Meditating sucks! It’s so boring! I’d much rather do Durandal’s training than meditate; at least, I’m good at suffering physically. “Can I do something else? How are you going to throw me in a room and tell me to meditate? How do you expect me to clear my mind when I’m part squirrel?”
Surprisingly, the ruler appeared in front of me instead of talking to me through the walls. She placed her hand on my head and scratched behind my ears. “This was my fault,” the ruler said. “I didn’t teach you how to meditate properly. Meditation isn’t about clearing your mind; it’s a technique to train your focus.”
Huh? The ruler’s admitting something’s her fault? I wasn’t expecting that, but from her words, it sounds like she’s going to force me to meditate anyway. Is she going to stick a technique into my head? Should I preemptively eat a painkiller? Ah, wait, I can’t use my interspatial ring because the ruler sealed all the qi in the area. My body feels really weird without qi to support it. It’s like I lost both my legs but not really. What was the ruler saying again? Right, meditating is training focus. Why do I need to do that when I can just absorb a bone of focus instead?
“Have you ever found yourself easily distracted?” the ruler asked. Before I could even answer, she smiled at me. “Of course, you have. I know because I’ve basically experienced your whole life through that Soul Scour.”
If she wasn’t going to let me answer, then why did she even ask in the first place?
“I asked because you wouldn’t realize what I’m getting at without these questions to prompt your thoughts in a certain direction. After all, you’re more willing to do something if you understand the reason why, and you’ll feel less resentment if I ordered you to do something without giving you an explanation.”
Is she Soul Scouring me right now? Her hand is on my head, but she’s not in the right posture to do a Soul Scour. At the very least, she should be squatting down to be on the same eye level as me. If she’s not Soul Scouring me, then does that mean she’s a mind reader?
“I’m not reading your mind,” the ruler said. “I’m merely predicting your thoughts. Although it’s a bit difficult, you’ll be able to do the same thing in the future. The concept is simple: as long as I know your personality, I’ll be able to predict your next actions based on your previous ones. Since I know how your mind works, it’s easy to predict what thoughts you’ll have when I perform specific actions.”
…This goes beyond mind reading. It sounds like she’s reading the future! Since I’m her disciple, she’s going to teach me how to do this too? Can I even do something as magical as that?
“Anyone can do it,” the ruler said and let go of my head. She sat down in front of me, copying my posture. Then, she grabbed me hands. “But before you can do it, you have to train your focus. Meditation isn’t about clearing your mind; it’s about focusing on an action. In this case, it’s concentrating on your breath. Count to five as you breathe in. When you’re done counting, breathe out while counting to five. When you’re done counting, repeat the steps: breathe in, breathe out. Easy, right?”
That does sound really easy. Counting to five isn’t hard at all! Counting beyond five, well, that’s a bit trickier. “Is that all I have to do?”
“Yep,” the ruler said. “Do it with me. Breathe in through your nose.”
“One. Two. Three. Four. Five. Breathe out through your mouth.”
“One. Two. Three. Four. Five. Breathe in through your nose.”
Breathing in. Wait a second. How can she count out loud while breathing in? And how can she count out loud while breathing out? Should I try? Mm, it doesn’t look like she’s breathing in or out at all! She’s just helping me count. What happened to meditating together? Ah, wait, I’m supposed to be concentrating on my breath.
“Breathe out through your mouth,” the ruler said and smiled at me. “You were distracted there, weren’t you?”
Once again, before I could respond, the ruler continued speaking.
“That’s perfectly normal. Training your focus is about bringing your attention back to your original task,” the ruler said. “Every time you remind yourself to focus on your breath after you’re distracted, it counts as one repetition. It’s similar to swinging your sword one time during practice. Like sword training, the benefits of meditation only reveal themselves in the future. You tire yourself out now, so that in the future, when you have to focus on a task, you’re more easily able to do so.”
Is that how it works? “Why can’t I just use a bone of focus for those tasks?”
“You can,” the ruler said. “However, techniques involving spiritual energy require tremendous amounts of focus. If you fail to complete a step properly, the technique will fail or even backfire and grievously injure you.” The ruler let go of my hands and crossed her arms over her chest. “Do you believe I’m the only one capable of blocking access to your interspatial ring? Humans and demons are devious. They’ll do everything in their power to weaken you to hunt you down, and the only way to survive is by becoming invincible. Even if they prevent you from consuming a bone of focus or remove the bone of focus’ effects from you, you’ll still be able to perform your strongest techniques as long as you hone your concentration now through meditation.”
Although what the ruler is saying makes sense, I don’t like it. Training is super boring! I know because I’ve done a lot of it before, and I didn’t like doing it back then.
“Don’t you want to go home?” the ruler asked and smiled at me with Durandal’s evil smile. “I’m sure that as long as you work hard, the people in charge of repairing the teleportation gate will be inspired and work just as hard, shortening the amount of time it’ll take for you to see your daughter again.”
Why does life always force me to do things I don’t want to do?
Hmm? Was that Durandal? Did he just … die? I think he did. Mm, well, at least my training won’t kill me. …Right?Previous Chapter Next Chapter