After practice one student mentioned that she really missed our beginning guided meditation which I skipped today since there was no one else in the room to participate. I missed the meditation myself because, even though I lead it, I still gain benefits from following my own verbal instructions to breathe, relax the body, establish a root and sky connection, and focus attention on t'an tien.
During our post-practice discussion of Buddha's Brain, chapter 11, I mentioned that I think the beginning meditation allows us to set an intention for our practice: to breathe, relax, and center ourselves first, in our bodies, and second, in the quiet and calm presence of our practice circle. When we deeply inhabit our bodies and set a clear intention to slow down and quiet ourselves, we can then more easily steady our attention as well as our minds.
Chapter 11 is in the final section of Buddha's Brain and focuses on "wisdom." This chapter, entitled "Foundations of Mindfulness," delves into the definition, benefits, and practice of mindfulness. According to the authors:
Being mindful simply means having good control over your attention.... developing greater control over your attention is perhaps the single most powerful way to reshape your brain and thus your mind (p. 177).During my years of T'ai Chi Chih practice I've found that it can be relatively easy to focus my attention while I'm in the midst of my practice. My goal, as I mentioned to a former T'ai Chi Chih student who I stood behind at the grocery story checkout last night, is to bring that skill into more parts of my daily life. I need to offer myself the same reminder I give to my students: Practice. Practice. Practice.