Sunday, 1 June 2008

Meditation - How I Improve Myself Physically And Mentally

I was born a healthy child, but I always felt inadequate in my physical endurance. I loved participating in sports, all sorts; but never quite made it to the final, except for discus-throwing during my pre-university days.

I took part in all long-distance running opportunities - but I always ended up in the rear with the rest of the school weaklings ( physically ). Pushed myself ? I would faint, and caused a commotion !

You could always find my name in the namelist for IPPT ( Infantry Physical and Proficiency Test ) retest appointment. Tonics ? Vitamins ? Steroids ? Never heard of in my childhood days - Brand's Essence of Chicken, maybe; but only for those who could afford it ! Notwithstanding, I was adamant on improving myself - very typical of a Capricornian !

Not only was I interested in improving myself physically, I was very much into chinese kung-fu as a form of self-defence. After completing my national service with the Singapore Armed Forces, I decided to sign up for such a course. But, how ?

I felt that I was always in need of a mentor in all my pursuits. I had wide interests and high expectations of my pursuits. Most of my loved ones were either simple folks and/or devoid of the opportunities themselves. I had to reach out to other resources and guidance. Magazines !

I went on to sign up with South-east Asian 1978 Champion ( Master Cheong, well-known for his 'Iron-fists' ) for Shao-lin kungfu training at SAFRA ( Toa Payoh ) in 1978. Oh, I remembered that I almost fainted on my first night on shadow-boxing ( punching into the air ) session, and Master Cheong had to pull me to the sideline to take a rest - how embarrassing ! I never give up, Remember ?

Three months passed, and I was surprised with my own physique when I looked into the mirror in the changing-room ! To understand the martial arts better, I chanced upon a new local publication by another martial-art leader, Sifu Anthony Wee ( remember the kungfu master who offered his neck to be punched by former boxer, Mohammad Ali when the latter visited Singapore ? ).

From one of his issues, I realised that the master was about to start another class on Chi Meditation. I signed up without hesitation ( about S$400 for the first module, and another S$400 plus for the intermediate; big money in 1980s ).
Sifu Anthony Wee had explained to me on the first session that his was a modified version of a Taoist form of meditation. It was compulsory for all trainees to undergo some sequence of warming-up exercises before we got into our full-lotus or half-lotus ( to each his own ) position to meditate for the rest of the session ( about 30 minutes ).

Meditation basically involves deep breathing and focusing of the mind on selected acu-point of the human body ( For beginners, this would involve the acu-point directly below the navel ). Trainees were told to exercise good discipline relative to time of practice so as to facilitate the bodies to condition themselves for maximum effect.

Personally, I have developed over time a heightened level of stamina and internal strength ( it is a form of Qigong, incidentally ), which complemented my Shao-lin martial art training ( widely regarded as an external form of kungfu by martial-art circles).

Over the years, I have gone on to pick up other forms of martial-arts such as Pa-kua ( or hexagonal pattern boxing ), WaiTangKong, Divine Boxing to strengthen my internal strength.

I have abandoned my Shao-lin kungfu over the years as it is more appropriate for the younger enthusiasts.

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