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Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Lessons from 10,000 feet

Just back from a week's vacation in a cabin at 10,000 feet. The lesson from 10,000 feet is simple. it is much harder to climb steps at that altitude. Let's talk about something a little more abstract.

Another step on our journey to now.

Let me ask you this question. WHEN is Chi? Is chi in the past, in the present or the future. Of course Chi is and has always been NOW. Therefore since “mind leads chi”, if you’re mind isn’t Now, you cannot cultivate chi. Now let’s find out how much time you spend on the present moment. A few weeks ago I asked my tai chi class to do the first posture of the form (rising position). I asked them to pay attention to when their mind wandered and they no longer just experienced the movement. They needed to pay attention to point when their mind wandered. In case you haven’t thought about that, if you’re mind wanders you are NOT attending to the experiences of the present moment. The class reported that in general they only stayed in the present moment for the first 6-12 inches of the first posture of the tai chi form.
            …and there is the problem. You cannot work on a subtle life force that only can be experienced in the present moment if you are distracted by a wandering mind processing thoughts about the past or future. You cannot cultivate mindful movement, balance, breathing and awareness of your own body and those around you if you are ‘thinking about stuff”. So knowing this, is there anything more important in your practice or indeed your life development than learning to recognize when your attention is distracted by internal mental stimuli (thought states).
            The more practical of you all might say, well this sounds like new age stuff and doesn’t apply to me, I want to deal with reality. I say “good” that’s what I want too. If you are standing in a room doing tai chi, the positions of your body, the air, your breath, balance and posture and chi flow in that moment IS reality. The stuff stirring around in your brain is NOT. What is happening NOW is reality, not the strangely filtered reality that your thoughts represent. How can any of you argue with that? What is happening around you is always more real, however elusive, than what you are muttering to yourself about in your brain.