HK Magazine’ article this week highlights the growing stress levels in Hong Kong. This may not be telling us anything we don’t know already, it does however give us some comfort in the fact that those suffering from stress related disorders are not alone.
The Census and Statistics Department reported that in 2014, the average Hongkonger worked around 2,300 hours. well over the 1,700 hours per year of other developed countries.
Their report showed 60% feel highly stressed from their jobs with 25% showing levels of depression and anxiety which is 250% higher than the global average. This surely is cause for concern as 18% of those involved in the survey were in need of psychological treatment.
Life in Hong Kong is fast paced, exciting and demanding, reasons why many choose to call Hong Kong their home. The question arises, how can we live in this high energy, high pressure city whilst maintaining our sanity?
Fortunately we live in a world full of technological advances, meaning that many ideas, teachings and practices have been shared, spread and adopted by cultures far and wide. One of the practices showing ever growing prominence is often given credit to the teaching of Guatama Siddharta (The Buddha). He left behind him a legacy, a comprehensible guide to help us all live a content, happy and manageable life.
A fundamental aspect of this teaching is what has now been coined as ‘mindfulness’. Ultimately, mindfulness involves learning to direct our attention to our experience as it unfolds, moment by moment, with open-minded curiosity and acceptance. Rather than being trapped in a state of worry about what has happened and what will happen, mindfulness trains us to be able to respond with skill and wisdom to whatever is happening right now no matter whether it is good or bad.
There are many tools to help us gain a little more presence, a little more calm in our everyday lives. The Chu Shong Tin (CST) system of Wing Chun is one of those tools. To cultivate effortless power through relaxation we must learn to connect more and more with our bodies, our mass. To have a high level of co-ordination and control of our bodies we must be able to feel it. Tension in the body brings about numbness and an inability to feel and respond in the way we want to. Therefore we must be fully in the present moment to be able to anchor our aweness in our bodies, to dissolve tension and unify our body as one.
In the same way, tension and stress in the mind also brings about an inability to fully respond to situations in the way we would like to; with calm, patience and wisdom.
Therefore the mind and the body can be seen to be intrinsically linked. We can work on developing focus and openness in the mind through developing these same traits in our bodies. The CST system of Wing Chun can strengthen the relationship we have with our bodies and minds, bringing a healthy amount of balance into our lives.
If we continue our training outside of the club, integrate the core elements into our daily routines, experiences and interactions, we will begin to see that mindfulness, awareness, remaining in the present moment, will help to reduce stress levels, strengthen our immune systems, lessen mental and physical fatigue and induce a more positive and confident mindset. These components will increase productivity both at work and at home which will again help to reduce anxiety and depression.
Studies have been completed in school across tbhe UK and the USA showing how mindfulness practices help in these areas. A great deal of science is also now able to show that with mindfulneess techniques we are able to use more of the brain, and the rights parts of the brain, to enhance productivity and creativity. The links below have been provided for further reading on the subject.
Mindful Wing Chun in Hong Kong offers everyone a set of tools to deal with the stress and anxiety that seems senominous with living in such a full on city. We must be patient, diligent and persistent in our practice to reap the rewards, but when they come, they are many.
Mindful Wing Chun Team