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Meditations

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Master the Combat Saber



How to Meditate

RSA Meditation Lessons


PAGE CONTENTS

•     Why Meditate?
Introduction to Form 1:
•     Mindfulness Meditations
Form 1 Basic:
•     Focus
Form 1 Intermediate:
•     Observation
Form 1 Advanced:
•     Acceptance
Forms 2 and 3:
•     Coming Soon...
Bonus Lessons:
•     The Force and Philosophy
For Treasure Seekers:
•     Hidden Wisdom

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The Sword and the Mind





Why Masters Meditate


       Increased Focus

       Learning saber thrusts, parries and other techniques is essential to the mastery of the weapon. No less critical, however, is the training of your mind. Almost anyone can swing a sword. However, that is often not what determines victory or loss. Fencing is perhaps the most cerebral of all sports. The champion, in a fraction of a second, must be aware of the most subtle movements and the smallest details that will reveal how and when their opponent will move. Therefore, meditation is employed to increase personal focus. Yet before you can fine-tune your sensing of your opponent, you must first conquer the noisy distractions within your own mind.

       Limited Distractions

       What is the link between meditative states of consciousness and sword fighting? A duel requires one to have the utmost focus, seriousness and calm in order to make quick decisions under stress. The invasive and distracting emotions of panic, surprise, doubt, uncertainty and indifference are natural, and can plague the mind of a duelist, jeopardizing their efficacy. Meditation is a powerful tool in sharpening the mind and avoiding such distraction, especially in the exciting moments of a spar, duel or tournament.

       Health Benefits

       Modern meditation techniques have been impressing scientists for decades. Although most of these practices came from ancient religions, there is a growing wealth of empirical evidence showing profound mental, physiological and emotional benefits that come from daily meditation. If you find yourself skeptical of what meditation can actually offer you, please take a moment to do some research on the subject.

       Complete Your Training

       For our purposes, nine specific meditations have been inspired by and developed from traditional techniques and refined. Each meditation corresponds to a stage of your training. There are three meditations for each form, one for the Basic, Intermediate and Advanced levels of the art. To truly master a form, you must also have tried out its three meditations. This page is dedicated to describing, in detail, how to properly perform each meditation. Trying out each of the nine meditations is also required before you can earn the much coveted “Force and Fitness” Challenge Badge. The time has come to learn how each meditation is done. Please pay careful attention to the instructions below, as dedication to the technique is often the most important part of the meditative process…




Introduction to Form 1





Mindfulness Meditations


       Form 1 is the way of wisdom. While knowledge is a vital part of wisdom, the wise also seek mindfulness. Mindfulness is the opening up of your mind to the profound and awe inspiring facts of the universe. Mindfulness is also an awakening to the deeper feelings within yourself, a cosmos no less vast. The masters of mindfulness meditation train their minds to be keenly aware of the present. They are in control of their thoughts.

       Our everyday thinking is comparable to that of a monkey, boisterously and frantically climbing and moving about. We are often short-tempered, frustrated and easily distracted. With mindfulness meditations, you will find that your thoughts become more tame and your mind, healthier. Our training program focus on three essential parts of mindfulness meditation: “Focus,” “Observation” and “Acceptance.”

       Here are the benefits you can expect from engaging in Form 1 meditations for 15 to 60 minutes a day for the entire period in which you are studying two-handed combat:

       •       A reduction in anxiety
       •       A drop in “negative feelings”
       •       Improved learning skills
       •       Strengthened memory
       •       Enhanced optimism
       •       More tolerance
       •       Greater patience with yourself
       •       Increased self-awareness




Form 1 Basic



Focus Meditation



Focus Meditation


       The goal of this meditation is to quiet your mind and enhance your fundamental meditation skills by concentrating on one simple thing for a prolonged period of time. The Focus Meditation is comparable to the basic starting stance in any martial art. Once this technique is mastered, you may move on to deeper layers of meditation. Try Focus Meditation out at least three times before practicing Observation Meditation.

       Note: All first form meditations are done while kneeling. If this position is distractingly uncomfortable for you, even after a few sessions, you may wish to substitute kneeling with sitting cross-legged in all Form 1 meditations.

       Further Study: The RSA’s “Focus Meditation” is comparable to Zazen (Zen Meditation) and utilizes the Seiza position.

       How to Engage in “Focus” Meditation:
  1. Set an alarm for 15 to 60 minutes. Briefly stretch your arms, legs and core.
  2. Prepare a mat or pillow on which to kneel. (Beginners should do their best to ensure that there is no distracting sound or music.)
  3. Stand in the Attentive Stance behind your pillow or mat.
  4. Step your right foot forward in front of your pillow or mat.
  5. Slide your left foot back and sink your body down, kneeling on your left knee. (Your right foot remains in front of you and your right knee is bent.)
  6. Place your saber to your left side on the floor. Its emitter should be pointing behind you and its pummel should point directly in front of you.
  7. Pick up your right foot and slide it behind you, matching your left foot.
  8. Rest your body atop your heels with the top of your toes against the floor and feet overlapping.
  9. Keep your back straight in natural good posture. (You may wish to adjust your position atop your mat or pillow to maximize your level of comfort.)
  10. Close your fingers together and place your right hand (palm-up) in your lap.
  11. Rest your left fingers atop your right fingers and touch the tips of your thumbs together, creating a comfortable “basket.”
  12. Close your eyes.
  13. Breathe in a little through your nose, allowing the air to travel to your stomach. (Your stomach will be where all of the important breathing movements take place.)
  14. Pause for a brief moment.
  15. Breathe out through your mouth. Be mindful of the rhythm of your breathing, the feeling of air sweeping in, and the warm release of tension as you breathe out.
  16. After your body has set into a natural pattern of breathing, you may choose an object of focus, depending on your needs or intended results. These objects can be sensations, mantras, possessions or abstract ideas:


    1. Sensations – Beginners are encouraged to focus on their breathing, counting each breath and paying attention to all of the feelings and processes involved. A useful tactic is to count each breath up to 10, then backwards to one, cycling through the pattern. Other sensations include the feeling of sunshine on your skin, your heartbeat, the smell of a candle, or even a persistent sound such as the wind or music around you.
    2. Mantras – A “mantra” is a part of a word, full word, or phrase said in your mind over and over again. A useful technique is to whisper or hum the word as you breathe out. Our store houses an intricate program that can find a mantra tailored specifically for you to address your daily needs. For the sake of example, here is a quick list to get you started: “Ohm,” “Calm,” “Peace,” “Force,” “Joy,” “Destiny,” “Focus,” “Purity,” or “Balance.” If you eventually find yourself just thinking the word rather than saying it, or letting go of the word entirely so that your mind focuses on nothing at all, then you have made good progress.
    3. Possessions – Think only of a specific static thing such as a plant by your side, the clouds, your saber or a book. Be sure that that object does not house complex or negative emotions. For example, a poor choice for this exercise would be a picture of an ex-girlfriend.
    4. Abstract Ideas – Imagine your favorite color, a blank piece of paper, a simple mathematical concept, etc.


  17. Once you have chosen one specific object of focus, slowly let your other interrupting ideas fade away from your mind. In this particular meditation, those ideas are like raindrops that tap on your mind, but soon roll off. The key here is to quiet your mind, and allow only that one object of focus to fill your thoughts. Avoid letting your mind wander, but if it does, do not be hard on yourself. Rather, simply course-correct back to your central object of focus. All other things fade into the background. At first, it will take some time to achieve this level of focus, but with practice, you will be able to attain this deeper level of concentration in less time.
  18. Continue to breathe in a regular rhythm and think only of the object of focus until your alarm sounds.
  19. Open your eyes and take a few larger breaths.
  20. You will stand by moving in a reverse process to how you first knelt. Rise off your heels.
  21. Pick up your right foot and step it out in front of you.
  22. Pick up your lightsaber with your left hand.
  23. Press your left toe into the ground and stand.
  24. Bring your right foot back to match your left, returning to the Attentive Stance.
  25. Stretch and reflect on your experience. Consider how different your body and mind feels. Resume your daily activities.





Form 1 Intermediate



Observation Meditation



Observation Meditation


       This meditation is useful for centering your sense of self and grounding your experience of reality within the context of your own body. This sets your thinking into a more organized and logical mode. Observation meditation is a transitional phase, honing your skills for more meaningful experiences to come. You should have tried this type of meditation in six or more different sessions before trying out Acceptance Meditation.

       Note: All first form meditations are done while kneeling. If this position is distractingly uncomfortable for you, even after a few sessions, you may wish to substitute kneeling with sitting cross-legged in all Form 1 meditations.

       Further Study: The RSA’s “Observation Meditation” is comparable to “Vipassana.”

       How to Engage in “Observation” Meditation:
  1. Follow the instructions for Focus Meditation: Set your alarm, kneel with good posture into position, breathe regularly, and allow all thoughts and distractions to fade away as you concentrate only on the object of focus (such as the sensation of your breathing).
  2. Remain in true Focus Meditation for a few moments.
  3. When you feel that your mind is properly focused and resistant to distraction, you are in a state like that of being in a tent, sheltered from the noise of the world. Once in this state of mind, mentally open the window of that tent, allowing in just a beam of light from the outside world. With your eyes still closed, you will now afford just a sliver of your attention to receiving the sounds, feelings, thoughts, memories, and other sensations that usually compete for your full attention. You will not, however, dwell on any of these things.
  4. Once something bids for your attention (such as the smell of a candle), you may now (rather than instantly letting it fade away) take note of it. In this meditation you will label it with the simplest label possible. For example, the fragrance of the candle would be labeled “smell.” Other labels for things around you may also include, “memory,” “sound,” “feeling,” and so on. Take care not to make judgment calls on these things or become preoccupied with them.
  5. Once something has been labeled, you will no longer give it any heed. Let it drift off, to be forgotten, and center your thinking back onto the object of focus.
  6. Continue to breathe in a regular rhythm, center your thinking onto the object of focus, and simply label other things that arrive before dismissing them. Remain in this exercise until your alarm sounds.
  7. Open your eyes and take a few larger breaths.
  8. You will stand by moving in a reverse process to how you first knelt. Rise off your heels.
  9. Pick up your right foot and step it out in front of you.
  10. Pick up your lightsaber with your left hand.
  11. Press your left toe into the ground and stand.
  12. Bring your right foot back to match your left, returning to the Attentive Stance.
  13. Stretch and reflect on your experience. Consider how different your body and mind feels. Resume your daily activities.





Form 1 Advanced



Acceptance Meditation



Acceptance Meditation


       The modern sciences of psychology and neurology have allowed our society to prod deeply into the workings of the human mind. One of the first insights thus yielded has been the understanding that much of our brain activity is not done consciously. In other words, a large portion of your thinking develops without your attention or direction. We may call this your “subconscious,” the active workings of your mind that operate behind-the-scenes. Your subconscious is always working, and can be a vast source of creativity, insight and breakthroughs. With Acceptance Meditation, and some skill, you will be able to allow the best of your subconscious ideas to rise to the surface.

       Now that you have mastered, or at least are comfortable with, Focus Meditation and Observation Meditation, you are ready to increase your skills further and fully embrace the true culmination of these practices. However, simply having had tried all Form 1 meditations does not mean you have already discovered all there is to them. Continually revisit them, refining your technique, and you will soon find an endless ocean of insight, clarity and peace awaiting you.

       Note: All first form meditations are done while kneeling. If this position is distractingly uncomfortable for you, even after a few sessions, you may wish to substitute kneeling with sitting cross-legged in all Form 1 meditations.

       Further Study: The RSA’s “Acceptance Meditation” is comparable to “Shikantaza.”

       How to Engage in “Acceptance” Meditation:
  1. Follow the instructions for Focus Meditation: Set your alarm, kneel with good posture into position, breathe regularly, and allow all thoughts and distractions to fade away as you concentrate only on the object of focus (such as the sensation of your breathing).
  2. Remain in true Focus Meditation for a few moments.
  3. Progress into Observation Meditation. Open your mind up slightly, dispassionately labeling the subtle notions that drift your way, allowing them to fade back into obscurity. Remain in this state of mind for a few more moments.
  4. At about mid-way through this session, you’ll feel it is time yet again for a transition.
  5. If you opened a window in your mind’s “tent” in Observation Meditation, then you will now do the mental equivalent of stepping outside your tent. Open your mind completely to the thoughts and prodding of the cosmos. As notions slowly come to your attention, you will give them a simple label, as before, yet you will now also give them a moment to unwrap themselves. It is like you are kneeling by the side of a child who is eager to tell you a story. It is not your job to critique the story being told you. It is not your job to interrupt with judgments or corrections. Rather, you will allow your mind to listen. Let the idea guide you, expressing parts of it you may not have ever before considered. At last, when you feel the idea has yielded the majority of its secrets, you can let it go, like dropping a leaf into a slow moving river. You will then receive the next idea, and the next, freeing yourself of any responsibilities to assess them. This meditation is completely about a controlled and deep listening to the ideas themselves, ideas that may never surface in day-to-day thinking.
  6. Continue in this mindset along with your continued regular breathing until your alarm sounds.
  7. Open your eyes and take a few larger breaths.
  8. You will stand by moving in a reverse process to how you first knelt, returning to the Attentive Stance.
  9. Stretch and reflect on your experience. Consider how different your body and mind feels. Most importantly, take note of some of the previously unknown understandings you may have gained. It is only at this step that you may critique and analyze them. Resume your daily activities.





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