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Quiet Mind

posted 24 Oct 2018, 12:00 by WestDevon Tai Chi   [ updated 8 Nov 2018, 09:26 ]
The more I practise Taiji, the more I understand how important it is to find a way to quieten the mind. My daily Zhan Zhaung practise (standing meditation) can vary from day to day. It is all dependent on how long it takes to empty my head of the relentless thoughts. The mind just wants to chatter insanely! The other flip of the coin is the external distractions…can your mind be totally calm when your environment is noisy. Challenging indeed but something we continuously practise in Taiji. To remain in a calm and balanced state when everything around you is chaos is a must in today’s world.
Having just read Chen Taijiquan:  Masters and Methods by Davidine Siaw Voon Sim and David Gaffney - a book written over many decades interviewing some of the great Masters of Chen style - I would like to share one of the questions that was put to Chen Xiaoxing,  principal of the Chenjiagou  Taijiquan School and brother of Chen Xiaowang. 
Question: What state of mind should people have when they practise Taijiquan?
Chen XX:“Today’s society is very fast-paced with people experiencing pressures and demands from all sides, Consequently, many are looking for some form of activity that can ease the mind and allow them to pursue some form of self-expression. Taijiquan is ideal for this purpose. Taijiquan practise requires a calm state of mind that cannot be matched in any other type of exercise. It is a good form of aerobic exercise, while at the same time being extremely calm, slow and continuous. 
When training pay attention not to be disturbed by distractions. From the age of about thirteen to twenty, I trained with my eyes shut. In the beginning, I did this so I could shut out the distractions around me. By the time I was twenty it didn’t matter how chaotic the surroundings were; I would not be distracted, even with my eyes open. Although calmness is required while training, it does not mean the surroundings need to be quiet. Your mind should be quiet however noisy your surroundings. Because Taijiquan theory requires stillness within movement, it trains both internal and external aspects simultaneously. Externally, it trains the body; internally, it regulates the mental state. If we play a routine following all the requirements, then, even in the depths of winter, you will pour with sweat. Taijiquan is an excellent movement system for body sculpting, for maintaining a balanced state of mind, and for regulating the respiratory systems.” 

Taken from the same book are these words from Zhu Tiancai-“Possessing the ability to go into a quiet state is an integral part of practice. However, to be capable of truly being in a quiet state is dependent on the mind being free of anger, scheming, impatience, anxiety and other negative thoughts, directed either inward towards yourself or outward towards others.”
Reading these words really emphasised to me the importance of learning the skill to quieten the mind in all aspects of our Taiji practise. It is a vital tool for life and worth pursuing however challenging it may be. A Buddhist saying is=“our mind creates our world”. Our thoughts, if we let them, can create a reality that does not even exist! 
Your Biggest Opponent is Yourself (Chen Xiaoxing) 

To help us in our training of the mind, as well as the body, we see the welcome return of Ben Milton to Bratton Clovelly on Saturday, 3rd November. Some people have mentioned that a day workshop is too long for them so I have introduced the option of attending the morning only. Look forward to seeing you there-Ben’s wealth of knowledge and understanding will inspire us as always I am sure! 

Samhain blessings to you all