Seeing The Wood For The Trees
a lesson in mindfulness, seeing the wood for the trees, being mindful in the martial arts is essential , total focus and the ability to stay calm and focused whilst under pressure is a worthy pursuit, it could save your life.
Tai Chi, Bagua, Hsing yi are classed as internal martial arts, the aim of these arts is for the practitioner to be able to feel their way to the correct movement, we are faced in life with choices about what is real and what is superficial. I think we can all agree that at times our mind can just wander off and it feels as if we are having a type of outer body experience and then all of a sudden we realize that we were day dreaming, I and I suppose many people out there have been talking to someone, maybe a friend or colleague and all of a sudden they are no longer in the same conversation as us, you find that the words are coming out of your mouth and landing on deaf or unresponsive ears, it’s as if they have just switched of for a bit, and then all of a sudden they are back with us. Very odd. Imagine this there are you and your friend and you both look at a tree, you can both see the tree and you can both see the colour of the tree and you can both see that the tree is either still or blowing in the wind, all these things are external and you can both understand what you both mean when you describe what the tree looks like, things like the height and the colour but when you keep looking if you both try to describe how you feel when you look at the tree you will no doubt say different things about the tree.
This is where you imagination and you connection to your own experience takes over, one of you might imagine a couple under the tree laughing and joking and finding that the experience is nice and welcoming but the other person may be thinking I wonder if anyone has been hanged from this tree or maybe someone had a nasty fall from that tree, it is all down to the way that the tree plays it’s part in your life experience. This is how the internal martial arts work or at least this is how they should work.
The key to this is to know the difference between a day dream and reality and by doing meditation, sitting or standing we can train our mind to quickly know the difference, and knowing this difference can help us to focus more clearly on what is real and what is not. Martial arts offer many ways to train but it can be easy to not see the wood for the trees, we can think that what is real is not and we can think that what is illusion is reality.
Seeing The Wood For The Trees
Here is a way that you can to be more mindful, it begins with a simple standing exercise, just stand with you feet about shoulder width apart and your arms down by your side eyes open and with your back straight imagine your head supported from the crown by a bit of string and relax look forwards out of a window or better still stand out where there is a good long view, find one thing to look at and stand in that position and do a thousand mile stare, look as far away from yourself as you can, whilst doing this imagine that there is warm water flowing from the inside of your abdomen and that this warm water is making a journey from your abdomen to your right arm and then to you hand and then your finger tips, notice each and every sensation as it makes it’s journey, you will notice that the feeling is real to you, yet to an onlooker nothing is going on, to them you look as if you are just standing in one position, but your reality tells you that there is a warm current traveling from your abdomen to your right arm. This is just an example your mind can move to any part of your body.
By being mindful we can focus our mind in a way that will benefit us in the martial arts, by standing in one position and just letting your mind wander around your body you will realize that even tho no one can see what is going on you know, this is the basis of an internal martial art, the postures and poses mean nothing without mindfulness, being in the moment in each and every move that you make. The more you do this type of training the more you can see that there is something to the internal martial arts that could be missing from external martial arts training.
The longer that you practice focusing your intent the faster the “warm water”gets to the target, uncluttered and unimpeded, it is almost instant from the abdomen to the arm, the reason for this is that you have learned to cut unimportant information from your thought pattern, in the martial arts this is essential for fast reactions and for economy of movement when faced with danger or an opponent.