– Chief Instructor Brett Wagland
Within Traditional Chinese kung fu training, there are many ways to reach the top of the mountain. Some routes are more direct than others. Some appear easy but, in fact, are quite difficult. Some look more attractive while others don’t. In the end, you still have to do the work, that is, pass the training, to get to the top of the mountain. Naturally, climbing to the top isn’t easy and not everyone wants to get there.
In the beginning stages, we need to master the physical body. This involves strengthening the legs, loosening the waist and spine, relaxing and opening the shoulders, etc. As the physical body is changing, we also become aware of the connection that links the mind, the emotions and the spirit. We realise it takes effort to change and it is not as easy as we hope. We may want to give up – feeling that we are not cut out for this or finding some other excuse. On the other hand, we can learn about ourselves, strengthen our minds, swallow our pride and discover our spirit. In the end, we realise sincerity, perseverance and determination are required to meet the challenges we set ourselves. Eventually, we will reach our goal and we will have grown physically, emotionally and spiritually through the experience.
It is easy to become discouraged with your practice and we all have these experiences. This seemingly bad time is a blessing in disguise. This is when you can truly train your mind and spirit, for example, in a Qigong practice called Santi which involves standing for a length of time with most of the weight on one leg. The real benefits come when the body starts to feel pain. This is when the mind wants you to stop. However, if you persevere, the pain often subsides. The training is not about ignoring pain. It is about strengthening our minds and bodies through the endurance of discomfort and being able to transform the experience into one of meditation. This takes time, effort and correct practice. One begins doing this practice for only 3 minutes on each leg and gradually increases the duration. Some Wu Dao Gong students can now stand for 15 minutes on each leg. The results are a stronger body and a more concentrated and calm mind. Don’t give up on yourself. Perseverance and regular practice are the keys. There are many trails to follow and many more treasures to find.
To connect the mind and body, you need to cultivate the mind. During practice, it is the ability to let go the mind chatter and bring your intention to what you are doing in the moment. In terms of Quiet Standing, whether it is Holding the Tree or Santi, it is focusing on the feelings within the body and practising according to the correct requirements. This trains you to be mindful, to discriminate and to maintain an even awareness throughout your practice. Gradually, this leads to a calming of the busy mind. This state of calmness produces relaxed breathing, better circulation and a feeling of warmth throughout the body. It allows you to enter into a state of absorption, where you become one with what you are doing. This is when you become aware of the mind–body connection and feel the power and joy of your practice. You are discovering the treasure within you.
Successful people are not necessarily happy or satisfied. Most people look only to the outside for success. In Taoism and Buddhism, success and happiness come from within us. Your practice is the doorway to this inner world. It is a mystery only because we have neglected to look at this area of our lives. Practising Chinese internal martial arts, such as Wu Dao Gong, are all proven methods of entering the inner world and discovering its hidden treasures.