* When I am injured either physically (sprained ankle) or emotionally (some life event), my body responds similarly to both types of events. In the first case, "scar tissue" develops. In the second case, "armoring" develops. However, I notice that I respond differently to each. In the first case, I become more mindful of my body. I notice a function and an impaired function. In the second case, I'm completely unaware of the changes in functionality especially if the "injury" occurs slowly over time. Yet both "scar tissue" and "armoring" alter the original, free-flowing (qi) feeling and over time these injuries become me and are completely hidden from my attention. I think these blocked areas become part of the "me" that is paying attention to "me".
(Part of the more subtle and refined work in stance is to discover and feel these areas that are "hidden" and not readily and easily able to be dis-covered and felt. When I encounter scar tissue, I go to my Rolfer and he massages out the fascial adhesions which helps restore functionality. Encountering armor is a whole different story. It's more difficult for me to work through the armors and I can get stuck on one area for a long time; first denying there is an armor, second, accepting what's there, third deciding what to do, and fourth, acting.
Standing is easy. Real training is hard. Mastery is, well, stay tuned...)
* I'm learning how my unconscious life strategy is to compartmentalize life. For example, in case "A", I will strictly follow the rules. In case "B", I will playfully bend the rules. In case "C", another. This approach lacks wholeness. If I feel crappy in one compartment, then I'll move to another compartment to feel better. I'm not noticing a unifying, underlying principle.
* When I get adjustments in class, the person adjusting me requests feedback by asking, "How does that feel?" I'm still at a loss to describe what I'm feeling. It's like I don't have words for a feeling I never felt before and my brain simply freezes, or shuts down in the attempt to describe it.
* Notice the feeling behind the words. The words are the data. The real stuff is in the feeling.
(When making adjustments, "what" the practitioner says is less important than "how" s/he says it. The data is largely immaterial. What is more important is to listen for the emotional feeling charging the words. The feeling expressed is a good indicator of whether you are getting into touching an armor or not and the nature of the armor. Remember, scar tissue and armor are two sides of the same coin. Both are holding patterns that are not relaxed and need to be let go.
I think this is why real zhan zhuang is so tough and so few people take it to this level. It's like I heard long ago... Many people come to the table, a few will nibble around the edges, sample this, sample that, and fewer still actually partake of the entire meal. I didn't understand this when I heard it. I understand this completely differently now.)
* Question: My response to honest authentic feeling during stance is to zone out - to essentially disembody myself, to psychically disconnect. I know this doesn't serve me when I'm suppose to be focused on developing my feeling-ability. So why do I do this? Why do I "zone out"?
Answer: Zoning out in stance is a form of psychic armor to not feel too much too soon. Zoning out cuts off consciousness from feeling. Zoning out is akin to dead post stance. When you zone out, then you don't have to own the feeling.
* Question: I'm playing with the feeling of what I see in the stance picture; the feeling of sinking down and back and "launching" up and forward. But I freak out after a couple minutes and the monkey mind says, "That's enough." and I quit feeling. What's going on?
Answer: Sounds like you're about to make a breakthrough. Push through it.* One kind of "peripheral vision" is to focus on the feeling of generalizing your attention. See the periphery and notice the associated feeling. Then stay with the feeling and focus the eyes.
(My pattern is I tend to hold back and need to be pushed. Others push ahead and need to be restrained. Different patterns. )
* I'm noticing that when I massage/relax the tension in my neck, that my lower back relaxes a little more.
* How does this contribute to you? How does any of this serve you? Can you find how something here applies and anchor it back into you and your practice?
Introductory article explaining this "Journal Notes" series: Zhan Zhuang Training Journal
Previous article in this series: Beyond the Monkey Mind: Journal Notes #61
Next article in this series: Goals and Questions: Journal Notes #63
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