For the past couple of weeks, I have been following Eragon's journey as he gets trained as a Dragon Rider in Eldest (Inheritance #2). Having undergone his fair share of challenges, he has now found himself pushed to the limits of his abilities as he trains under the Mourning Sage. Below you will find excerpts from the time of Eragon's training and my ideas on how we can incorporate those practices in our life.
Of course, it will be hard to find a dragon of your own in this world, but it is always good to know of the practices of a Dragon Rider in training. This will give us a chance to be in the right physical and mental condition in the eventuality of such a reality. On the other hand, considering these practices will keep us in prime physical and mental health, it will be a good idea to add them to our daily routine.
1. Sword fighting/Physical Exercise
Eragon does have to train with his sword so that he has to be prepared for battle. The equivalent of that I would say is physical exercise.
“Move your feet faster,” cried Oromis. “He who stands like a pillar dies in battle. He who bends like a reed is triumphant!”
The elf was glorious in action, a perfect blend of control and untamed violence. He pounced like a cat, struck like a heron, and bobbed and wove with the grace of a weasel.
Make your choice of exertion, be it running, cycling, walking, swimming, playing a sport or even dancing. Challenge yourself to move a muscle, more than one and exert your body. You will find pleasure in the movement, a rhythm, the runner's high.
We are born to move, to make use of our limbs, so why get attached to the chair and the comfort of sitting. In movement, we can find bliss.
2. Rimgar, the Dance of the Snake and Crane
The Rimgar is a series of poses that the elves developed to prepare their warriors for battle, but they mostly used it to stay in shape.
Place your feet together and your arms at your sides. Look straight ahead. Now take a deep breath and lift your arms over your head so that your palms meet.… Yes, like that. Exhale and bend down as far as you can, put your palms on the ground, take another breath … and jump back. Good. Breathe in and bend up, looking toward the sky … and exhale, lifting your hips until you form a triangle. Breathe in through the back of your throat … and out. In … and out. In …”
The poses are very reminiscent of yoga and are a great way to kickstart the day. The best yoga practice I would suggest is the Surya Namaskar or Sun Salutation. It consists of a series of 12 different poses, each of which has specific benefits for the body, mind, and spirit.
Since the world of Eragon features magic and by extension the ability to read other's minds, it is a crucial skill to have a strong mental armor. This ability is attained through meditation and allowing the mind to listen to all that surrounds it.
“Open your mind, Eragon. Open your mind and listen to the world around you, to the thoughts of every being in this glade, from the ants in the trees to the worms in the ground. Listen until you can hear them all and you understand their purpose and nature. Listen, and when you hear no more, come tell me what you have learned.”
Meditation isn’t hard. All you have to do is sit there and do nothing. Just sit down. Close your eyes and say, “This is the hour I’m not going to do anything.” Listen to your surroundings. Everything is sound. Nothing is noise.
Your meditations condition your mind to find and exploit flaws in your enemies’ mental armor, no matter how small.
Meditations allow us to process and channel our thoughts as well. As we dwell on a barrage of thought, we will be tired of listening to our own mind. We will have resolved a lot of issues, or have heard them enough to see through those fears and issues.
“Therein lies your mistake. You must become aware of all things equally and not blinker yourself in order to concentrate on a particular subject. This is an essential lesson, and until you master it, you will meditate on the stump for an hour each day.”
“How will I know when I have mastered it?”
“When you can watch one and know all.”
A good understanding of ancient language is required to gain control over magic. So, it is good to practice the written script.
The sheets of paper were smooth underneath Eragon’s hands as he pressed them flat against the tabletop. He stared at the blank white expanse for a moment, then dipped a quill in ink and began to transcribe a column of glyphs. Each barbed line was like a streak of night against the paper, an abyss into which he could lose himself and try to forget his confused feelings.
Beyond academics, we are not forced to adopt this craft of writing, but what we do not realize is its true potential. Like Eragon, if we understand the nuances of the language it will help us communicate better. Further, it is a great medium to channel our thoughts and organize it.
If that doesn't convince you, I have elaborated other reasons in the article: Why do I write?
What skill goes hand in hand with writing other than reading?! Grammar plays a big role in magic along with the intention of the user, which Eragon finds to his detriment. Reading helps understand context of use of certain words. Further, it is a great way to learn the language, grammar and gain knowledge from history.
Oromis selected five scrolls from their nooks in the wall. “Two of these are in the ancient language, three are in your native tongue. They will help you to master both alphabets, as well as give you valuable information that would be tedious for me to vocalize.
With reading, you get to visit worlds that are not you are own, speak to people who are no longer here and divine their thoughts, and more often than not, find some inspiration. There are many genres and mediums that are open to exploration, so feel free to peruse and find what suits you.
The information he discovered on the miles of paper flooded into him like rain on parched desert, sating a previously unknown thirst. He devoured texts on geography, biology, anatomy, philosophy, and mathematics, as well as memoirs, biographies, and histories. More important than mere facts was his introduction to alternative ways of thinking. They challenged his beliefs and forced him to reexamine his assumptions about everything from the rights of an individual within society to what caused the sun to move across the sky.
If self-help or business books bore you, perhaps science fiction or fantasy would be your stride. Or you can dive deep into the biography of your role model. Or why, you can even choose to read a comic or manga. Just start reading, for you will find much among the pages of a book.
Build Logical Reasoning
One of the most essential skills of the Dragon Rider is having a sharp mind to make an informed decision. Training the mind is just as crucial, if not more so, than training the body.
“What is the most important mental tool a person can possess?”
“Wisdom,” he finally said. “Wisdom is the most important tool for a person to possess.”
“A fair guess, but, again, no. The answer is logic. Or, to put it another way, the ability to reason analytically. Applied properly, it can overcome any lack of wisdom, which one only gains through age and experience.”
This is another skill that I feel we leave behind after our academic learning. There was some form of logical reasoning, debate and training that we would have gone through in some structured form. But out here in the real world, at odds with the dynamic motivations of the people around us, we find ourselves reactive rather than proactive.
“How do you intend to teach me this logic?”
Oromis’s smile broadened. “By the oldest and most effective method: debating. I will ask you a question, then you will answer and defend your position.”
Thinking out scenarios, asking questions and preparing for all possible cases will help us hone our instincts and make snap judgments at critical moments. These blink moments come with loads and loads of practice and we have to put in the effort.
Broaden your vision
To gain a picture of clarity, we have to broaden our vision and shift our focus from the narrow. When Eragon was given the task of capturing a picture on a fairth (the fantasy equivalent of a photograph), he was faced with a similar dilemma.
When the pigments at last stopped moving, Eragon found himself looking at a strange copy of what he had wanted to reproduce. The sap and needles were rendered with vibrant, razor-sharp detail, while all else was slurred and bleary, as if seen through half-opened eyes. It was far removed from the universal clarity of Oromis’s fairth of Ilirea.
This focus may render what we are looking at in sharp detail, but we lose a sense of context and proportion. In such a situation, even a small hurdle may look like a huge challenge and we may find ourselves expend more energy than required to overcome the hurdle.
You, on the other hand, seem to observe nearly everything about whatever interests you. It’s a narrow focus, though. You have the same problem here that you do with your meditation. You must relax, broaden your field of vision, and allow yourself to absorb everything around you without judging what is important or not.
By expanding our horizons and channeling our energy and attention in a way that serves our outcomes, we can get a better sense of the bigger picture and with that clarity comes the clarity of the path ahead. The balance of expansion and contraction is required to gain the general's perspective and the strategy for the battle of life.
Reader's addition: Learn a Foreign Language
I don't think I can frame it better than what Reader said in the comments below: learning a foreign language can be very useful to help with a lot of things like reading, writing, and logical reasoning. While yes, Eragon learns a lot through the study of the ancient language, he is learning (to him) a foreign language - its by him mastering both & then also others later on (which we see him do continuously throughout) that he gains a deeper understanding of all races he interacts with.
Oromis brought out pens and ink for Eragon, and they resumed his education of the Liduen Kvaedhí, the written form of the ancient language, which was so much more elegant than the humans’ or dwarves’ runes. Eragon lost himself in the arcane glyphs, happy to have a task that required nothing more strenuous than rote memorization.
By learning the way things work & the syntax of a language you can understand a lot about the culture (what comes first, the subject or the object or the action? this varies across languages and can tell you a lot about what the culture behind the language values) and in turn build more empathy & understanding to those around you.
Indeed, learning a foreign language brings many of the above aspects in practice while engaging the mind and improving memory. The level of immersion and attention requires us to add a daily practice and build a habit, which again contributes to our improved lifestyle.
Here's to dreaming in a foreign language!
And, there you have it, 7 (+1) practices that will get you ready to be a Dragon Rider. These are teachings directly passed from the bygone era of the Riders, and given to us by the master: Oromis, the Mourning Sage, the Cripple Who is Whole.
Atra esterní ono thelduin,
Mor’ranr lífa unin hjarta onr,
Un du evarínya ono varda.