CTQS Dec 2016 Newsletter

Slow is smooth, smooth is fast

by Yang Yang, Ph.D.
© 2016 Center for Taiji & Qigong Studies: all rights reserved.

Dr. Yang teaching push-hands at the 2016 summer EBQ/EBT camp at the University of Scranton.

"Slow is smooth, smooth is fast" is a saying espoused by the Navy Seals. There is a good explanation of it at navyseals.com/3877/sealfit-slow-smooth-smooth-fast. This saying highlights the importance of a solid mental and physical foundation for optimal performance in military actions. This foundation includes clear awareness of situation, mental stability and resilience, and physical power.

Importantly and additionally, beyond the “walk, crawl, run” espoused by the SEALs, Chinese martial art training emphasizes an initial step: stillness.

Stillness provides our mind the chance to enhance awareness of our external environment and our mental stress, including its source. In stillness, we can contemplate our purpose of life as well as mental principles/strategies we use to navigate the world. These contemplations are the core of my meditation program. Ultimately, stillness helps us to understand what is always so, the abiding, the eternal energy which governs the ever-changing world.

Physically, stillness provides an opportunity to detect tension in our body, fine tune body alignment, and strengthen the body for efficient movement. This last part may be counter intuitive, but from a neurological perspective it has to do with learning how to engage our core strength, the most powerful part of our body.

Three modalities in stillness are essential to accomplishing our mental and physical goals in an effective way: standing, sitting, and lying down meditation.

Here is one way of describing the process. Stillness in sitting, standing, and lying down helps us identify tension while physically engaging and strengthening core musculature to generate more powerful and efficient physical force. The new, constantly improving physical pattern can be implemented first in slow, and then in faster movement.

Eventually, we develop a new habitual pattern of moving our body effectively, with minimum energy expenditure, less chance of injury, but with greater vitality. Spiritually, we see our reality/situation clearly. Mentally, we have a set of principles that we can apply to navigate the world effectively with a tranquil, positive, kind, and persistent attitude.

These modalities constitute a journey of learning, refining, and mastering a wise way of living a meaningful life, nurturing our mind, body, and spirit, and extending our innate human kindness to others. Mastering this practice is a lifelong journey towards maximizing our personal growth and our potential to contribute to the world.

Image of Dr. Yang sitting

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©2016 Center for Taiji & Qigong Studies.