Category Archives: zen meditation

Take The 40-day Shaolin Warrior Challenge

shaolin2-010015At the Shaolin Temple, our masters told us that it took 40 days before any lasting change would happen in our mind and body. Buddha sat for 40 days under the Bodhi tree before he gained enlightenment. Jesus and Mohammed fasted for 40 days before they went back into the world to share their teachings. Scientists have found that after 40 days, the neural pathways in our brain make a lasting change.

If you are just starting out, or have been working with my DVDs for many years and want to reinvigorate your practice and transform your mind and body into a Shaolin Warrior then the 40-day challenge is for you.

It’s 40 days of putting a stronger emphasis on your practice, of training more than you usually would – which may mean getting out of bed an hour earlier -, training 6 days a week, and doing some additional mind training throughout the day. After 40 days you will see a significant change in your mind and body.

The DVDs that you use are down to what level you are. You will need at least 1 Kung Fu DVD or download, at least 1 Qigong DVD, download or book as well as the Instant Health bamboo or metal massage brush.

These are my 7 Guidelines to your 40-day challenge

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1. Attitude Of Mind.  Train where you are with what you have. All you need is faith you can do it and your bamboo or metal brush. Just play my DVD and follow the training. You can follow it in a small flat, outside in the park or on top of a mountain.

2. Surrender to the teachings.  One thing that slightly irritates me is the amount of questions I get asked by my Western students. I know that your education is different to mine but coming from a Zen Temple we put the emphasis on practice. If I asked my Master so many questions he would beat me! The more answers I give, the more I take away from your experience. Everything you seek is in the teaching if you can only surrender to it.

3. Practice AM & PM.  In the midst of your busy life it’s difficult to train twice a day but for the next 40 days this is what you must do in order to progress. Even if you only have 10 minutes in the morning, do a little Qigong and stretching and this will help your day flow better while reminding you that you are training to be a Shaolin Warrior. I like my main training to be in the morning, this sets me up for the day; I then do Qigong in the evening to revitalize my body and give me a deep and peaceful sleep. Find the way that is right for you.

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4.Be A Shaolin Warrior In Your Life. Breath is the link between the mind and the body. It’s the key to a powerful martial art’s practice.  A Shaolin Warrior is grounded and focused so keep reminding yourself to breathe throughout the day. If you have a digital watch, you can set a few alarms or get it to beep on the hour as a reminder for you to stop and breathe.

5. Eat Right. Check out my blog post about food. For these 40 days put an emphasis on eating well. Make sure you eat a big breakfast every day, don’t drink any sugar drinks or eat processed food. Try to cook your own food.

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6. Train Intelligently. The beauty of Shaolin is in its many exercises. What do I practice every week? The five basic kicks, the five stances, some traditional kicks and punches, bag work, pad work, exercises from my Circuit Training and Bootcamp followed by Qigong.  Once you know the exercises from my DVDs, mix it up so that your body never gets used to any workout, this means your body will never get lazy and you will always be working to your optimal.

7. Schedule Your Challenge. Write in your diary the day you will start. Throughout the 40 days make a note of the changes that you experience as well as what happens to your fitness levels. How many press-ups and squats can you do now? How many can you do after 40 days? How flexible are you now?  How flexible after 40 days? How about your focus and your peace of mind? Shaolin is as much about the mind as it is about the body.

Join the new Facebook page I’ve made for people training with my DVD so that you can join with your fellow Shaolin Warriors to share your journey and support each other. Or come and train with me at the Shaolin Summer Camp this year in China. Remember. Great mind and bodies are not born that way, they are trained.

Shifu Yan Lei teaches Shaolin Kung Fu & Qigong with DVDs, books, downloads and personal training.

A Shaolin Disciple’s Daily Workout, Diet, and Meditation

yellow mt4-00029What’s your daily workout like?

My training day starts with either a 10 or 12k jog or interval running, sprinting 800 meters then resting for 800 meters and doing this 4 times or varying my runs like I show in my youtube video. I then do circuit training, the same as on my DVDs though I mix the punches and kicks together. It’s important to sweat when you’re training. Only this is true training. In the afternoon I do bag work, and pad work if there’s someone at the temple to hold pads. I finish off with Iron Shirt Qigong and combine Iron Shirt conditioning with the Instant Health Massage using a metal brush so that I cleanse my bones.

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Can the average person hack Shaolin training?

Shaolin is for everybody. Of course the average person doesn’t have 4 hours a day to train but a lot can be accomplished in one hour five days a week. This is enough to be healthy and fit. If you’re not close to a school and train from my DVDs then all you need to do is define your goal and make a program. The best DVDs for fitness are the Bootcamp and Circuit Training DVDs but you need a level of fitness before you can embark on them. Like all things, take one step at a time. Most people have no desire to do hard Qigong but they  have a desire to have more energy and increase their longevity so they do Eight Treasures.

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 You’ll talk about the Shaolin Monk’s diet in another post, but how important is diet to you?

The more you do Shaolin martial arts, the more you tune into your body and the harder it is to eat badly. If you’re craving unhealthy food, don’t worry about it, start working out the Shaolin way and the cravings will go away of their own accord. Before I train I eat a lot of noodle and vegetable with some meat then a banana, which is a great thing to eat before training as it helps to keep sugar levels up. We don’t use ovens in China but something new I’ve discovered in the West is roasted sweet potato. Very healthy and a better carbohydrate than potato. I eat fruit and nuts through out the day. I tend to cook two days food in advance so when I come home and I’m hungry my food is already prepared.

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How focused are you on Buddhism and Zen meditation?

I’m a simple person. I feel that many Western people read too many books and this makes their mind complicated. My master gave me one sutra, The Hui Neng Sutra and he told me not to sit in meditation but to make training my meditation. Zen is about experience, not knowledge. When people do kung fu or Qigong forms, they get a taste of this Zen experience and then there are no questions. The important thing is not to look outside, but work with where you are and what you have here and now. There’s no need to go to the temple, the temple is right here and now. But you need to be still to find it.

Shifu Yan Lei teaches Shaolin Qigong ( available as a book, DVD and download)

Also available on the apple store and amazon as a kindle.(USA only, UK to follow in 2015).

Shifu Yan Lei teaches Shaolin Kung Fu available as a download and DVD.

Kung Fu Calm: How To Overcome Negative Emotions

Zen MeditationNegative emotions are strong energies which bring great unhappiness to our self and those around us. Negative emotions seems very concrete but try and pinpoint exactly where they are. Are they in your heart? Your mind? Your body? Clouds can darken the sky and cover the sun. In the same way our negative emotions cover the positive nature of our mind. Clouds are not as concrete as they look, neither are our emotions. Let’s take anger. Usually we think of overpowering and destroying our anger – or the enemy we think created our anger – as a positive thing. But the Buddha said, ‘Hatred is not conquered by hate but by love alone’. This is a Universal law. If we follow our anger we will feel as if we are in hell, and we may create a hell on earth with the actions we do with our anger. But if we look at the true nature of our anger then we can extinguish its flames. This is true strength. Zen Meditation I was an extremely angry teenager who got into many fights. Shaolin Kung Fu transformed my mind. As martial artists, whether we train alone or fight in the ring, we’re not fighting for anger or victory. We’re fighting to test our skill and master our mind. A strong peaceful healthy body leads to a strong peaceful healthy mind. This is why the founder of Zen, Bodhidharma, prescribed Qigong to the monks at the Shaolin Temple. Everything that makes us angry can be turned around into a way of making our light shine brighter rather than dimmer. Everything that frustrates us shows us how far we have to travel on our journey to peace and wellness. yellow mt2-00182It’s easy to feel overwhelmed with the tragic events that are happening around the world. But we have to look at positive role models such as the late Nelson Mandela who chose wisdom to transform his country. And the Vietnamese Monk, Thich Nhat Hanh, who does Zen retreats with Vietnam veterans. While we may not become a leader of our country, peace begins with our self. If we can create peace within the universe of our mind then we create peace with our friends, family, and in our neighborhood. This is how it spreads out into the world. So give yourself some breathing space. It’s more important than you think. Shifu Yan Lei teaches Shaolin Kung Fu available as a DVD or download. Shifu Yan Lei teaches Shaolin Qigong  available as a DVD, download or book.