Posted by: Mike Ferruggia | June 24, 2012

The Psyche and the Conscious Mind

Tai Chi, like Yoga, is a practice of integrating the body mind and spirit. We’ve all seen this slogan everywhere, but maybe we begin to take it for granted. I thin k many people are surprised to find how physically demanding true tai chi can be, and for those who practice martially, perhaps sometimes the physical, postural, technical aspects take up more attention. But tai chi, like xing yi, is also mind intent, and like yoga, the physical and the mental and the spiritual all inorm each other in a sort of perichoresis.

What is our psyche? What is our mind? Our consciousness? Our subconsciousness? Is it any wonder Freud and Jung and all the other masters of the mind wrote volumes and volumes on the subject.

I was thinking of ourselves this way the other day: that our bodies are like spaceships that the real us are using for the ride. It’s like we’re looking out the spaceship windows through our eyes, experiencing everything we experience. Now, this may lead to a bit of a disconnect between our selves and our bodies, and in tai chi and other spiritual practices, we don’t seek to disconnect, but integrate the spirit and the body.

But the existential question is there. What is my spirit, is there a spirit, a consciousness, a jungian collective subconsciousness? Does the spirit live on after the body dies? We engage in such practices as contemplation in order to develop the spirit, to prepare it for the next level. But what does this spirit consist of? Is it something that has been around forever? Is my current spirit a conglomeration of many spirits come together in this one incarnation?

The established religions, philosophies, “ways,” all have come up with workable matrixes and solutions and explanations. Was Freud right? Jung? Maybe we need to just let it go and throw a lasso around the psyche with some behavioral control and train ourselves to act in acceptable ways.

It is fascinating and sad to see some people with broken psyches, people who develop paranoid schizophrenia and other mental illnesses, to see how awful it can be when something goes wrong. It is also encouraging when we engage in deep practices, when we sit in silence and listen, when we walk alone in nature, that we become attuned to and aware of that numenous, ineffable, mystical aspect of our selves and our lives.

I just turned to the left and could see a nice gentle breeze blowing through the leaves of a tree, and I see that is how our lives are. There is a breath of life animating us, a life force, a higher power, a source of life. We are manifest. We look into the distance, the external and the internal distance to try to catch a glimpse of it. It requires deep silence, deep contemplation, but it is there, that gentle breeze.

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