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The purpose of meditation

We live in a culture saturated by stimulation.
Our minds are distracted. Meditation exercises and techniques aim to bring your mind back to the present moment.

Meditation process

Meditation is all about gently returning our attention to the immediate. We drift, we return. We drift, we return. Again and again.
Within a few weeks our minds become more focussed - we drift and have the habit of returning.

Remember: a method is only a means, not the meditation itself. It is through practicing the method skilfully that you reach the perfection of that pure state of total presence, which is the real meditation.

(Sogyal Rinpoche)


Mindfulness is about being present, being here and now. This may sound quite simple, yet most people are distracted by their thoughts. They are not present at all.

Spacing out

In order to do anything wholeheartedly you need to be present; not daydreaming or 'spacing out'. Being centred means that you are rooted in the immediate moment.
Tai chi encourages mindfulness and presence; the student focuses on the here and now.


Become more aware of your own body and your surroundings. Solo work makes you more conscious of your tensions, thoughts and distractions.
Partner work offers biofeedback: illustrating what is actually happening rather than what you think is happening.


Immersion involves the loss of self-consciousness; a yielding to the moment. Yes, we need some sense of self in order to function, in order to survive. It can also be a major impediment.
Instead of being one with the event, people tend to get caught-up in speculation, doubt and the avoidance of negative possibilities.
To become immersed, we must detach ourselves from thinking and pay attention to what is happening. To what is right in front of us.

Do not confuse the menu with the food

The word 'meditation' is widely used to mean a variety of things. Many people imagine that meditation means sitting in a crossed-legged position and listening to your breath.
Such practices or methods are not meditation. They serve to encourage meditation. Meditation is not a method or exercise; rather, it is the condition of presence.
It is freedom from thought.

On-going mind

If you can cultivate on-going presence (mushin), then your heightened awareness will extend to all aspects of your life.
You will notice connections, associations, variables and themes inherent in all things. There is no division between combat and leisure. Your state of mind remains exactly the same.


An important feature of meditation is the ability to remain 'centred'. This means present, clear, grounded and alert. Bring the attention to the physical centre. Breathe.

Moving meditation?

Tai chi is often referred to as 'moving meditation'. The calm movements relax the nervous system, quieten the mind and settle the emotions.
However, doing form does not necessarily mean that you are meditating. It means that you are practicing a method designed to encourage meditation.
If your thoughts are elsewhere (or your mind is racing) you are certainly not experiencing the here and now as it unfolds. Return your thoughts to what you are doing. Do this again and again.

Why do I see things this way?
Because this is the Way things are.

(Lao Tzu)

Meditation in tai chi

The meditation aspect of tai chi training encompasses a wide variety of different approaches, all designed to cultivate presence

  1. Attention

  2. Breathing

  3. Clarity

  4. Concentration

  5. Consciousness

  6. Detachment

  7. Emotional awareness

  8. Heightened level of awareness

  9. Mindful

  10. Mushin

  11. Seeing & looking

  12. Self-awareness 

Every exercise, form movement and partner drill challenges the student to remain here and now.
By bringing the mind to the immediate moment we aim to become unselfconscious - not thinking, not talking, not emoting. Just being.

Modern life

Many aspects of modern life prevent people from being here and now. Instead of presence, distraction is cultivated.
Rather than seeing what is in front of them, the individual is encouraged to get caught up in speculation, opinion and superstition.

Toxic habits

Alcohol, drugs, sugar, smoking etc hinder mindfulness. e.g. alcohol dulls the senses.
The original meaning of intoxication is "a poisoning". The euphoria people experience from alcohol isn't the outcome of being healthy and present. It is the consequence of poisoning the brain.
You cannot be mindful and clear if your brain is dulled. Drinking alcohol is the polar opposite of mindfulness.


People may drink alcohol regularly, read this information and then object... It can be worth asking yourself why?
The answers are simple: habit, lifestyle attachment, emotional investment, peer pressure, self-image and even (potentially) addiction. Common sense and reason are inconvenient.

Impediments to meditation

Mobile phones
The internet
Social media
Video games
The news
Phoney behaviour
Passive aggressive traits
Talking rather than doing
Mock humility
Social games/role play e.g. "I have no time" "I'm too busy"
Lack of commitment

Wide awake

In order to awaken your mind you simply need to be here and now. Nowhere else. At any given time, nothing else in the universe matters more than what you are doing right now.
The cars outside, the neighbours, the music, the humming of the computer, the smell of food are all part of the moment, and you are nowhere but here.
It is all happening at once and you are totally immersed in it.

Reading & contemplation

Meditation plays an important role in research and study:

  1. Awakening

  2. Contemplation

  3. Exponential development

  4. Insights

  5. Krishnamurti's descriptions

  6. Mystery

  7. Perception

  8. Rustic

  9. Spiritual

  10. Truth

  11. Understanding

  12. The Way

  13. Wisdom

  14. Words

  15. Zen & tai chi

attention     awakening     awareness     breathing     calm     clarity     concentration     mindful     perception     self     silence     stillness     truth

Page created 2 March 1995
Last updated 07 November 2018