Internal cultivation during the circle walk practice involves the cultivation of a mind/body connection, the development of what is referred to in Chinese as "stillness in motion," a connection between the "inside and the outside," and a keen awareness of one's "center." During the circle walk practice the mind is calm and the breathing smooth. The combination of a calm mind and smooth breathing is the first step in creating a strong mind/body connection and a feeling of being "still while in motion" (the inside is "still"
Sun Zhi Jun of Beijing, China demonstrates the extended mud walking step while the outside is in motion). Beyond that there are many different images and visualizations that different schools of Ba Gua will utilize during the circle walk practice in order to create a stronger mind/body connection. Some use something as simple as focusing on an object such as a tree or pole which is placed in the center of the circle while others have more elaborate visualizations. Some imagine walking through water, thick air, or waist deep mud, others imagine that they are walking on thin ice or on a very slippery surface, while others imagine energy moving in their body in various ways. The images and visualizations that can be used are endless. Personally, I have found the KISS (Keep It Simple, Stupid) principle to be the most effective. The more elaborate the visualization, the farther removed from the concept of "stillness in motion" one becomes.
Awareness of one's center and how that center relates to the rest of the body while walking the circle and changing directions is another important concept. In Ba Gua the practitioner is very concerned with the relationship between his center and the opponent's center. He will want to "protect" his center while trying to off-balance the opponent's center. Additionally, most of the movements in Ba Gua require that the practitioner become skilled at moving from his center or moving around his center. Thus, the keener the awareness of the center and how it relates to the rest of the body during movement, the more effective and efficient the practitioner will become. The practitioner works to become aware of his center in the circle walk practice both during the walk and during the directional change.
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