I think this was the summer I started learning about Neuro-Linguistic Programming, NLP, with Mr. 20/20 (formerly, John Wingert). Since then, several of us from the school, myself included, have attended 20/20's seminars and have found them very valuable.
In Wujifa zhan zhuang class, I've seen and experienced how the concepts from NLP can be applied to create openings for learning and developing internal strength.
* We had a discussion about "filters"; how we filter experiences. For example, some people filter by martial arts forms thinking the more forms they learn, the more they know. Some people filter by books, thinking the more books they read, the more they know. But when it comes to internal strength development, these filters won't give the desired results. So one point of growth is to give up or let go of the attachment to these beliefs.
I built my life around books and book learning and book knowledge. Not a bad thing but not at all helpful in this arena, and if anything, an impediment. It can be very difficult to set aside what you've relied on, what you're good at, what has served you well in the past. My strength kept me stuck. When all you have is a hammer, then everything looks like a nail.
* All emotions are streaming all the time. The frame we choose to use at any one time determines which part of that emotional bandwidth we will experience. Think of the how a prism "changes" white light into the color spectrum. By analogy, we can put little "emotional prisms" in at certain times so we only experience a little piece of the emotional energy at any given time. Play with moving the prism. Play with feeling different emotions.
In reference to "My Journey to Feeling" posts, I think one point here is to notice how you may be locked into an emotional pattern and that you do have a choice to respond differently. Playing with responding differently and noticing what shows up in the body.* Regarding Here and There (from my June 2006 Journal Notes), some people can't come Here. They need their There to function.
* The basic NLP filters (as learned from 20/20) are:
- Towards / Away
- Active / Passive
- Internal / External
- Comparison (works closely with Past, Present, Future)
- Sorting (Context Based)
* Noticing - another way to think of becoming aware of something.
I went through a long phase of trying to find "hooks" to my earlier training; where new terms and concepts matched old terms and concepts. For example, when you say "X", is this the same meaning as when he said "Y"? I really wanted to build on my previous training and struggled with the notion that "matching" to my previous training was going to keep me stuck. I had to let go of that too.* Be willing to engage this process: "Notice. Question. Pursue an answer. Notice." Beginners get stuck at the first step of noticing something and never get to the second step of questioning what they noticed.
- First level. Notice that (this area) is tight/holding. Why?
- Second level. Oh, because I'm holding over here. Why?
- Third level. Oh, because.... Why?
One issue I struggle with is, "So, it seems like I can develop internal strength on my own." The principle is simple: stand and relax. And if I use this process then I should be able to learn from myself and develop internal strength on my own. What do I need a teacher for?* Read old journal entries and look for where you were stuck and where you made progress and what stories you told about each.
The answers I come away with are, Yes and No. Yes, I have to do it on my own. No, I can't do it on my own. No teacher can teach internal strength. I have to figure it out on my own. It's not like learning a form or technique. The value of a teacher is more as a "trail guide", to show me where I'm getting stuck and to show me what's ahead on the road.
The stories I tell myself, the "reasons" why something is the way it is or was the way it was, are very revealing!* Most people's lives can be reduced to "X" storyline or process. Their underlying process remains pretty much the same through their entire life and only the names and places change like a "fill in the blank". Take for example Woody Allen movies, or any movie genre. They all have the same feeling, just different locations, times, and actors.
What does my storyline, my process have to do with zhan zhuang and developing internal strength? Everything! It's how I approach training. It's the excuses I make for not practicing. It's what I have to work on letting go...* Be willing to play with change the underlying process. For example, notice how you filter (see above) and then play with other filters.
This is another method to change the dance step, to elicit a different feeling. The method is not the truth. Once you get the feeling, get rid of the method.
Noticing and playing with your underlying process is a step to letting go of the established patterning in the emotional and physical body. Letting go and noticing. How many ways are there to let go and notice? How many layers are there?
I used to play a very soft and yielding "limp-noodle" style of push-hands but even then I was very rigid emotionally and structurally. Sure, it seemed like my body changed, and it did to a degree but I never really let go of the deeper layers of rigidity. I had learned how to be "flexible" and "yielding" around the underlying sticky points, the underlying rigidity.
Introductory article explaining this "Journal Notes" series: Zhan Zhuang Training Journal
Previous article in this series: Let Go. Got it? Ahhhhh: Journal Notes #39
Next article in this series: Not the Usual Child's Play: Journal Notes #41
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