"When I forget my ways, I am in The Way"

Philosophical and experiential notes on Nothingness, with supporting insights from martial arts, quantum physics and Taoism


15 June 2013

Relaxing the mind


Sometimes I will toss and turn all night. My mind will be spinning thoughts in circular webs, over and over. Coming back again and again to the same worries, the same concerns. My stress stays high, and I wake up in the morning exhausted.

But using the Principles of Ki, I have a different experience. When I see my mind running in circles, I stop. Because I already know that if I keep running in circles, I just keep going around and around the same thing. There is no solution, only stress and exhaustion.

I relax my body, but more importantly I relax my mind. 

I think many people have no idea how to relax their mind. But there is a spot that is between the frantic spinning of thinking too much and sleeping. It is a supple area, between hard tension and being a piece of limp pasta. It's an 'in-between' place.

Martial artists are trained to be in this spot, sometimes referred to as 'mushin' or empty mind. But the mind is not at all empty. Rather, it is calm. And in that state of calmness, we can learn to sense the slightest ripple. A cat completely understands this. It will sit in a window, perfectly still, watching for the slightest sign of movement.

Ripples are disturbances in the calm, similar to Yoda describing disturbances in the Force. They can be negative or positive. But when our mind is frantic and disturbed, how can we expect our highly disturbed and frantic minds to sense nuance, to sense the slightest sign of movement? 

Until we calm our mind, we cannot sense the ripples. Until we can sense the ripples, we cannot sit in calmness. Until we can sit, walk and live in calmness, we are lost in noise. 

It's like going out to enjoy the calmness of nature, and bringing a jackhammer with you. Until we quiet the jackhammer, we will likely be unable to sense the first ripple of thought and intention. Cats stare within stillness. Their minds are calm but not empty; they are alert for the slightest ripple.
"Most people can see the difference between the mind and body being coordinated and the mind and body not being coordinated but they cannot see or understand how to maintain this state of being. We often think the mind is a difficult thing to understand because we cannot hold it in our hand, it has no color, shape or physical or visible boundaries. While the body is finite and has substance with visible boundaries. In today's society, we have to deal with our daily challenges and many of us suffer from anger, anxiety, sadness, etc..... This is because most people still think of the mind as being separate from the body. But, since both are born of the Ki of the universe, and are fundamentally one and the same, it is relatively easy to unify mind and body with practice. The difficulty is learning to maintain it in our daily life." - Tohei Sensei, of The Ki Society.