The Mind Moves!

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The Mind Moves!

Postby Monsoon » Mon Dec 31, 2012 4:41 pm

Okay guys and gals, this is my first topic for the bright and shiny New Year!

The question is: What is your mind state during form practice?

What I would like to discuss is not what we think it should be, but rather what we actually experience during practice and how we approach changing it (if necessary).

Personally I find it easy to get lost in the form. It's not that I am unaware of my surroundings as such, and my attention on it seems alert (certainly I am instantly aware of any local changes in the environment). It's an odd sense of being aware but noticing that the immediate environment - for the most part - does not require my undivided attention, even though I am attempting to visualise incoming threats.

And so... your thoughts?

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Re: The Mind Moves!

Postby caesar » Thu Jan 03, 2013 2:38 pm

I'm still in very beginning of learning to be loose while doing the form...so my mindstate is often a bit tensed or frustrated. At times it's totally the opposite but it usually doesn't last very long. I try to keep an empy mind...although often I visualize the opponent. Being loose while training with partner isn't as difficult as doing form...but I yet haven't made big progress by visualizing the opponent either.

Glad to hear your thoughts.
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Re: The Mind Moves!

Postby wpgtaiji » Fri Jan 04, 2013 2:41 am

caesar wrote:I'm still in very beginning of learning to be loose while doing the form...so my mindstate is often a bit tensed or frustrated.

I heard this one time from a guy who said he wasnt "relaxed" enough to do taiji correctly. While I dont respect Cheng Man Ching's art at all, he had a student who was asked to teach at a jail one time.

Being adept at Cheng's method, he kept telling the "students" to "relax". After about 4 sessions of this, one inmate finally laughed and said "man, what are you talking about? We dont need to relax! They gave us drugs before we started to keep us calm".

Point, if you need to be loose or relaxed BEFORE you do your taiji, you arent doing taiji. This is the battle call of so many schools because they are teaching movement that is flawed.

No caesar, i wasnt picking on you. You just put it up. It is a common idea that is totally and utterly flawed and false, and has damaged the art more than anything.

As to the OT, the mind is still. I am thinking that is what you meant, but the title suggests something else.
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Re: The Mind Moves!

Postby Monsoon » Fri Jan 04, 2013 3:45 am

As to the OT, the mind is still. I am thinking that is what you meant, but the title suggests something else.


As I stated in the OP, unless you are claiming this to be your mind state, that I was asking what people actually experience as opposed to what they are expecting to experience.

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Re: The Mind Moves!

Postby joeblast » Fri Jan 04, 2013 8:04 am

Even in mildly complex systems, any outcome is the wrong thing to target, with the process being where the focus should be.
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Re: The Mind Moves!

Postby wpgtaiji » Fri Jan 04, 2013 6:27 pm

Monsoon wrote:
As to the OT, the mind is still. I am thinking that is what you meant, but the title suggests something else.


As I stated in the OP, unless you are claiming this to be your mind state, that I was asking what people actually experience as opposed to what they are expecting to experience.

Monsoon

It is what occurs. It seems China was a great source of learning for you.
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Re: The Mind Moves!

Postby Monsoon » Fri Jan 04, 2013 9:14 pm

It seems China was a great source of learning for you.


Not quite sure what you are implying by this, so please explain just so there are no misunderstandings (not that I mentioned China in this thread).

Most of the time I am practicing forms my mind is not thinking of anything. It's not racing around looking for focus either. It seems to simply sit there and observe rather passively. I would hesitate to call it detachment though, as that might suggest a lack of intent.

The title of the thread was simply to encourage readers to look at the thread, nothing more.

I am glad you (wpgtaiji) find your mind is still, although I have always had a nagging thought that the word 'stillness' is not quite right, it's not precise enough. Perhaps that is nothing more than a problem in translating concepts from one language to another. For example, if I say the sea is in motion but also exists in stillness, this would probably confuse a lot of people. How can it move and be still at the same time? A paradox it seems. However, I believe that in context this stillness represents the ideal state of being nothing more than what you are, here and now, fully in the present moment.

Of course, I am probably one of 'those people' that likely doesn't 'do' taijiquan properly, so what worth my words?

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Re: The Mind Moves!

Postby wpgtaiji » Sat Jan 05, 2013 2:35 pm

What is stillness in my experience? Interesting.

Seeing that we have 50,000 thoughts per day running through our mind, being still is a difficult thing. What i was trying to say above is that the movement should allow one to enter into a state where the body moves without being aware of the movement. In actuality, you are moving but are unaware... or unconcerned with the movement.

Maybe another way will help. Humans have 2 general mental processes, one which could be called Reason (the process where we are aware, think, etc) and the mechanistic process (the part that controls all the other facets of our life). People call these by 100's of different names, but i believe most generally, they are conscious and subconscious minds.

The reason you may be having trouble with this is, most teachers teach martial arts as a series of postures or techniques. Taiji isnt, although it sort of has to be taught that way in the beginning. There are more than one way to do the Yang taiji form! But there are some ways that dont do movement naturally, or the performer doesnt do them naturally, and forever, the movement stays in the conscious mind.

The thing to realize is, the entire form will not all of a sudden go "no mind"! The Yang form is LONG (20+ minutes)! You will notice that parts of the form will be done without being aware. Then more and more parts will follow. A time will come when you go to do taiji form and find that it has been done and that you are not even aware that you did it consciously. How could you? The entire form is done in perfect harmony with yin and yang (which is our natural state), and your thoughts are free to be aware of what they want to be aware of. This is probably hard to see or accept, but it is real. People have confused "no mind" to mean the conscious mind, but it is literally allowing the subconscious mind to move the body and allows the conscious mind to be unaware. I mean, do you even recall your body movement when you brush your teeth? brush your hair? Shower? We just do it.

Doing the form in your mind is a conscious activity which serves to memorize the form. Mental activity shouldnt be the goal once the form is learned. Movement should be the focus. I wrote an article on this idea (albeit in an abstract way) a year or 2 ago.
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Re: The Mind Moves!

Postby Monsoon » Sat Jan 05, 2013 3:43 pm

I understand that, and was pretty much saying the same thing. I don't have any particular issues with being mentally centred, but was asking the OP question because I was interested in how other people were getting along with this.

Anyway, I am having no trouble with this (as you put it). If you read my posts you will have noticed this.

You still didn't answer the request for clarification on the China remark. Please do so.

Monsoon

ps. thanks for the heads-up about brain function. Those of us in the field of pathology always appreciate the layman's views! :P
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Re: The Mind Moves!

Postby wpgtaiji » Sat Jan 05, 2013 7:40 pm

Those in the field wouldnt waste time on anonymous forums! You do know they are haunted by wackos, right? So that means you are working?

wpgtaiji wrote:
The reason you may be having trouble with this is...

yep, its there...
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Re: The Mind Moves!

Postby Monsoon » Sun Jan 06, 2013 4:34 am

... but I don't have any trouble with it at all. You are reaching and grasping at nothing at all!

As for this:

Those in the field wouldnt waste time on anonymous forums!


Utterly ridiculous. Professionals do have other interests that they like to indulge. And yes, I am employed by at a university in a research capacity, so what? You have a problem with people who have actual jobs or something?

I choose to protect my identity to avoid all the 'wackos' as you call them. On professional forums, such as LinkedIn, I go by my actual name. And besides, Mr Hill, although I know who you are, you still choose a pseudonym yourself. Irony, much?

And you still didn't provide the 'China clarification'. Perhaps it was another of your unsupported assumptions?

Incidentally:

The entire form is done in perfect harmony with yin and yang (which is our natural state), and your thoughts are free to be aware of what they want to be aware of


Although I cannot claim perfection in moving from wuji to yin yang and back to wuji, I do on occasion think intensely about other issues while the body executes the form. Up until a relatively short time ago I never realised I could do this, but there it is. Most of the time though I prefer to let my mind be peaceful during practice. It is a conscious choice after all.

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Re: The Mind Moves!

Postby wpgtaiji » Sun Jan 06, 2013 4:57 pm

I guess the clinicsl meaning of the word MAY (which is the word i used) is different.

The obsession on insignificant things i have experienced before. As have i seen the need to be right. :)
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Re: The Mind Moves!

Postby Monsoon » Sun Jan 06, 2013 6:53 pm

The reason you may be having trouble with this is...


I guess the clinicsl meaning of the word MAY (which is the word i used) is different.


There was no misunderstanding on my part. It was clear from my own posts that I had no problem with this, so your whole statemtent was both pointless and antagonistic.

The obsession on insignificant things i have experienced before.


And now you are the self-appointed arbiter of significance? Excuse me while I step away from the keyboard for a guffaw :lol:

You still didn't provide clarification of the 'China' remark, despite being asked repeatedly. Rather disappointing, fellow.

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Re: The Mind Moves!

Postby joeblast » Wed Jan 09, 2013 5:48 pm

monsoon, are you familiar with the concept of fixing the spirit at the seat of awareness?

basically, attenuating the cranial nerves is where the thought-less peace comes from. the CNs lie on top of the midbrain and are the 12 conduits through which the senses pass. when their activity is attenuated to a low level, at some point there simply is not enough energy potential for thought to manifest - iotw, one has harnessed the root-core energy potential and put it to use before it is able to cause cascades and chains of neural firings that wind up propagating to higher regions of the brain - i.e. thought, thought-stream-energy. (think of a plasma, or a bose einstein condensate, where the energy of the system goes outside of the region that allows for electron capture.) that's why lower dantien breathing is an especially important fundamental, the focus of awareness harnesses the energy potentials and when done enough, trains a new, another, path of least resistance for energy to follow.

'fixing the spirit' at the upper dantien is the real idea behind things like look down your nose or focus on your nose. in bringing the awareness and focusing it, the spirit does not wander, the senses do not stir and look for input 'out there.' it is like placing a lamp in a pedestal in a room - it just shines and illuminates the room with no other action. no force, no muscular involvement, just shining awareness. :)
Even in mildly complex systems, any outcome is the wrong thing to target, with the process being where the focus should be.
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Re: The Mind Moves!

Postby Monsoon » Wed Jan 09, 2013 7:11 pm

Yes, I am aware of the concept behind 'seating the spirit', but I have never seen it explained with an attempted link to physiological structures.

I don't wish to offend but you are anatomically incorrect. The cranial nerves can be viewed in several ways: for instance, 10 of them arise from the brainstem (2 don't); or 4 originate in the pons, 4 in the medulla, and 4 actually in the midbrain. Either way, in adults, all the CNs are situated in the tegmentum (part of the brainstem) which is at the base of the midbrain not sitting on top.

Also, an awful lot of people (not surprisingly considering the difficulty of this field of study) do not really understand how brain cells function, often resorting to very simplistic models: electricity, plasma streams and so on.

However, this should not detract from the practices we indulge in. We don't need to know how the brain works in order to make the practices effective, just as we don't need to know how a car works in order to drive one.

Getting a little off topic there! Good to discuss though.

BTW, in meditative practices, at least the ones I am familiar with, detachment from the world is not the goal.

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Re: The Mind Moves!

Postby chh » Thu Jan 10, 2013 6:19 am

I think this is a really interesting question, because there are so many goals associated with form practice. Doing the form, I'm aiming for the best possible physical structure moving through each posture, sense of opponent throughout the form, physical balance, physical relaxation, and mental relaxation.

I don't think it's realistic to look at your practice and say "well, I've perfected the physical aspects of the form so now I'm going to work on suppressing all conscious thought". Just like you have to use some muscular activity to move your body around in tai chi, I think it's appropriate (and realistic in terms of what we know about cognition) that some conscious thoughts are involved in executing the form, even while the goal you have in mind is to minimize them both. I think tai chi practice tends to start at the very beginning with the physical, but it surprises me that one side should end before the other.

So in the form I devote attention to making my posture as good as possible at each moment, maintaining a sense of opponent based on what I know about each movement, but I also work on eliminating the kind of running internal discourse that isn't related to practice. For me, that's what makes the form a meditative practice, but I'm open to the idea that there's a higher level to the meditative side.

Edit: So to make sure I'm answering the question, sometimes when I'm doing the form I think about cake, and I at least try to let those thoughts go, but other times I think about whether there's too much pressure on my back knee or that the way I stepped doesn't make sense from a martial perspective, and I'm glad to be consciously aware of that sort of thing so I can make my form better. I'm not sure that that kind of process is ever supposed to be totally eliminated.
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Re: The Mind Moves!

Postby joeblast » Thu Jan 10, 2013 11:27 am

Monsoon wrote:Yes, I am aware of the concept behind 'seating the spirit', but I have never seen it explained with an attempted link to physiological structures.

I don't wish to offend but you are anatomically incorrect. The cranial nerves can be viewed in several ways: for instance, 10 of them arise from the brainstem (2 don't); or 4 originate in the pons, 4 in the medulla, and 4 actually in the midbrain. Either way, in adults, all the CNs are situated in the tegmentum (part of the brainstem) which is at the base of the midbrain not sitting on top.

Also, an awful lot of people (not surprisingly considering the difficulty of this field of study) do not really understand how brain cells function, often resorting to very simplistic models: electricity, plasma streams and so on.

However, this should not detract from the practices we indulge in. We don't need to know how the brain works in order to make the practices effective, just as we don't need to know how a car works in order to drive one.

Getting a little off topic there! Good to discuss though.

BTW, in meditative practices, at least the ones I am familiar with, detachment from the world is not the goal.

Monsoon

Not offended, I know the physical locations, I was referring to logical connections and what happens when a significant amount of attenuation is attained. I've gone into and out of significant levels many times over the years, you really have to be diligent with practice to keep the results ongoing. :)
Even in mildly complex systems, any outcome is the wrong thing to target, with the process being where the focus should be.
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Re: The Mind Moves!

Postby Monsoon » Thu Jan 10, 2013 3:43 pm

Fair point, and I realised after posting that I might have sounded a bit condescending. Wasn't the intention - my apologies.

@chh, I actually think that mind games in taijiquan are often overstated. Sports people, at high levels, cultivate much the same mind state that we do in our practices. Except that they do it without necessarily focussing on it! At high levels, and indeed really any level, of sport, players generally play without thinking about body structure. They just play!

In our beloved arts we break down the training specifically to concentrate on the minutiae of body structure and, dare I say it, energy flow. So, we create a further step before reaching the ideal meld of perfect (we wish!) body movement and mind interaction.

So saying that, I contend that in the first few years it is probably not that important to be concentrating the mind state that we THINK we should be striving for. I also believe that if practices are adhered to with full attention the requisite mind state will arise by itself.

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Re: The Mind Moves!

Postby joeblast » Fri Jan 11, 2013 9:23 am

/\ no problem at all :)

I noted an interesting correlation while reading Allday's quarks, leptons, and the big bang book a while back - there was an experiment done bouncing electrons off of a detector, then went either one way, or the other. It led to some rules for computing the probability of the wave function. This all basically just backs up the post you just made.

I will just include 2 variables for simplicity's sake, but extrapolate to the 10,000 phenomena that make up something as simple as sparring - and then consider in context of the enter the dragon vid above ;)

in order to manifest something, the conditions need to be arranged - i.e. figure out how to "most efficiently combine amplitudes." If we accept the postulate that qi is a quantum mechanical phenomenon, then we have some interesting rules that apply that seem to be well confirmed by mindful practice:

if we have two amplitudes a=3 and b=4,

-if the events happen in sequence, multiply the amplitudes: 3x4=12
When practicing, events not in coherence will have the lesser outcome;

-if the events are in coherence but can be distinguished, square the multiples then add: 9+16=25
In refining, one finds coherence yet events are at least partly still of the mind and thus distinguishable;

-if the events cannot be distinguished, add before absolute squaring - 3+4=7, ^2=49
Practice until the foreground fades away, background becomes the foreground - and certain events within will start to become indistinguishable, producing the most efficacious result.

Of course, "a" and "b" will have their own varied inputs, so I am really oversimplifying on one hand, but making simple enough to convey the concept.

Basically when the detector, or the experiment as a whole is able to distinguish certain characteristics, are they sequential, ordered, coherent - do all of the phases line up - or have we produced a setup where each event is relatively indistinguishable from another event - that has very significant effects on the calculation of the wave function for the process in question. The more your movements are well trained and muscle memory and subconscious affect are in high gear, the less mental capital needed to ensure coherent flow of events - more available potential to affect the collapse-manifestation of the wave function :)
Even in mildly complex systems, any outcome is the wrong thing to target, with the process being where the focus should be.
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Re: The Mind Moves!

Postby Monsoon » Fri Jan 11, 2013 3:41 pm

Interesting way of explaining it. And I totally agree with respect to sequencing, as it is this that creates the efficiency in complex movement. As IMA practitioners we really seek to make this sequencing apply at the smallest possible level of detail. Essentially what we are doing is taking an existing moving body and attempting to squeeze the maximum efficiency out of the structural movement.

To do this we have concentrate intensely on the movement of small parts. As such, in the initial stages of learning the mind is thus fully occupied. Later, as the movement becomes a 'memory' the mind's attention can withdraw.

It is my contention that this can happen by itself and that seeking actively to promote such a mental withdrawal before the body is properly conditioned to the movement is counter productive and can seriously hinder progress for the student.

@chh, just to be clear. Letting go of thoughts is not the same as actively suppressing them. I am sure you were aware of this but I feel it needs pointing out for any other readers who are not aware of it. When an ideal mind state arises it is a bit like being in a sea of thought. You are aware of it, but none of it requires your direct intervention right now. At the same time, paradoxically it seems, you are also the sea of thought itself. There is no distinction between being in the sea and being the sea itself. Just as there is no distinction between the observer and the observed. A bit difficult to get one's head around, and perhaps language will never do it justice. Occasionally I have glimpsed this state, and it is wonderful, but sadly I have been unable to maintain it for long (though it does seem to getting a tiny bit more frequent - time will tell as always).

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