking, go onto a different suggestion.
Nakamura Tempu Sensei was a skilled budoka, with advanced training in judo and kendo. But his specialty was Zuihen Ryu batto-jutsu, a classical form of swordsmanship. Although his Shin-shin-toitsu-do is not a martial art, the methods of practice have been influenced by budo, and they can easily help budoka to become stronger and more effective. His methods of autosuggestion can aid budoka in overcoming slumps in training, remembering kata, and developing composure when engaging an opponent.
Since the early 1900s, thousands of people in Japan have learned and benefited from these four forms of autosuggestion. I’m one of those people.
Now that my colleague H. E. Davey Sensei is writing books about these methods and teaching them across the USA, I’m hoping many of you will achieve the same happy results. To learn more about Shin-shin-toitsu-do, pick up a copy of Davey Sensei’s book Japanese Yoga: The Way of Dynamic Meditation. Japanese Yoga can be purchased at www.senninfoundation.com, and I’m confident that it will help you improve your martial arts practice.
About the Author: Sawai Atsuhiro Sensei, SMAA Senior Advisor, is an expert in the ancient martial art of Kobori Ryu suiei-jutsu. Suiei-jutsu is the time-honored Japanese technique of swimming and combat in water. Sawai Sensei started learning this esoteric martial art in Kyoto, Japan after World War II. He has received the rank and title of Kobori Ryu Shihan, the highest rank available in this form of suiei-jutsu.