Moss-covered Monk

Moss-covered Monk

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Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Secrets of the Ninja (8)

CHU– Strength of Mind and Body
 

While in this position, one develops a kinesthetic sense of the body. This enables one to
diagnose imbalances of energy within the body. This technique is known as touring. Holding
the breath for 81 heartbeats while circulating Qi in the Microcosmic Orbit, up the back and
down the front of the body, is known as the Small Tour. Holding the breath for 108 heartbeats
while circulating Qi in the Eight Psychic Channels is known as the Grand Tour.
After the prescribed time (number of heartbeats), relax. Slowly release the diaphragm
and the chin lock, taking care not to strain or move too quickly. Release the tension used to expand
the Hara and inhale slowly, taking care not to gulp air and induce belching. Breathe
slowly and deeply without sound.

The Hara will now feel warm, like a friendly fire. In fact, it is called the Golden Cauldron
in Chinese alchemy, used to "distill" Qi from the breath. You will feel a sensation at the
base of the spine. It will grow, double, redouble, and race up the spine to the base of the skull.
This is the site of the medulla oblongata, which controls all autonomic functions of the body including
respiration, circulation, and certain other functions- hence the name Channel of Control.

Once in this altered state, begin sensory withdrawal exercises to isolate the mind and develop
conscious control of the body. In Yoga, the bandhis or "muscle locks," like holding the
diaphragm, chin-lock and so on, are the first step in developing the internal strength with which
the Ninja forges his body in the fire of his will. Through this type of exercise the Yogi, and the
Ninja, develop the ability to endure extremes of heat and cold, pain, hunger, and deprivation.

Patience is also a virtue gained through this practice. Being the first in a series, and unfamiliar,
it quite naturally takes some practice to calm the breath sufficiently to not hear it. Feeling
the pulse also requires some practice. And, hearing the heartbeat, which is only possible
when the mind is calm, may take ninety days or more. Most initiates are frightened when this
occurs. Their first thought being that if they hear it, their heart will stop. But, this does not happen.

And, in time, the heartbeat becomes as source of comfort and reassurance. Furthermore,
it is the "internal clock" by which all these exercises are "timed." Making it essential to the remainder
of the practice.

Therefore, do not expect to be enlightened the first time you sit down. Patience, practice
and perseverance are required to achieve even the smallest positive result. Very often the anticipation
of some subtle sensation is the very thing that prevents it from happening. This too, is
one of the hidden lessons of Ninjitsu.

Enlightenment seldom appears as a flash of lightning that makes everything suddenly
clear. Instead, as many great authors have told us, it is a slow and gradual process, made up of
many small steps, each of which contributes to the whole. The trick is to "see the pattern."

One way in which the Ninja does this is by classification of the "ten thousand things"
into broad categories of Yin ("In" in Japanese) and Yang ("Yo" in Japanese), the two primeval
forces of the universe, constantly striving for balance. (Tao) This is another mnemonic tool to
aid the memory. This removes many of the injunctions of society, making it clear that the rat
does not steal, nor does the cat murder. Each acts according to its nature. So too it is with Man.

~Ashida Kim