Patience Brings RewardsMarch 9, 2008
In the internal arts, slow is the way to go
It seems that we are all in a hurry all the time. We rush from one place to another all day long. I find myself in the same mode. I rush thru my own practice each morning so that I will not be late for my first class. Usually I start my classes a couple of minutes late and find myself checking the time and calculating the time available in which to finish the class. It was no different when I ran my business. I wanted the answers immediately. Here is a good example of the art of patience.
In tai chi, we start out with the understanding that our muscles produce strength. This is a big problem for the beginning student, for as we age our muscles grow weaker. Part of tai chi is the giving up of muscular strength and replacing it with strength from the tendons. This can only be accomplished by having the patience to first learn the form, and the ability to relax the whole muscular system as we go through the form. Our progress rests in relaxation and our degree of relaxation rests on the degree of patience we exhibit. If we are able to patiently practice the form, little by little we start to come into contact with our tendons and after a long time we actually start to replace strength from the muscles with strength from the tendons.
Patience is like water dripping on a rock for many years. It takes a long time but gradually the rock gets worn away. With patience and experience behind you, you can accomplish just about anything. In the internal arts we make progress by going slow. Here I mean actually doing the exercise in slow motion and appearing to go nowhere, when in reality we are really dripping on the rock. Combined with the body moving in slow motion is total concentration on the movement with the mind. The tai chi form is actually a sequence of movements developed for the purpose of self-defense. Not only do we move in a slow fluid way with emphasis on relaxation, but also we must imagine an opponent attacking us as we practice. It is not finished here. While doing the above we need to always be in touch with our center of gravity. Talk about patience, this is really a challenge.
Living a life without patience is imposing extra stress and strain on our bodies and minds. Patience gives us the ability to weather the storms that befall us during our brief visit to this zone governed by the five senses. Patience slowly develops out of the practice of mindfulness. This mindfulness gives us the opportunity to start to slow down the mind. If our minds are only engaged in one point of concentration at a time we are practicing a form of meditation. Do you see it? We can uncover the patience residing within our psyches by practicing a form of meditation. What I am saying is that the cultivation of patience results in a calm mind and by directing that calm mind at the activity at hand we are truly being ourselves.
My best achievements in yoga tai chi karate and business were the results of patience exercised over a long period of time accompanied by the will to succeed. It all comes down to some form of meditation, allowing the body mind and soul to merge into your own true nature.