Sitting meditation and Tai Chi

Sitting meditation and Tai Chi

Postby Sugelanren » Thu Mar 13, 2014 4:15 pm

I was discussing past training and practice with a fellow student last week, and he relayed a story of a Tai Chi style (Zhen, i believe) that used sitting meditation as part of it's system. My friend had been to different meditation retreats, including one where there was no talking for the entire two weeks so he has a varied knowledge and experience set on this sort of thing. I've never head of sitting meditation being used before, and personally if i had 20 minutes extra to meditate, id' much prefer to do the long form again.

My question is, i guess...Is there any real benefits that can be gained from sitting meditation when training Tai Chi? I know that the calming part of meditation would exist in this practice, but would it be of more benefit than moving meditation that would be doubling as exercise as well? Maybe it's because i have a martial arts background, but i can't help thinking it would be time wasted when you have to fit in other forms and Chi Kungs of the system into your daily practice. Quieting the mind can be done anywhere and during most activities, so my head tells me that setting aside time to do sitting meditation would have minimal advantage unless you have a particularly stressful lifestyle. Isn't a walk in the park or some Zhan Zhuang better for your Tai Chi than just sitting?

Thanks in advance for any response...Sean.
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Re: Sitting meditation and Tai Chi

Postby Audi » Sat Mar 15, 2014 5:52 pm

Hi Sean,

One of my Yang Style teachers talked about doing sitting meditation, but it was unclear to me if that was actually part of the system, his personal practice, or if it even made sense to draw a firm distinction between the two. My understanding was that the benefit was for your "spirit" (I.e., mental focus).

My understanding of standing meditation is that you can do it even in front of the TV for external benefit, but that quiet surroundings are better for more internal benefit. I assume that sitting meditation would just give you even more internal benefits. By the way, my understanding is not that "external" equals "bad and crude" or that "internal" equals "good" and "advanced." These are terms relative to where you are and what you are discussing. Our basic teaching is that internal and external supplement each other and that it is best to mix relatively active practice with relatively still practice.

As for whether it is worth someone's while to do, I do not know. I suspect that the answer depends on the person and what he or she wants to achieve. I, myself, already feel that the Tai Chi I have been shown includes too many things to practice consistently without adding sitting meditation into the mix; however, if I enjoyed it, I would certainly find time to do it.
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Re: Sitting meditation and Tai Chi

Postby meghdad » Tue Mar 18, 2014 6:30 am

Dear Sean,
Thanks for discussing this issue.
Sitting meditation is not something separate from Taiji practice. How come we consider Zhan Zhuang as part of the system but not the sitting meditation? Standing meditation and Sitting meditation come from the same root and manifest as two systems with distinct characteristics and each one has its own benefits along with many shared benefits.

You can see many famous Taiji masters promoting sitting meditation, such as Chen Family Masters. I can name some of them from memory, Master Chen Zhenglei, Master Yang Yang (disciple of late Master Feng Zhiqiang), also Wu style Master Bruce Frantzis and so on. I agree with Audi that Sitting meditation is more focused on the internal. I recall reading in one of Bruce Frantzis's writings that Standing Meditation has more of health and martial aspects and Sitting meditation has more of spiritual aspect and he advises to include both of them in our practice and based on our goal, we should practice one more and the other less, but both of them. I think from Yin-Yang point of view, both of them might be helpful for a more balanced approach to practice.

In the end, as Audi mentioned, it very much depends on the person and what he is after. Just like some people only practice bare hand form and do not proceed to weapons and they have their own reason. Some people only practice Taiji for its health benefits and do not involve that much in the martial aspects. I think the full curriculum of Taiji practice includes sitting meditation.

身体健康,
Meghdad
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Re: Sitting meditation and Tai Chi

Postby UniTaichi » Thu Mar 20, 2014 6:28 am

Hi Man from Scotland,

The latest translation from Paul Brennan has a section on meditation.

Cheers,
UniTaichi
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Re: Sitting meditation and Tai Chi

Postby Sugelanren » Thu Mar 20, 2014 4:35 pm

Hi guys, thanks for the replies. I'll try to add more to the discussion if i can.

UniTaichi, if there was anywhere where i'd expect someone to know what my user name meant, it was here :-). I will read the Paul Brennan translation when i come back from London and see what i can gleam from it, thanks.

If i was to answer the question why do i do Zhan Zhuang and not sitting meditation, the answer would be extremely simple. Its is not (or not yet) part of the system that has been transmitted to me. Like Audi, the forms i know so far ("so far" in my case), and time spent doing standing meditation is more than enough to fill the time i have available for practice. As my home life includes a 2 year old, i can imagine how much peace and quiet i would get as i sit in meditative contemplation. Standing meditation has a physical aspect that is important to my training at the level i am at. It builds core strength, and strengthens my rooting as we are taught to hold a low posture. I can definitely see how sitting meditation could quieten the mind and allow you to concentrate on the Dan tien, or on the body's internal workings. Is it possible that Masters can utilise sitting meditation more because Tai Chi is their full time life's calling, so they are more able to explore the full range of internal practices?
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Re: Sitting meditation and Tai Chi

Postby Audi » Mon Apr 14, 2014 2:46 am

FYI, Chapter Four of the Chen Yanlin book we are discussing on another thread has some interesting thoughts about Tai Chi and mediation.
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Re: Sitting meditation and Tai Chi

Postby T » Tue Apr 15, 2014 2:42 pm

You also get a sitting meditation from Tung Ying Chieh as well.

You also get sitting mediation from the Chen family, at least as it is taught by Chen Zhenglei

And I believe you will also find it in Sun style, but I cannot be 100% sure about that just yet
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