Mokusu (Meditation)

Mokuso is part of the training of the mind called “Mushin.” One should attempt to return to the mental state of a new-born-child that is without a sense of fear, not conscious of distress, pain, cold, etc. A baby cannot anticipate these things and therefore has no fear and does not hesitate before moving. An adult knows fear and is afraid. When attacked they feel tense and are often useless against the assailant because movement is restricted.

The practice of meditation has beneficial effects. Daily meditation reduces stress, oxygen consumption decreases, and the blood pressure and the pulse tend to slow. The lower respiratory rate stabilizes the nervous system. Meditation is defined by some experts as the perfect passive activity for the health of human beings. To practice standing, sitting or lying down, we should meditate in complete stillness.

 

History

This practice goes back hundreds of years in both China and Japan. Throughout history, meditation training has been acknowledged as a vital part of the training of anyone wishing to penetrate the depths of the martial arts.


Objectives

Short term: At the beginning of a training session to compose the mind and focus on the task ahead

 

Long term: To return to a state of pure thought and action untainted by ill-conceived and inappropriate responses.

Training of mind and body

The mind has to command the body to enable the practitioner to reap the benefits of the practice. A settled and controlled mind as a result of prolonged correct practice can have escalating beneficial effects on the body and boost and retain supplies of vital energy. ("Chi" in Chinese, "Ki" in Japanese.)

 

Posture

Posture is the first basic principle. Correct positioning of the body centers around the spine, which must be erect, and even when straight must not feel "collapsed."

Mokuso can be performed in a number of ways, including sitting on a chair, standing or even lying down. However, the customary way is in traditional Seiza position.

 

Hands and other considerations

There are various schools of thought as to the correct positioning of the hands during Mokuso. Traditionally, the position is with the hands in the lap, left hand upturned resting in the right hand. Thumbs of both hands are joined at the tip.

Also of vital importance is the position of the tongue. The tip of the tongue must rest on the palette just behind the top teeth. The reason for this is that the tongue acts as a connector to the crossover of two meridian channels, and without the connection vital benefits of the practice will be lost.

Concentration

 A wandering mind is a hindrance to advanced practice. It is probably a good idea to start by occupying the mind by just concentrating on a mental count of your breathing. By just focusing on the numbers you will prevent your practice deteriorating into just idle daydreaming.  The goal is to empty the mind.

Breathing

Breathing is the keystone of correct practice. Correct breathing benefits the body in many ways, but first it must be recognized that our everyday breathing is hindered and restricted by a number of influences, ranging from stress and tension to poor posture.

Observe the breathing of a newborn baby or animals and it is noticeable that the breathing is primarily abdominal, while ours tends to involve the upper chest. Physiologically the diaphragm controls the breathing acting as a pump. It is diaphragm breathing that is used in Mokuso.

It is no coincidence that the all-important "energy center" (Seika Tanden), is situated two inches below the navel. The Tanden is the reservoir of vital energy. Correct breathing charges and replenishes the store of vital energy.

Breathing Technique

All breathing must involve long, slow cycles of breath. Inhale through the nose, slowly drawing air into your lungs, but feeling as though you are drawing it down into your lower abdomen. Naturally this encourages abdominal breathing, correct use of the diaphragm and awareness of the Tanden.

Stop inhaling just before you are completely topped up. Don't push it too far, as it will cause tension in the wrong places. Retain your breath for a couple of seconds. Not too long or you will feel faint. Then slowly release the breath through your mouth, again concentrating on the use of the abdomen.

Do not force or squeeze out the last of the breath and do not hold, just allow your natural reflexive inhalation to begin the next cycle of breath.

Establishing a routine

The Mokuso practice prior to an average training session, although it settles and composes the mind, will not promote long-term benefits. The serious student needs to establish a routine supported by real commitment. Do not expect results overnight. It takes a while for the body and mind to settle, but after about a month of sustained daily discipline of only 15 to 30 minutes per day you will notice a difference. If practice is correct, then the energy boost and feeling of well being will become an indispensable part of a positive daily regime.