Thursday, August 18, 2011

Why Meditate?

What is meditation?
It's a state of deep peace that occurs when the mind is calm and silent.  Think of it as a stress-free/distraction-free zone.  The mind normally can be compared to a crowded noisey room, but when it is in a state of calm and silence, it's like being in a library--just waiting to be filled with new knowledge. Think of martial arts class as the collection of books in that library, you need the peace and quiet so you can comprehend what it is you are reading.

Meditation in Chayon-Ryu
Why do we meditate?
It is true that historically, there is a strong connection between martial arts and spirituality, if the practioner is seeking a path to self awareness. This marriage of the trinity of body/mind/spirit is arrived at through the repitition of ritual, and training for years in the art or discipline of choice.

Adept awareness unfolds over time, as each visitation of the movements, fundamentals, principles and applications unlocks clearer understanding.  To aid in this gain of insight, meditation can be a very important tool if used properly.  Chayon-ryu is an art that utilizes meditation to aid in further understanding. A multipuropose tool, meditation can be used in many different ways for benefit.

Sitting meditation (Facing the wall) empties the mind of clutter you may have tracked in with you from the business of the day, that may well distract you from the greater knowledge of what you will learn in martial arts class.  You don't want to be thinking about the bills that are due, or the car that cut you off in traffic, or getting yelled at by your boss before martial arts class. You want to leave all of that clutter behind you when you enter the training space. So we face the wall, and breathe, and close our eyes and empty all of that distraction and clutter out of ourselves.

Grandmaster Kim Soo and his black belts do
standing meditationbefore beginning class
at the CYR world HQ in Houston, TX USA.
Standing meditation before warm ups prepares the body to recieve instruction by attuning the senses to a single purpose, so the practioner can move as instructed on command without pausing or hesitation. 
This allows us to breathe in unison, and stay in step with the commands of the instructor, and stay together during drills and forms practice.
It creates group unification. It encourages muscle memory of the repitition, and allows us body awareness and alertness.

Moving meditation-form. Practicing forms is a moving meditation. Forms consist of prescribed, unchanging moves. A form may have taken a Master fifty years to develop. Forms are for training purposes and train the student through repetitive movements and the practice of basic principles of movement. Though some differences of personal styles will be evident, forms are always performed with the same sequence of moves, and this becomes a moving meditation. The body shifting and turning in time with your breathing, the mind, empty does not lead, but follows the flow of the movement.

These are examples of how simple meditation techniques can help each student of martial arts get more out of their training.

Meditation for deeper understanding
Grandmaster Kim Soo tells us a story:
"I am reminded of my childhood in Korea. Every year my mother would travel to the mountain to meditate. As her son, I would carry a large bag of rice as a gift from her to the monks. It was an arduous journey of about one and a half hours on an overcrowded bus with a one-hour climb up the mountain with a sack of rice. When we got there, my mother would meditate for about an hour. Then we would come down the mountain and make our way back home.
I used to wonder about the point of it all. We spent way more time getting there than we spent there. It seemed that the destination and purpose was minor in relation to the effort of getting there.
I eventually came to understand that it's not about getting there, it's about what you take with you when you leave.
So it should be with your training. The time you spend in class may seem small compared with the journey of the rest of your life, but if you take away the right lessons you will find a worthwhile balance. The reward is there, you must be careful not to overlook it."

Meditation is a tool available to Chayon-Ryu students to help them take more away with them after they leave the dojang.  It is a tool that you can use for everyday living. Meditate before work, or any important meeting, for clarity and calm. Being in tune, and aware will help you make better decisions, and better choices. It will reduce stress, and anxiety.  You will gain a deeper understanding of the principles of Chayon-Ryu, and through their application, a deeper understanding of yourself.

Master Sean Kim, 8th Dan Black Belt. Chief Instructor
at CYR World HQ, Houston, TX USA performs Breathing
form on the beach at the annual CYR beach training. This
form is a moving meditation for longevity.

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