Mind.. the phases of mind and no-mind in VTK.
In the SLT training, the slow section, we have plenty of time to explore and enjoy the inner journey of the ving tsun mind. This will be personal and each practitioner will find their own way of relating to it.
What I have found is that there are different phases of mind as we relax and go into the SLT training. We drift in and out of these as the time in stance goes by.
The peripheral phase is one of day to day thinking, eg wondering what else we could be doing, what we are having for dinner, problems at work or in the home, etc. I call this the phase of unfocussed thought.
Moving in, we have the phase where we are consciously observing the movements in the form, noticing the errors and the good structures. The entire body structure and movement of every part is being constantly observed. This I call the observer.
The next phase is one of correction or adjustment of our positioning or movement. We have observed the errors and now we are fixing them. This part of the mind is constantly roving over the entire body, making often minute adjustments to correct the errors we have found.
A related phase to the correction phase is one of research and development, where it may occur to us to explore a different way of moving or of understanding the movement. Any such development will be thought about, discussed and tested later, but for now while doing the form it is a matter of feeling the change.
All of these actions of the mind eventually become automatic, after years of long hours in stance. The SLT is big, but it is quite simple too, and the parts of our brain involved in the process become like programs that can run in the background, observing and correcting the form as we become free to relax further.
The next stage I have found and like to dwell in is the realm of the opposites, where the opposites all coexist harmoniously. Yin and yang, hard and soft, tense and relaxed all exiting as one without their arbitrary separations. This and that, not this or that.
After this, there is one further stage, and it is of oneness. The feeling is of bliss. Pain becomes irrelevant or non-existent. It is reminiscent of nirvana or tao.
During a long form of two, three or four hours, we drift in and out of these phases. To feel the pain returning after being in bliss is totally accepted, because through that pain, the return to the bliss state will follow.
So, in a state of no-mind, we are aware of all the other processes happening as and of themselves, without our involvement or interference. We are not-doing.
We are learning to get into the zone, where we allow our movements to happen as we have programmed them to, adapted to the situation as it requires.
Just a little more mind stuff..
It has occurred to me that it’s not a bad thing to be an intellectual, to use the intellect, but being an intellectualist is a different matter entirely.
I believe the role of the intellect is to observe, to make sure things don’t go too far astray, like the skin of the mind on the surface of the interplay between subconscious and the external.
The real action is going on within. The periphera is important and has it’s role, but we must be aware even the intellect is a reflection of deeper dynamics and serves the whole.
When we elevate the intellect to the source of power, we deny much of our true potential, our capacity to learn, our spontaneity, flow, health.
These are what I have for years seen as the true benefits of ving tsun training, to guide us to get out of our own way and live free from our conditioning, to shed the illusion, to realise our power and be our true selves.
This is why I insist the training must be correct, why it must all make sense and work. Otherwise it will muddy up the process both for our combat skills and our personal development, leaving us less skilful than we could have been and messed up in the head. This is why I left previous martial arts for this Ving Tsun method.. it’s grounding in reality.
Ving tsun has the potential to benefit us on every level, but it’s a process that requires self-sacrifice and like everything else you get out of it what you put in, a statement that is understood according to level. A superficial meaning is that we have to sweat and bleed, train for power and speed, and whilst an intellectualist would take it that we need to think more, ving tsun requires the process of listen-think-practice-understand in an ever more subtle and powerful interplay.
One old meditation is to sit or stand and imagine you have no head. It’s purpose is to get you out of the intellect and into the wisdom of the body or the subconscious, or as they say the heart. In Ving Tsun it is easy to do this while doing chi sau with the blindfold on. It’s like the head is not invloved at all! It has done it’s work programming the body previously in the training.
Progress in this system is slow, so slow, but at all stages you should feel confident you are starting to get somewhere with it, and always will feel like a beginner, that there is always much more work to do.