A fellow Tai Chi student and friend mentioned "Be Water, My Friend" a while back. This is a book by Shannon Lee, Bruce Lee's daughter.
I'm enjoying it.
My favorite Tai Chi form is called in English, Water Boxing. It's very long, difficult to learn, not known by very many, and involves a lot of subtleties.
I probably should call it a Tai Chi'ish form, because few of the hundreds of moves look like traditional Tai Chi.
But that's the way of water. It can take on an infinity of forms, because water is fluid, flexible, formless.
Which is the way Bruce Lee approached both martial arts and life as a whole.
Here's some excerpts from the first few chapters, which is as far as I've gotten in the book.
Emptying your mind does not mean forgetting everything you've ever learned or giving up everything you believe.
What it means is that you should try to meet each conversation, each interaction, and each experience with a willingness to consider something new without the burden of your judgment in the process.
You must give up everything you think you know and believe, for just an instant, in order to fully experience that which you are encountering in the present moment.
Make room for the possibility that maybe you don't already know all of what you believe to be true -- that what you believe is, in fact, a work in progress, capable of changing and evolving as you learn and grow.
For our purposes in this moment, meditation should be understood as a method of loosening the mind and letting it float a bit. It's a practice of creating space -- freeing yourself from all motives and helping you to make contact with your relaxed and serene nature.
You can think of it as the feeling you have when you daydream. You're awake, but your mind is untethered and moving easily from image to idea to thought and through states of nothingness, without getting hung up on any one thing -- like it's floating in a gentle and deep pool of water with inflatable water wings on.
It doesn't need to do anything to stay afloat. It feels loose; it feels free.
There are many techniques for establishing this space of calm. Some people follow the breath in and out, directing the mind back to the breath when it starts to wander or judge the experience (which it invariably will).
Some people use mantras or visualizations. My father liked to meditate a little differently for the most part.
He often liked to untether his mind and let it float while he was moving, surprise, surprise. He used his morning jog as meditative time. He sometimes would also walk around our backyard while simultaneously meditating.
It's not about how you do it -- whether your eyes are open or closed, whether you are sitting or moving -- it's about that space of mental calm.
I want us to consider this type of meditation as a potential tool in our tool belt for practicing the art of being like water. My father was very certain that meditation should not be about "striving" to be still and calm.
"Striving" is the antithesis of being empty. When he was a young man, my father wrote about the cognitive dissonance we often experience in meditation.
"I must relax." But then I had just thought something that contradicted my will at the precise moment I thought, "I must relax." The demand for effort in must was already inconsistent with the effortlessness in relax.
In meditation, we should allow, surrender, loosen, let go. Just make space and embody space.