The Buddhist Boxer

me boxing

As some of you know, I am currently training for a boxing match. People often ask me how boxing fits in with my Buddhist beliefs and someone once commented that ‘boxing isn’t very spiritual’.

Until two years ago I was totally anti-boxing. I would never watch any boxing on TV. I had never even watched Rocky. I consider myself to be anti-violence and I thought boxing was pretty violent.

I think the first thing that piqued my interest in boxing was when I met Sara Thomas at CoastalNet, a local networking group. Sara was in training for her first fight and she seemed like a ‘nice’ lady, with a successful business. Around the same time I met Matt Brennan, owner of Suffolk Punch Boxing Club, at BNI, another networking event. Shortly after that Matt put a notice on Facebook that he was looking for people that had never boxed before to take part in a charity boxing match. Just before that I had asked the Universe for a way to help to get motivated to eat healthily and to exercise and it had been the focus of my Buddhist chanting practice. So when I saw Matt’s post, I felt it was meant to be.

I was unsure about whether it was right for me and after much deliberation and consultation with my Angel cards and who I considered to be my wise friends, I decided to start training and because I was unsure, I asked the Universe to bless it or block it.

I absolutely loved the training. Rob Hodgins is a fantastic coach. I have always been rubbish at sports. At school I hated PE and PE hated me. I am slow and I lumber around like a baby elephant. I am always falling over and bumping into things in my day to day life. I think I am physically dyslexic! During the training, I found myself constantly pushing my boundaries and breaking through my pain barrier. The other members of the club were also a great support and they cheered me on when I was struggling. Unfortunately although the training helped me to get motivated to exercise and eat healthily, I often found myself making excuses to avoid training and I was constantly at loggerheads with Matt and Rob.

I had no idea what to expect and my first sparring session was a shock. I was so scared. All my training and technique went completely out of my head and I stood rooted to the spot like a bunny in headlights, getting punched in the face over and over again. When the two minute round, which felt like forever, was over, I went to follow my opponent out of the ring and then realised I had to do another two minute round with someone else. I think the worst thing was using my gum shield. I felt like I was gagging and couldn’t breathe. Everyone from the gym was crowding around the ring to watch. As soon as the second round was over, I ripped off my gloves and pulled the gum shield from my mouth. I had forgotten how much saliva builds up inside the gum shield and as I pulled it out, saliva went flying around, in the style of Hooch the dog from the film Turner and Hooch. I then burst into tears and ran into the car park behind the boxing club, gulping in mouthfuls of fresh air.

I’m unsure why I was crying. I think it was the adrenalin and the shock. I did feel a massive sense of achievement though and once I calmed down I felt pretty high.

I did another sparring session about a week later, which went much better. In spite of that, I was scared and I started repeating negative affirmations in my head; ‘I can’t do it, ‘I haven’t got what it takes’. If you’ve read my other blogs you’ll know that what you focus on is what you get and I became more and more negative. I started thinking the same negative affirmations about my business. Shortly after that, I fractured my ankle and I had to pull out of the match. It certainly seemed as though the Universe was blocking me from taking part.

When I visited my friend Val for my regular TFT session, she looked up my injury in her book: Messages From The Body (their psychological meaning) by Michael Lincoln and my exact injury, which I can’t remember as it was quite unusual – something like a hairline fracture to the fibula, was linked to affirmations such as ‘I can’t do it’ and ‘I haven’t got what it takes’. Amazing!

Anyway, to be honest, I was relieved to pull out. After a while though, I started to think about having another go and I had a perverse desire to have another go at sparring. Although sparring is scary, it is a fantastic adrenaline rush.

It took me over a year to pluck up the courage to go back to the club. I was a bit ashamed and I was worried that people might be unfriendly. I was totally wrong of course. Everyone was lovely and made me feel very welcome.

I started classes again in January 2016 and I attended the boxing show in March. The show was great and I knew I had to have another go, so I did the boxing trial and I’m currently training for the next show on June 25th.

The first time I sparred during this training I went into the ring and I was pretty scared. I got punched in the face a fair bit but I was on a similar level to my opponent and I felt as though I held my own. When I first got out of the ring though, my initial thoughts were, ‘Oh crap. I forgot how scary this is. What I have done?’ I knew I had to pull myself together as I had to go in again. So I closed my eyes, took a few deep breaths and connected to the Angels. I started chanting my Buddhist chant – Nam Myoho Renge Kyo in my head and I used a breathing technique that Amanda Hart had taught me to ground and centre myself. I gave myself a little pep talk. I reminded myself to slow down in the ring, to stop and think about technique and most importantly to keep my guard up. I sparred twice more that evening and the other times I felt much better.

Since then I have sparred quite a few times and I still get the mixed feelings of nerves, excitement and adrenalin. I am getting better all the time. I am getting used to being punched in the face. Now I come out of the ring smiling and laughing, rather than crying.

So is boxing ‘spiritual’? Probably not. It is not ‘unspiritual’ either though. Boxing is not about violence and anger. I’m sure that you do get boxers that have violent and angry tendencies but I have never witnessed that at the club or at any of the boxing shows.

Boxing is an art, a martial art, a discipline. One of my biggest weaknesses is my lack of discipline and the training has really helped me with that.

It is also great for boosting self-confidence and self-esteem. There are a couple of women at the club who have been victims of domestic abuse. What a great way to overcome something like that.

Once again I have asked the Universe to bless it or block it. So will I fight in the upcoming match? At the moment there are three girls in training and only two of us can fight, so we will see. I have committed to selling 25 tickets, so if you’d like to come and watch please contact me. All tickets are refundable if I’m unable to fight for any reason. It is a charity match and I am raising money for Suffolk User Forum, which is a mental health charity and a cause close to my heart.

Click here to sponsor me

Click here for event info

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Using Spirituality to Overcome Depression


I’ve had problems with depression since I was a child. People say that your childhood should be the happiest time of your life. For me it was the unhappiest time and I’m often surprised when I occasionally remember something happy. My earliest memories are of my Mum and Dad fighting. I think my Mum had her own emotional problems. Her moods were erratic. She would fly off the handle at any minute and either go into a rage or floods of angry tears. We all felt we had to tread on eggshells around her. My Mum and Dad split up when I was very young, due to my Mum having an affair. My dad was my rock, my buffer between Mum and me. I loved him so much and I was devastated when he left. I still saw my Dad after he left and we continued to have a close relationship, until he met my step-mum and suddenly I was playing second fiddle to her and my new step-sister. I was often caught in the middle of my parents’ power games.

The other thing that was difficult was being brought up as a Jehovah’s Witness, especially when I was kicked out of the religion and cut off from my family. I left home and I went from living in a strict environment, with lots of rules and regulations, to suddenly being able to do exactly what I wanted. I went completely off the rails and started drinking a lot, taking drugs, shoplifting and sleeping around. I also developed an eating disorder and got heavily into debt. I experienced mood swings. Sometimes I would be manically happy and the next I’d be in the depths of despair.

I read “You Can Heal Your Life” by Louise L. Hay 19 years ago, when I was 21 and that was really my first step on the path to recovery.  From then on I had a fascination with helping myself to get better through positive thinking and spiritual practices and now I’m passionate about helping others to do the same.

In the past, I have been suicidal and tried to take my own life on a number of occasions. I didn’t actually want to die. I just wanted attention. It was a cry for help. I just wanted someone to take care of me. I’ve heard people say, “If someone wants to kill themselves, they would do it properly. They just want attention” and I think “If someone needs attention that badly, they must really need it. Isn’t it better to give them that attention? Show compassion rather than judgement?

I have made huge progress and I attribute this to my spiritual practices, reading various self-help books and taking part in workshops and retreats. I do still get depressed. Luckily it only happens occasionally now and when it does I come out of it again quite quickly, using the various tools I have been blessed with over the years. I am lucky that I’m now in a position where I am fulfilling my dream of having my own business and working as a writer. I would never have been able to do that before. I’m also writing an autobiographical novel.

I was delighted when I met Elizabeth from the Suffolk User Forum and discovered that there was a local charity that was supporting people with mental health problems, who were committed to helping end the stigma and I was determined to get involved. I was even more delighted when I later discovered that the Suffolk User Forum believe in using spirituality to help users overcome mental health problems. I’ve since become a trustee on the board of Directors and I’m excited about what we can do to help others that have mental health problems here in Suffolk.

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