Saturday, December 12, 2009

Doing by Not Doing

I was preparing some documents last week at work and had a bit of martial insight. As this work was rather monotonous I allowed my mind to wander as I waded through it. In effect, it required a lot of typing of the same thing over and over on several documents. I am a fairly fast typist, but not the most error-free. Anyway, as I progressed I began to notice that my speed increased and my errors decreased. At least they did until I became conscious of it. Once I paid attention to what I was doing, started thinking about what I was doing rather than simply doing it, I began to make mistakes. This project was big enough that it took me a couple of hours to complete. So I couldn't resist the temptation for mental experimentation. I purposefully blurred my thoughts so that I proceeded mindlessly so to speak. As I did this my errors decreased again. I ended up working in a sort of auto-pilot mode. But as soon as I mentally noted this, or thought about it, I slipped back into mistakes.

I couldn't help but compare this to my martial arts training. As we train over time our bodies learn the moves and techniques to the point that we can complete them without thinking. In fact, once our bodies know, it becomes counter-productive to think too much. I am not however promoting day dreaming. That is even more counter-productive. The goal is to focus by being centered and being totally aware of our bodies. In the language of Tajiquan, we should transfer our consciousness from our mind or head to our dantien and then proceed utilizing the body's knowledge. This is another example how our martial training draws on mindfulness practice for guidance. The key to meditation is to focus on breathing or a mantra. As this proceeds our minds relax and drop all the external noise to focus on the present moment. This practice means one thing when our bodies are still. It means something else when they are moving and possibly engaging with another. This process leads to allowing the body to do what it knows without interference from monkey mind.

This is so much easier to say, or write about than it is to learn and practice. But on the other hand, nothing could be easier. It is just simply another facet of a complete training regime. Focusing on the mental aspect of training not only leads to better health, but better budo.


Rick said...

I'm just re reading Zen Mind, Beginner's Mind just now. The part about how we should practice without the idea of gaining anything. The purpose of our practice being to just practice.

Nice blog. I'll be visiting regularly.

Rodney said...

Thanks Rick. That is a great book. It has been a while since I've read it. I suppose it's time for another re-read for me as well. It's amazing the influence I've gotten from sources such as that book, but have allowed them to become a part of me to the degree I forget the source of the inspiration.

Thanks for dropping in.

S.Smith said...

Yeah, I'm with you here: it's easier to talk about than do, especially after reading about flow and getting used to the vocabulary surrounding mystical experiences.

The thing I avoid, when teaching Qigong, is revealing what experiences one should have. That way, I get all sorts of great stories about what did happen to students.

Great ideas you have: you're on at Real Taijiquan's Links.

Rodney said...

Thanks for your comments Steven. It seems the more I learn, the less I can explain--with words anyway.

And thanks for the link. I really enjoy your blog and your approach to the complete package.