I spent a week in February learning the art of Muay Thai Boxing in the north of Thailand. We trained for 6 hours a day, 3 hours in the morning and 3 hours in the evening.

The unique thing about this training, was what those morning hours consisted of. The evening hours were filled with what you might expect from a martial arts training program: punching, kicking, running, jumping rope, sparring. The first three hours were all devoted toward energy work: meditation, understanding balance, sensing, breathing, and getting a feel for our bodies and how they moved. Our instructor always emphasized this balance between masculine and feminine energies.

Training varied each day, but oftentimes we would do exercise that would require one person to attack in series of punches, jabs, and kicks, while the other defend accordingly. The attacker would start on one side, then switch to the other, until we completed 9 bouts.

The odd thing about this is that with 9 bouts, you were always uneven. If you started on your right side, your right side would practice 5 times, and your left side, 4. And vice versa. On top of this, it left a sense of being unfinished. The same sensation you might get if someone played a scale, and played every note accept for the last. Do re me fa sol la ti… [silence]. Do! Just play do already! We never questioned this odd ritual. Then one day our Kru (instructor) explained it to us.

The sense of incompleteness is on purpose.
In martial arts you always have to be aware and ready to anticipate the next move. If you allowed yourself this sense of completion of that final even 10, you might let your guard down, and leave yourself open for an attacker. By leaving that sense of incompleteness, it keeps you on guard and moving forward, both physically and mentally.

I started thinking about this idea and how we might be able to apply it to our everyday lives. In how many different ways do we seek finality in our lives? We read books to the end of a chapter. We gain satisfaction in finishing a meal, or completing a project. We even seek finality in relationships, looking for “closure” or mutual understanding. We say, “Bye” to conclude a phone call. It’s a resting point, and gives us peace of mind and balance. That can be a good thing. Can you imagine getting to the climax of a book where they are just about to reveal a giant secret and the rest of the pages are missing? Or conducting a lab experiment and just as the results are being revealed your computer shuts down? Or worse yet… can you imagine sex with no orgasm? You’d go stir crazy, always seeking out that… completion.

But here’s the question: Are there activities where we can be left purposefully on our toes? Such as in the case of martial arts.
When can this sense of incompletion be a good thing? When could it benefit actually benefit you in your everyday life?

What can you leave incomplete to give you a new sense of momentum?

Let me know your thoughts below!

Also, you can check out the camp here: http://muaysangha.com/