Manny Miranda is standing still as a statue, eyes looking straight ahead, arms curved in front of his chest. It might look as if not much is going on, but in this posture he’s working on transforming his body and his mind. He is a Martial Arts and Longevity Practices teacher and is a student of the straight sword practice. As he’s progressed in his training, his goal has become more about generating internal power, as opposed to external power, to drive force.
At Lumen, Manny is a Senior Manager in NA Operations, leading a team of client relationship program managers dedicated to designing complex solutions for hosting customers. On May 24 and 26, though, in recognition of National Mental Health Awareness Month, he will host a virtual class, leading Lumen employees through an internal martial arts practice called movement meditation.
The class starts with tranquility breathing to settle the thoughts and moves toward what’s called a “dry wash.” Manny explains, “We rub our hands together in a prayer position, stimulating the fingertips. Our hands become warm, and the warmth spreads to our arms, chest, stomach, legs and feet, then up the back to end at our body’s center of gravity. Then we take time to just be, to appreciate the warmth and the connection of awareness, our mind and our body.
“I love this practice and I want to share it with people,” he said. “It’s calming, and it’s a beautiful thing to do.”
Now that his students are warmed up, Manny leads them through a practice he calls the Nine Palaces, gentle rotations of the nine major joints of the body: neck, shoulders, elbows, wrists, thoracic hinge, waist, hips, knees and ankles. “This lubricates the joints and removes blockages,” he says. “It complements stretching before a workout and can help prevent injuries. It’s also something you can work into your day, even if you’re sitting at a desk.”
Manny became enamored with martial arts and the power of the mind-body connection when he was a kid growing up in Brooklyn. “My sister used to take me to Kung Fu movies on 42nd Street and I got into it at that time,” he said. “I never had the money to go to classes, but when I got to college, I took every martial arts class I could get. And once I graduated, I began studying at the Alan Lee’s Chinese Kung Fu Wu Su Association, which operates like a non-profit with volunteer instructors.”
Today, Manny is a senior instructor at the Chinese Kung Fu Wu Su Association, where he teaches Kung Fu and Dao Yin classes focused on meditation, concentration and breathing practices online and in person. He’s also a student at the Daoist Gate where he focuses on tai chi and straight sword at the moment. He recently attended intensive tai chi and straight sword training, training five hours a day with a Daoist Priest who grew up in a temple in the Wudang Mountains in China.
“My practices aren’t something I do in the morning or evening and then set aside the rest of the day; I try to bring them into the day,” Manny says. “Tranquility breathing before a big meeting to calm and focus my mind. Wrist and elbow loosening in my chair after a round of typing. Getting up from the chair and squeezing in a five-minute standing or moving mediation. Using visualization exercises to manifest a result in my personal or work life.
“It’s all about observation, conscious attention, a choice to move or not move and, most importantly, making a choice that brings balance and lifts me up so I can give this life my best.”