Many people believe that there is a conflict or contradiction between learning the art of fighting and being a peaceful Buddhist. In The Art of War, Sun Tzu said,
Know thy foe and know thyself: had you a hundred battles to fight you would emerge a hundred times victorious, Know not thy foe and know thyself: you may lose you may win, Know neither thy foe nor thyself: every battle you reckon up will be a loss.
Through the Shaolin Arts we learn about ourselves and through learning about ourselves we learn about life. The emphasis is always on the present moment because this is the only time when we are fully alive. We don’t practice to be a great martial artist or lose weight or be healthy or because we think it’s good for us neither do we practice to gain confidence or a sense of peace and harmony or a beautiful body. We may gain all of these but they are the by products that come from what we do.
Just as a Zen archer never worries about where the arrow is going to land, we also don’t think about what we may gain from our practice. Those thought and goals only take us away from the present moment. The point of power is in the now. Now can never be returned to us so we give everything we have to the practice. We concentrate with 100 % of our heart.
Mind Heart Now
The Chinese character for mindfulness has two parts, the upper part means ‘now’ and the lower part means ‘heart’ or ‘mind. In China we don’t separate the mind from the heart the way it is separated in the West. The mind is the heart. The link between mind and body is breath. In our Shaolin training we use our breath and movement as an anchor to bring us right here into the now. It’s simple. That is all we need to do.
The only important thing to remember is: correct movement, concentrated mind. The mind concentrates on two things; breath and movement, movement and breath. Only when the breath and the movements have become second-nature can we gain a deeper awareness of your body.
The Qigong Workout is so simple that many people add confusion and to it. They may start thinking, ‘I am breathing and moving,’ and become self-conscious or they may study complex Qi theory or read many books on the subject but this only confuses the mind and takes it further away from our own personal experience. There is nothing secret about Qigong and the benefits are not just for Shaolin monks. They are within everyones reach.
Bite The Apple
Personal experience is all that counts. If you are hungry and you haven’t eaten for days and I hold up a picture of an apple and I begin to tell you about the nutritious benefits of the apple, this won’t take away your hunger. Better I give you the apple and you bite into it.
Everything in the Universe is interdependent, we take in oxygen and we breathe out carbon dioxide, we eat food and we expel waste products. Through these simple acts we are connected to the whole Universe. Qigong helps us to go beyond our small individual selves and find a connection with the consciousness of the Universe. It does not give us anything new, it simply connects us with the bodies internal power and automatic wisdom.
Chocolate or Qigong?
In the West we have lost touch with this. For example, if you have a sweet tooth and you try to use your willpower to stop eating chocolate, you may be surprised to find that once you start to practice of Qigong, these cravings will naturally cease and instead you will crave healthy food. Why does this happen? Chocolate releases endorphins and so does Qigong. Qigong reduces stress which has an effect on the hormonal and endocrine system. An imbalance in the hormones may lead to a craving for sugar or chocolate.
For these minor imbalances ( not major illness) our body has the power to self-regulate itself without the intervention of diets or medicine or herbs. If we suffer from lower back pain it may disappear, feelings of anxiety will lift, and confidence will be regained. All of this will happen without a single effort or thought or desire from you. All you are doing is focusing on the breath and the movement, and the movement and the breath.
You Already Are What You Want To Become
“Everything you are, everything you do, that’s your real mind, that’s your real Buddha.”
What this means is everything you are looking for is right here. You already are what you want to become. Does a tree have to do something? The purpose of a tree is to be itself, and your purpose is to be yourself. We have everything we need. There is no need to put anything in front of us and run after it. We don’t have to add anything extra to ourselves. Right now we have all the elements for our health, we just have to apply the Shaolin techniques we are learning.
Bringing this energy into our Qigong practice gives it a wakefulness that it may not have if we think, “there’s something wrong with me,” or “I need to go to a mountain to practice” or “tomorrow I won’t think so much” or “tomorrow I’ll have more time”.
Remember: There is no future time there is only now. And now is the most important time we have. Now is the building block for the future. Instead of drifting into the future of “if” and “when”, we focus on the single point of now. Being mindful protects our Qigong practice like a candle flame sheltered from the wind.
This is an excerpt from my book, Instant Health: The Qigong Workout For Longevity.
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