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Is meditation "natural"?

Is meditation "natural"?

It is important that students not use meditation to block the senses or the quality of human experience. As being with a place in nature, it is vital that we embrace the natural environment wholly and respect its cycles and interdependencies. We are blind to essential reality if we fight this truth, and on a practical level, we are damaging our own nests.

Our human organism is a product of natural processes. We would be remiss if we were to ignore the conditioning and instincts that are simple responses to stimuli. Although some of our responses are dictated by genetics and environment, we, like many organisms, also have the ability to make choices. The fact that humans by and large haven’t made very good choices is probably the reason we need martial arts at all. They evolved out of our inability to make equitable arrangements to share resources and territory, and our need to defend our means of survival from others. It may be a sorry beginning for a system that has progressed into something more useful and beautiful, yet as the arts continue to evolve, they can become more practical for a peaceful existence. Perhaps self-defense of the individual will give way to defense of the species and the planet.

Understanding our physical organism and exploring the mental energies that keep it going can help us improve the quality of our existence. The mind is curious by nature, yet we easily become conditioned by constant external stimuli. It takes more effort to stop the controlling effects of conditioning than to change our responses. By doing this through meditation, we gain access to tools that can break dependency and help us achieve inner freedom. Not unlike hypnotism, meditation can be used to remold patterns of behavior, emotions and feelings. Meditation can open channels to transform personality structures and expression, but it can also be easily sabotaged because it is subject to manipulation. Meditation is not an escape from reality, it is full awareness and enjoyment of the present and your presence within it.




Musician wants to improve his performace

I play drums and I was wondering what the best style of martial arts are that might improve my performance? - Greco

Perhaps you are thinking of some kind of relationship between playing drums and a particular martial art, as some utilize percussion instruments during their practices such as the Afro-Brazilian art Capoeira, or Philippine Arnis or Kali, in which you may find yourself more "at home".The Kodo drummers of Japan approach their drumming and physical training in a very similar manner to the traditional "Do" path of martial arts.

However, all true martial arts should allow you to reach your personal potential and expression that you probably will want to apply in your music.

An important point to keep in mind when choosing a discipline is the teaching methodology and practices. You should avoid the schools that employ contact and extreme formats of training as well as the competitive or sport approach. The reason is that you have to keep the health and integrity of your hands (and feet -drumming's nature is a bilateral and four limbs activity-), muscles and joints, and coordination (neural paths). So be sure that your teacher understands your needs and you will not be unnecessarily exposed to overstretching of ligaments or tendons, nor traditional practices like striking the makiwara (a "padded" post used to train impact techniques).

The first premise in your selection of your art is that the training atmosphere is embodied with dedication, (both teachers and students), knowledge, camaraderie, and safe and healthy procedures. In such a way, no doubt you will find that a good teacher will make the art "ideal" for you. You will greatly benefit from such a decision.

You may find our books "The Secret Art of Health & Fitness - Uncovered from the Martial Arts Masters" and "Martial Arts - Mind & Body" helpful in understanding some of the choices available to you. Both are available through our website and/or in bookstores worldwide. They will arm you with more knowledgeable information and elements to initiate yourself in the martial arts theoretically and practically.





Aikido training and my Art

When I started aikido classes, I was concerned because I had to reduce my weekly time dedicated to my ceramics. Surprisingly, others commented that my artwork actually improved. Did others go through the same kind of experience?

Undoubtedly. The eternal duet between quality and quantity once again finds their balance by themselves. Aikido provides that, and being an art as well, you continue "molding your clay" on the tatami. You are an artist even when you are not in your ceramic studio. Many artists enjoy and rediscover their arts while training. They find renewed focus and discipline while also learning to free their movement and spirit. Others use it as a lab of experiences that reveals essential aspects of their character. Many also learn to appreciate more the art in life, and (why not?) the life in art. We are happy that you can enjoy them both.




Does kung fu bring a perfect balance with nature?

Does kung fu bring a perfect balance with nature?

Those who really train kung fu, (as well as any other martial art,) must clearly understand and accept that perfection is a thing of dreams, and it may well be that we attain it only in passing. We glimpse it in moments in nature; and as beings in nature, we therefore must have it within ourselves as well. A flower, we believe, is unaware of its beauty. It knows success of a sort if it propagates and continues. Its purpose is to take its place in nature and just be, alive and well and struggling with the whims of its environment. It is doubtful that human existence is much more than that in the great scheme of things, although many religions and philosophies would have man at the center of nature.

The scars on the planet that we have collectively left in our passing do not prove our importance, rather they are evidence of our inability to wield the tools of intelligence, choice, invention, and organization that we have developed or been granted by some higher power through evolution. It is our belief that mastering the martial arts is of little use if we do not improve and fortify our connection with the environment. The purpose of modern martial arts should be to further the progression away from things warlike and destructive, and to channel these powerful energies into areas that produce and restore natural balance. It is a life commitment and a never ending process... but what a fulfilling one when it is consciously done.




Eyes open or close?

When I am inside the dojo I have no trouble closing my eyes while meditate, but when I am in the beach or in the forest, I am distracted and I can't keep them closed. What can I do?

They are not distractions, instead they are "direct calls" to open yourself and be receptive in the reality of nature. It is your time to practice letting go. Without forcing anything just breathe, relax and smile...

There are many lessons we can take from nature. It is not coincidence that those who are interested in Zen or meditation find themselves drawn to natural surroundings and seek peace and quiet in the wilderness. It is not only because they wish to eliminate distractions. For some, it is because they find that when they are immersed in nature, there is almost no need to meditate! It might be better said that the contemplation of nature and the breathing of fresh air allows the meditation to become more full, alive, and aware. In a city, or a situation that has tension, anxiety, or danger, the need to meditate formally (in the conventional sense of closed eyes and quite sitting) is more immediate and essential as a balance to external forces. Imagining a calm place in nature helps the practitioner return to relaxed clarity more readily.




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