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WHY DO WE PRACTICE SILENT SITTING IN CHOI KWANG DO?
By Master Keith Banfield
Choi Kwang do is known as a 'Holistic Martial Art', meaning that it caters for the complete development of the individual, i.e. the mental, physical and spiritual aspects of a human being.
At the beginning of each class we have a Korean practice known as "Mook Yum" which literally means 'Meditate'. The word 'meditate' can infer a number of different practices depending on the context in which it is used. In a Choi Kwang Do class, "Mook Yum" means to sit silently and focus your attention.
Students often ask, "Why do we have to sit silently? and what is the benefit in doing so?"
The practice of Silent Sitting and the process of focusing your attention, on the breath, for example, will improve your physical and mental health. It reduces stress, which is extremely toxic to the body and the brain, it also reduces high blood pressure and improves your mood. The practice of Silent Sitting, need only take a few minutes of your precious time and when performed over a long period of time has cumulative benefits.
Silent Sitting produces cognitive, psychological and physical benefits that will last for many hours after it has been practiced. When you perform the Silent Sitting exercise at the beginning of a Choi Kwang Do class, it mentally and physically prepares the student for learning. When performed at the end of a class it naturally relaxes, calms and produces an overall sense of holistic well-being.
The Practice of Silent Sitting and focusing your attention on the breath or on something specific is known as 'focused attention' or 'mindful meditation'. Neuroscientists have recently discovered that mindful meditation actually produces physical changes to certain structures of the brain; this proves how powerful your thoughts really are. The structures of the brain that scientists have so far found to undergo physical changes are as follows: the hippocampus, the posterior cingulate cortex, the temporo-parietal junction and the cerebellum. However you may be wondering:
"How do changes to these structures of the brain benefit me?"
Well, the simple answer is that these brain structures are involved in learning and memory, control of emotions, increase sense of self worth and perspective taking. In other words, all-important attributes which enables one to live a more socially adjustable, balanced and productive life.
Here are a few more benefits of Silent Sitting:
Improved Focus: Having good focus enables us to stay on a set task for longer periods of time without getting distracted. When you perform the Silent Sitting exercise you are focusing your attention; you therefore become more aware of when it drifts. Having this awareness actually improves your focus not only when you are performing the Silent Sitting exercise but more so when you are engaged in your day-to-day activities where focus and attention is required.
Better Memory: Silent Sitting has been linked to improving rapid memory recall. Researchers found that individuals who practiced Silent Sitting were able to alter the brain wave that screens out distractions and increase their productivity. This explains why individuals who practice Silent Sitting possess the ability to rapidly remember and incorporate new facts.
More 'Grey Matter': Scientists have found that Silent Sitting increases the practitioners 'Grey Matter' in the hippocampus and frontal areas of the brain. This may not sound so important at first glance, but more grey matter can lead to increased focus during daily life, longer lasting emotional stability and more positive emotions.
Reduced Stress in Stressful Environments: A study conducted in 2012 found that managers who practiced Silent Sitting for just eight weeks where able to perform better under pressure than those that did not. Not only did they out perform their peers they also felt less stressed when it came to being tested.
It has also been proven that Silent Sitting before a stressful situation such as an exam, can help reduce stress during the examination, thereby creating favourable conditions for exam success.
My recommendation for all Choi Kwang Do practitioners would be, if you want to see the benefits of Silent Sitting, start by closing your eyes.
For more information about Choi Kwang Do and its benefits contact Mr Paul Simmonds on:
Tel. 07538 264 993