November 26, 2014

Chan Quan and Meditation

"Sifu, I hear you teach meditation in your classes. What's so special about practicing meditation?

Meditation is important no matter what we are getting ready to do, what we may be in the midst of doing, or what we may have just finished doing. It's the same attitude that we maintain regarding our actions: we are mindful in the beginning of the day and through the day, and at the end of it.As a matter of fact we do three types of meditation during each session.

First, there's standing meditation, which is most popularly seen in Tai Chi Quan's "Cosmic Stance," which we call "Motion in Stillness." All of our movements/motions are focused towards reaching a meditative state, not a blank, mindless type state, but a focused state in which we are absorbed in the moment. Second, we do "Moving meditation" which is also called "Stillness in Motion."

Third, at the end of our session we do the most popular form of meditation, called "Sitting Meditation."

Each of these meditations has a special place. Our goal, as in Tai Chi, is to be humble and relaxed whether in a combative situation or during our everyday lives. These meditations help us to relieve stresses and anxieties of both mind and body. They will cleanse mind and body and bring mental, physical and spiritual health.

First things, first; before we can do the above we need to ready our mind and body. The best way to do this is to perform a standing meditation, which quickly warms and relaxes the body as it cools and relaxes the mind. From the very foundation of our body, at our Hara point, this posture stimulates chi circulation and directs our spiritual and mental energies.

The focus and physical readiness we need to build a strong and healthy body and mind begin here. Instead of doing an excess of push-ups and other muscle, tendon and ligament strengthening exercises, we do a Standing and Moving Meditation in one of two methods: the "slow, relaxed, gentle, graceful method" and the "slow, dynamic, forceful method." We contract the muscles, slowly adding force with resistance as skill progresses, as in soft/hard styles of Qi Gong.

We continue to cultivate and strengthen through forms/ sets of movements, techniques also known as meditation in motion. The goal is to become skillful enough to perform all techniques in a meditative manner, meaning that we perform in a skillful way that yields no resistance, physical or mental.

Sitting meditation is where all of our efforts will increase dramatically. Everything we have done up to now in our day is absorbed by our mind. It's up to us to relax the mind. Focus it on our practice, bringing everything to rest, allowing the day's activities to sink in with greater success.

The benefit of meditation in the martial arts is truly limitless. As we seek (without grasping) balance, yin and yang, Chan and Quan, we perform each movement slowly as in Tai Chi, which makes it easier to develop our internal energy, our chi, with slow, gentle/graceful movements. As we become skillful, our movements become faster adding more force as we progress.

Softly a bird taps on the window. The spider crawls away and the cat goes to sleep.