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Arguably, the greatest athletes in the world reside in the high altitude, forested Mount Hiei, in Kyoto, Japan. Since , only forty-six marathon monks have completed the challenge.

The Marathon Monks of Mount Hiei. Why would the marathon monks commit to such a deadly challenge? And what lessons can we learn from the marathon monks on how to develop our mental toughness and stick to our goals? Marathon monks wearing traditional attire via wiki. The marathon monk repeats this routine on a daily basis without fail, for one hundred days straight. Between the 65th and 75th day of the term, the marathon monk will embark on k irimawari , a kilometer mile run through Kyoto.

If the marathon monk successfully completes the day term, they are permitted to undertake the 1,ooo-day challenge Sennichi Kaihogyo. Year 4: consecutive days of 30 km runs per day—performed twice for a total of days. Year 5: consecutive days of 30 km runs per day. On the th day, the monk must observe nine days without food, water, sleep, or rest. Year 7: Two day terms.

During the final day term, the marathon monk must run 30 km per day for consecutive days. At the end of the 7th year, the marathon monks would have completed 1, days and approximately 38, km of running. Embarking on the Kaihogyo is perhaps the most incredible feat of human endurance, resilience and mental strength.

Here are five lessons we can learn from the marathon monks on how to develop our mental toughness. Too often, we pursue our goals half-heartedly. We leave too much room to escape commitment, and fail to create negative consequences for inaction. From youth, aspiring marathon monks spend majority of their time with one another and older marathon monks. They work together and build their strength through manual labour including chopping wood, carrying heavy provisions from temple to temple, and doing repair work on stone fences.

They spend years shadowing senior marathon monks, and accompanying their master while loaded down with baggage or acting as a pusher, matching the marathon monk step for step. By the time the novice embarks on Kaihogyo, he has developed the necessary skills and mental toughness under the tutelage of experienced marathon monks. No man is an island. The people we surround ourselves with, will ultimately determine the destiny of our lives.

This is one of the key reasons why the marathon monks can maintain such high levels of focus and discipline for decades. Although there may be hundreds of days ahead, each day the marathon monk wakes up and thinks about only one thing: his marathon for the day.

He understands that what matters most is the process, because ultimately the future is a by-product of his present actions. Likewise, by taking our eyes off the goal and focusing on the process, we can direct the best of our efforts and energy to complete the tasks immediately in front of us.

Not only do they sacrifice family ties and friendships, they also put their own lives at risk—the odds of surviving are extremely low. Each day the marathon monks wake up at A. The daily caloric intake of the marathon monks is approximately 1,, calories, which consists of rice, miso soup, and green tea. In addition, the marathon monks rarely find time to sleep.

Many learn to sleep sitting or even standing up. Many marathon monks have noted that as soon as they put on the robe of a marathon monk, they are consumed with a drive to reach spiritual enlightenment through Kaihogyo.

Each time they face death, they feel more grateful and alive, because they are chasing a higher purpose beyond their own lives. Always aim for the ultimate, never look back, be mindful of others at all times, and keep the mind forever set on the Way. Stevens, John Get well-researched ideas for a better life. Your Best Email Address Is Think Different. Live Better. Subscribe for more well-researched ideas.

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5 Lessons on Mental Toughness from “Marathon Monks” Who Run 1,000 Marathons

Dave Ganci March 1st, It is March. It is midnight. Snow still covers the trails of Mount Hiei, which lies just northeast of the ancient city of Kyoto, in central Japan. Kakudo Suzuki, an aspiring Japanese Buddhist spiritual athlete or gyoja , attends an hour-long service in the Buddha Hall. He sips a bowl of miso soup and chews on a couple of rice balls.


What I learned when I met the monk who ran 1,000 marathons

Part of Tendai Buddhism's teaching is that enlightenment can be attained in the current life. The day practice is an uncommon and specialized area of both ascetic and esoteric disciplines. In the first days, withdrawal from the challenge is possible, but from day onwards the monk is no longer allowed to withdraw; historically he must either complete the course or take his own life. In contemporary times this is symbolic and the selection process ensures that those who embark on the practice will complete it.


The Marathon Monks of Mount Hiei

S omewhere in the mountains around Kyoto live the marathon monks. Legend has it that the monks of Mount Hiei run 1, marathons in 1, days in their quest to reach enlightenment. Those who succeed become revered, as human Buddhas or living saints. It is rare that a monk embarks on the 1,day challenge, or kaihogyo , and even rarer that one completes it.


Hiei, which straddles Kyoto and Shiga prefectures, is home to a huge temple complex called Enryakuji. The foothills of Mt. Not all Enryakuji monks take part, mind you, as one must get special permission to engage in what is called one of the most rigorous athletic and spiritual challenges on the planet. During the sennichi kaihogyo , or Thousand Day Challenge, the monks venerate Fudo-myo-o, the god at the center of worship in the Tendai sect. Over a seven-year training period, the monk, called a gyoja, makes a pilgrimage to over sites on Mt.

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