Lots of guys focus on their pecs, biceps and abs. But for creative powerhouses like RZA – a rapper, music and film producer and actor (see: next year’s Minions: The Rise of Gru) – the most important performance happens above the neck.
Here’s how the 52-year-old WuTang mastermind keeps his eyes, ears and brain in optimal shape.
1. Train your range
Sit indoors and focus your hearing on low or high frequencies for 30 seconds. (Think appliances for low frequencies, chirping birds for high frequencies.) Break the silence for 10 seconds by counting down from 10 to 1. Do 3 sets.
2. Listen to quiet sounds to nourish your hearing
While sitting, cover both ears with your hands to block out noises. Hold for 30 seconds or until you begin to hear your breathing and heartbeat. Remove your hands. Repeat for 3 sets.
3. Sit and play some
Music at normal volume for 15 seconds. Play it again at half that volume. Continue the process until the music is at the lowest volume that’s audible, all the while focusing on hearing it as if it’s at the original volume. Do 2 sets.
1. RZA uses breathing exercises based on Shaolin kung fu to increase oxygen and chi to the brain
Sit in a comfortable position and press your tongue to the roof of your mouth behind your front teeth. Close your mouth and breathe in through the nose for 5-9 seconds. Slowly exhale through your mouth for 5-9 seconds. Repeat 9 times for 1 set; do 3 sets.
2. To sharpen your memory, sit down and close your eyes
Think of a person, place or thing you know. Say the name in your head while envisioning the person, place or thing. Choose 5-9 different images. Repeat for 3 sets.
3. To hone focus, play chess, sudoku or another computational strategy game for 10-30 minutes a day
You can also solve equations throughout the day in your mind or on paper.
1. To expand your field of vision, stand and close your eyes for 3 seconds
Open them and fix your focus in 8 directions, 2 seconds each, moving clockwise and then counterclockwise. Repeat for 3 sets.
2. Improve your eye for detail
Place a book 1 metre away. Close your eyes for 3 seconds, then open them and look at the title font for 3 seconds. Repeat with the next-smallest font until you reach the smallest font that you can read. Do 3 sets.
3. To train perception, stand outdoors and close your eyes for 3 seconds
Open them and set your gaze on the closest thing. Next, gaze at the farthest object (say, a hill), then fix your sight on the object as if you’re piercing through it. Repeat for 3 sets.
“RZA is training his mind and body to work for and not against him,” says Dr Gregory Scott Brown, the founder and director of the Center for Green Psychiatry. “It’s about starting small, being consciously aware of breath, balance and movement. Techniques like hatha yoga have stood the test of time and are
great for improving physical and mental health.”