Regulating the mind means using the logical, rational, and wise thinking Yi to control emotional disturbances

What is regulating the Xīn (i.e., heart, emotional mind)? It calls for using the Yì (i.e., rational thinking, logical mind) to regulate the Xīn. Xīn belongs to Yáng and is active, while Yì belongs to Yīn and is calm. Dào Treasure, Thesis of Sitting and Oblivion states: “Xīn is the master of the entire body and the commander of a hundred spirits (i.e., all spirits); when it is calm, wisdom is generated and when it is active, then confused. Delusion is generated (i.e., decided) within the action and calmness (of the Xīn).” This Xīn means Xīn and Yì. If the Yì is unable to regulate the Xīn, then the Xīn easily becomes active, oppressive and impatient, confused and depressed, and it cannot control itself. Thus, the Yì also cannot be calm and peaceful. When the Yì is not calm and peaceful, then the Qì is hard to lead.

調心者,以意調心也。心者,陽也,動也。意者,陰也,靜 也。《道藏·坐忘論》:〝夫心者一身之主,百神之帥,靜 則生慧,動則生昏,欣迷動靜之中。〞此心者即心意之謂也。 意不能調心,則心動、悶躁、昏沉、而不知自我。意亦不能寧 靜。意不寧,則氣難引。..

According to traditional Chinese concepts, we have two minds, one is called “Xīn” (心) (i.e., heart or emotional mind) and the other is called “Yi” (意) (i.e., logical, rational, and wise thinking). Regulating the mind means using the Yì to regulate emotional disturbances (i.e., Xīn). When the Xīn is regulated, you can be calm and the Yì can be strong. Conversely, if the Xīn is disturbed and confused, the Yì will also be unsteady. In this case, the Yì will not be able to lead the Qì effectively.

Ancient ancestors said: “When teaching a person the great Dào, first teach him/ her how to stop the Niàn (i.e., thoughts); if the initiation of Niàn cannot be stoped, then the teaching will be in vain.” This is the Gōngfū of regulating the Xīn. Confucius also said: “First must be calm, then there is steadiness. When there is steadiness, then there is peace. When there is peace, then you are able to think. When you are able to think, then you will gain.” This means in order to gain; you must first be able to keep the Xīn and the physical body calm and peaceful. In order to be calm and peaceful, you must first have the Gōngfū of stabilizing the Xīn and getting rid of the Niàn. However, in order to gain steadiness, you must first begin from the word of calmness. When there is calmness, then the mind is bright. When the mind is bright, then you are able to differentiate. When you can differentiate, then the occurrences will be clear. When it is clear, then you will not be confused.

古云:〝大道教人先止念,念頭不住亦徒然。〞此即調心之 功夫也。孔子亦曰:〝先靜爾后有定,定爾后能安,安爾后能 慮,慮爾后能得。〞此即謂要能有所獲,必先能心身安寧。要 能心身安寧,必先能有定心去念之功夫。然而,要能有定,首 先必從靜字著手。靜而明、明而辨,辨則清,清則不惑也 。..

In order to increase the concentration of the Yì, you must first regulate the Xīn. After the Xīn is regulated, you learn how to concentrate your Yì to a higher level. After you have reached a stage of using your Yì to lead the Qì without any effort, then you should practice raising up the spirit. In Tàijíquán, in order to lead the Qì strongly to support the physical manifestation, the spirit of fighting must be high. That means you are in a highly alert and aware state.

The Monkey Xīn and Horse Yì 心猿意馬論

What is Xīn? It belongs to Yáng, easily active and excited. It is emotional, hard to keep steady, easily impatient and impetuous, and cannot be calm and settled. What is Yì? It belongs to Yīn. It is quiet, settled, wise and logical, patient, calm, steady, and not confused. Ancient people said: “The Xīn is like a monkey while the Yì is like a horse.” This means that, though a monkey is small and weak physically, the level of its impatience and unsteadiness can make a person scared. Conversely, though a horse is big and powerful physically, it can be calm. What does Xīn-monkey and Yì-horse mean? It means: to use the Yì-horse to control the Xīn-monkey. For example, when driving your car and encounter a big traffic jam and wait and wait. After a while, the Xīn gradually becomes unsteady, followed by impatience, and finally you lose your temper. This is caused by the Xīn-monkey. At this time, the Yì-horse will take over and ask the Xīn: “Will the unsteady and impatient Xīn be able to solve the problem of the big traffic jam?” The answer is It cannot. Then the Yì-horse advises and says: “If this is the case, then why do you become unsteady and impatient, which is harmful to your health? Why don’t you listen to the music from the radio to remove the anxiety of the Xīn? Alternatively, you could just calm down your Xīn and regulate your breathing for Qìgōng practice” And before you even realize it, the traffic jam will dissipate.

心者,陽也,易動也,易興奮也,感情也,難定也,易浮躁 也,不靜也,不沉著也。意者,陰也,靜也,沉著也,理智 也,不浮躁也,安寧也,定也,不昏迷也。古云:〝心猿也, 意馬也。〞此意猿雖體小力弱,然其浮躁不寧之能耐卻是大而 可畏。反之,馬雖體大力強,卻能心靜意寧的為人所使。心猿 意馬者,以意馬克心猿也。比如在開車時遇到大阻塞。等而等 之,心漸難寧,接而浮躁,火氣上漲。此心猿之作怪也。此 時,意馬接進,反問之,心浮氣躁可去塞車之困擾乎?回答甚 為明顯。不能。意馬解之:如是,為何身心煩躁以損身心之健 康歟?何不聽聽音樂以解心愁,或靜心調息練煉氣功。在不知 不覺中,塞車解之。此意馬克心猿之一例也。..

In order to use a calm and concentrated mind to lead the Qì, you must first learn how to regulate your emotional mind. However, this is not an easy task. In Qìgōng the emotional mind remains the main obstacle to progress. When you practice, you must be patient and proceed step by step to deal with the problem. That is why the first stage of meditation is called “self-recognition” (Zìshí, 自識). In this stage of meditation, the mask on your face drops off and you must face your true self. When this happens, the emotional mind becomes very active.

The second stage of regulating is called “self-awareness” (Zìjué, 自覺). In this stage, you begin to understand the problem of emotional bondage. The third stage is “self- awakening” (Zìxǐng, Zìwù, 自醒.自悟). In this stage, your rational mind has clearly derived an understanding of the emotional problem and is looking for a way of setting you free from the emotional bondage. The last stage is “freedom from emotional bondage” (Zìtuō, 自脫). These are the four stages of spiritual enlightenment in human life. Progressing through these stages will take a long time.

During sitting meditation or practicing Tàijíquán, the greatest challenge is to subdue the Xīn-monkey. In order to subdue the Xīn-monkey, you must offer it a banana. When you have a banana, the monkey can be led into the cage and be subdued by the Yì-horse. What is this banana? It is regulating the breathing. From regulating the breathing, the Xīn gradually calms down. From the Xīn’s calmness, the Yì can then be peaceful. From the peaceful Yì, the Qì can be led efficiently. From leading the Qì efficiently, this achievement can be reached. From this, you can see the deep relationship between Xīn and breathing.

靜坐,練太極拳時,最難是克心猿。為克心猿,必備香蕉。備 有香蕉,心猿可引入籠中,遂為意所克。香蕉者,調息也。由 調息而心靜,由心靜而意寧,由意寧則氣引,由氣引而功成。 由是可知,心息之深切關係。下篇將專題論之。..

During meditation, if the emotional mind continues to bother you, then you should pay attention to your breathing. Breathing is the banana. It is a treat for the body, and its way to calm down the emotional monkey mind.

The above is an excerpt from Taijiquan Theory of Dr. Yang, Jwing-Ming: The Root of Taijiquan, 2nd Edition, publication date June 2023, YMAA Publication Center, ISBN: 9781594399022.