Practice Principles - I
For the beginning of the New Year, let’s take a look at some important practice principles to increase the effectiveness of your practice. We will divide these into three groups, and then look at each group in more detail. All of these principles are important to the development of your Chi, as well as developing the ability of application, be it in the Martial Arts, Healing, Spiritual reading or Transformation.
The first concepts that we will look at, you can remember by the letters "C C C". These stand for, calm, concentrated and clear. All three of these concepts are referring to your mind, and the state that you want to strive for. Calm refers to having your mind in a calm state. You want to quiet any routine thoughts, quieting what the Chinese refer to as the "monkey mind". This is a very apt description, as our minds are jumping all over, with all kinds of random thoughts. We have grown so accustomed to this, that we really have to work to have a truly calm mind.
The problem then is how do we do this? First and foremost, the harder you try, the more likely you are to fail. Putting your mind on not thinking is just another form of thinking. At first, it is best to just relax as much as possible, and as the thoughts come, just let them, but do not fix on them. Think of them rather as leaves in a stream floating by. Over time, you will develop the ability to just let the thoughts go as they arise, until you reach a much calmer state of mind. By continuing in this manner, you will find fewer thoughts arising, and that your mind is indeed calmer. No matter how calm you may think your mind is, keep working to get even calmer.
The next concept in our first group is concentrated. Here we are not talking about concentration in the way we usually think about it, but rather, the mind being directed only towards the flow of the energy in the specific form or meditation that you are doing. Your sole focus should be on the flow of energy associated with the form you are practicing, or on the energy work that is the goal of the meditation you are doing. You can see that you need the calm mind that we already introduced, in order to achieve this kind of focus. This is a focus based on feeling, not hard mental concentration. You must also have a very clear understanding of the form that you are practicing, and the energy flow that you are trying to achieve with the form.
The same thing applies to meditation. You must not only understand the movements in the meditation sequence that you are learning, but also have a very clear idea of what the meditation sequence that you are learning is designed to accomplish. Without this, your meditation will not get the results intended, and you will end up with an empty result from your practice. Your correct focused concentration on the goal of the meditation then, is paramount to achieving the results desired.
The last of our first set of concepts is clear. Here, we are referring to the purity of the mind. You may be calm and concentrated, but if your mind is not pure, then your results will not be either. This is the most difficult of the three to manage. We live in a very stressful society, full of artificial goals and values. You need to be able to see what is and is not "real", and not have that be your driving force, in order to begin to attain a clear mind. Being calm and concentrated are the first steps, but then you must purify and refine your mind in order for it to be truly clear. This takes very dedicated and sincere practice, adhering to the Taichi principles in the Taichi Classics to achieve. Make sure that you read and understand what these quotes are talking about.
To summarize our first group, you want to have a calm mind, free of all your busy thinking. This allows you to practice in a concentrated manner, focusing on the details of the form or meditation that you are doing. To do this successfully, your mind must be very clear and pure, free of all the artificial knowledge we have been subjected to for most of our lives. This will require a high level of dedication and sincerity on your part, but allow you to truly enter the state of Taichi. Next month we will look at our second group, which gives the requirements that your form needs.