The mind is an infinitely fascinating and complex machine, and with proper focused training it can be taught to create beyond our wildest dreams.
Despite developments in modern neuroscience, we are still unable to answer seemingly fundamental questions pertaining to how the brain works and stores information, but we do know how to program it to function at a higher level of efficiency.
The education system hasn’t done much for us in this regard, tending to cram our minds full of facts and figures rather than teaching it about focus, connection and structure. The mind and body that comprehends the underlying principles of nature at an innate level can use them to great effect in learning and thinking, and just about any application.
As with all worthwhile pursuits in life there are no real shortcuts, and until someone finds a better way the only path to mastery is through hard work and persistence. However, we can minimise the time we waste and speed up the process by developing awareness and knowing how to issue the proper commands to the mind.
As a humble martial artist and software engineer, mental mastery lies at the core of my trade and is of great personal interest to me. I’m neither a psychologist or a neuroscientist, and as such my information will not be presented in any standard academic format, although I’ve been lucky enough to pick up a few keys along the way that I look forward to sharing with you in this article.
Paradoxical thinking is an important element of learning that challenges us to look beyond the bounds of what is considered rational and therefore ‘valid’. Paradoxically, paradoxical arguments are generally considered to be ‘invalid’, but the value of the paradox lies not it it’s validity, it’s in the resulting journey of the mind that’s given rise to by conflicting arguments.
Darwinism teaches us that an organism requires adversity in order to thrive or evolve into a stronger version of itself. Take a look at our own history - nothing great has ever been achieved without a significant measure of conflict and adversity. Therefore, think of the paradox is the equivalent of fighting a battle in the mind in order to gain strength from the conflict (without regular battle we all know the troops become restless and complacent, and the last thing you want is for your troops to turn to the booze and brothels - unless you so will it!).
While paradoxical thinking plays an important role in helping you to ask the right questions, it’s also a trap in it’s own right. The problem with “thinking”, is that the mind ends up getting caught up in an endless iteration, with no hope of a resolution until the scope changes and more information becomes available. Since most of our actual processing happens at a subconscious level, we don’t have as much control over the process as we would like. This is why you just can’t remember the name of that actor when you want to, and the name always pops into your head a minute later.
Like many computers programs, the brain uses multiple threads and to defer long running intensive tasks. This means that once you’ve fed your brain the correct information, it’s time to take a step back and let it do what it does best. There’s no point in rushing - you’d be better off sticking 10,000v wires in your ear and hoping that it made you smarter.
Of course, that’s not an invitation to be lazy. The complacent forgets how to visit the extremes, and the internal voice that desires knowledge and action eventually fades and is replaced by a fervent hum of incoherent chatter that gives way to self-loathing to depression.
Mastering the mind is just as much about thinking well as it is recognising when to switch off the noise because it’s no longer serving a purpose. Thinking is just one aspect of the thought process, and paradoxical thinking is just a way to kick start that process, but neither are what make us truly intelligent.
If thinking is the conscious act of processing information, true intelligence is the ability to see directly to the heart of things, either by way of empirical knowledge, or some deeper primordial intuition.
Questions are often raised as to weather our knowledge is self-contained, or if we are connected to some other combined or cloud consciousness. Those questions are purely speculative, and therefore not very helpful, so for the purpose of this article we’ll just assume that all knowledge is learned, and anything else is outside of our direct control.
There are many forms of intelligence, academic, intuitive, emotional and so on, but it’s the combination of all these forms of intelligence that affords us the “insight” and “wisdom” to tackle the really big issues. Our current society and education system is geared up so that only the academic subset is of any real value, and everything else is largely superfluous. Hopefully you don’t believe that to be true.
Take for instance Albert Einstein, his genius was attributed to his ability to perceive the heart of the matter with a childlike sincerity. While other scientists where busy explaining themselves in circles with complex equations, Einstein’s discoveries were so black and white that everyone hit themselves on the head asking “why the hell didn’t I think of that?”.
At the heart of true intelligence is objective perception. Imagine you’re a baby taking your first steps; how vivid and present the experience must be. For children there’s no layers between what’s happening and what’s experienced. For most of us, our psyche is so marred with unconscious patterning and coping mechanisms, that by the time we reach adulthood we have completely lost the ability to be truly present in the moment. Every day we are bombarded with an insane amount of stimulus, and if we were consciously aware of it all at once, the we would surely go insane. The mind conveniently develops coping mechanisms that filter and sometimes modify non-critical and overly traumatic details and experiences. While these mechanisms are necessary, the process of desensitisation can dull the mind over time. The irony here is that when the mind reaches this stage, becoming more intelligent is actually more of an unlearning or an unraveling process.
True intelligence is more that our perception of reality, it’s our ability to process information and act accordingly in the moment. While these skills come more naturally for some, they can be developed by constantly challenging the mind, body and spirit by placing oneself in new situations that push the boundaries of our unconsciously established limitations.
Gong fu masters are the true masters of reality, for they have connected the mind to the the body in a way that enables them to achieve seemingly super-human feats. These feats may seem improbable and even impossible to most, and I would tend to agree had I not had the privilege of training with some of the top masters myself.
In martial arts there are two predominant philosophies; one that favours the hard (external), and one that favours the soft (internal). Internal martial arts that focus on how to maximise force with minimal effort are of particular interest to me, because they show the existence of a commonly misunderstood force that can’t be generated by muscular exertion alone.
There is a “special” force that moves through the human body that can be accessed and demonstrated by a few of the top masters at will. I’m not going to call it “ki”, “qi” or anything else liable to be misinterpreted or accompanied with hallucinations of mystical warriors flying through bamboo forests, rather it’s the kind of condition that allows a mother to lift up a car to rescue her baby, or a master to project their entire body mass through a small movement.
Chu Shong Tin is one such master who can demonstrate these abilities. Sigong Chu is a life-long Wing Chun practitioner known as the “King of Siu Lim Tao”, and is one of Yip Man’s oldest and most highly regarded students. Sigong Chu often talks about “Lim Tao”, which is a mind-body connection that allows him to transfer “Lim Lik” or mind force while in a state of complete muscular relaxation.
Sigong Chu has mastered the internal forces to the point where he can switch it on at will, and move it through his entire body. He tells a story about how he once had an MRI scan and decided to switch on his ‘Lim Lik’ to see what part of his brain was activating. The doctors told him to stop doing whatever he was doing, because it was throwing the readings out. According to Chu the cerebellum is the part of the brain that activates, which makes a lot of sense because it’s also the part of the brain that controls the synapses to the central nervous system, and a part of the brain we know very little about.
It could be said that the study of internal martial arts requires a specific kind of abstract intelligence that relies on feeling and intuition. The internal arts deal with “concepts” and “ideas” that can be applied in the body to transfer and deal with force.
To learn these ideas, the student must be able to feel them in their body, and train them to the point where the neural pathways pertaining to the “idea” are so well mapped out, that they can be triggered with a single thought. The challenging thing for most is to reconcile is that these ideas don’t exist predominantly in the head, they’re directly related to a movement of energy through the body.
When talking with the masters you often hear them talk about “state, not shape”. What this means is that if the idea is working properly, the shape of the body, or the hand technique being applied, is irrelevant. This is interesting, because it shows us that physicality plays a secondary role in generating true force, rather it’s a state of mind that can be triggered.
This is an wonderful avenue of study, but take care if you’re perusing these skills, because there are countless frauds out there, and probably a handful of people in the world who can actually demonstrate these skills properly.
Recognising and Reprogramming Patterns
In nature, as well as the human mind, we can observe geometric patterns and principles that reoccur - we call it sacred geometry. As energy collides and interacts at the mercy of the laws of nature, it stands to reason that there will be convergent similarities.
Patterns of the mind, both conscious and unconscious, govern the way we perceive sensory input and stored memories. In essence, reality doesn’t change, but the way we see it does.
Thought patterns are learned and enforced on us from from the time of our birth, by our parents, friends, work, and society as whole. Many of these patterns are so ingrained into every day life, that they are absurdly considered by everyone to be “normal”. The deeper you look into your own life and the world around you, the more the matrix of patterns that comprise perceived reality will be exposed. The practice of identifying and understanding the patterns that influence the mind is a worthy pursuit, especially when those patterns may deprive us of our full potential.
The more patterns we take on board throughout life, the more disconnected we become from our source, and the less “free” we become. This metamorphosis prevents us from being able to express ourselves truly, and simply “be in the the moment”. Without patterns we would exist in a state of bliss, but the truth is that some patterns are necessary for our very survival, so it’s up to your discretion as to what you want to keep, and what you let go of. The principle of Neuroplasticity ensures that our mind is ever changing, and we have control over how it develops.
The first step is to visualise the pattern you want to let go of. Mental patterns are constructs of consciousness, so they can be visualised as constructs in the form of shapes and emotions by the way they intersect with, and influence the energetic space in which they exist. The more you can isolate variables and constants which formulate the pattern, the clearer and more aware of the pattern will become.
First, calm your mind and relax your body - the deeper your mediative state the better.
A system is both as simple and complex as the sum of all of its parts, so start by visualising your life and consciousness as the overall system, and your patterns as the parts which comprise the whole.
When you’re aware of your pattern and can visualise and it’s constructs, then you’re ready to make your peace and finally let it go.
Enter into a meditative state again, and become aware consciously aware of the pattern that you want to let go of, and how it affects your mind and body. Explore all the parts of your pattern, including the journeys it has taken you on over the course of your life. Wherever this takes you just go with it, and weather you feel pain, fear, rage, or loss, just experience those feelings and allow them to be.
Remember that resistance is futile; you can’t fight negativity with hatred or more negativity, this is about accepting and letting go.
Before long you will feel clear again, like a weight has been lifted - but we’re not done yet! When you’ve accepted your pattern, and dealt with the associated negative feeling and emotions, you’re ready to override your original programming.
Overriding your original programming is as simple as doing something that’s completely contradictory to your original programming. The more you do it the better.
This is about breaking patterns and limitations, so go nuts. Those that follow the rules their entire live get a life of sub achievement, and a pat on the back with the possibility of a nice retirement fund at the end. Big whoop.
Remember that everything that’s considered normal today was outrageous and preposterous at one point in time. At best people will think you’re a savant, and at worst they’ll think you’re an idiot, maybe a little of both, but who really gives a shit what people think anyway!?