One of the ancient forms of Chinese martial arts, Shaolin kung fu, is known for cultivating utmost mental strength and inner peace. Combining the practices of Zen, Buddhism, and Taoism, this martial art form also teaches practitioners to detach themselves from their surroundings and banish negative emotions and thoughts. Here’s what you must know about it:
History And Origin
The credit for the founding of Shaolin meditation goes to an Indian monk named Bodhidharma who reformed the teachings of Buddhism several centuries ago. The new discipline he created was known as Zen. This was later taught to Shaolin monks. After concluding that the monks didn’t have the mental and physical stamina for meditating, Bodhidharma taught them dynamic exercises. These movement exercises emerged as Shaolin kung fu that centered on meditation. The main goal of Shaolin kung fu meditation is to develop stillness and cultivate energy in the body.
Find a place or corner of your room that is free from distractions.
Sit with your legs arranged in a full lotus, half-lotus or cross-legged position. Keep the spine straight without putting a strain on it. If you aren’t comfortable, you can place a pillow under your buttocks.
Close your eyes. Keep all your joints and muscles relaxed, right from your face to the toes. Raise the crown of your head a little upward.
Join your hands in the middle of your inner thighs with palms facing up. You can join both of your thumbs without putting any pressure on them.
Start your Shaolin meditation by breathing deeply with your nose. Doing this for a few minutes will clear your mind and your thoughts will flow more freely. As you inhale, your abdomen must expand and contract as you exhale. Remain aware of your breathing cycles.
Take time to settle down and ease (relax) your mind naturally without burdening it. One way to achieve this is by imagining negative energy flowing out of your mind as you breathe out.
To concentrate on your breathing cycles and to prevent your mind from wandering here and there, you can use the counting method. Start from 0 and count as you inhale and again count as you exhale. Continue counting until you reach 15 to 20. If you think your mind has wandered while meditating, stop and start counting again.
Make sure that you are breathing naturally. You have to be conscious of any sensations of the body including sound, smell, and so on. Also, no matter how many and what type of thoughts enter your mind, be aware of them and let them go. You need to release your thoughts naturally without pressure and without getting distracted.
After staying like this for a few minutes, open your eyes. Then, lift your hands up and look upward. Bring your hands down after a few seconds.
Practice Shaolin meditation for about 15 minutes before as well as after your Chinese martial arts class. Make it a daily practice and see what wonders it does to your body and mind.