November 21, 2014

Chan Quan - Part 4

The fourth and last part of the program is the mental and spiritual training. The practitioner learns how to properly focus his mind and to bring his thoughts and emotions under control. He learns how to cultivate and visualize his spiritual energy called Chi (Qi, Ki). Chi is the vital energy which exists in all things.

In the stage of cultivating Chan mind, we unite the teachings, understanding that all of them are a product of the mind alone, that nothing is separate unto itself. Our mind needs to categorize and to make sense of everything it comes into contact with. Without this ability we tend to create false views, to become opinionated, and make incorrect judgments about people, places and things. The truth becomes unclear and our mind seems covered by mist. We become egotistical, greedy, and lustful, and fall easily into temptation. These things will do nothing but cause pain and suffering.

What we need to do is focus our mind on one concept during our practice; and as we get better at this technique we can apply it to our every day lives.

The first objective is to cultivate the attitude, "No wanting or expecting, no waiting for anything to happen, just doing." This is absolutely necessary. This attitude allows us to let things happen naturally without any of the obstructions that may damage our practice in either the martial arts or spiritual aspects. Just as we strive to" be one" with the movement, we strive to be one with the situation. "Be the movement, be the situation." Basically this means "Do what is asked of you right then and there". No second-guessing, no hesitation. Have faith in your mind. Be mindful of your breath, and all your sensations and thoughts. Let them come and go naturally without trying to grasp at them or follow them.

After the mind has reached a simple relaxation and focus we work on visualization. In the beginning of practice we always start with the motions, adding to them as we go. But it is these visualizations that allow us to move the chi around our body, even on to someone else, both as combat arts, and healing arts.

Chi is a broad term for the energies that encompass absolutely everything. Some teachers limit this concept, but I feel it has no limit.

Chi travels along our nervous system, which, through correct breathing and visualizing, can be directed anywhere.

We want to cultivate chi, become mindful of it, through meditation practice, in both motion and in stillness. This does two things: once we become aware of it, it strengthens and protects our bodies; and it keeps us healthy mentally and spiritually.

"When I breathe, chi enters through my nose and through my body. I move my arm as I breathe, visualizing chi enter my nose. From my lower abdomen chi rises up and flows through my limbs, protecting my body while projecting it outwards, especially through my hand and fingertips. I breathe in and the projected chi is taken back into my body "

Once chi can be directed and distributed throughout the body, we realize the benefits of a complete martial arts' program.