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Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Meditation: Aid to Qigong Development

Regardless of the style of Qigong you may practise it is vitally important to have a quiet and focused mind. In order to reap any benefit from your efforts you must be able to maintain your centre, your concentration, and your coordination during practice. Indeed the very length of your session is determined by the quality and quantity of your quiet, focused mind.

Meditation: Aid to Qigong Development
by J. Reynolds Nelson
Qi Magazine || Issue 51 || Dec 2000

One of the problems many beginners experience as they embark upon their Qigong training is that of random thought or voices. This is quite a prevalent situation in the west, especially where the pace of living and constant media bombardment tend to fill every waking moment. In fact many of us are unaware of our mind’s constant chattering until we attempt to practise some of the quiet arts. Unfortunately the speed and constancy of this mental activity gives us little opportunity for mental relaxation. We tend to follow the patterns laid down by western cultures, which dictate what is relaxing: watching a film or television, a pint with our mates, shopping, a meal out, or perhaps, if you’re lucky, a walk in the park or countrysidewith loved ones. 

It is not until we attempt to practise something like Qigong or Taiji that we may discover that, while our teacher looks peaceful and centred, we are bombarded with internal messages and emotions that upset our concentration. For some of us this onslaught of mental hyper-activity is like a motor going into overdrive. While we attempt to relax our body and coordinate our movement and breath, our minds are frenetic. The result of this mental cacophony is often emotional manifestations ranging the spectrum from anger to depression, ecstasy to anxiety. Therefore, just as form and structure is important to beneficial Qigong exercise, so is the practice of the quiet mind. 

Meditation, like any exercise system, must be built up over time. Perhaps in the beginning the student may only achieve a few moments of clear and empty contemplation. However, with regular practice, the voices and random thought will remain at bay for increasingly longer periods of time. Where and when to practise are an important consideration. The best time is always when you anticipate having a few undisturbed and protected minutes. Traditionally this was accomplished by rising earlier than the routine and sequestering in a protected environment. Additionally finding a harmonious, natural venue of exceptional beauty, assisted in bringing about the state of mind conducive to empty thought and being or Wu Wei. In our environment however we may not be so fortunate as to be able to pick and choose. A quiet room or even closet, isolated and separate from the outside world should suffice. Some may find darkness an aid; others may enjoy the flickering of candles or hearing light instrumental music. Incense or fragrant oils may put you at ease enough to relax away the random thoughts dominating your mind. What works best for you, so that you will accumulate time before losing your concentration, is optimal. However, it is recommended that you practise meditation only under the supervision of a qualified teacher. As with any form of esoteric learning many problems can arise that may lead you astray with detrimental consequences. Finally it is within your practice of Qigong or other Chinese Internal Arts that your time meditating is tested. You should find that you can belay the emergence of random thought and voices for increasingly longer periods of time. You will then be able to concentrate more on your breathing, or movement coordination for the benefit of your health and well-being. 

Meditation has been proven over the years to be a great aid to the practice of the Chinese Internal Arts and has been incorporated into many systems like the Standing Pole of Yi Quan, or the single postures of Taiji. It is hoped, regardless of the system of Qigong or martial art that you practise, you find increased concentration and greater inner tranquillity over time.