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Mindfulness

posted 18 Sep 2020, 09:34 by WestDevon Tai Chi   [ updated 23 Sep 2020, 02:23 by Mandy Moor ]

The practice of mindfulness is met with scepticism by many; mindfulness is a word associated with alternative therapies and medicines and is not, perhaps, taken seriously by the mainstream. However, when you change your reference point and realise that many of the martial arts are based on this practice as a form of focus and meditation, it does change the flavour of the word somewhat.

Most mindfulness or meditation training usually begins with attempting to calm and quieten the mind through focus of attention. Focusing the mind is not the end of the process, but it is as seen as an essential beginning. Practice helps to quieten the mind by acknowledging when a thought has taken place and then refocusing on the breath, your Taiji form, or whatever it is you are being attentive to. The main thing is not to entertain thoughts and not to get involved in them. Incredibly challenging and not something that is achieved in weeks, months or years-it is all part of the ongoing journey. I read recently that a Buddhist allegory imagines the thoughts as mice scurrying around the brain. The part of consciousness that is aware of thoughts is imagined as a cat. When the cat appears (watching thoughts) the mice run away. However, the cat is lazy and not a good mouser and in no time at all it has forgotten its purpose and the mice return. It takes the cat a while to realise that the mice have returned but eventually it notices, and the mice run off. After a good deal of practice the cat becomes focused and is very quick to respond to the mice (the thoughts) as soon as they appear. 

 The place I seek to find in my Zhan Zhuang (standing meditation) is the pure and uncontaminated mind. This mind is thought of in Buddhism as the enlightened mind or ‘luminous mind’. My belief is that we are all born with an enlightened mind (uncontaminated) but over time we all develop an acquired conditioned mind (contaminated) that is hard to break free from. There is a Zen Buddhism saying, “The enlightened mind is no more than the ordinary mind”. It is likened to the sun behind the clouds, it is always there. If only we could disperse the clouds, the sun would shine through. If we can disperse our thoughts by developing mindfulness we can access that enlightened mind at any time and this will begin to filter through into all aspects of our life. Another Zen saying, “Before enlightenment there is chopping wood and carrying water. After enlightenment there is chopping wood and carrying water.” This implies that life goes on as usual, you are the same person, but you see things differently. Escaping from one’s mental conditioning does not come easily and is not achieved by many in this lifetime.
 
 Emancipate yourselves from mental slavery
None but ourselves can free our minds   
(Bob Marley)

In our Taiji practice we are endeavouring to deepen our understanding of integrating the mind and body. Taiji is meditation in movement and developing stillness of the mind is a vital component. The Taoists advocate meditating in the marketplace or the hub of the city. This always reminds me of a gentleman who always stood meditating in the middle of Glastonbury High Street-he taught me a lot without speaking any words! Taiji, is a profound training which is meditative, medicinal and martial and with continual practice gradually develops the ability to be more attentive to both our internal and external reality.

Now to the reality of what is happening in the external world and with our Taiji gatherings with more regulations being enforced. The outdoor sessions are continuing-we are indeed very social, but we can clearly be seen to be exercising to any watching eyes!  My apologies to people who may think these sessions will be moving back into a hall environment but due to Covid 19 conditions having to be agreed it will not be happening anytime soon. I talk to many people who say they are fed up with this now and want to get back to a normal life without masks etc. Nothing is going to change while everyone is locked in fear and continue to acquiesce.
 
“What has gone wrong with the people of this country because in the end it is the people who run the country and not the government. If people are genuinely frightened to go out because they are worried they are breaking the law, then surely there is something wrong with that. We need to stop doing what we are told to do every single day. The more you do that, the more you will be told what to do-that’s the way it works.”
(Mike Graham -Talk Radio)

What we are experiencing now is psychological warfare, you must work with your warrior spirit; the solution to all of this lies with yourself. We are all in this together, we all need each other and thank you to all the people who continue to support the sessions. It was mentioned that the dynamics of these sessions have changed since being outside all the time-so true. Intuitively, the West Devon Tai Chi journey feels like it is changing and whatever transpires will be embraced as a positive way forward. Our world is changing too, very rapidly. It is a global reset and people need to awaken sooner rather than later. We have every opportunity to create a better world for our future generations if we choose to get involved.

Rise like lions after slumber
In unvanquishable number
Shake your chains to earth like dew
Which in sleep had fallen on you
Ye are many, they are few.
(Percy Bysshe Shelley-1891)


Autumn Equinox blessings to you all
Stay well, strong and powerful in mind, body and spirit

Mandy-Instructor 
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