Mindfulness, Meditation and Wu Tao
“Paying attention on purpose, in the present moment, and non-judgmentally, to the unfolding of experience moment to moment. Acceptance of what is, paying attention to our thoughts and feelings without judgement”
Mindfulness according to Jon-Kabat Zinn
I recently read this description of mindfulness meditation and was struck with how similar the definition is to an experience of Wu Tao. Through my practice of Wu Tao, I have learned detachment and acceptance – which serve me best, not when life is cruising, but when the **** hits the fan. (Can I say that on a blog?).
When life is cruising along and I am relatively content, the need for a spiritual practice is not so immediate. I go to class, I meditate, I stretch and dance. I feel mediocre before I start and fantastic when I finish the class. I feel healthy, energised and balanced. It’s a very good practice.
When I go to my class and I have stuff going on, well the class becomes quite a different story. Let me share with you how it’s worked for me and how it relates to mindfulness.
We start our class with stretches and warm up followed by a meditation. In this meditation we bring awareness to what is going on in our bodies, hearts and minds. We do this without judgement. Just bringing awareness to where we are at, in the moment. Thoughts and feelings arise and current situations that are causing us angst may come to the foreground. We just watch, observe and breathe. We also notice how much of this is disturbing our foundation of peace without doing anything to change it. We don’t force change but we allow ourselves to be open to the possibility that we can have peace.
Next comes the dancing. This is where the transformation from angst and anxiety to peace and joy happens, and it comes easily and enjoyably! Personally, I do nothing but let go and focus on the dance. I do every movement to the best of my ability, losing myself in the imagery connected with each dance, becoming the bird flying through the sky and the tree full of energy! I don’t think about the fact that the movements are stimulating the Qi flow through the meridians as they’re designed to do. I just dance my heart out, releasing whatever is bothering me and following the sequence laid out in the dances.
Each dance helps me embody a quality I need if I truly want to return to peace. How can I have peace if I won’t let go of resentment, anger or fear? The Air dance helps me with that. The dance is the tool I use to do the ‘letting go’. I am not thinking, I just dance the dance and become the release. It’s the easiest thing in the world.
The final dance of the 5 core dances is about acceptance. Complete and utter acceptance of everything, as it is, right now and always. How can this not help my situation? Instead of resisting what is going on in my life, I open up to receive and I give thanks. Regardless of it’s nature, I can do this. This is in my power!
There is something profoundly beautiful about the end of a Wu Tao class. When we are all sitting quietly on the floor and the dancing is over, there’s a peace that descends like a blanket over all of us. So gentle. So quiet and sacred. It’s a precious few moments of absolute bliss and tenderness.
And here’s what is magical about that. These sweet moments of peace hold me through the whole week. Because you see, truth surpasses time and space. It opens everything up and permeates every fibre of our being. We have remembered a little more of our true nature and given it permission to flow through our form and it stays!
I have not tried a formal mindfulness class, but I can highly recommend Wu Tao as a mindfulness practice that brings awareness, acceptance and non-judgement to the present, resulting in freedom, and peace of mind that lasts. (Plus the added bonus of increased physical energy, strength and flexibility!).
If you haven’t tried it before, here’s a video of the beginning of the Air Dance for you to try out yourself. I’d love to know how it makes you feel.