Archery and Yoga


Shortly after Christmas 2014, a great friend gathered a few of us together over dinner with an agenda.  His idea was to set out goals in various areas of our lives for the year ahead with a specific intention of working towards those goals and bringing fun and greater happiness into our lives.    As a collective group we would be present to encourage, nudge and bear witness to the unfolding of these goals as they may or may not occur during the year.  As an added bonus we get to meet up every once in a while and reconnect.

Whilst writing out a list of goals was easy enough to complete, narrowing them down into three concise goals under each section proved a little more challenging.  It took a lot more insight and thought.  It meant the goal became more important in its intention and suddenly frivolous goals started to fall by the way side in place of more concrete significant ones.

One of my “goals” under the hobbies section was to take up archery.  My friend asked “why archery”? As I journey through my life I am trying to attain a particular set of achievements for myself.  Sometimes in certain areas it is difficult to see if I am making any headway or progress and it can become a little disheartening.  Archery was a physical target I could see, connect with and I knew immediately if I achieved it or not.  Simple as that, plus, I had tried my hand at archery over the years and I enjoyed it.  I decided I wanted to deepen my interest and knowledge in it whilst at the same time learning to do the art properly.

This year my goals got voiced in front of a group of people I respect greatly and the effect of this has been huge as it has helped me implement and follow through on my goals and I am holding myself accountable to achieving them.  I basically created a bucket list with a limited time span of twelve months for completion.   Archery I decided was going to be completed before the summer, so off I trotted to invoke the help of google.  I found Nemo Rangers Archery Club in Cork City and I booked in for the 6 weeks beginners’ course which commenced early May.

I have been wistfully looking back over what this course has done for me and what it has helped me achieve over the past couple of weeks.  First and foremost, it gave me time for myself.  I scheduled into a busy life style a specific time block just for me.  I undertook this course on my own.  I didn’t rope in friends to come along but instead braved something completely new all on my own, it has been most rewarding.  In the safety of groups we often do not branch out into other avenues preferring to remain within the confines and safety of the group.  Standing alone, you have to interact, break new ground and you get to savour new experiences which have a huge expanding and uplifting effect.  For me personally even the hour’s car journey to Cork gave me much needed head space for myself.  I got to challenge myself by taking on something new and there is great satisfaction in knowing that I committed to the task and followed it through simply for me.

How many times in our lives do we decide to do something only to allow ourselves to be railroaded or side swiped by other demands on our time, thereby preventing us from completing the task?  I never realised how doing this allowed me to chip away at my own self-esteem.  I, in effect was saying that I personally wasn’t worth my time or effort and that X, Y and Z were more important.  I have empowered myself greatly by completing this course.  I will admit there was an “oh crap, what am I doing here” moment when I rounded the corner in Nemo Rangers to find a room full of strong guys staring back at me.  There were some fun moments also and valuable lessons learnt.  One lesson I learnt during “tidy up” at the end of the night was –  when you are rolling the straw target back into storage and it starts to fall on you let it go and do NOT keep holding on!!  My apologies again to my poor colleague who I pinned underneath the straw target whilst I lay spread-eagle’d on top of it and him.  Sorry!!!  As the course developed it was also endearing to see that guys like girls can miss a shot to centre target.

Archery gave me focus and something to aim for.  This flows smoothly into other areas of my life as I know I can aim for my goals and dreams.  With a little focus, some high shots, some lows and the odd curve ball or in my case wandering straw targets, a little bit of practice and not giving up, eventually sooner or later there is a very good chance I may, just may make that target.

I’ve learnt that the tighter you hold onto something the more wayward the reaction is to it and it may even repel completely.  Gripping the bow too tight whilst focused on the yellow bulls eye resulted in bruising and stings.  You quickly learn to lighten your hold after a couple of burns.   Life is the same, think about it.  Sometimes, we hold on so tight, with tunnel vision, hoping and praying against the odds for a certain resolution.  We are so fixed on the end result or target we don’t see the tension and physical harm we are inflicting upon ourselves in the process.   Lighten up and let go a little was the lesson here.

There were huge similarities between archery and yoga which surprised me.  Both are a discipline.  Both draw your awareness into your body, centre and focus you.  Archery and yoga make you aware of areas of tension held within your body and release requires you to soften and to let go.  Both have a focused target in mind.  In archery it is the yellow circle at the centre of the bale of straw whilst in yoga it is to travel to the centre of self to find union of mind and body.  For both practices the fun is in the journey getting there.

The next item on my list of goals is Kayaking.  There is a slight issue here, I can’t swim!  But hey, that’s certainly not going to stop me.

So what have you stopped yourself from doing?  Are you ready to take on a new challenge?  What is on your bucket list or goal list?  Do you consider yourself worthy of trying to achieve them?   Take it from it from me, GO FOR IT. You ARE worth it and in the long run the fun in trying brings with it new surprises, fun moments, binds new friendships and reaps great rewards.

Om shanti