virtue

Energy Arts That Don't Require Mental Stillness (How Do They Work?)

Recommended Posts

55 minutes ago, virtue said:

 

The title of this thread probably should have read "Energy Arts That Don't Require Mental Silence" or "Energy Arts That Don't Require Mental Focus" or even "Energy Arts That Work Equally Well with Mental Chatter" more aptly to capture its intended meaning right from the start. 

 

Definitions are rabbit holes.  You plug one, the rabbit escapes through another.  What are "energy arts?" ;) 

 

 

 

  • Like 5

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

 

8 hours ago, virtue said:

 

The title of this thread probably should have read "Energy Arts That Don't Require Mental Silence" or "Energy Arts That Don't Require Mental Focus" or even "Energy Arts That Work Equally Well with Mental Chatter" more aptly to capture its intended meaning right from the start. I will look into each response in more detail and make an improved topic based on the feedback later.

Mental chatter reduces naturally. That doesn’t mean the mind ceases to operate. Imho it’s a misconception perpetrated by language.

 

what mental cessation means is the realization that the “chattering” mind is just an appearance. Similarly “ego”. They are just functions of having a body. Artificially implanted by society. Once you understand directly who you are - ie pure awareness, both mind and ego will stop looming large. They will just be functions, processes that rise and fall as required, and the psychoses that we used to associate with them disappear. 

From that vantage point, it doesn’t matter if mind chatters or not (it simply won’t suffer from diaharrea like it did before), ego flares up or not (it simply won’t rise up like the hooded cobra it was made out to be before, protecting me and mine).

 

As we get progressively closer to being this way (with Self knowledge), we will find that everything that used to be hard and effortful before will become simple and effortless. More

and more so, 

  • Like 7

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
4 hours ago, dwai said:

Mental chatter reduces naturally. That doesn’t mean the mind ceases to operate. Imho it’s a misconception perpetrated by language.

 

what mental cessation means is the realization that the “chattering” mind is just an appearance.

I understand and experience these things you mention directly though my own practice, but couldn't understand why many people kept bringing awareness into discussion. When earlier referring to stillness, did we really connect and talk about the same matter at all? No one raised the right type of compassionate concern if we were understanding the single word of stillness in mutual manner. It should've been a red flag that some language issue is creating a rift, and solving these things does require direct pointing to the correct issue where the problem lies.

 

I wasn't aware that there is so wide and firm concensus with the native English speaking cultivators that mental stillness and cessation are both taken to mean what I would call more intuitively as (naturally abiding) mental peace, although I realize in retrospect that the Buddhist term emptiness has considerable resonance with them. Peacefulness carries the connotation that harmonious mental volition is available whenever needed, unlike the more sterile concepts of stillness and cessation (although people applying yin-yang theory would disagree). As a side note, the language of dzogchen is amazing and direct in that it speaks of open awareness and non-dual mind: it cuts through addressing mind's functions and leaves them as a non-issue they actually are.

 

When in the extremely deep dhyana-samadhi states the mind's functions are arrested to virtual nill, this would have been my intutitive association with mental cessation. Being still and stillness I would have translated always as silence in spiritual context, hence referring to a mere (superficial) mental silence where intent may keep operating. I reviewed my posts, and confirmed that this was my consistent and exclusive application of the terms. Yet I understand now that is only my baggage of learning and may not reflect any actual use people have for them.

 

What we cannot speak about we must pass over in silence. Or if we don't pass over mutually contradictory views, then we in fact argue about nothing and let our highly awakened egos generate friction.

 

The terminology of the field is much harder than what I thought. I have been reading about cultivation stuff for many years, but somehow it managed to surprise me in a manner I couldn't have anticipated. In terms of preparation it's a lack of spiritual maturity that I couldn't ask right questions right at the start of dialogue and confirm if we understood everything the same. Now I know to avoid the same mistake in future.

 

The attempts to capture the original idea are going on. "Energy Arts That Allow Freely Thinking About Anything While Practicing" sounds a lot better as it is making a direct positive definition instead of presenting a negation.

Edited by virtue
  • Like 4

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

There are a lot of arts that do not require mental stillness. Most of them are not called arts and also

have nothing to do with energy work.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

 

3 hours ago, virtue said:

 

The attempts to capture the original idea are going on. "Energy Arts That Allow Freely Thinking About Anything While Practicing" sounds a lot better as it is making a direct positive definition instead of presenting a negation.

The point I’ve been trying to make is that initially you need single pointedness in these energy arts. I don’t know of any of these internal arts that don’t call for it. 

 

After a certain point you can stop worrying about the mind altogether as it becomes significantly quiet. It may rise and wander for a while depending on the circumstances but overall does not affect the quality of your energy work much. 

 

 

 

  • Like 3

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
9 hours ago, dwai said:

The point I’ve been trying to make is that initially you need single pointedness in these energy arts. I don’t know of any of these internal arts that don’t call for it. 

 

After a certain point you can stop worrying about the mind altogether as it becomes significantly quiet. It may rise and wander for a while depending on the circumstances but overall does not affect the quality of your energy work much.

The necessity of single-pointedness is already very well understood, especially after you and Taomeow told of your experiences with technical details. I can really relate to it and find it very familiar.

 

There is no worrying about the mind nor trouble quieting it. Again, I have no clue why it keeps coming up as a discussion element. It's baffling. If there was an issue with restless mind that needed help, I would have explicitly said so. The premise was that it shouldn't matter at all if you were thinking all the time or not at all and the good effects would remain the same. I think people might have misunderstood my initial post because I didn't remember to include an illuminating example how it should work. I don't know if my initial post in the Flying Phoenix thread would have been any clearer either.

 

Freeing the thinking mind completely for chanting mantras or whatever deliberate and unrelated positive matters you would like to think about during the practice is strange and wonderful. It's nothing to do with having occasional wandering thoughts for a while, oh no, not at all. I thought it was already agreed that a constant use of thinking mind would be highly unusual and counter-productive in most energy arts. There exists at least the Flying Phoenix system that definitely allows this and it doesn't need the usual conscious application of single-pointedness of mind either, although it does seem to develop some aspects of it by its design in a very subtle manner.

 

"Freely Thinking About Anything While Practicing" is just a peculiar feature that I wanted to study, and the further requirement of plentiful and deliberate thinking not affecting the quality of energy work was to make this premise stronger and not get watered down training forms mixed in.

 

What everyone else have responded so far has felt clear and obvious to me all the way. Some of these also were very beautifully written with lots of lucid information. One thing that I realize to point out now which has been missing is reciprocating questions that would've taken the discussion to the foundational stages of clarifying and confirming whether everyone understands what it's about instead of carrying on with unrelated assumptions. My attempts to ask questions weren't just a rhetorical device either because on some level it's been obvious that dialogue needs a sharing of needful knowledge instead of becoming a shooting range of disconnected opinions turning into arguments. Questions are for finding the common ground, and isn't awareness about a particular type of listening anyway?

 

If you feel that there is anything remaining unclear, please don't hesitate to ask questions.

Edited by virtue
wrong link of course
  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
27 minutes ago, virtue said:

 

 

"Freely Thinking About Anything While Practicing" is just a peculiar feature that I wanted to study, and the further requirement of plentiful and deliberate thinking not affecting the quality of energy work was to make this premise stronger and not get watered down training forms mixed in.

  

Well, yes, these practices do exist.  Most are shamanic and nearly all are used in conjunction with entheogens.  A powerful entheogen like ayahuasca can override your freely thinking mind with the kind of thinking that makes your ordinary-reality thinking about as interesting as the slight transient itching of the tip of your nose when you are sitting in meditation.  Yes, you notice it's itching, you notice it's a slight and fleeting distraction, but the "freedom" to feel it is not a particularly valuable commodity.  Similarly, you are free to think whatever you like when you are in a different -- vastly expanded -- consciousness, but the thoughts of your everyday self, if there at all (a big if), neither bother nor interest you all that much.  Mostly they just give up, as a sensible one-year-old would give up on a discussion of the stock market or quantum mechanics or net neutrality engaged in by mom and dad.  

 

I know, though would be unable to prove in a forum post, that thinking uses up -- but more often wastes -- energy.  How much of it?  It depends, but an indirect indicator that it's a lot, not a negligible amount, is the fact that the thinking brain consumes 20% of your overall oxygen intake.  Most of the ATP produced by aerobic cellular respiration is made by oxidative phosphorylation.  This is how most eucaryotes produce energy.  So "energy practices" undertaken in conjunction with free thinking are likely to decrease the amount of the overall energy available by at least 20% if we use a very conservative estimate, but since there's complex processes involved and the thinking process depletes both the nutrients and the enzymes the body makes to oxidize them, the losses may be even more substantial.  And I'm only talking the physical underpinnings.  The toll on consciousness is anyone's guess.  

 

An average human thinks an average of 50,000-70,000 thoughts per day (scientific fact), but over 99% of these thoughts are thoughts he or she has already thought before.  It's an energy-squandering loop.  A neocortex looped onto itself is free to keep doing it if not reined in -- or rather, doomed to keep doing it.  Seeking out practices that seal the doom may not be all that productive.  Think about it. :)  

  • Like 6

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
43 minutes ago, Taomeow said:

An average human thinks an average of 50,000-70,000 thoughts per day (scientific fact), but over 99% of these thoughts are thoughts he or she has already thought before.  It's an energy-squandering loop.  A neocortex looped onto itself is free to keep doing it if not reined in -- or rather, doomed to keep doing it.  Seeking out practices that seal the doom may not be all that productive.  Think about it. :)  

This is right in most circumstances. I had a feeling that the practical usefulness of the premise would be raised as a valid issue, which is great. We are on the right track now.

 

All correct practice, Flying Phoenix or not, facilitates the natural peacefulness of mind, but deepening that might not be always relevant or the highest priority. Different practices serve different ends, which is why there are so many ways to train the mind. Of course the practical use of free thinking becomes a waste if it's squandered in random wandering or even in the conscious pursue of negative thoughts.

 

It's not too difficult to find constructive uses for free thinking. I think all of us make a good use of thinking when we really discover a need, yet the catch is in that it often demands near instant application in daily life and work. My earlier examples of chanting mantras and memorizing vocabularies of new languages are good ways for using the mind when you would be idle otherwise. The chanting of mantras of Buddhas is particularly commendable because this connect you to their blessings and actually invigorates you. Therefore it's even possible to utilize this feature to your definite advantage if you have the right resourcefulness and a non-pressing need that can be combined with the practice.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

When I practice free fighting with others I like to think about what I am going to have for dinner. During Chi Gung workouts this is  the perfect time to think about other things besides what I am doing. These handy skills allow me to fail at any endeavor I choose.

 

There is no need to restrict the mind or stop thinking it is just a matter of ......Focus Danielson.....,.get in the zone, then thinking is not so necessary, just natural response to the immediate changing situations. Staying present and aware.

 

The best way to not arrive is to distract yourself as much as possible maybe buy an Iphone or think about the past or future.

 

These techniques work well for me and I get immediate results like tripping over something, getting hurt, asking things like what did you say.

 

 

  • Like 3

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
3 minutes ago, Wu Ming Jen said:

These techniques work well for me and I get immediate results like tripping over something, getting hurt, asking things like what did you say.

This was completely unnecessary and mean spirited thing to say. I am sorry that you were compelled to respond in this manner.

  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
5 hours ago, virtue said:

The necessity of single-pointedness is already very well understood, especially after you and Taomeow told of your experiences with technical details. I can really relate to it and find it very familiar.

 

There is no worrying about the mind nor trouble quieting it. Again, I have no clue why it keeps coming up as a discussion element. It's baffling. If there was an issue with restless mind that needed help, I would have explicitly said so. The premise was that it shouldn't matter at all if you were thinking all the time or not at all and the good effects would remain the same. I think people might have misunderstood my initial post because I didn't remember to include an illuminating example how it should work. I don't know if my initial post in the Flying Phoenix thread would have been any clearer either.

....

If you feel that there is anything remaining unclear, please don't hesitate to ask questions.

So is your aim, basically, to decide which sort of energy practice you want to situate as a matter of ongoing process, even as you go about normal daily life?

 

If that's the case then it really doesnt matter, you are still just having the focus of awareness determine the reality you experience - perhaps you'll get ahead with more yang phase practice during normal waking hours - but if you do that, consider that you are also going to have to balance that with a lot of stillness at times of the day and especially at the end of the day, or you'll simply be headed to burnout street.  Yin needs to support yang.

 

But I get it, an ongoing process will produce more widgets even at a 30% handicap....

 

...or will it, since this is the mindbodyspirit we're talking about here, and not just making widgets?  Even widget makers need maintenance time.

  • Like 2

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
2 minutes ago, joeblast said:

So is your aim, basically, to decide which sort of energy practice you want to situate as a matter of ongoing process, even as you go about normal daily life?

Hi Joe, and thanks for asking.

 

Not really. I already am very satisfied with what I do and have no intention to change practices. It was quite purely scholarly and theoretical intent that I was presenting my points. There were no particular aims or personal enrichment in mind.

 

Awareness training already is what I do both as an ongoing process in daily life and as a specific seated practice, but it will take some more time before the ongoing part becomes stable. If anyone wanted an ongoing process recommendation, I couldn't really compliment anything else than getting more into open awareness. We need awareness all the time, but concentration only every once in a while.

 

Practicing concentration meditation to access dhyana-samadi states would be an example of another type of energy training and healing benefit. It doesn't necessarily mesh well with awareness training because generally open awareness expands your being and concentration narrows it. So, suppose for simplification and the sake of a practical example that I specifically wanted to practice a concentration type meditation. Many people do that before and after getting into the cultivation of open awareness.

 

Flying Phoenix is a great system, but it has certain limitations. It, like other concentration practices, must always be applied in a safe space in which you are not disturbed. It cannot be a part of any ongoing daily process, and as far as I understand training awareness  is not how it gives its healing effects because that is another genre of meditation. Flying Phoenix is more like the dhyana-samadhi type concentration meditations, but the strange thing is that you don't have to focus or attain single-pointed mind in the ordinary purposeful way. This is why your mind is left free to intellectualize if you wanted. It could be a good opportunity: you could use this freedom to tune into dantian(s) and train open awareness and its benefits in addition to whatever you were already having, or you could do some other type of constructive mental work, mundane or spiritual. The mind is free to do anything and you still have all the baseline benefits the practice was supposed to bring.

 

There are two ways how an individual might be motivated to use this feature:

  1. The energy art is enriched with visualization and mantras for example because mentations don't diminish the outcome
  2. Using the energy art to enrich visualization or mantras you would do anyway

What I am saying that if a practice allows thinking or using intent, and getting all the energetic effects at the same time, it's an uncommon and a versatile feature.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I find training with weapons in the martial arts is great for awareness training.  Even simple katas require great attention; paired katas and taigis (2 person forms) particularly. 

Edited by thelerner
  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
2 hours ago, thelerner said:

I find training with weapons in the martial arts is great for awareness training.  Even simple katas require great attention; paired katas and taigis (2 person forms) particularly. 

nunchakus hurt :lol:

 

 

 

virtue, whatever this target is, good luck in sorting through the terms, I think you're too bound by the box of buddhist terminologies.  draw some venn diagrams and see where things overlap, if certain circles dont overlap enough then that's where you're off.  you go on with these definitions and your context in your head separates them far too much and that's why you're aiming for a theoretical that is poorly defined.  I cant help ya with that one, peace!

  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
15 hours ago, joeblast said:

virtue, whatever this target is, good luck in sorting through the terms, I think you're too bound by the box of buddhist terminologies.  draw some venn diagrams and see where things overlap, if certain circles dont overlap enough then that's where you're off.  you go on with these definitions and your context in your head separates them far too much and that's why you're aiming for a theoretical that is poorly defined.  I cant help ya with that one, peace!

See below how Sifu Terry describes this feature in the art he preserves if it is easier to understand.

 

 

Quote

Each FP Qigong meditation will impart its health, energizing, rejuvenating benefits regardless of how you focus your mind so long as you hold the posture, do the breath control sequence and the movements (if there are movements) correctly. 

 

This remarkable aspect of Flying Phoenix Qigong is what sets it apart form every other Qigong method that I know about.

https://www.thedaobums.com/topic/12639-flying-phoenix-chi-kung/?page=150#comment-705628

 

Quote

It's fine to keep these form visualizations in mind for as long as you feel you need them. No, you won't stunt your growth of awareness by thinking of good form. As I have stated, one can mentally focus on anything one chooses to once the breath-control sequence of an FP Meditation has been completed, as one will still derive the same benefits.

https://www.thedaobums.com/topic/12639-flying-phoenix-chi-kung/?page=55#comment-349464

 

Quote

In any form of meditation, the goal is first to quiet the mind, to turn off the internal dialog. And this of course can apply to FP Qigong practice.

 

But as I've explained from the very start of this discussion thread, once you do the FP breath control sequence and the posture and movements (if there are movements in the exercise)correctly, the energizing/rejuvenating effects will occur regardless of how you focus the mind. Once you start any of the FP Meditations, you can think about anything that you want. That's one of the extraordinary features of this Qigong: once you bring the organ systems (orbs) under the regulation of the subconscious mind, your conscious mind can be doing virtually anything.

https://www.thedaobums.com/topic/12639-flying-phoenix-chi-kung/?page=42#comment-308996

 

Quote

You can choose to (a) mentally focus on the tan tien and natal breathing or (B) not to focus at all.

 

As I stated very early in this thread, once you complete the breath-control sequence at the start of each of the Flying Phoenix Meditations and do the posture/movements with proper form and relaxation, the FP Energy cultivation will take place regardless of how you focus your mind. And if you choose to completely not-focus, and find that refreshing (most people do), then you've found an optimal state of self-healing.

 

I repeat: while doing the FP Meditations, you can think about absolutely anything (--that isn't negative, morbid, evil, or destructive, of course) and still get profoundly energizing, healing, and rejuvenating results.

 

Quote

P.S. Tip: if one is spiritually inclined, the FP meditative state is a fine vehicle to deliver one's prayers to the One God--be it called Jehovah, Allah, Ahura Mazda, the Holy Tao, the Buddha, the Baby Buddha, or the Great Syrian Sage.

https://www.thedaobums.com/topic/12639-flying-phoenix-chi-kung/?page=24#comment-232958

 

Quote

You can focus your mind anywhere after you do the breath control sequence of any Flying Phoenix meditation and begin its movements (if there are any). That's one of the wondrous things about the FP system: after you do the breath control sequence and begin the movements, your mind can be focused on anything or remain totally unfocused. The Flying Phoenix meditation will still work.

https://www.thedaobums.com/topic/12639-flying-phoenix-chi-kung/?page=17#comment-208983

 

 

Is it clear now? It's a bit more general condition to allow any focus than to allow any thinking because the former particularly includes the use of intent. Maybe it would have been more sensible and clearer to ask about "Energy Arts That Allow Focusing on Anything," since the concept of focus is firmly understood and has more obvious utility.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
On 2018-01-17 at 8:01 PM, virtue said:

 

 

@phil gracefully answered in the Flying Phoenix discussion that there is a Shaolin art like that, but how does its energy cultivation work then? If it's an external method such as in Iron Palm where you keep conditioning your palms with striking and using dit da jow to heal, then it does not qualify for an internal or meditative energy art in the sense I am asking about.

Yeah, in the basic, politically correct version of Shaolin Nei Jin Yi Zhi Chan, you are told that you can watch tv or have a light conversation while standing in the high ma bu. 

Now you have to decide :

1) This is a really effective approach. 

2) This is a way that is politically correct, it points to a separation between the method and its buddhist origins, it keeps the practitioner on a low level of practice, and it builds in a glass ceiling in the system. 

Once you get past this, the method gets really interesting. 

 

Lots of good points in this thread. 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

In order to make good progress in energy work one needs to focus on what the energy is doing in the body.  Focussing on the body is coincidentally also the common technique that is used in all systems to aid one in achieving a meditative state.  If you are doing some energy exercise and instead are thinking about quantum physics nonlocality then the exercises will be much less effective although they can still be somewhat effective depending on what exercise is being done.

 

Just a coinkydink, that is all.

 

Focussing on the body is how beginners get into meditation, later focussing on something internal (or external) is not required to stop thinking.  The moving meditations like tai chi have a strong focus on the body, therefore they are also meditational.

Edited by Starjumper
  • Like 1
  • Thanks 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Thank you everyone for your contributions.

 

I took a wrong turn when I wanted to rein in the collective discussion and got annoyed for what I perceived as a departure from the original spirit of my inquiry.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites