Most of you are probably familiar with the Japanese term, “zen.” The Chinese equivalent is “chan” and they both refer to the same thing- meditation. Zen, per se, need not be connected to Zen Buddhism any more than praying must necessarily be directly linked to Christianity. Meditation is just that.
There was a time when martial arts teachers regularly practiced zen and admonished their students to do the same. Da-Mo, the legendary founder of Zen Buddhism once said that zen and martial arts should be practiced together. Unfortunately, his sage advice has long since been ignored and forgotten.
Meditation should be a part of your daily routine, whether you’re a martial arts devotee or not. As Westerners, we want to know just why this is necessarily so. Well, I don’t want to provide a seemingly zen-type answer as that would simply confuse many people. I will say that the health benefits are numerous; daily meditation is very good for lowering blood pressure and relieving stress, assists in relieving chronic pain, promotes relaxation, improves heart health, and boosts the immune system.
On what is perhaps a more abstract note, it is also excellent for “brain health.” It can help us “see things in a much clearer light” and better understand them.
There are many fine instructors and books available on this subject, and I have no intention of trying to provide instruction on this subject. But I will say that one of the best books I’ve ever read on the subject is “Meditation- How To Do It” by Alan Watts. It’s more of a pamphlet than a full-sized book and it’s available at Amazon.com.