There are many forms of meditation that have been studied and practiced over the years, but often the essential reasons for meditation are overlooked or misunderstood, leading to confusion for the beginning student.
First and foremost, mediation should never be forced or pushed to achieve a specific result or objective. Mediation does not work in a straight or linear way. It links directly to our subconscious mind, the foundation for emotions and intuitions. These facets of our being fluctuate and change constantly, therefore a direct line of approach with the inevitable expectation of results is very counterproductive. The main purpose of meditation is to quiet the mind and emotions, which in turn calms the body’s physiological functions. If meditation is forced with the expectation of results and achievements, the mind will race with thoughts, the breath will not soften or settle, and the energy in the body will mirror the state of tension induced by performance deadlines/expectations.
There are two main categories of meditation. Focused mediation and unfocused meditation. Each category can arrive at the same outcome using different techniques:
Focused mediation uses techniques to keep the mind concentrating on one or two things to the exclusion of all else. After a period of time, the mind, which naturally likes to wander, will tire from the focus on particular thoughts and actions. When this occurs, excess thoughts and mental energy will dissipate, bringing the mind into a receptive state instead of a creative active situation.
Unfocused meditation allows thoughts and images in the mind to flow unhindered in a random or linear progression without analysis or attachment to what is experienced. The thoughts play themselves through as soft, centered breathing is performed. Again, the mind uses up its excess mental hatter and yields to feeling sensations within the body. The feeling of body sensations is the beginning of understanding the chi flow (life energy) and its effect upon our health and well-being.
Meditation maintains an important balance, especially when training in the art of Kung Fu. The calmness that meditation develops softens and regulates our response to the study of combative self defence techniques. In regards to Tai Chi, meditation will reflect in body movements that are both flowing and firm so that a student may Learn in Strength and Live in Peace.