Monday, November 22, 2010

Big Things Little Packages: Journal Notes #14

Notes from my January 2004 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.)

* Question: How do I drop the chest without hunching?

Answer: Look at the human skeleton. The sternum is not tied at the top and is capable of up/down movement. It is only held up by muscular tension. Relax and allow the muscles to stretch. As the sternum drops, because of connecting ribs to spine, a cantilever effect takes place and makes the spine feel as if it is moving up. This causes the "hanging by a string" or "pushing up" feeling at the top of the head.
(I didn't make any hand drawings for the above. I'm looking for some graphics that I can modify to help you visualize this and I will get these posted as soon as I can. Key point here is that the "hanging by a string from the top of the head" is not some imaginary as-if-ness to get you to stand up straight. There is a real kinesthetic adjustment that takes place over a period of time that can create this feeling. )

* Learn how to ask questions. Be direct. Leading a question with other information is an ego defense to reduce vulnerability. It's OK to be vulnerable.
(To elaborate, I have a tendency to provide a long back-story to explain how I arrived at the question I want to ask. The problem is that the back-story builds walls so that only certain answers become rationally "correct". It's taken me a long time to learn how to simply ask a question with no back story and be completely open to whatever answer comes back. The back-story creates the possibility of an answer "from left field". No back-story, no "left-field." I'm better at verbalizing only the question but inside I struggle with how to ask the question that adequately represents the back story. Maybe one day I will be able to drop the back-story and just ask the question.)

* Two approaches. Trade offs for each:
  1. Relax. When one part moves, all parts move. This is easiest for the mind to grasp but doesn't address the many blocks obstructing relaxing.

  2. Focus on addressing each individual block. This is difficult for the mind to remember. The mind tends to grasp at one and attach to it as the truth and misses the big picture.
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There weren't a lot of notes for this month, however, don't let the shortness fool you. There's a ton of stuff here that can guide your entire practice IF you pursue the depth of these ideas! Sometimes big things come in little packages.

Further reading:
Introductory article explaining this "Journal Notes" series: Zhan Zhuang Training Journal
Previous article in this series: Looking at the Finger: Journal Notes #13
Next article in this series: An Early Lesson in Learning: Journal Notes #15

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

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