Its Power, Usefulness, and Breath

By: Jason Simanson P.E.S., Movement Coach

“What is skillfully established will not be uprooted; what is skillfully grasped will not slip away. Thus, it is honored for generations.” Tao Te Ching [54]

“Because the mind depends on the mood, when our mood is calm, the mind is calm. When our mood is agitated, the mind is agitated. This is also true when we look at it from the reverse perspective, when our mind is agitated the mood and physical body reflect this agitation, and when our mind is calm, the mood and physical body reflect this calm. Nurturing keen attention gives us the potential to have stronger, more focused access to whatever it is we are doing. We do this because our scattered minds continuously seduce us away from our stability, clarity, and strength. So, we center ourselves in the mind, and place this center solely on the breath when meditating. We gather the breath to ground ourselves in a healthy sense of a self-wholesome, balanced, confident, and pliable mind-body experience. Training, or performing in motion, sports or life is greatly influenced by one’s ability to remain centered within, by, breathing”.-excerpt from Beginner Movement Training.

We have all heard the saying “empty the mind”. This is a golden rule to meditation and clarity. Now, how many can actually empty the mind? If you can, great, this also means you have been practicing this skill for some time and should without a doubt understand and relate to its marvelous potential. If you are like most, this is a hard thing to do and is a skill worth perfecting. Over years of research and training I have come across many ideas and philosophies concerning what it means to “empty”. In time it has become clear to me that a fundamental flaw in our perception of the word empty is holding us back to the root of the meaning. If we compare the word empty to void,  we use the word void when talking about the universe or physics, it can change the way we perceive the usefulness of empty. In the case of the word void when talking about space we become aware suddenly of the vastness and infinite potential the void allows. So if we align the word Void-which has infinite creative potential, with the word Empty, we can say here that to “empty the mind” is to in fact tap into an unlimited source of creative potential within ourselves. Fritjof Capra said it best in The Tao of Physics concerning this very idea; “The phenomenal manifestations of the mystical Void, like the subatomic particles, are not static and permanent, but dynamic and transitory, coming into being and vanishing in one ceaseless dance of movement and energy”.

Bringing the mind to attention, through emptiness, is the simple goal of meditation. In any given moment of our daily lives our consciousness is disjointed and dispersed in whatever direction our senses take it. Imagine you are on a hike and suddenly thunder cracks the air around you and you become sharply focused. In this moment your mind is placed solely on the sound and you are meditating completely on the thunder. This is a great example of one-pointed attention. In meditation, use the breath as the thunder to focus your mind and allow yourself to enter into this empty void of infinite potential.

Exercises for Meditation:

I am going to offer three ways of meditating which can be used before training, after training or whenever it works best for you. I highly recommend you try them all and you try meditating when it is easiest for you to be free from distractions. Meditating in the morning and or before bed are excellent ways to start and end each day.

  1. Lying on your back: Lie down on your back with your arms out to the side and your hands resting on their edge (pinky finger edge) and allow your fingers to naturally curl in. Your legs should be about 30 degrees apart and your feet naturally tilted out. Place your inner attention on your spine and lengthen down into your tail bone and lengthen up through the crown of your head. Splitting the energy within, without tension. This will allow your nervous system full capability to relax the body and send energy throughout the body. Begin inhaling and exhaling fully and completely while staying relaxed and elongated. Mirror your inhale and exhale with one another and think of nothing else but the filling with oxygen and life and the letting go of tension, anxieties and fears.
  2. Sitting position: I suggest you do what is comfortable for you-whether that be in a chair, the lotus position or on your knees. Again, lengthen your spine by splitting the energy down and up. Feel as you’re your spine lengthens how each vertebra aligns into position allowing for the easiest and most natural posture to take hold, don’t force your posture, and rather allow it to happen.
  3. Standing: I use the standing position mostly before training as part of my warm up experience. Stand in a neutral stance, slightly bend your knees allowing your weight to get heavy in your feet and feel as the energy from the ground flows back up into your whole body. Use your breath to build this energy higher and higher. Again lengthen your spine and allow the lengthening to align your joints, don’t force it, gravity will in fact play its part to facilitate the lengthening. With your arms down and hands resting (as if gravity is pulling your fingers longer and longer) feel the space around you and set your mind to the attention of the energy traveling through you from your feet up and through the palms of your hands. Practice this without any tension in your body.

One Response to “Meditation

  • BreeAnna Mustad
    2 years ago

    I really enjoy reading this blog, and just now was my 3rd time reading it again, more carefully through. Reading it I get a better understanding of what emptying the mind really means and the sole focus of meditation with breath (just as the thunder cracks in the forest or on a hike). The analogy instantly makes me imagine how such a loud, powerful sound has no other choice but awake your senses and awareness to that moment in time. However, I also realize that to apply the same attention to breath – something that is soft, quiet – has been a bit of a challenge in meditation for me. As if what is soft cannot captivate your attention compared to what shakes you (like thunder). A poor misconception. But reading Jason’s blog allows me to see “attention” more as an under-used muscle or an instrument underplayed and inspires me to not stop practicing emptying the mind into the void of totality by also simply listening to my breath. I can only imagine that when we can focus on breath with complete attention like Jason expresses here – how much that will naturally bleed into all other actions, thoughts, moods, experiences and create a calmer, greater sense of awareness and ease around what we do.
    Thank you for this well written, very helpful blog!

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