Training For The Internal ArtsApril 8, 2008
How to get the most from your training
All internal arts including yoga and tai chi require extensive physical and mental training. In tai chi we spend a lot of time just training the legs. One of the foremost methods of leg training is wall sitting. One just needs a wall, a timer, and a non-slip surface in order to begin practice. Place your back against the wall and lower yourself into a seated posture. Place your hands on your thighs and your lower back against the wall. Set your timer for 1-2 minutes to start, and try not to look at it while doing the practice. During the practice time try to relax into the pose and concentrate on the rise and fall of the breath. Use only enough strength to hold yourself in the posture. Gradually increase the time of sitting until you can do at least ten minutes. This should be done daily. This form of practice never ends. The goal of the practice is just to do it. The real purpose of this type of practice is the training of the mind. Your mind will constantly rebel against the ache developing in the legs. You must direct your total attention on the breath in order to not concentrate on the ache in the legs. Remember this exercise cannot kill you. It is just ache. Push through this exercise and you will develop the fortitude to move thru your problems in life. Place yourself in an uncomfortable position and remain calm. Inner training is just that. Let the mind calm by concentrating on the breath. Always keep your lower abdominal area relaxed and try to see if you can determine the place where the inhalations and exhalations start.
Another good exercise is the squat as practiced by Indian wrestlers. Take a hip width stance with the toes slightly facing out, hands at your sides. As you lower your self shift your weight to the balls of your feet. Each rep should bring you closer to the floor. As you rise up shift your weight so that you are standing flatfooted. When you come up out of the squat place your palms together. Keep your back straight and use the strength from your legs to propel you up. Do these squats reasonably slowly exhaling as you go down and inhaling as you come up. Again concentrate on the breath as you move up and down keeping your lower abdominal area relaxed. Start with 1-2 minutes of squats and see if you can build up to at least 20 minutes. The key to this exercise is the rate at which you do it.
These exercises are not what they seem to be. At first you can just think of them as strength building methods. After a while when you practice the tai chi form you will be able to hold the low stances necessary for proper practice, however with even more practice you will develop a tenacity about you. The ability to stick to a task until it is done. That ability will be your bridge to the internal arts. The road to understanding yourself is long and winding. These training methods keep you on the road leading to the development of the meditative mind needed for the journey inward. They are suitable for all internal arts. Both of these exercises should be done with a kind reverence, more like a ceremony than an exercise.
The search for your self has many paths. Intuitively seek out the one that fits your personality. My way is not necessarily yours. Spiritual growth manifests thru that feeling of connection with the universe. Your spiritual awakening beckons you to explore inside.