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Moving with meditation

We've all heard that Taiji is a form moving meditation. But how does it work? The fact that you're doing Taiji doesn't mean that you're actually meditating. To a lot of people, the idea of meditating is of a Zen monk sitting cross legged, facing a wall. You may try and you may either find yourself feeling agitated or fall asleep. This form of meditation probably isn't for you. There are many forms of meditation and I will not claim that I am expert. However, my writing based on personal experiences or observations.

First of all, meditation is not about sitting cross legged. It can be done standing up, walking or laying down. Whilst Taiji is about moving. Qigong on the other hand can be done in static positions. The basic abdominal breathing technique should be the same. There is Daoist meditation which can be solitary or done in groups. Various schools have different methods, such as chanting, yogic and tantric methods. Buddhist meditation isn't what you might think. Even in Buddhism, you have a many different meditation methods. These include reciting sutras, mantras of the Buddha's name. These could be done sitting down, standing up walking or even drumming. Martial arts and realisation by doing are other methods. Lastly, there are also Neo-Confucian methods of meditation, which is similar to Zen meditation. So meditation practices and traditions are very broad across Asia and often related. Whilst meditation is generally thought of as an Far Eastern thing. That's not true as meditation also exists in Christianity, Judaism and Islam.

So how do we meditate?

To be honest, this is element of the topic is best discussed in class. Too often, we read things that either takes you to the wrong direction or confuses people. In terms terms of preparation, let's keep it simple. Don't over eat, wear something comfortable and relax. Find some time to practice and you don't need much (however much time you feel is manageable). When you start your forms or qigong exercises, relax and breathe gently. Try to concentrate on the breath. Learn to let go and ignore what people think. Work through whatever you do and try not to get distracted. You also need to work on motivation. Don't expect huge changes, but aim for small incremental changes. Getting peace and privacy helps. However, having distractions presents an interesting challenge. When I train in the park, I often have people stand and watch, chatter away or walk past me. I know they are there, but I don't let their presence affect me, but use that as an opportunity to hone my concentration. Meditation also takes personal discipline. The moment you try to take your mind off the world and zone out. The mind starts to wonder, whether it's about food or other pleasures. This is why you need to gently set your mind to a certain path. If your mind wonders, try to nip it in the bud and get the mind back on track.

Moving meditation

Initially, it is not easy do your forms and keep calm, before actually meditating. The cliché that Taiji is moving meditation doesn't help. To the beginner and intermediate practitioner, you're likely to worry about getting the moves or postures right. Although, if you can keep calm and relaxed, that helps. Once you've found your way, why not do your favourite qigong exercises or form, and try to be mindful for the whole four to five minutes, whilst flowing through each move. See how that goes and whether you get it. The Taiji long form I do can take up to 15 minutes and that does seem like a long time. And it is, but these are long term goals.

So why do we meditate?

Meditation and cultivating Qi are key components of both Taiji and Qigong. Without them, Taiji and Qigong will just be physical exercises. Whilst it is not so obvious in other styles of martial arts, the same principles also apply. Some consider it to be the spiritual aspect of martial arts. Meditation helps us to take a break from the stressful world and put things into perspective.

Furthermore, meditation can help you feel better. Everyone need some quality time to connect with your inner self and tune your senses. In the case of Buddhist monks and Daoist priests, nothing is wasted and pretty everything you do can help cultivate in some way or form. I will be honest, meditating sounds easy, but it isn't if you actually put my mind to it. You will feel restless if you sit still for a long time. Furthermore, standing in horse stances for a long time, can be uncomfortable. Many people give up early on, because they have unrealistic expectations. For the beginner, a lot of what we do can be hard work, but it will get easier with time. It's all about the long term challenges and how you deal with these challenges. The long form is like a long river (or your life). You can't rule over it, you might think you're managing it, but perhaps you should flow with it. The Wu-Wei factor is true in this regard.

The Taiji journey isn't just physical movement from the beginning to the end. There is an lot more to explore.

Thank you for reading my blog.


Taming the monkey's mind, Cheng Wei-An

Phoenix in Graceful Clouds of Blessing, Joe Lok

An illustrated Handbook of Chinese Qigong Forms, Li Jing Wei & Zhi Jian Ping


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