What is Meditation?
Is it possible to completely empty your mind of all thoughts? What is the secret to sitting in a quiet space and just hearing all natural sounds around you and yet nothing at all? Does this type of activity interfere with my religious beliefs and practices? When is the best time to meditate and what does one meditate on?
These are but a few questions most commonly asked when referencing the art of meditation. Yes, it is possible to empty your mind and consciously think of only one thing or “the-nothing”. In TaiJi, it’s the WuJi, the birthing of the “grand ultimate supreme”. In fact, it’s mandatory to do a meditation just before practicing/performing an activity that requires strong mental focus and a keen sense of hand-eye coordination and agility. Seeing yourself perform an activity with precision long before you physically do it! Some say that this then becomes self-hypnosis. We all subconsciously meditate every night just before retiring to bed. Imagine, each night when your head hits the pillow, hundreds to thousands of thoughts race through the mind in a millionth of a second that makes it virtually impossible to fall asleep. As the mind begins to process all data registering ranging from the excitement at work, the 100 page term paper due tomorrow, fights with your spouse, the leaky faucet and the late night drips or the sounds of dogs barking throughout the night.
Though typically thought to be an activity of seated stillness, when “over stood”, meditation becomes recognized within every state of our being, conscious or subconscious, still or moving, seated, lying down or standing. The question is where is your mind during each state of being? Like the practice of Tai Ji, the idea and purpose is to center oneself so a more pleasant environment exists within which in turn creates a much more beautiful environment outside the vessel. Within each variation of meditation lies a common and most specific thread, breathing.
Improved breathing techniques contribute greatly to the overall benefits of tai chi practice and life in general. The internal organs work tirelessly in the background, mostly unnoticed until one or more begins to fail. Unlike external muscles, the organs are rarely exercised during Western-style calisthenics. Tai chi’s unique approach not only strengthens muscles, bones and tendons, but also stimulates and rejuvenates the organs by employing lower abdominal breathing and an extensive range of gentle twisting movements.
In Chinese metaphysics, developing proper breathing techniques is one of the keys to good health. By inhaling deep into the lower abdomen, you are directing the chi to permeate and massage internal organs. As babies, we all breathed this way; however, the aging process and other learned behaviors caused us to inhale and exhale through the chest and ignore the organs. With practice, lower-abdomen breathing becomes natural and every breath exercises your internal body.
The Seated Meditation (Lotus), is potentially the hardest of the variations thus the most powerful.
Ten Gates to Heaven offers one to one meditation lessons, weekly group classes and private group workshops to anyone from complete beginners to experienced meditators.
The Journey of Contemplation:
Which way do I go, left or right? Is this my destiny or am I meant to serve an even greater purpose? Why does my life seem to have a path so meticulously routed out?
As the Spirit awakens within, many moments of meditation shall render a question of who is whispering words in your ear? Are they coming from your own mind or a divine spirit that is guiding you through this journey in this physical world.