* In the first Wujifa class of the new year, we did a goal achieving exercise. In this class we focused on noticing various feelings and feeling states. This was different from other "goal exercises" I remember doing in college and at work where the focus was on data: what's your goal and what are the steps you have to take to get there.
The method used in Wujifa class was to draw a picture of my goal on a piece of paper, then tape the picture to the wall, step several paces away from it, then turn and face my goal. How do you feel seeing your goal so far away? Now take a step closer. How do you feel now? Repeat these steps getting closer... closer... closer... then when within reach, grab it! Now how do you feel having reached your goal?
Then I did a variation of this exercise. I taped the picture to the wall and then stepped several paces away from it, then turned and faced my goal. This time however, classmates imposed obstacles on my "journey" to my goal. Notice your feeling when an obstacle comes between you and goal. Play with various methods to remove or overcome your obstacle, for example, ask for assistance (How do you feel when asking for help?), or use other methods available to you (How do you feel using new methods you may have never used before?).
What I learned from this exercise is that I habitually approach goals with the same feeling or from the same feeling state. When I watched my school brothers do this, I experienced and learned that others approach goal achieving and obstacle-overcoming with different feeling and from different feeling states which gave me some insights, for example, how locked-in I am to one way of doing things and how little I'm aware of or able to express my feeling. Also, when I encounter an obstacle, if the first couple attempts to surmount it don't work, I then quit my attempt to achieve it using a rationalization: "It doesn't matter.", "Who cares.", or "I guess I'm not meant to get it after all."
(Now, almost three years later, I had completely forgotten this exercise and what I wrote about that class. But have those lessons stuck with me? Sorry to say, but I don't think so. I'm running into a long-standing obstacle again, however, this time, my approach is different. I'm taking more "ownership" of the obstacle-overcoming method I'm working with this time which in itself is also difficult for me because the underlying feeling has become more tangible: fear! And I'm noticing how the tension between the wanting the goal and the fear shows up in my body as... Guess what? Muscular holding and tension: armoring!
The goal of letting go can involve so much more than simply noticing a tense muscle and relaxing it. Sometimes, letting go involves not holding back on saying or doing certain things. Initially, I didn't even know why I was holding but the more I work there, the more I learn how deeply ingrained family, society, cultural lessons created boundaries or patterns. What I discover when playing on the edge of those boundaries is a less obvious and more subtle form of fear.
What I'm noticing is that holding back to satisfy some idea, to not go through a fear is fueled by an underlying intention to control and hold. So I'm thinking now that real SUNG is fueled by a deeper underlying intention of letting go and not an underlying intention of control and holding. "Relax" is more a global state of "mind" than a localized, compartmentalized experience.
Here's an example of what I'm talking about. Take a quick look at this set of clips from the October 25th Dr. Oz show (an ABC network TV show); The Secrets Your Man Is Keeping. This entire five secret segment is about 20 minutes long.
If I am like many people, then I think many people may relax to a certain level that is within their "comfort zone". They never realize why they are only relaxing to a certain level; relaxing within the boundaries of their established patterns. They'll relax to the point they encounter the fear and then stop relaxing. To get to the deeper levels of SUNG I think requires more work than many people are willing to get into.
In the Wujifa class above, my "rationalization" was a way for me to avoid addressing and working through a fear that I couldn't even identify as a fear at that time. Of course, this is not a global attitude but rather an attitude isolated to specific areas of living.
Goals. Fears. Control. Holding. Letting go. Relaxing. Opening. Goals.)
* In another class, we explored the source feeling state of questions. (Wujifa classes are based on students' questions.)
Questions may be asked from a conceptual and mechanistic point of view which is largely devoid of the genuine feeling of curiosity. In this case, the question usually arises from a problem viewed as mechanistic in nature, for example when I ask, "I've been playing with getting the combined feelings of dropping, sliding knees forward, and bowing as one movement. How does this look? How can I get more weight in the legs?"
I frame the problem mechanically and even though the "feeling" word is involved, the question is based on and rooted in mechanics and concepts and is asked in a way that is devoid of feeling.
Instructor: Try this. Enter the state of genuine feeling of curiosity, the beginner's mind. Play with being a child encountering the world for the first time: What's that? Why? How come?
Me: OK. I'm curious... What do you mean by feeling more weight in the legs? What's that mean? How do I do that? How do I feel more weight in my legs?
Instructor: Can you feel the difference when you ask the question with a more genuine feeling of curiosity?
Me: Yes, I feel an internal shift between these two states, the latter feeling more alive and present than the former.
(I'm noticing now that I'm alternating between being holding/controlling and being more open/authentic. So maybe this is a phase for me. I notice that when I pull back into my controlling/holding patterns, that I'm comparatively dull and mechanical and I can't notice these subtleties in others. However, when I'm in my more open/authentic un-pattern, then it's much easier for me to notice these subtleties in others.
As I've said in other posts, I can only notice in others to the level at which I've developed in myself, which for me means, letting go even more...)
Introductory article explaining this "Journal Notes" series: Zhan Zhuang Training Journal
Previous article in this series: Mind-full-ness and Zoning Out: Journal Notes #62
Next article in this series: Zhan Zhuang Medicine: Journal Notes #64
Make sure to visit Wujifa.com and the Wujifa blog.
And stop by The School of Cultivation and Practice.