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Don't Worry, Don't Intellectualize, Enjoy Your Practice

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In our Shaolin training, what we don't do is just as important as what we do.

How many times have I heard those words come out of Grandmaster Wong’s mouth? I couldn’t even say. How many times have I uttered those same words to students in my own classes? Quite a few. This phrase forms one of the two sets of three golden rules for how we approach our practice in Shaolin Wahnam, with ‘relax, relax, relax’ following closely on the heels of it. More than just a simple phrase, these words mean the difference between so-so practice and excellent practice. Why? And why else are they important outside the scope of kungfu and qigong practice?

When we practice kungfu, qigong, or even taijiquan in Shaolin Wahnam, we are working with energy. An abundant flow of energy is at the center of all of these practices in their genuine form. Without that energy, or Qi, we’re just performing a dance or a gentle physical exercise. Not to say that those things don’t have their merit, but they don’t have the healing power that these arts carry in their true form. As such, worrying or over-thinking does for the flow of energy what tensing muscles does for fluid physical movement: it gets in the way of it. Think about it. Have you ever had a problem you were trying to solve and the answer just eluded you only to come at a moment where you weren’t focusing on that problem at all? That’s because your mind was relaxed enough to finally make that connection. Our training is no different.

It’s easy to get bogged down in physical particulars of a qigong or a kungfu pattern. We live in a world where we’re conditioned to over-think everything. But when we take this simple phrase to heart, we start to let go of that. Our practice starts to excel as a result. Here are some things to take to heart when putting this into practice.

Don’t worry means just that. First, we learn the physical movements of a pattern and then perform it without worry of how it’s being done. Don’t intellectualize means don’t think about what’s going on while you do your pattern. Don’t think about if it’s correct, what you’re going to eat for dinner tonight, what your qi flow is doing, nothing. Intellectual concerns about form or an experience while training can be addressed outside of practice. Enjoy your practice. Ah, that’s a good one. Much in the way sitting up straight or opening your chest improves your mood, enjoying your practice, really enjoying what you’re doing with an open heart, helps energy flow smoothly and powerfully.

Of course, it’s important to take the time to learn our patterns well. But once we’ve learned the form, we let go of thought and worry completely. In doing so, we allow our Qi to flow strongly and smoothly, so it can break through blockages and bring us to higher levels of life. It’s also a skill which we develop over time, and one we hone in our weekly classes. Want to learn how to better put this skill to work for you in your training and your life? Spring class registration is open!

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