Saturday, April 14, 2012

Walking Meditation and Tai Chi Chuan

The other day I was listening to a recorded lecture on walking meditation and was struck by the similarities and differences to the practice of Tai Chi.

The talk was being given to some advanced practitioners of Zen meditation. These folks were accustomed to long periods of seated meditation and the idea was to introduce them to movement combined with meditation.
I myself have difficulty being still for so long, and prefer the slow, calculated movements of the internal martial arts.
In Tai Chi Chuan for instance; we learn to move in a very systematic way and if we apply ourselves we eventually gain meditative as well as combat skills.
The Zen group in the lecture had first learned meditation and was struggling to integrate that with simple mindfull walking.
The speaker said they needed to concentrate their intent into their feet, as opposed to the brain and mind. It represented the extreme other end of the body that they were used to working with. As expected, the students were to examine every aspect of foot placement and center of being.
This too, is an important part of internal martial arts practice. But here's a big difference; we don't just think into our feet, the most basic level. We must focus our intent on every body part be it still or moving.
Add to this the intent of how you would apply that movement in a partner form or in self-defense, because moving in Tai Chi Chuan is "empty" without realizing the utility of the movement in application.
Some people can grasp the application, but lack the intent of internal meditation. That also would be considered empty pugilism.

In my many years of Karate in the past, there was always talk of martial arts being 70% mind and 30% body skills.
That was just talk. Karate was 98% body art. Moving through fast forms was about the same as doing 50 push-ups. Invigorating but shallow.

Our local Chinese Tai Chi master, Mr. Pang once told me why we practice slowly. He described picking up a coin quickly. It's just an object or tool to get what you want. But if you pick it up slowly, you can feel it's weight. It's rim. It's smooth or ribbed edge. The face on the coin.
That's a lot of information to process.
Now, transfer that to body arts.


Katherine Levine said...

Thank you for your posts, don't often have time to comment. The older one gets the faster it goes and the longer the to do list.

Walking meditations in any form are great. I funded a Labyrinth program and we used it to teach walking meditations.

I found a fsst walk while repeating the slogan or koan "It is all all right" helped rid me of anger.


Fou-mar said...

"Walk slowly in a yard, along a sidewalk, or on a path. Breath normally. Determine the length of your breath, the exhalation and the inhalation, by the number of your footsteps. Continue for a few minutes. Begin to lengthen your exhalations by one step. Do not force a longer inhalation. Let it be natural. Watch your inhalation carefully to see whether there is a desire to lengthen it. Continue for 10 breaths.

Now lengthen the exhalation by one more footstep. Watch to see whether the inhalation also lengthens by one step or not. Only lengthen the inhalation when you feel that it will give delight."
From Skills Training Manual for Treating Borderline Disorder by Marsha Linehan 1993 The Guilford Press...Distress Tolerance Handout 2....Guidelines for Accepting Reality: Oberserving-Your-Breath Exercises

One of my favorite garden or with dogs is fun. Just relax whole body and let it be natural.

KidbuxBlog said...

Thanks sharing. Walking meditation not only help us be mindful all day while also increase our wisdom. Recently, I met a guru who practice for over 30years, he is Venerable Vimokkha and did share his teaching in MP3 files in my blog. Feel free download this free meditation teaching in MP3 at:

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