Friday, July 27, 2012

Jung-Joong Dong

"... meditation in Taekwon-do does not mean a total divorce from the world,like a dead body, but rather an active moment to reflect on our past mistakes in silence and in the privacy of our thoughts, and through penitence, to continue our self-improvement towards becoming better men and women. This active thought process in silence is called Jung-Joong-Dong." Excerpt from Jungshin Sooyang.

Jung-Joong-Dong means 'stillness in motion'. This idea of 'stillness in motion' is to keep the mind centered throughout motion, to keep the mind in the gap between thoughts, not to agitate the mind with thinking but to remain in the perpetual Now, purely in the present. Meditation in motion. It is one thing to 'still the mind' while being motionless, it is a whole new challenge to do so while moving, and even more difficult while in combat with another person. Martial Arts can require intense concentration, which can lead to mindfulness. The patterns, or tuls (or katas) are perfect examples of reaching for this state of mind through motion. 

One tenet of traditional Taekwon-do is Guk-gi, or Self-Control. 
I believe Solace is the fruit of Guk-gi.

I worry about the future. This has always been a problem I’ve struggled and battled with. I worry about my financial stability, about my family's health, my kid's schooling, my wife's business, my job, my friends, my relationships, my well-being. And when I allow that rogue beast Worry to roam free, it does nothing but further feed and breed Fear.

Too often I fall into the trap of living in the Past. Analyzing whether this or that choice or decision could have changed where I find myself today. When I open the memories and doorways to the past I run the risk of flooding myself with regret for what might-have-been.
When I spend my energy worrying about Tomorrow and regretful for Yesterday, I do nothing but destroy my Today.
The illusion is that our Today – our Now – is a tiny hairline separating Yesterday from Tomorrow.
The truth of the matter is that there is no future and there is no past, but only an eternally endless Now.
“Alan Watts likened the practice of living from our center to martial arts, where we are encouraged to “stay always in the center position, and stay always here”. He says, “If you expect something to come in a certain way, by the time you reposition your energy, it is too late. So stay in the center, and you will be ready to move in any direction”. When living from your center, in the now, he adds, “you stand a much better chance of being able to deal with the unforeseen than if you keep worrying about it”  Candance B. Pert, The Molecules of Emotion: The Science Behind Mind-Body Medicine (New York: Touchstone, 1997), pg. 27

I have found practicing the Tuls (patterns) in Taekwon-do extremely “centering” and a near form of Meditation. The concentration and focus clears the mind, forcing me to forget everything but the Now, returning the balance. I do not miss the point of every pattern begins in one position and returns to this same position. A centering. A balance point.

I believe General Choi (Taekwon-do's founder) deliberately encouraged this symbolism of centering; reigning in our runaway imaginations – not dwelling on the past and not worrying about the future, but always returning to this state of centeredness.
I believe the trick is to borrow this learned wisdom as we practice it in our patterns and apply it to our lives on a daily level. It can only make us better and stronger.

I do not believe it is only through Martial Arts that this Jung-Joong-Dong can be practiced. A common misconception is that meditation must be done sitting. Many meditations can be practiced while active. One simple activity is the act of walking. Since walking is something we do everyday, walking meditation gives us ample opportunities to practice.

Begin by quieting your mind and connecting with your body's sensations. Begin with a natural upright posture, with the arms hanging naturally at your sides. Allow your eyes to gaze at a point about five feet in front of you and ground level, while maintaining a straight spine with your head upright, as if suspended by a string. Don't just breathe in, but inhale your surroundings and environment.

Walk gently, at a regular pace. Feel your feet roll onto and off the ground and be aware of contact your feet make with it. I have a good amount of river stone in my backyard - an area we refer to as our "Zen Garden". I very much like walking in this part of the garden barefoot. Walking on 3/8" river stone isn't painful but neither is it comfortable. My wife won't walk barefoot on it and cannot understand why my daughter and I enjoy it. I enjoy it because it makes me consciously aware of the simplest act of walking. It should be similar to walking barefoot on the beach by the ocean. You need to feel the sand and water with your toes.

Your breathing should be synchronized with your steps. I find inhaling on one step and exhaling on the other far too quick. I find it much more comfortable inhaling through 2 steps and exhaling through the next two. Be aware of your steps, your breathing, the flow and shifting of your weight, the slight pause between the steps, the sway of the arms...

But what is the point of all this? What is the purpose of Jung-Joong-Dong? Why is it beneficial to practice "stillness in motion" rather than not practicing it at all?

Like Guk-gi (self-control), its fruition is solace. Inner peace. Peace of mind. Its truest test and its greatest need is not when we are calm and taking a pleasant stroll, but when we find ourselves at our worst. When the world around us has crumbled into chaos. Those moments when you are constantly chasing your problems. When you feel like crying into your hands. When the shit truly hits the fan. Those terrible times when we just want everything to stop and curl up in a fetal position under our bedsheets. This is the truest test and greatest need for Jung-Joong-Dong. We've all been there before, and we'll all find ourselves there again. I think we all know this. I believe we avoid thinking too much about it. Maybe even at times deny it. Out of sight, out of mind.

But the more familiar we are with Guk-gi and Jung-Joong-Dong, the less of a stranger we
are to ourselves and the more solace we will have discovered.

Once we tap into that reservoir within ourselves, the less catastrophic events around us might become.
That day we fear - when everything truly breaks down - may never come.

Jung-Joong-Dong; "stillness in motion" should not be a goal we aspire to attain, but an ongoing process that continually grows and enriches us. It will at times be shockingly successful and on other days a failure.

I am by no means a Master in this in any stretch of the imagination, but there is one thing I have learned;
That I am an infinitely boundless source of solace. It is only my fear that limits it.

No comments: