Alignment and timing are fundamental principles. These elements influence your life in ways that may not be immediately apparent. Learning how to align correctly is the key.
Let’s see at the hierarchy of these principles. We’ll look at two examples to find the answer. We’ll use the subjects of Martial Arts and Spiritual Exploration.
Alignment or Timing More Important?
Guru Tua Means “great teacher.” It’s what we call our Dutch-Indonesian teacher. He came to the USA after World War ll. He is a painter, philosopher, healer, and teacher of several Chinese and Indonesian martial arts.
Martial artists spend a lot of time training their bodies and their minds. In some ways, the body is more straightforward to teach than the mind. Here’s the problem. If you ingrain ineffective methods, they become reactions that become difficult to change.
On the positive side, this means most commercialized martial arts training is largely ineffective. After all, you don’t want many people learning how to be warriors.
To be sure, practicing kicking and punching makes you better at these physical movements. Boxers training to be proficient at boxing. People who practice karate are more adept at this sport. However, it is essential to remember that these are “sports” with specific engagement rules, even mixed martial arts.
Timing is Everything?
Once you train with these guidelines, you ingrain your mind and muscle memory habits. I learned the hard way that these are not effective outside the dojo. Instead, these commercial offerings are martial-art-like exercise movements. Authentic martial arts have no rules of engagement. It means training the mind to assess the fluid and ever-changing situation.
People think the timing is everything because they only see the result. There is an element needed to move “on time,” and that element is alignment.
Authentic martial arts go beyond any single style or form. Some cultures studied how to use the mind and body efficiently and effectively for individual combat. They understood a warrior faces many opponents and situations, and some are larger, faster, or stronger. Some opponents had weapons, and some had armor. You needed to train the mind and body to be fluid and adaptable to the rapidly changing theater of combat.
Alignment is Everything
So, training the mind and body to move within a style or form creates boundaries and obstacles to your ability to be fluid and highly adaptable. For that reason, moving at the right time, to the right place, in the right way are the keys to success. It requires an understanding of how the mind and body align. It enables one to enter the conflict as a dancer able to move fluidly and defeat your opponents.
“Speed is bull___. Alignment is everything.” ― Guru Tua
Guru Tua is fond of saying aligning the mind and body is more important than speed or strength in martial arts. Timing depends upon proper alignment, enabling one to move on time when in the dance of combat—perfect timing results from aligning the mind and body.
So, the mind is the fundamental tool of martial arts, not the body. The brain is the supercomputer enabling one to assess the people and ever-changing environment. One of these essential keys is learning to control the nervous system.
Sympathetic and Parasympathetic Nervous Systems
Our natural reaction to a threatening situation is to engage the Sympathetic Nervous (SN) system. It’s this function that activates the “fight, flight or freeze” response. The SN increases blood flow to muscles by shutting down blood flow to the skin and intestines.
When SN is engaged, the brain responds to the increased adrenalin and a host of other powerful enzymes. So the brain must protect the higher thinking centers from these enzymes, and it shuts off the brain’s higher thinking centers. That’s the problem. With the SN in control, you can move quickly, but it’s reactionary. You use the primitive mind centers controlled by the emotions of fear and anger.
To move with proper timing, you need the mind’s higher-level thinking and computing functions online. It’s why the secret to martial arts is learning to override our primitive instincts. When we act out of powerful emotions like anger or fear, we are more apt to error.
So, in a combat situation, you want the “thinking” center of the mind needs to be in control. The parasympathetic nervous system controls high-level think processes. It may seem counterintuitive. However, the parasympathetic nervous system enables proper alignment and timing.
We need to engage our higher thinking centers to assess the ever-changing combat situation. It requires a Nano-second assessment and adjustments. So, a warrior trains to activate the parasympathetic system to counterbalance automatic sympathetic. We can move on time; we need to engage the parasympathetic nervous system.
Here is the key. The parasympathetic system has control over the oculomotor of the eyes. The eyes are the key. If you learn to control your scope of vision, you can lock in the parasympathetic.
Alignment is Everything in Spiritual Practice
Aligning our mind and body is also critical in the practice of spiritual exploration. There are fundamental alignments that facilitate proper movement. You may have some unique underlying skeletal or muscle issues, but the primary alignments for activity are the same.
When mind and body align, we are more in touch with our spiritual essence. So, we encourage learning as many of these consciousness development tools as possible. Every tool we use helps align all three aspects, mind, body, and spirit.
Consciousness Development Tools
Everyone awakens differently. We have unique gifts, and we are on different timetables. Awakening is a process. We of accessing the spiritual gifts are sleeping in our DNA. When we open them, it sets our spiritual walk into motion. It opens our minds to new potentials.
The research of consciousness and learning to access these spiritual gifts was the central goal of many ancient cultures. The investigation of consciousness is something many ancient cultures thought was necessary, and we enjoy the benefits of generations of research. These early pioneers give us several tools for exploring consciousness.
We call the processes of these early explorers spiritual technologies. These processes stand up to the tests of science; they are repeatable and produce unique physiological changes. These tools enable us to reach higher states of awareness that differ from waking, sleeping, and dreaming.
We use a blended learning model incorporating those processes which are safe and reliable. We are not the first to use this eclectic approach. For example, Gurdjieff’s method was to adopt techniques proven effective. The research of these early pioneers stands the test of time.
Timing and aligning are not opposites. They are elements of change in a chain reaction. To have proper timing, you must first be aligned. So, alignment is everything because it creates a framework for appropriate timing. It includes your thinking and moral alignment.
The catalog of methods for developing and exploring consciousness is what we call Spiritual Technologies. They are processes that can alter, change, or expand our awareness. Some of these methods open doorways to higher states of consciousness.
These processes come from eons of research by cultures around the world. We use the term spiritual exploration to describe these powerful methods.
We select the best of these ancient methods for our blended learning process. These processes are time-tested by generations of use, and they stand up to the rigorous tests of science. Several of these methods produce measurable changes in our physiology. These physiological markers differ from normal waking, sleeping, and dreaming states.
Spiritual exploration is not about faith or belief in a religion. They are processes that anyone can use. All you do is follow a process. We like to think of it just like baking a cake. When you want to bake a delicious cake, you follow a recipe. If you use the right ingredients and follow the directions, you get something delicious. The processes of spiritual exploration are formulas or ingredients for exploring consciousness.
There are many ways to list these methods. We divide these tools into four major categories:
- Analytical Tools
- Awareness Expansion Tools
- Modalities for Healing
The study of spiritual things seems like an odd place to find analytical tools, but these analytical processes are vital to our spiritual quest. Their use enhances our ability to use common sense and logic. These tools improve observational skills and help us identify the roadblocks that get in the way.
We recommend you incorporate emotional checks in all of these processes. Keeping your feeling in check helps us think more clearly.
These tools help us think more clearly and make better decisions, which helps us avoid many of our path’s everyday obstacles. This group’s primary tools are Logical Reasoning, Comparative Analysis, and The Enneagram of Personality.
The study of logic is the first tool we use in our group practice, but these methods help anyone seeking the truth. We encourage our participants to create a reminder on their smartphones to review these tools every month. It’s essential to keep them fresh in our minds, and that’s when they become helpful in spotting ploys and deception.
We use a set of three related tools. The first tool is Logical reasoning, which summarizes the essential use of logic in language. It shows how people misuse language to sell us ideas and beliefs. Next is spotting logical fallacies. This module provides practical examples of the most common logical fallacies. The last module, the truth-seekers axioms, ties everything together by contrasting how science and mythology differ in their approaches to presenting the truth.
Comparative Analysis is a systematic approach to comparative religious study based on the scientific model. It is a method of comparing ideas and beliefs from different worldviews, and it is another tool we recommend for the new spiritual explorer.
Above all, the use of logical reasoning and comparative analysis will sharpen your ability to discern fact from fiction. So, these aren’t just for research. You’ll find a use for these tools every day. Besides their use in religion, politics, they are also helpful with TV and Radio newscasts.
The Enneagram of Personality
The Enneagram of Personality is a cognitive science tool that helps us understand the mechanisms of Ego, personality, and instinct. The best authors and researchers write in easily understandable language so the layperson can understand it, while it is deep enough for any clinician. It makes the Enneagram a powerful system available to almost everyone.
You will find modern psychology and the Enneagram share many of the same concepts and authors. Borrowing and then building on the work of others is a common practice. For instance, Jungian psychology parallels the structure of the Enneagram. It has nine processes of consciousness.
The core of the Enneagram Personality Profile is a series of questionnaires. If you provide honest answers, you will get an accurate personality profile. The scientific method of testing verifies the accuracy of this tool. The system goes beyond identification into deeper thought processes and beliefs. It integrates spiritual and psychological understanding. It will help you understand the source of our “personal power.”
When you say spiritual practice, many people think of meditation. Seated and moving forms of meditation are the centerpiece of spiritual exploration.
Meditation is a mind hack that often uses mantras, sutras, and affirmations as tools. These mental devices open doorways of consciousness. You could easily categorize them as awareness expansion tools, the same with Yoga since it contains a range of meditative processes.
Seated meditation is the heart of the spiritual practice for many people. Meditation is an essential tool for exploring consciousness. Seated meditation includes everything from a primary two-step method, Mindfulness Meditation and Japa or Transcendental Meditation (TM). This modality also has advanced practices like the Siddhis of Patanjali.
Moving meditation is an action with a heightened level of awareness. To perform an activity while simultaneously holding a meditative state involves a high level of mind-body coordination and skill. This modality improves mind and body connection. In turn, this has a positive effect on our health and wellness. This progression includes energy collection modalities like Qigong and Tai Chi. Grounding exercises focus on our connection with nature, such as Sun Gazing, Forest Bathing, and Tree Grounding.
Awareness Expansion Tools
This category has a diverse mix of tools dealing with awareness and perception. This group includes the Shamanic Journey or Guided Meditation, lucid dreaming, third-eye awakening exercises, and techniques to improve memory (learning how to learn).
Another essential tool is the spiritual journal or book of shadows; it’s your personal life coach. This modality also includes exercises like automatic writing and exploring memories. You could list these tools among some groups. However, we like to list them separately because of their importance to awareness.
The Shamanic Journey is probably man’s first technology for exploring consciousness. This traditional method is at the core of many indigenous cultures, and it serves as evidence of the historical importance of the inner quest.
There are many variations on this theme, but essentially the same formula. Rhythm is a crucial element that regulates heart rate and breathing. Then the mind projects an inner world providing the lucid journey.
A Shaman is a person who guides people through this journey in the spirit world. However, you can take this inward journey by yourself. This tool for changing awareness uses a range of seated and moving forms.
The Shamanic Journey has been renamed or rebranded in Western cultures. They do this to make it more marketable. You will see it marketed as “guided meditation” or “creative visualization.”
Modalities for Healing
The last group is healing practices. This group includes a diverse set of tools such as Pe Jet, which comes from Indonesia, and Reiki and Shiatsu come from Japan. We teach Vedic medicine, along with other traditional healing forms. Self-care is a vital part of this group. Because to help others, we must be in optimal health. Our overall health and wellness affect every aspect of life.
Using any healing method is a natural outlet for our positive energy. Many people come to the healing arts as a secondary interest. They find it an enjoyable way of giving back and helping others.
We can see how timing is everything. Timing is a significant factor in how and when we find opportunities and meet people. However, it is the proper alignment that makes these events possible. When we align our mind, body, and spirit, we experience life on a different level. We recognize synchronicities; we hear the voice of our intuition.
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(1) Joseph Campbell & Joseph Campbell’s book The Hero’s Journey, Wikipedia