The logic of foundation.

With knowledge of the fundamentals and a logical application we can build a solid accessible foundation. From this place we can develop key skills, tools and awareness to harness and develop our energy, discipline, intent and health.

Our foundation feeds into our understanding of exercise and the basic fundamental benefits that we can experience from meditation. Enabling practitioners to access a starting point, an anchor for initial study and for some a much needed justification for practice.

A solid foundation helps formulate a direction for progression, building step by step, block by block . Ensuring the ground work is laid for a healthy progression, whilst giving check points to help stabilise and reinforce development.

Simple exercises and datum points are always useful, not only in the initial stages of learning to meditate but also many years down the line. Both comforting and reassuring a practitioner in times of need.

Foundation building blocks and foundation exercises should by no means be considered basic. These skills are the most advanced you will learn, your context, understanding and interpretation will evolve, shaping, informing and facilitating practice for years to come.

Da Shan

An anchor a guide a welcoming hand a little encouragement a place to start, to go to come from, to stay a while, to take with you, to leave behind.

A place of comfort, strength, adventure and discovery building and consolidating energy facilitating a healing exchange a place to invite others to guide and light a path to take time to remember and consolidate to climb fly sore to see to be. introspective to see into and out off from up high and deep below to ponder exalt and console to build grow shape immerse and become one a sacred open place where minds meet, ideas dance and souls rejoice fear and trepidation released and recycled spirits whisper and sing in strong chorus floating rooted knowledge is felt, learned, trusted and released people are one opinion and conflict collide a world of acceptance and co existence free from and underpinned by society wonder built on solid foundations an escape, realism with profound meaning and honesty trust shrouded in light, mist and cloud, honesty protected by rock waiting to be released with health and strength.

Tall and deep floating gazing high high beyond the realms of foundation and force changing shape position rooting, guiding, leading, directing listening absorbing rejecting roaring playing feeding empty light full

With a frog for company I ponder, breathing, becoming the void.

mine me you yours. It is.  

Be.

Never miss an opportunity to sing, dance, snuggle, cuddle, laugh, tickle, wrestle, snooze, read, paint, draw, talk, sing, hypothesise, dream, create, be with your children, friends or loved ones. These moments encapsulate all that is good about life. 

Mountain Meditation (Da Shan Qigong)

Saturday 14th September

Sitting and standing Qi Gong and Meditation exercises to help build inner strength and encourage the healthy flow of energy throughout your body.

A gentle days exercise combining philosophical, academic and physical principles of traditional Chinese health practices developed over many years to regulate breath, enhance calmness and establish self connection.

Rest, relax and rejuvenate. This moving meditation seminar will enable you to connect with your body, relax your mind and take time to rejuvenate.

For those visiting from afar Kendal is a lovely town on the edge of the Lake District National Park with accommodation aplenty. For more details email gavin@empoweringmovement.co or call 07508210176.

Meditation, self acceptance, respect for others and a happier world.

Acceptance of self leads to acceptance in general, a softening of your personal barriers, judgements and prejudices. If we are open, we can connect with and accept ourselves for who we are, what we feel and how best to live our lives.

From a place of acceptance we access gateways to a happier place, where we appreciate ourselves and are accepting of others. Cutting through the nature nurture debates, the class distinctions, social conditioning, gender stereotyping, self loathing, obsessing, adoring, informed and uninformed judging of others, the need to put yourself; feelings, opinions and prejudices before all else.

With meditation we can develop discipline to aid our health and energy to establish a calm centre. Clarity can be gained not only in a spiritual sense but in a logical rational sense, an ability to listen and absorb without judgement. It is not to say we don’t  experience confusion but that extreme emotions do not dominate our person. Remaining open to but not being unbalanced by the ‘Many Minds’, asking questions of ourselves, challenging our options, decisions and life choices instead attacking or avoiding as a form of defence. We can only embrace ourselves by overcoming our fears, judgements and prejudices, learning to trust ourselves and accept what is.

Calmness provides a grounding that removes the need to judge, assume and critique.  Acceptance removes fear of self and others, lowering barriers and defence mechanisms. We are easily and often inspired by the words of others, they light a spark, a feeling deep inside but ‘their’ words maintain our fantasy ensuring action is theirs and not ours. It’s how most of us want all things, as dreams, academic discussions, material possessions, opinions or lifestyles of others for us to judge, resent or worship.

If we are open to accepting the person we are, we become a step closer to accepting others and as such a lot closer to achieving a happier world. 

Marital arts should be relevant to real life not ‘the street’.

More and more I see adverts for martial arts classes making reference to ‘the street’ and how this or that art is the best as a result. I appreciate real life plays out on not just one but many streets but it is the essence of the issue with which I I have a problem. A Martial Art should contribute to the development of a person to better help humanity, a vehicle for health, happiness, understanding and contentment.  

There is a key role of martial arts in history that should not be overlooked, but its’ physical relevance in todays society has evolved. A basic interpretation of an arts practicality ‘on the street’ is, I hope, one of self-defence. Interpreting, transferring and evolving a technique learnt from a form, or in a dojo, to be effective in a real life self-defence situation.

Many a martial artist seem obsessed with an Arts’ relevance on ‘the street’. What street? There are some extremely proficient martial artists who would be able to make most things work on most streets, however, the times I have heard a teacher pronounce ‘this is how it happens on ‘the street’ it has been clear they have never been on the street they are making reference to in anything other than a fantasy world they created in their head.

Everything in Martial Arts comes down to context and interpretation. The application of the physical self-defence element focuses on one small element of an art, which in many respects signifies the failure of all other aspects of a practitioners martial arts training.

Creating a relevant context for martial practice that facilitates intelligent thinking, feel, decision-making, contextual awareness and the application of relevant techniques poses a challenge. Life and times have changed, for some practitioners their lives still require and facilitate the application of martial physical skill but for most that is not the case. Teachers need a ‘hook’ to attract students. The biggest problem this creates is not weather or not a technique is relevant or ‘would work on the street’ but the creation of a fantasy world in which these martial arts practitioners reside and the resulting self doubt that dogs the few who question their Arts’ relevance.  

The idea of the ‘street’ and the way it is marketed is quite brutal. As a Martial Artist I went looking for the ‘street’, I found people of all backgrounds and outlooks, on the whole I didn’t find martial artists. Mostly, real proficiency on the street came from a type of person most would not like to associate with or be compared to. Fuelled by anger, drink, drugs, hate, a love of fighting and hurting others. These are not attributes of a martial artist.

The street can be organized, clumsy, inconsistent, unreliable, violent, friendly, cold, wet, hot busy, quiet, full of individuals or groups…

The safe navigation of which is all down to a healthy awareness, interpretation of context and knowledge of self. A full martial arts system can help you achieve this and become a better person. If you want to become proficient on the street you don’t need martial arts, the street is no different to any other arena; to be proficient takes time, experience and practice. As an individual you need to ask what you are looking for and as a teacher you have a responsibility to ask what it is you are imparting and advocating. 

Martial Arts are a powerful tool. Used for good or bad all falls within the realm of the Tao, but it is up to us to make a decision we believe to be in the interest of humanity. 

Practice: It’s not easy, if it was we’d all be doing it.

Our lives are busy and the constant gaze of society means it’s not even on the horizon of our thought process when we get up in the morning. For some an urge to do it makes a brief apparition before they snuggle in for another five minutes of warmth and rest, there are a select few obsessive compulsives who jump out of bed filled with a an overwhelming desire to practice. For most it’s buried so far behind the myriad of other things they need to do once they’ve had a coffee that it seems irrelevant.

For most of us we need structure and guidance to practice.

Despite much rhetoric, practice in meditation is neither easy or natural, but once it gets hold of us we want it in our lives. Like most forms of activity when we’re doing it we love it and appreciate how much we need it. It’s the doing it that’s hard.

I trained with a lot of people who, if their teacher was in residence, would fight to be the first out of bed to show how diligently they practiced. Their insecurity, form and application told the real story of their day to day, week to week training and development. The internal arts are so full of contradictions it is difficult for a student who has a goal of “improvement” to know what to do. The classics of Chinese Martial and Meditative Arts pave the way to more questions than answers.

You know you’ve cracked it when your art it is part of who you are, part of your essence, a feeling that moves with you, positively supportive. Different for everyone and evolving with time. Wanting but not needing, looking forward to but not feeling pressured, embracing and letting go of inner pressure. I’m guessing it’s nice, but it’s not easy. 

Walk the Walk, Talk the Talk!

I once signed a sponsorship contract with a leading energy drink manufacturer. The representative kept saying “we want you to walk the walk and talk the talk”. His incessant use of a somewhat dated and cheesy line made him look all the more like the stimulant fuelled, career motivated, slightly confused individual he was, but all these years later his words still give me pause for thought.

In Tai Chi circles there is always talk of Yin and Yang. Awareness, sensitivity and change are the bedrock of the Classics. In business people recognise the need to evolve, develop and change to stay in touch with the market place. Yet when it comes to ourselves we invariably pay little heed to our behaviour and how it affects those around us.  We may be willing to talk the talk but more often than not we are reluctant to walk the walk.

The problem with walking the walk is that it is more tangible than the talking bit, it requires self-connection, introspection and regular reviews. Change has to come from within, the adage relating to a horse and water is always relevant to people. I can clearly remember things people have said to me in the past that have made me think about my behaviour on a deeper level:

You only ever practice what your good at – my sister when I was ten ish.

You’re always looking for the quick win – A friend/acquaintance when I was 21 ish

Your behaviour is not addressing the real issue – my wife when I was 28 ish

Strangely enough my current life circumstances seem informed by the above. I practice Judo, despite being in the GB Squad there is still an huge room for improvement. There are no short cuts to be had, marriage, kids and Judo all reflect clearly that you reap what you sow. As a family we have made life style decisions that are in line with our aspirations, the health and happiness of our children, enjoying our day to day lives which in turn creates a happy future.

I meditate, I listen and make decisions from the heart and gut. Listening and acting on what you hear are different things of course but if you listen you can then decide.

Life is constantly evolving, for some a challenge, distraction, stress or opportunity. Listening and acting are as easy or difficult as we wish to make them. The key thing to remember is that it is your life, if you learn to listen, trust and have confidence in your beliefs the world might become a happier place full of opportunity and wonder.  

Why the rush?

All in good time. We all seem to be in a rush to impress or impress upon others. Forgetting it is not the destination but the journey that is important.

Provide a framework for development built on support, trust and confidence building. Providing an environment for experimentation where actions and consequences can be explored in a positive manner. Overcoming challenges, embracing solutions and providing a context where there is no such thing as failure; just steps to a greater understanding of self and the world around us.

Such a foundation will create happy, confident and resilient individuals who when the time comes will be able to deal with most things thrown at them and when those things seem a little overwhelming they’ll find a solution that helps everyone.

This approach applies to adults, children, babies and animals. From CEO’s to Prefects, nappy wearers and Crufts winners, all of whom at some point realise shitting in the toilet is preferable to shitting on the rug.   

We’ll all get there. When we’re dead others can speculate, in the mean time let’s make it enjoyable. 

Reluctance

Reluctance in one part of your life will often reflect issues in other areas. It is the people who would benefit from meditation and Qi Gong that find themselves repulsing it.

There is a fine line between love and hate, yin and yang. Sometimes the effort it takes to repulse health and change is what pushes us over the edge to physical or psychological breakdown. For some it is breakdown that forces the change, but surely it makes more sense to embrace a positive change without flicking the self destruct button and causing the body immeasurable distress.

We all have things that ordinarily we would never consider doing but if the opportunity presents itself it seems a shame not to give it a go. A belief that something does not work, or will make you look silly may seem relevant but there is nothing lost in making your outlook a little more informed. We all realise pretty quickly that the considerations of others tend not to venture too far from themselves in such matters.

The beauty of a relaxed guided meditation is the creation of space and opportunity, the chance for you to connect with your body and open your mind on a deeper level or through different means. Positive change is not always initiated by something tangible, it is funny what can resonate with the body once given a chance.

Our reluctance to embark on something new often reflects our need to control our immediate context. That same need for control can harbour or be be the route of stress or other health conditions in your body and mind. When be become detached from our body it can be difficult for us to accept there is a problem. From the outside looking in it can be more apparent, but ultimately only you can make the decision.

It might not be the meditation that makes the difference but the fact you were open to change and took that step into the unknown, opening the mind and body to something new.