Sunday, January 22, 2012

Discipline and Simplicity in the Year of the Water Dragon

The Chinese New Year is upon us again. After much thought and consideration, I have decided to participate in the 100 Day Challenge again this year. It has been a very good thing for me the last couple of years. I have been able to finish training goals I had started but could never quite bring to fruition. Taking the time to work on a single skill every day, for 100 days, will take one's game to the next level.

This year in general my focus is on simplicity. I want to contain my practice a bit so that I can better focus on certain skills that I feel are necessary. I have already begun this, but the 100 Day Challenge allows me to narrow my overall focus to certain skills. This year I will be working on Zhan Zhuang, standing meditation. Since that is already a crucial part of my practice, one could say I'm not setting the bar very high. But, on the other hand, it's not always a process of learning a new skill. It's also a process of instilling discipline. While I do practice standing often, I'm not always as diligent as I could be, especially on the days when time is short. And since I have a day job that is not Taiji, I have to make time to practice. Most of the time that's not so hard. And I always find some time to practice. However, on the more challenging days, I may only do the form or sitting meditation, or just a little dynamic Qigong together with aerobic, weight-bearing, or martial training and never get to standing at all. For the next 100 days, at least, I will find time every day for at least some standing.

Concurrently, I am going to re-read Warriors of Stillness, one of the best books I have ever read on the discipline and practice of standing meditation. Also, to instill discipline, I will keep a record in my journal of my practice, insights, challenges.

The crucial and important thing about the 100 Day Challenge, is it's not simply a New Year's resolution. It's a practice. For those of us who are already practicing, it is, or should be, an adjustment to our practice. Since it is life, I expect some changes, some challenges, some new insights to arise by the time it's all over. In the meantime, let's saddle up and take a ride.