The Do Re Me of Meditation

You need to do it for it to work, you need to know what to do for it to work, you need an idea of what it is to know where and how to start doing it….

So many reasons why people struggle with the idea of meditation…you actually have to do something, something that requires structure, discipline and a proactive approach to an activity that for many is intangible. Practice is full of contradiction and encourages us to take responsibility for our actions, it’s as much about life as it is the moment, the former enriched through the latter.

So every day, start at the very beginning, it’s a very good place to start.

When you read you begin with A-B-C

When you sing you begin with do-re-mi

When you meditate you begin with me – me – me

me – me – me, me – me – me

The first three thoughts just have to be

me – me – me

Then sit – connect – and breathe

Lets see if I can make this simple so it’s easy to repeat.

Me, without me I cannot start, I am at the heart of this important part,

Sitting is something I can easily do, on the bed a chair or in the front room,

Connect with self, moon and sun, eight directions all become one,

Breath is life and life is breath, meditation implies no less,

Now people, me – sit – connect and so on

are only the ingredients we use to build our song,

Once you have these actions in your head,

you can sing a million different tunes by developing them,

the tools with which to best evolve are many and much devolved,

but I think you’ll find the simplest way is always easiest to obey,

life is busy with much to do, keeping it simple gives more space to you.

With your health intact you will in fact

find a life that sings, feeling no need to act,

songs of all kinds factual and fiction free from regret, delusion or  confusion,

life is for singing so don’t waste your breath,

Meditate as and when but remember… simple is always best.

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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.  

If not now then when? All in good time :)

The root of most illness lies with us, we have the ability to address the underlying cause of our problems, to make decisions to empower ourselves if we so wish.

This is by no means easy, there are lots of reasons why addressing anything to do with ourselves is difficult. The main obstacle being ourselves and that strange feeling that overcomes us when we start to relax, think and give ourselves the freedom to connect with out innermost feelings. In the first instance the questions we ask ourselves often create more confusion than clarity, but with an open mind it can be an amazing process of self discovery. We just need to lose the fear of the unknown.

I am a believer in the ethos that what is meant to be will be, when I’m ready I will engage. Stimuli for such engagement lie in the strangest places but I happily accept that the way life is. For the most part, I like most, carry on with life content with a general plan and the day to day busyness that life throws at me until it overwhelms me to the point I need to take a bit of time to refresh. I’m a firm believer in engaging with the non-conscious, non logical part of our being, but appreciate that in the short term it can often seem easier to ignore it and to carry on.

Addressing any physical or psychological issue takes time and is not always a tangible process. Sometimes when injured physically I rest, sometimes not, I find it a lot easier to overcome a physical issue than when I feel close to being psychologically broken. When this feeling is present in my life I know I need to rest, my mind keeps my body and everything else together. My psychological and physical existence go hand in hand, you can only ‘dig in’ so many times, pushing that extra mile can be like going a bridge too far. Context, relevance and the bigger picture are all key in making any decision that is right for you.

Seminars are good because they enable you to take a time out, if for nothing more than yourself. You may rest, relax, rejuvenate, learn something new, meet new people or just have a new experience. Everybody takes something different from a seminar or teaching and sharing interaction of any kind.

All I do as a person and a teacher is look for ways for me to better connect with my body and mind thus enriching my health, sustainability and life decision making processes. The Chinese Health Arts have some really powerful tools to help achieve such a basic but complex goal, Qi Gong Tai Chi and meditation provide a wonderfully powerful tool for self engagement and development if given the chance.

I am a believer in doing things you enjoy a walk, bike ride, dance or song are all good ways of connecting with yourself on a deeper level. I love the balance that the physicality of Judo provides in my life but relish the chance to focus on the simple things from time to time; breathing, me and my surroundings.

Most of us have reflected that we’ll do x or y or make changes and never did. That’s life, all in good time, but it’s worth remembering that the power for change lies with you. I read this quote today and thought it apt for so many things.

“There are many wonderful things that will never be done if you do not do them.” – Charles D. Gill

From this point we should all move on.