Mind

Although it is difficult to do, the conscious mind must be encouraged to give up its obsession with endless mental activity. The Chinese refer to it as a "monkey" because it is always scampering about being noisy and causing trouble. At basic levels, this does not mean that you go into a trance, hypnotise yourself, leave your body, communicate with spirits, or become superman. Just be attentive and connected to your breathing and to your external environment. Counting each slow, gentle exhalation is an excellent way of doing this, as is paying attention to the physical movement in the lower abdomen.

Some authorities believe that women should always concentrate on the middle tan-tien which is located energetically in the area of sternum/upper chest. Other experts say that women can use the lower tan-tien, except during their menses, when they should not practise or use the middle tan-tien temporarily. Others say that the best points to concentrate on for both sexes are Yongquan. These are the only acupuncture points on the bottom of the feet and are major gates for energy moving in and out of the body through the earth. They are located on the midpoint of the bottom of each foot.

Focusing the mind in different ways should be thought of as a precursor to mental emptiness which is a different state from being either thoughtless or of being brainless. This "attentive non-attentiveness," as I like to call it, is both therapeutic to the spirit and conducive to certain martial skills even though this is not martial practice per se.

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