Relax.. Relax.. Relax! You probably often heard this comment from your Sifu or seniors when you started training Wing Chun. Were you able to relax? Most people don’t, but why? You probably thought, tense? Me? I am okay. I am not tense! That is the issue, you think you are okay, but you are not! Because you are not aware that you are tight and nervous!
Why are we tense?
According to Qi Gong and Chinese Medicine theory, when we were born as a baby, we were perfect human beings. As the years go by, our environment and lifestyles affect our body and state of mind. We smoke, we drink, sustain injuries, have emotional fits, live a sedentary lifestyle etc. As a result, over the years, these stress-anxieties and bad habits became part of us. We think we are okay because we are not aware of the stress built up over the years. It became part of our DNA.
That is the main issue.
What is the solution?
Good question, the answer is: we must become aware of the state of our physical body and mind. We must learn how to feel and connect to ourselves. You can only fix a problem if you are aware that you have a problem!
That is also one of the significant teachings of Qi Gong (气功)。Learning how to “let go”, how to accept ourselves and get in touch with our physical and spiritual mind and body. It is a very, very important skill, especially in this day and time. We are so easily distracted by what is happing outside of us. Instant information and digital gadgets have invaded and taken over our personal lives and work environment. In school, they teach us about technology, geography and so on. These are all subject matters about the outside world. All good stuff, but what do we know about ourselves? To learn more about ourselves, how we feel, and who we are, we must take “time out” and connect to ourselves. If we can manage ourselves better, we can deal with the outside world more effectively.
Hereafter I will discuss a simple method to learn how to connect to our physical body, mind and breath.
How to connect to yourself?
This is a very basic but fundamental practice used in many Asian spiritual traditions such as Buddhism and Daoism. In this method, we use our breath as a means or vehicle to connect to our body and mind. We follow our breath, and this will allow us to go “inside our body” and directly feel and experience the state of our physical body and mind. The three entities (body, mind and breath) interact and affect each other. For example, you are angry or afraid; your mind will tense up; this also affects your body and breath in an equal manner.
Your breath must be even, deep and smooth, and this will relax your body and quiet your mind.
Sit halfway on a chair, and your spine should not touch the back of the chair. Your spine and knees are straight and in line with your shoulder nests. Your feet flat on the floor, hands on your lap and tuck your chin in slightly.
Relax and focus on your breath; use abdominal breathing. In this method, you push down your diaphragm muscle to breathe. Your belly will expand when you breathe in. Breath in and out through your nose. Never use your chest for breathing (if you are not sure if you do place your hand on your chest)
- Close your eyes for better concentration.
- Breathe in (belly expands) and breathe out, scan your body for any tension and maintain your proper posture. If your knees collapse or your head drops, correct your posture.
- Your mind may wander off, and if it does, reset and come back to the exercise. Stay in the present moment and follow your breath.
Do this 1-2 times a day for 5 minutes. Slowly build up to 20 minutes per session.
In the beginning, your mind will wander off. You can count your breath to stay in the present moment — Count 1 to 12 and then 12 to 1. If you gapped out, re-start your count, 1 to 12 etc.
Don’t be judge yourself too harshly; observe your breath, the state of your body and mind. Keep practising, and over time you will feel more comfortable with this meditation exercise.
You can do it everywhere at any time. However, you will need some discipline, in the beginning, to get into the habit. It is simple, but not easy!
Good luck! Feel free to contact me if you have any questions or comments.