As a Spiritual Warrior and Seeker of the Way I look for synchronicities and commonalities in the various Spiritual Paradigms that are currently vying for our attention. Among the multitude of information to choose from is a theme of quiet contemplation. I see this as a metaphor for meditation. In many cultures, belief systems and martial training systems meditation plays a vital role. The list includes Yoga, the whirling of the Dervish and even the chanting of some monastic orders. Recently, I went back to studying Tai Chi through the Tai Chi Academy here in my home town. One of the main tenets is to still the mind and achieve a tranquil state.
- Dan Tian = body centre 2
- Qi = Chi = internal energy 3
- Qigong = Chi Kung = art of cultivating internal energy 4
- Yuan qi = your original energy inherited from parents 5
Tai Chi, for me, is a form of moving meditation that allows you to empty your mind and focus solely on the movements being undertaken by your body, a form or exercise with both physical and mental health benefits. As part of the study of Tai Chi, I have been introduced to Qigong which is described as follows:
…Qigong is the use of the mind as the main ingredient in the cultivation of qi. 6
Now lets check the etymology of the word meditation. According to the Online Etymology Dictionary the word meditation has its roots:
early 13c., “discourse on a subject,” from L. meditationem (nom. meditatio), from meditatus, pp. of meditari “to meditate, to think over, consider,” frequentative form from PIE base *med- “to measure, limit, consider, advise” (cf. Gk. medesthai “think about,” medon “ruler,” L. modus “measure, manner,” modestus “moderate,” modernus “modern,” mederi “to heal,” medicus “physician,” Skt. midiur “I judge, estimate,” Welsh meddwl “mind, thinking,” Goth. miton, O.E. metan “to measure”). Meaning “act of meditating, continuous calm thought upon some subject” is from late 14c.
Wikipedia says the following:
The word meditation comes from the Indo-European root med-, meaning “to measure.” It entered English as meditation through the Latin meditatio, which originally indicated any type of physical or intellectual exercise, then later evolved into the more specific meaning “contemplation.”
So, Qigong would seem to be a meditative technique for gathering energy. Brett writes further that:
In the oldest texts written on the subject of Qigong, we find the Chinese idiom, “Dam Bu Wu Wei“. The message is…both simple and profound: to have a peaceful, good heart, to cultivate your character, to look after your personality, to lead a life of frugality and simplicity, to be natural, to maintain a quiet mind and to practice clear and deep thinking.7
Does this passage above describe anything familiar to you? It is what, as a Spiritual Warrior and Seeker of the Way, we hope to achieve through our own personal journey to improve ourselves. Now, as with Yoga, Qigong can be practised by lying, sitting, standing or moving and is very beneficial to effective meditation.
What do we understand by the term mind? One more foray to Wikipedia reveals the following:
Mind (pronounced /maind/) is the aspect of intellect and consciousness experienced as combinations of thought, perception, memory, emotion, will and imagination, including all unconscious cognitive processes. The term is often used to refer, by implication, to the thought processes of reason. Mind manifests itself subjectively as a stream of consciousness.8
In a previous article, Perception is Reality, I wrote about how we interact with our surroundings. The article outlines a small amount of information on Cymatics which reinforces the idea of sound and vibration as creative forces. Thought too can be measured as a wave-form similarly to sound and vibration implying that through the power of our thoughts we can have an impact on reality as we perceive it. Thought is formulated in our mind, which for most people is undisciplined and chaotic (just like mine at times). This has led to the term “monkey mind” being used to describe our thought patterns as monkeys are seen as continually moving and chattering.
Meditation is a way to calm or quiet the “monkey mind” and focus your thought on one thing or nothing at all. One tip when meditating is to try to avoid recalling negative events, thoughts or emotions and do not dwell on mishaps. This could lead to reinforcement of these influences on your life.
Professor Harry Mercer once said, “Discard disappointment before it devours you.” … As you replay (a bad experience), you are giving more significance to the experience than it is worth. 9
This leads to fixation and an increase in the difficulties you encounter on your path. Focus on positive events, thoughts and emotions, release the negative and your life will steadily improve.
Meditation master Lama Choedak Rinpoche said, “What you go to bed with is what you wake with. Make a habit of farewelling the day and letting go all negatives at the end of the evening, so that you can greet the new day with gratitude and celebration.10
Should we fail to do this, then our life becomes one long battle, moving from situation to situation where we feel totally out of our depth. This feeling of being out of control is the chaotic mind at work. While it is not the only method, meditation can help in bringing the momentum of runaway reality under control. It is a way of achieving the quiet mind or quiet contemplation required to consider your path as a Spiritual Warrior or Seeker of the Way. I am attempting to increase the time that I spend in meditation and I also use my Shamanic Star Stones (Mochi Balls or Moqui Marbles), one in each hand, to enhance the experience.
It seems to me that the way in which we use our minds certainly seems to have an influence on not only our physical structure by cultivating energy but also on our perception of reality. We can generate and harness energy through the concentrated effort of our minds. Meditation, Yoga, Qigong, Tai Chi and other forms of relaxation and exercise teach us about this energy accumulation and the interaction between our minds, bodies and the perception of reality. Through these practices we are able to bring or restore balance and harmony to our lives. Achieving balance and harmony will provide positive reinforcement to our thoughts, increasing our ability to create a perception of reality that we are happy to inhabit during this turn of the wheel of life.
- With Brett’s kind permission, I have reproduced some quotes from the manual to support this article ↩
- Wagland, Brett: Tai Chi Manual, 2006: page 6 ↩
- ibid, page iii after table of contents ↩
- ibid, page iii after table of contents ↩
- ibid, page 7 ↩
- ibid, page 7 ↩
- ibid, page 7-8 ↩
- Wikipedia ↩
- ibid, page 12 ↩
- ibid, page 13 ↩