Monday, September 13, 2010

Simple Lessons: Journal Notes #4

Notes from my February 2000 Zhan Zhuang Training Journal. I train with The School of Cultivation and Practice which practices Wujifa zhan zhuang. (My current reflections are added in italics.)

* Having difficulty standing still. Painful physically/emotionally. Want to keep moving. Why is standing still painful?
(Must have been something I was working through. Or maybe it changed. I can stand still well enough now but often feel like I "hit a wall" and "need" to end the session.)

* I'm learning a different view on peng. Told my peng arm is too stiff and needs to feel more like pushing on a stack of tissue. Peng intent is always forward but never resisting.

(Hmm, if my peng arm was too stiff, probably the rest of me was too stiff too...)

* Learned a different view of push-hands from the continuous play I learned previously. As soon as touch arms, then immediately know where the opponent's center is and strike with a push. This stays true to martial intent of Taiji. Train push-hands this way for martial purpose.
(Got this lesson again. Contact. Take the opponent's ground. Attack.)

* The empty cup is most useful. When the heart is closed with "I am this." or "I am that." the heart cannot function, is cut off from Life. So rather than day by day filling up, practice day by day letting go. Empty the heart of whatever reinforces separateness. "I" is a limitation, a constraint. No "I" yields no "You" but only "We" and "Us", oneness. Feeling this is enlightenment. And enlightenment means being fully human, not human restricted to some particular area or function of humanity.
(Blah, blah, blah.... None of this helps me with knees forward sit back and down.)

* Had the stance experience of the pelvis feeling 'large'. But this 'large' feeling goes away when I feel threatened. So now I know open and closed. When I feel safe then relax and open but close down when feel insecure and threatened.

* Don't assume you can do a higher level work when your understanding and ability is low because imitating high-level practices from your level of understanding and ability to feel will mislead you. Take it step by step.
(Still so true! I'm more comfortable with this now, than then.)

* Groundpath can be achieved through course, physical alignment (for example, bracing), but this is like roughing-in a house. There is still more detail work to do: electricity, plumbing, insulation, walls, paint, furnishings. The detail work in stance is the release of energy bound in chronically tense muscles; emotional release work. Emotions and feelings create certain patterns in the body's muscles which block or re-route pure groundpath. So to enjoy the free flow of energy from heels to fingers requires the releasing of these muscular holding patterns.
(And herein lies the crux of the work that I'm still working on!)

* Groundpath then becomes synonymous with enlightenment; the free flow of energy between heaven and earth; the free expression of universal energy.
(more blah, blah, blah...)

* Goal is to feel myself whole just as I now feel fragments of myself. How do I become whole? First, increase energy; eat "Live" foods, detox, exercise. Feel emotions as expression of energy in the body.
(And I would add now, Relax! I'm getting more from relax than I'd ever imagined!)

* When you think you hit your goal, had some insight, that is not the end, but the first door to open. Now, what are the facets of that insight? Explore more.
(Wow! I wrote this? So true!)

* Got to get feeling of energy staying down while doing simple, straight forward and backward movements.

(I was struggling with the "sink the chi" stuff and was trying a variety of external exercises like the above. What I was missing then is that sink comes through relax. Now, I've got a better feel for this. How do I know? I feel more loading in my legs.)

* During stance, felt pressure building behind my eyes. Then, think "Let go." Then felt it draining, like swallowing and then felt more balanced. Weird.

* Legs started shaking as usual but not rest of body as usual. I think, "Open between legs." and suddenly I feel a wave of pressure, warm, needle prickly feeling.

* From these experiences I learned the simple lesson of blocking, releasing and feeling the energy flow.
(Well, yeah, at the level I was capable of at that time...)

* I completed 30 minutes of standing but completely in my head, telling stories and thinking and then noticed how my whole body felt locked, rigid, holding its position but I'm not feeling any flow in the body.

* Standing yesterday morning I noticed upon relaxing the shoulder that the left side of shoulder blade got a sharp pain that drove my arm down.

* Standing and relaxing the pelvis, I noticed it keeps tensing up because I have to keep re-relaxing it. Why? Why does it tense up? I shifted focus to relaxing the shoulders and this seems to help keep the pelvis relaxed.
(Yeah, I still deal with this. Relax areas only to have them tense again. Relax, Tense, over and over, like a little ping-pong game I'm playing with myself. And an answer to "Why" would only be academic and of no practice-able value. Better to keep practicing relax and getting the chronic tensions worked out.)
Further reading:
Introductory article explaining this "Journal Notes" series: Zhan Zhuang Training Journal
Previous article in this series: Half Hour Getting Easier - Journal Notes #3
Next article in this series: This Is A Feeling Art: Journal Notes #5

Make sure to visit and the Wujifa blog.
And stop by The School of Cultivation and Practice.


  1. I like the new format.

    Cute and easier to read.

    I enjoy reading this blog a lot!

  2. Hey dude... liked this post a lot. You're pretty disparaging on the spiritual stuff, but, that's kinda the wujifa flavor sometimes :-P Not that it's not there... uh, we don't really talk about it.

    Anyway, I posted a link to it on my facebook. Good stuff. Keep it up!

  3. Yeah, at that time, my ego loved how "spiritual" I was but at the end of the day, I could not demonstrate an ounce of internal strength.

    So, for the time being, I just don't have a lot of faith in "spiritual teachings" as a path to developing the internal strength for taji, ba-gua, xing-yi. It's just where I'm at right now. Maybe one day I will understand what I don't understand now and what I "thought" I understood then....

    Thanks for the link!