Monday, August 8, 2011

Noticing To Help You Notice: Journal Notes #51

Notes from my January 2008 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: What is the biggest problem in learning zhan zhuang?
Answer: The biggest problem is that people want to force relax, to make the body go where it is not ready to go. Just relax where you are and allow the "let go" to grow naturally.

* Question: What are you looking for when you make adjustments?
Answer: When adjusting stance, you need to give an adjustment the person can get into their brain to be able to reproduce in their practice. If an adjustment makes no sense, then it can't be reproduced.

For example, if the goal is to open the chest but the shoulder is locked, then moving the elbow back will move the shoulder back which opens the chest. You can remember and reproduce "move the elbow back" but you wouldn't remember or be able to reproduce the intricate adjustments I make to help open the chest.

Use this method until the shoulder opens and can move back on its own.

* Question: Is breath work an internal or external practice?
Answer: To an external stylist, breathing is an internal practice. To an internal stylist, breathing is an external practice in relation to the rest of his practice.

* Question: If the goal to stand for one hour a day is met, then what?
Answer: Then appreciate the choice and enjoy the space or set new goals within that time or, notice, play with, experiment. The best place to play is strong noticing.

* Question: What's feeling got to do with mystical, functional and mechanistic?
  • Mysticism: Everything is One. Lost in the feeling of Oneness.
  • Functional: Awake to various feelings. Can distinguish different feelings.
  • Mechanistic: Not feeling. Focused on data and information.

* Note: Today, bio work for a school brother - repeated loud, long ahhhh, kind of like yelling. We can hear when his throat pinches the yell and when it is open but he can't hear the subtle difference. By physically noticing for him and pointing out the differences, he began to feel what we heard. This creates a growth opportunity because now he knows something other than his normal everyday pattern.

* Note: Corrections are noticing for the person. The instructor's noticing helps you notice so you can begin to notice for yourself to begin to make your own corrections. Encourage people to work on their own, see what they find and bring it back, contribute.

* Note: I was amazed at a comment Dan made which was something like: If I can feel tension or relaxation in one part of my body, then I know I can feel it in other parts.

* Question: Is what I'm feeling in my shoulders/chest when I relax, is that tension or is it more like a stretched rubber band tension kind of feeling?
Answer: Think of hot peppers. Black, Jalapeno, Red, Thai, Green, Italian. All different flavors of hot yet they are all peppers. You are now noticing pepper but you don't yet have the language to describe the different flavors. Get a feel for the flavors.

Say these two sentences emphasizing the italicized word in each:

You know how peppers taste.
You know how peppers taste.
When you emphasize "peppers", then your underlying intention is likely data driven.

When you emphasize "taste", then your underlying intention is likely sense-feeling driven.

Notice the different feeling in each way of saying the same sentence. Putting the emphasis on "taste" introduces so much more sensuality - sense feeling.

* Here's an exercise to help you notice the difference between a mechanical approach and a feeling approach:
  1. Write the word "feeling" ten times.
  2. Spell the word "feeling" ten times.
  3. Draw each letter in the word "feeling" ten times.
  4. Now express different feelings in writing or drawing the entire word as an expression of that feeling. Play with the letters and the word and feel the feeling writing the word you are creating painting that feeling.
#1 is your normal, everyday mode.
#2 focuses more on the mechanical/data aspect of writing.
#3 focuses even more on the details of the mechanical/data aspect of writing.

Going from one to three helps you gain insight into the detail, however, you also lose the feeling of the word.

#4 shifts focus from the mechanical details to an emphasis on playing/experimenting with different feelings.

Now compare the result of #1 with #4. What has changed?

(I'm really good at doing Step #2 and Step #3 but where I get stuck is Step #4. This is also my pattern in learning zhan zhuang. I crave the data details and in so doing, miss the feeling.)

Further reading:
Introductory article explaining this "Journal Notes" series: Zhan Zhuang Training Journal
Previous article in this series: You Can't Force Relax: Journal Notes #50
Next article in this series: Follow the Feeling: Journal Notes #52

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

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