In the Martial Arts Training Hall, there is often a period of silence before starting class. If there isn’t, and the students are still talking, the instructor may say “Mokuso!” which in Japanese means “To Silence”, or “Contemplate!” However, a better way to think of this, as in Dave Lowrey’s book In the Dojo, where he defines “Mokuso” as a transitional period. Many think of the Dojo (training hall) as a place of refuge from the stresses of the modern world. In reality, the Dojo is a place where one learns to better confront and deal with the stresses of the modern world.
In the dojo, the student learns more about the world by learning more about his/her self, and so, the Dojo becomes a world-in-miniature, to the world outside. Mokuso allows the student to put the cares, stresses, aggravations of the outside world aside for a moment, in order to prepare himself to train. When his training is finished for the evening, he or she again returns to Mokuso so that he/she can transition back to life outside the dojo.
So what is the trick to “Mokuso”? You must quiet yourself, and let the constant stream of concerns, fears, thoughts, and wishes not get your attention. Easier said than done, right? It is not really meditataion, however. You are only allowing yourself a moment to prepare for the next phase. This transitional period can be used to reflect on how to use the coming moments most effectively. Have you always made the most of whatever you have spent your time on? Try Mokuso, so you can quiet yourself and focus on how to get the most out of your time.