From the time I was four years old, my first memories of curiosity was to run down the ramp at the second entrance of St. Louis Convent on Charleville road in Rathmines, a school I would attend with the black clad nuns of the day as my first venture into education. I used to squeeze in behind the big oil tank for the central heating to the back of the science labs and spend hours staring at the human skeleton resting against the window. This was real bone, yellowed and marked by life and death. Like vellum from an ancient crypt, every nick on the bones was an event I knew nothing of, only, that it happened. I imagined I was an ant, exploring every nook and cranny and I marvelled at the majesty of the curves and glides of the human skeletal system. I didn’t understand it, but it was compelling in many ways.
I always had a fascination with Bruce Lee and Chuck Norris. I wanted to be them. In those days we had David Carradine and the soft spoken words of Kung Fu. The slow motion of the fight scenes did nothing for me. I wanted to be a white knuckle fighter with a lone ranger quest. Many adventures were had and childhood was an adventure in the ruins of big houses left derelict from Charleville to Wynnefield road.
When I was older I was fortunate to meet my first martial arts instructor In the Elite Martial academy, Mr. Jo Ryan . A man of great discipline. I started with him in Kendo, but it was apparent to him when I saw a fellow ninja break all the bushido rules when doing kendo, this was a break with protocol, but damn he made it look good. Enter my first encounter with the shadow warrior art of Ninpon Taijutsu. My instructor, then Steve Byrne, was a man on a mission as we all are, I learned much, I doubted much, turmoil and award mixed in equal measure. I stopped for a number of years after treading Takamatsu sensei’s essay on being at one with your Budo. It was real insight, and I grew much stronger for it.
I have had and still have a long association with Bujinkan martial arts and the more I fail in understanding it in the way I think, the more I realise that I can wrong-think. Understanding is overrated, where-as listening without prejudice and a sense of play within oneself is probably the most important warrior skill of all.
To be in the moment educates your being-ness more than any filtered learning. I prefer to be in the moment than have an opinion of it. You just have to let go and trust -- much easier said than done. It’s a subtle and substantial difference I’ve learnt with age, almost as though youth veto's anything other than heroics. Maybe it is acceptance.
But that’s only scratching the surface of it. My journey to date has been full of thrills and awesome moments. I have been very fortunate to have travelled extensively and worked with great people. My journey into medicine came about as I continued in martial arts because I was very phobic about a neck injury I had. It was only when I was educated to the fact that It was not injured, but my mind was convinced it was, and that in itself can prevent recovery. Once again the body-mind reality beckoned me further closer to its mysteries. I started to study an ancient secret medicine the ninja clans kept well documented. This for me, was it.
From his Master Scrolls, Master Hatsumi revealed the techniques of the battlefield medics of feudal japan and the medics of the time. These tried and tested techniques speed up the bodies recovery and release injury, that in western terms could not be done. All in a day’s work for the ninja clans. For me it fit well to how I compute things. All of a sudden it made perfect sense. Now there’s a phrase worth considering, perfect….sense.
Perfect sense in all things in all ways. That’s the quest. Not easy, but something to strive to enjoy. This mind set has allowed me to meet and travel with great success. To challenge the chronic diagnosis of many and change their pain. To enhance balance by removing the memory of obstacles. How many people are stuck in belief before really stuck elsewhere in their lives. This is, after all, not a rehearsal.
I don’t need to believe in an afterlife. I believe in life right now. I don’t need an opinion, I prefer a positive retold event, preferably open to uncomplicated discussion, with even a few twists of humour. To think without dramatic overload, what a beautiful space. All of this is living. Life is funny y’know? Being too serious or too dreamy is optional but not optimal. Us humans have a thing called a paramedic response, we're prone to overreaction, from the brain to the ego. The body too can be interrupted by belief or opinion, or the being afraid to be well. Being needy is an illness in itself. Soke said, to truly heal a person you must firstly raise their spirit. I don’t heal people, people heal themselves. I assist as best as my intelligent concentrated effort and skill at that point in time allows. The wisdom of the body does the rest. To say you heal someone, I believe, is absurd -- I haven’t met a true healer yet who can exact his intervention in understandable verifiable terms.
That doesn’t make me a sceptic, but if it's real it can be defined, if it's phobic, ok. If it's tissue strain, ok too. I stop short of angels by the cash register and look more so to humanity to converge in a supportive reckoning for all of our sakes. I have discovered incredible things about the body and the life in motion. I am still learning every day. I do my best to get out of my own way, the rest is as I said earlier, to be able to be in the moment with a sense of play and receptive humility that you are being shown many things, but how well have you developed your ability to listen. It’s not about you, it’s around you.
Hatsumi talks of distance and timing. Learning is all about distance and timing. Revelation is distance and timing. Great music? Timing. Great football? Distance and timing. Even the love of your life, distance and timing.
Now, life is offering me even more good fortune as I bring to market my researched, developed understanding of the body in its incredible sensitivity. I am deep in a mission of interpreting in our crude language and behaviour we exhibit as keys to better health and more natural movement. It just gets better and better, and all the time I was hearing it through The grand masters words, but yet differently, it is all the same. It is rare to be so lucky as to have the ear of one of life's great teachers and I am so very lucky to be able to ‘make sense’ of some of the things he says. Ironically I return to him recovering after my own serious injuries and have a sense of nervous anticipation. I suppose it is in the end, desire. A feeling of an authenticated life based on wonderful timeless events that you can carry with you always.
As Tolle says, The least thing precisely. So, somewhere between Rudyard Kipling’s ‘IF’, Morpheus asking how far down the rabbit hole do I want to go, and Tolle’s ‘living in the now’.
I attempt to thread a perception of who I am, well, what did Williamson say, who am I not to be? Because any of us playing small doesn’t serve the world, and as I am liberated from my own fears, my presence automatically liberates others.
I am compelled to be me, a work in progress, as curious as I was all those years ago asking unconscious questions of skeletal remains. I’m moving forward with as many questions as before, only now have I developed an inner spirit for better attention. I continue my practice from moment to moment.
The gravitas of years going by allows me to be gentler with myself and my unruly mind, at the same time, acknowledging my successes and forgiving my lapses in reason.
I’ll keep to Desiderata as a day to day guide to living and remember what majesty there is within in a quiet mind. I cant sell it to you, I can’t impose it upon others, but I can highly recommend it.
My name is Shane Murnaghan and I am in the now, right now, for now. It could all change at any moment but I am aware of that so that’s ok. For now, I am impacting the beautiful spring here in Dublin on this day as if it were my last.
Go placidly amid the noise and haste, and remember what peace there may be in silence. As far as possible without surrender, be on good terms with all persons. Speak your truth quietly and clearly; and listen to others, even the dull and the ignorant; they too have their story. Avoid loud and aggressive persons, they are vexations to the spirit.
Mind your spirit, for it alone can set you free.