Friday, April 22, 2011

My Journey to Feeling: Part 6

Feeling the ever increasing subtleties of kinesthetic feeling, the internal connectedness in Wujifa zhan zhuang also requires a journey into feeling the depth and breadth of emotional feeling.

If you haven't read My Journey to Feeling: Part 1 you may want to start with that before continuing here.

* The body keeps score. The body remembers.

* Being able to be cognitively aware, to be both actor and observer of your emotional reaction is progress. To feel the fear response, notice your feeling and your body's responding is a good step.

* To the body, physical and psychological safety feel the same.

* To take a risk (either physically or psychologically), there must be a basic sense of safety, that everything will turn out O.K., that I will be safe doing or saying "X". Lacking this feeling sense of safety, then the chance of risk taking behavior diminishes.

* The body and the emotion form a bio-feedback loop. Fear begets a submissive (slouching) posture. Slouching, whether standing or sitting, begets a submission/fear feeling. Feeling causes posture causes feeling causes...

* Making many small changes that feel safe can result in big changes over time and often more so than a single dramatic change that is so different, so uncomfortable, so un-safe feeling, that you retreat to a safe place.
(This explains a lot of my backsliding from huge breakthroughs. Huge breakthroughs are really exciting. They give me a sense of dramatic accomplishment, however, I tend to not stay at that level. So, like the story of the hare and tortoise, "slow and steady wins the race".)
* * * * *

* So far I've laid out some general concepts. In this section, I get more specific, sharing my case as an example of a story.

* I'm a tall guy. I stood a head taller than my peers since the first day of kindergarten. The desire to fit, to be part of the group, to feel safe, I slouched and tried to hide my height and so developed a posture of the tall guy trying to appear shorter.

* I can easily recall many situations of standing up for myself and getting punched in the nose, both literally and figuratively, and my walking away. (I had never learned how to fight.) I cannot recall any situations of standing up for myself where the outcome was successful for me.

* So, early in life I learned that to be safe in the face of authority (to whomever or whatever I ascribed that power), meant to go with the flow, to go flaccid, to not "take a stand".

* The more I slouched to "fit-in", the more I embedded fear and insecurity, and the more fearful and insecure, the more this slouching posture developed.

* Ultimately, I never developed the feeling of emotional safety in standing up for myself in the face of authority. In college, I found a way to to "take a stand", to express myself through mincing words with supporting evidence. I learned to hide behind data. Note: This did not change my posture. It turned out to be an illusory safety.

* In Wujifa class, I have received adjustments to my posture where I feel as if my eyes moved from my chest into my head and I was seeing the world from a new perspective. These adjustments broke me out of the slouching postural, submissive feeling. However, this feeling was too dramatic a change for me and didn't "stick". It didn't feel safe.

* I feel like I've made huge improvements in my "external" structure - I am standing much straighter now. However, my "internal" structural holding pattern has not yet dissolved. In my own practice, I can "raise my eyes" from maybe chest height to shoulder height.

* Homework:
  • In emotional situations (where it's safe), notice the body postural response and before verbally responding, take a breath, change posture to a more open, relaxed posture, then notice how your change in posture effects your emotional feeling state and response. This is another way to address and get through the "fear wall", to break the fear cycle.
  • In zhan zhuang practice, break out of the the habitual fear feeling, internal/external slouching posture cycle. Stand taller, prouder, confident.

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