What Is Chanwuyi?

Chanwuyi (Chan, Wushu, and Healing) is originated from the unique Chinese culture that has developed for more than thousands of years. It is a wisdom of living that was passed down from the Chinese ancestors to achieve a peaceful mind, healthy body and harmonic living. It is also a philosophical model for conceptualizing the world, the nature, the society and the self. In addition, it is a practical way of living, which includes suggestions on how we should eat, exercise, treat oneself and interact with others. In sum, it is a lifestyle that can be considered as a “medicine” to improve one’s physical and psychological health.

In the past, Chanwuyi was solely a Chinese Buddhism practice. Nevertheless, because recent empirical studies have started to show its effectiveness in improving emotional and physical problems, many individuals begin to adopt the practice of Chanwuyi as a lifestyle, regardless of their religious backgrounds.

What is Chan?

Chan means enlightenment, is also spelt as Zen sometimes (in Japanese pronunciation). In China, it was pronounced as Chan. The purpose of practising Chan is to obtain a better understanding of the nature and the meanings of life, the way of thinking and living. Thus, individuals can achieve emotional and physical well-being, and live peacefully and healthily.

What is Wu?

Wu means Kung Fu. Kung Fu is a unique culture in China, which makes Chanwuyi a different Chinese Chan practice from other Chan branches. There are many different types, forms and schools of Kung Fu. The kind of Kung Fu that a Chan-learner practises is called Nei Gong (Kung Fu for the internal structures of the body). The purpose of practising Nei Gong is to strengthen ones’ mind, thought, and enhance the circulation of Qi and blood, thus an improves status of the inner condition can be developed. It should be noted that the practice of Nei Gong is not simply focused on training the muscles and limbs.

What is Yi?

Yi means healing. The purpose of learning and practising Chanwuyi is to live our lives well. The Chan and Wu practice within the Chanwuyi principles has been developed based on the Chinese health and medical concepts; thus the model of thinking, eating, living are developed towards a healthier life, freeing oneself from psychological and physical problems.

The Elements of Chanwuyi

Chanwuyi, is also originated from Buddhism teaching. It is a unique Chinese culture because it was developed based on Taoism, Chan Buddhism and Confucianism.

Taoism, began in 770-220 B.C. (The Spring and Autumn Period to the Warring State Period), was developed in ancient China. It emphasizes on the realization of the way of the universe, the world and the nature. Its principles can help one to better understand relations between nature, self, and others. The most representative text is the Tao Te Ching that was written by Lao Tsu who was considered as the founder of Taoism.

Chan as a branch of Buddhism was originated from India, and was later introduced to China by Bodhidharma who came from India to China in 520 to 527 A.D. Some emphasizes of Buddhism are consistent with that of Taoism, for example on the harmony with the nature, the generosity to the society, and the principles of causes and effects. While Buddhism has a stronger sense of loving and compassion towards people, Taoism has a heavier emphasis on training the inner energy.

Confucianism emphasizes on developing virtues (for example, in aspects of personal living, family relationships and social justice), and morality in both the personal and legal levels. The core belief of Confucianism is that human beings are teachable, improvable and perfectible through self-cultivation, self-enhancement and social-enlightenment.

Chanwuyi as A Way to Improve Psychological and Physical Health

Part of the essence in Chanwuyi is to get control of ones’ thoughts. Many psychological problems are caused by negative thoughts or illogical thinking. For instance, stress and anxiety may have resulted from unnecessary worry on daily living, negative thoughts, and unrealistic beliefs. If one can learn to control the way of thinking, many psychological problems might be reduced. Thus, Chanwuyi can potentially be an effective psychological intervention for people who wish to improve their psychological wellness.

“Mind-wandering” is a new concept in recent scientific study, referring to the experience of people’ mind not concentrating on a single topic, but thinking about something other than what they are doing for a long period of time. Interestingly, research studies showed people who spend less time on wandering his/her mind is happier than those who are always “day-dreaming”. Yet, mind-wandering is an unconscious and automatic process that almost every individual lives with a wandering mind. From the brain-science perspective, mind-wandering may lead to a waste of mental energy. Because individuals spend a lot of energy thinking about something unproductive, there is not much energy left for them to complete what they are supposed to do. This might be one of the causes of why we are less productive at work sometimes. Thus, practising Nei Gong, can be a training of the mind, to improve the productivity of the individuals.

According to the Chinese medical concept, there are some elements inside our body that have not been able to be measured or made visible with a medical machine, which are the Qi and Blood. The term “Blood” does not have the same meaning that is commonly understood in western medicine, but it is rather a dense form of body fluids that acts upon and is energized by the Qi. The Qi and Blood can be considered as a circulation system inside the organs, bones, muscles, skins and neural system of human body. A smooth and effective circulation of the Qi and Blood is the key to psychological and physical health. Practice of Nei Gong is to improve the circulation of the Qi and blood, thus an effective internal circulation system can be maintained in our body. In Western terms, that is to improve the functioning of our immune system.