After discussing Regulating the Body and Regulating the Breath we are now moving onto the last regulation in Qigong which is Regulating the Mind.
I remember when I had read about the 3 regulations twenty some years ago when I first started Qigong I could not grasp regulating the mind. It actually made me quite frustrated (which is the opposite of the goal of regulating the mind) I thought I had to do something like I had to try and still my mind. Ha, that did not work, it made it way worse. I understood regulating the body with correct alignments and posture and regulating the breath made sense also with deep abdominal breathing but how was I to still the mind? I struggled with this concept for a while until my instructor at the time said you can only still your mind by letting it be. It was like a light bulb went off. I understood if I just let go of trying to regulate my mind and allow it to just be it would settle of it’s own accord. From that moment forward I no longer had an issue with trying to still my mind. I’m not saying that I all of a sudden achieved the “Great Stillness” that BK Frantzis talks about in his book with the same title but more of a sense of ease, of allowing thoughts to just happen and not getting attached to them.
There really is not a “technique” for Regulating the Mind. There are some tools though that can help you to let go of the constant chatter that is racing through your head. The two that have helped me the most are the first two regulations. By keeping my attention on my body and breath while practicing my forms has been twofold.
1. It has help build up my concentration so my mind won’t just race off in a million different directions. Regulating the breath has been the key here for me. By keeping my focus on the rising and falling of my lower abdomen my concentration has improved substantially and it has allowed me to accomplish more in less time because of my increased attention span.
2. It has helped settle my mind. It has allowed me to have a place to return to when the waves of my thoughts get to choppy. By bringing my attention back to my body and breath I have been able to give my mind a rest form the repeated thought patterns that we experience through out the day. This in turn has opened up a space to allow stillness to shine through.
Regulating the Mind is more about allowing the mind to be as it is then actually doing something. When you learned regulating the body and breath they where something tangible to grasp onto. While regulating the mind is about letting go, effortlessness, allowing your thoughts to come and go as they are. The lesson I learned was by keeping my attention on my body and breath my mind regulated by itself but when I tried to regulate my mind through my mind it just fought back. Play with it, see what happens for you. See if by allowing your thoughts to just be if they calm down for you and see if your thoughts resist when you try and force them to calm down with more thoughts.
This is last post on the three regulations in this series. I would now like to turn the focus to the five principles for an effortlessly effective body that is written about by Peter & Laura Ralston in their wonderful book Zen Body-Being: An Enlightened Approach to Physical Skill, Grace, and Power. These principles take a lot of what we learned in the last few post to a deeper level and help us integrate them more into our daily lives. Until then practice, practice, practice.