Claiming Control of our Mind and Body in a Different Way
When there is excess and unnecessary tension in our bodies it can often lead to discomfort or even pain. Let’s think about, it is our own body and mind so why can’t we have the control to relax and open the body to gain better control of it and rid ourselves of discomfort?
The main reason for this is lack of connectivity between the body and mind. In our current culture and lifestyle we are always ‘thinking’. Our thoughts run wild jumping uncontrollably from one subject to the next. To add to this, with the constant advancements in technology, we have a whole different world to live in – the Cyber world; and so we spend up to hours each day with our awareness inside the smart phone or tablet rather than on our own body. Scientists call this ‘frontal lobe thinking’. Through the use of experiments and observations of the brain and body they have discovered astonishing findings when examining a person who is stressed due to unnecessary overthinking, compared to someone who is calm and in control of their mind (i.e. a seasoned meditator).
Thanks to these detailed studies, we now know the unhealthy effects of excess ‘frontal lobe thinking’. In other words by overusing the prefrontal cortex (front part) of the brain, which is used for thinking, stressing and calculating, we are not only out of touch with our bodies but are also causing harm to it. They found that by being able to shut off the front part of the brain we are able to gain better access to the rear part of the brain leading to “ultimate human performance”. They called it ultimate human performance because they saw that productivity, strength and overall performance increased by an astonishing 500%! The remarkable findings were that the rear part of the brain is responsible for healing, creativity, relaxation, motor skills and much more. Furthermore frontal lobe thinking uses up 10times more energy than the rear part so when we shut that down and naturally activate the back part of the brain, there is much saved energy that will be used for repair and healing.
This all sounds great but how do we shut off the prefrontal cortex? It’s easier said than done to calm our thoughts when living a busy and hectic life, especially when we are dealing with real life day to day problems. This is where a practice of Mindfulness is needed! Meditation can be a great tool for mindfulness enabling us to slow down the frontal lobe thinking which brings with it all the benefits of general relaxation, stress relief, calming the emotions, leading to becoming a better human being and living a happier life.
However in my experience of meditating for over 12years, I have felt that on it’s own meditation may not be able to give us full control of our bodies to the degree where we can switch off particular muscles at will and in general be able to use our bodies as efficiently as possible. I wouldn’t be able to come up to this conclusion if I hadn’t been exposed to the Chinese Kung Fu art of Wing Chun. I experienced that the mindful practice of Wing Chun gave me access to my mind and body in a different way. Recently, I stumbled across the above-mentioned scientific information around using different parts of the brain. The reason I was so interested in these findings was because my teacher in Wing Chun, Master Chu Shong Tin, who had mind-boggling control over his body and mind (you can Youtube his name to get an idea of what I mean) told us that his feeling was that he was using the back part of his brain to gain such incredible and internal access over his body. He would say that he can’t explain how or why he is able to have such control, however the feedback from his mind was that there was not much thinking or analyzing in his movements, the feedback from his body was total and deep relaxation and amazing control of his muscular and skeletal system. It’s appropriate to also mention at this point that as a child he was very frail and weak and would get ill regularly. He started practicing Wing Chun when he was in his late teens. Throughout his life, from the age of 22 until he passed away, the doctors told him he was going to die on 3 separate occasions (from low white blood cell counts, kidney and liver cancer) yet he managed to stay alive and teach until he passed away at the age of 82.
If practiced correctly, this is truly the power of the internal art of Wing Chun! Neurologists call the deactivation of the prefrontal cortex “The Flow State”, my teacher called it “Mind-Force” and at our school we call it “Mindfulness”. In this state we get the ability to activate the rear section of the brain and therefor reap all the benefits and control that come with that.
For years I have tried to verbalize to my friends, family and students why Wing Chun is different. In terms of self-defense, why is it not just a martial art like Karate, Judo, Kick Boxing etc. and why is it so much more powerful and efficient? In terms of health, why is it so different than going to the gym and going for a run or playing a sport? In terms of pain relief, how is it that we can literally manipulate and heal our body with our intention instead of going for a massage or seeing a chiropractor? In terms of stress relief, why is it much better than a temporary fix of watching T.V or having a beer? And in terms of a lifestyle, how is it that Wing Chun enables us to feel happier, more confident and in control?
These are all questions that I can answer better now through my own understanding and through scientific facts but I now know that ultimately a person needs to experience these facts to truly understand them. Consider if you had never tasted salt before and I spent hours trying to explain what it tastes like; no matter how intelligent you are you would never truly understand what I mean until you actually taste the salt for yourself. The genuine and internal style of Wing Chun is exactly the same. It’s not just a martial art, it’s not just a healthy hobby, once practiced and understood correctly it’s a system that will have a positive influence on so many levels of our lives! The benefits of this art are very real and don’t take very long to experience regardless of gender, age or fitness level. That’s why Wing Chun can become very addictive to those who are exposed to it!
Nima King – Mindful Wing Chun