I’ve been in martial arts for 40 years and through personal discovery find that the body can take so much. The "lucky" ones fly through life unscathed while the rest of us fall victim to hypertension, diabetes, and arthritis, a side bar to heredity and life long bad habits. Not to say that I’ve been a bad boy: I watched my diet, get about seven hours of sleep every night, don’t drink alcohol (at least not in excess), don’t smoke tobacco or marijuana (not even for medicinal purposes, thought at times I’ve seriously considered it), meditate frequently to combat daily stress, and exercise, primarily martial arts. Due to a back condition and blown ankles and knees from sports injuries, normal gym workout has been challenging; excruciating pain strikes at key parts of my body at the worst times, best times, any and all of the above.. Fortunate to be introduced to Tai Chi and Qigong in the mid-1970’s, I’ve adopted training that tremendously benefits in reducing blood pressure, maintaining muscle tone, and staying active as possible.
The natural progression of events has it where the body goes first, followed by the mind and the spirit everlasting; at least, that’s the theory. There is no arguing that the body has only so much it can do. Age makes it brittle, less flexible, strong and regenerative. That’s what we do when we grow old; but, with that said, we still can combat the aging process by using the strength and will of the mind to live our lives to the fullest.
As Qigong and Reiki become reasonable alternatives to health care, I’ve noticed that western medical philosophy gets in the way to those who wish learn and understand the opportunities and value of the Asian Internal Martial Arts and how they can be used to keep our bodies strong as the hands of time continue to tick forward.. My only explanation is of all reasons: Asian based. With the forces of Ying and Yang separated by the thin line of “chi” external empirical evidenced based treatment as effective it is in many cases can yield to the forces of internal energy afforded by qigong and Reiki.
In school, at least as I knew it from an American perspective, I was trained to identify and categorize my learning as what they are. Example, English is the study of…History is the study of…Math is the study of…and on and on. I could not confuse English with Math and vice versa however, reading English was a requirement for me to read Math text books. There’s correlation that makes sense. When I first took martial arts, though the commands were in Japanese; for example, “age uke” meant upward block; “oi tsuki” meant lung punch: no confusion. Now swim across into mainland China where kung fu is taught, and training takes a different angle. Styles, classes and even manners are based upon animals: Tiger, crane, eagle, monkey, snake, dragon; a Qigong form “Wu Ki Xi” or five animals frolic has the player mimic their respective movements. With that said, a different thought pattern is used to create a martial arts movement that utilizes not direct instruction but a metaphor.
In Asian martial arts that teach healing, phrases like single whip, brush knee, part the wild horses mane, cloud hands are used explain movements. Western instruction uses words like high block, low block, lunge punch, back fist a more what-you-see-is-what-you-get-less-ethereal direct approach. The metaphorical instruction asks the practitioner to be like the description, whereas the western instruction tells you exactly what to do. As the person creates the movement, the position, posture and muscular coordination, he transforms from normal to extraordinary. The Japanese regards kata, or form, the act of seeking perfection, to act not only physically perfect but to do so with a pure heart and mind. In practice which in truth is life to “seek perfection” is to be whole and alive, to achieve the translation of inner sanctum. No weakness left but the strength of character.
As stress becomes life’s norm, we’ve taught ourselves to ignore warning signals: headaches, stiff necks and shoulders, depression, trouble concentrating, loss of appetite, sense of loss, depression, chest pains; the list goes on and one. We allow this free falling lifestyle to continue without resolving. Vices such as alcohol, drugs and negativity become the shovels that dig us deeper into an abyss of self destruction (how's that for a metaphor?)
The answer lies in change: Changing our thought patterns that examine the creative mind for answers. Instead of surrendering to negative forces that others use to make money, look at the skies and breathe the cool air we take for granted; the smile from a young child; the wagging tail of a puppy; the bright petals of a flower; the grandeur of a tall tree; the wisdom of the ages; and the history of man that has survive years of painful evolution.
Anecdotal evidence verified by case accounts demonstrated health improvements after participating in qigong, Reiki and Tai Chi. Argue if this is a true cause and effect on action. What makes us believe this is true is the strength and will of the human mind, how it works for the common good. As is, we know it exists, we know it works. Do we consciously focus on the: who, what, when, where, how and why, minute details? Is it necessary? Someone throws a ball at you; you catch it and throw it back. Do you actually break each movement of this action step-by-step, by minute detail; or do you allow your mind and body to let it just happen?
One example is the test when you close your eyes and imagine. Think about two separate situations: One in which you’re running away from this huge black widow with fangs baring chasing you into a dark room, only to find yourself facing the due from the Texas Chainsaw Massacre pulling the cord activating his weapon of horrible destruction all the while laughing hideously. Notice what happens to your body. None of this is true, but your body tenses to the thought. Another example: Imagine driving on a dark country road, late at night. You’re all alone, no other cars on the road. As you wind along the road, you notice a lady in white walking on the side of the road. Too late for you to slow down and stop, you continue your trek. Still curious, you look at your rear view mirror only to find the Lady in White now sitting in the back staring right back at you. You freak, blink your eyes and she’s gone. Notice immediately what happens to you when you think about each of these scenarios. One instance is indeed horrible, but very Hollywood. The second is Paranormal believable and hits closer to home. Perhaps never to ever happen in real life, the effect is real, at least in your mind.
Now close your eyes once again, take a deep breath and release the tension from this thought and now feel your body drift away to a quiet and peaceful, safe and comfortable place where you are absolutely happy, quiet, soft as if floating in a cloud cool and relaxed.
The strength of the mind is powerful.
This is why Mikao Usui developed the five basic principles containing the words: Angry, worry, grateful, work and kindness over and over again, as it triggers a response in your mind to be in the right place. Don’t be angry; don’t worry, be grateful, work hard and be kind. By being in a state of clear positive consciousness, a Reiki practitioner can be the conduit necessary to move the right energy into the sick individual.
It was said that chi flow slowly, patient and complete, unencumbered by our wishes, personal wants and needs. It exists unconditionally without notice or validation whether we believe it or not. This reason establishes a base as to why a person who starts qigong, Tai Chi or Reiki must have a strong focus of the mind, extending any and all possibilities using metaphors, imagery, and creativity before channeling, transference, attunement and flow can be accomplished. As long as the practitioner works for good and humanity, benefits are unlimited. Example of focus – succeeding despite environment, negative influences, and bad luck has been documented time and time again. Just because someone says you’re a failure, you aren’t unless you allow it to be true; says you can’t accomplish a goal, doesn’t mean it’s true. What’s true is what you believe and in the course of healing, belief in good health goes a long way. Through training, meditation the intent of happiness, the use of creativity and imagination allows us to channel forces towards the right direction, instead of contributing to its manifestation, countering with the miracle of the mind.
Yes, I’m an old man’ my body no longer possessing the strength, flexibility nor ability to play with the young boys, but my mind has the veracity to be young and vibrant, able to tackle what's given to me and live my life to the fullest.
And when the time comes when the body has nothing left, and I know it'll happen, I’ll have the creativity, imagination and belief to move onto where it is natural and indeed perfect.