Monday, March 12, 2012

Feeling Letting Go: Journal Notes #82

Notes from my September 2010 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's the purpose of relaxing?
Answer: Relaxing allows the structure to be alive. Relaxing allows balance to show up.

* Question: What do you mean by relax is not limp?
Answer: Limp is a result of being too full of energy like anger or sadness. Limp is a result of feeling the pressure to express yourself but you don't want to be disagreeable or confrontational and so you hide and become limp, flaccid, dead. Limp is a strategy to avoid conflict. Let go of tension and don't go limp. Relax. Be alive.

* Question: So then can "peng" be the opposite of limp? In my compartmentalized thinking, I think of "peng" as only a physical quality. Is there a psychological aspect of "peng"?
Answer: "Peng" is also an attitude. You exude the same level of intent from your eyes as exude from your structure.

* Question: What's the difference between "peng" and bracing?
Answer: Bracing is one dimensional strength. A lot of people use brace and mistakenly call this "peng" or "internal strength".

* Question: So if bracing is one-dimensional, then how does the first Wujifa triangle represent "peng" or "internal strength"?
Answer: In terms of materials science:
  • Relax = Tensile strength.
  • Structure = Compressive strength.
  • Balance = Ductility strength.

* Question: How can I express more of my personality/humanity and get out of "data" mode; stop hiding behind the data?
Answer: Get into a more playful place. Play "Peek-a-Boo" with yourself in the mirror. Relax and let go also means to loosen up, to be more playful and not so serious. Allow more of you to show up.

* I had another amazing breakthrough experience in Wujifa stance class today! After an hour of stance, my legs got to shaking. On instruction, I moved my feet into a short bow and arrow stance. From the initial shaking/bouncing in both legs, I slowly alternated from this "double-weighted" position until I was bouncing from one leg to the other, shifting in a completely relaxed and connected manner. I now understand how this kind of relaxed movement is different from what I'd been mechanically producing and calling "relax". It's not a feeling like any I thought it might be. Something else! No words for it! Amazing!

* In the process of relaxing and letting go when doing the Bio-stool exercise, I get to a point where I'm seized by a fear that my back will break and yet, I intellectually know that that won't happen and that the exercise is beneficial and so I try to continue. However, I get stuck in-between Fear/Holding and Yielding/Surrendering and never get to a further Relaxing/Opening. It's like I want to let go but the fear holds me back, keeping me "safe".

* After a bit of discussion, I now have a better understanding of my issue with relaxing the muscles in and through the pelvis, why there is chronic muscular tension/rigidity in this area blocking the free flow of feeling.

* Question: What's the difference between habits vs. way of life?
Answer: Habits are based on armoring; the death process. A "way of life" is spontaneous and in the moment.

* In my own zhan zhuang practice, I notice it's really difficult to maintain the level of intention that comes much easier with guidance at Wujifa stance class.

* Question: When I relax, I can feel my back "rounding" sideways and when I don't relax, I feel it pull flat. Am I on the right track?
Answer: No! You're tightening the abdominal muscles and pulling the butt forward. You're doing an advanced tuck. This is a faux stretch! Don't do that! A lot of people get stuck here.

The problem is that you are feeling the stretch where you are looking for it but you don't notice that the stretch is being created by contraction on the opposite side. Get the vertical stretch/open first through relaxing the entire structure. As you relax more, the horizontal widening will occur naturally.

* Question: I feel like the rounding I was doing extends to the elbows but gets stuck there. How do I feel extension into my fingers?
Answer: First the rounding was wrong as we just talked about. Go get into zhan zhuang stance.

Me: I get into stance. After some initial structural adjustments, the instructor then proceeded to apply a gentle kind of stretch like he was somehow grabbing and pulling the fascia, progressing from stretching my fingers, to stretching my hand, to stretching my forearm, to stretching my upper arm, into my shoulder.

Instructor: How does that feel?

Me: I don't have words for this feeling. I can only say that it feels different in comparison to the other untouched arm.

My school brothers watching this then said my right arm looked fuller, more alive, more like the "Qi flowing" adjustment at a Chen Xiaowang seminar.

Instructor: Different how?

Me: I notice this feeling sort of feels like nothing but not nothing either. It feels kind of like a stretch but not a muscular stretch which feels more like pulling on something tight. This feels more like stretch without stretching.

Me: I really want to put this feeling in a box to pull it out and recreate it later.

Instructor: Just let it be. Feel. No boxes.

* Question: In last month's class I had that amazing full-body shaking experience. Should I practice to recreate this kind of whole body pulsating movement?
Answer: The people who make this their goal tend to get stuck there. Remember what Chen Xiaowang says:
  • (Begin) No shaking. Qi stuck.
  • Shaking. Some Qi flow. Some Qi stuck.
  • (After) No shaking. Qi flowing.
So don't get hung up on shaking. It's a sign post.

* The difference between doing stance and loving to do stance is the feeling you bring to stance.

* Another breakthrough experience in Wujifa zhan zhuang class! We had been standing for over an hour and my instructor poured on the structural adjustments to the point where my legs gave out and I collapsed to the floor. On my way to the floor, he said, "You just had it! You feel that?" At some level, this time I understood "letting go". In all previous classes when we went through this, I had no idea what he was talking about. The feeling an instant before the legs burn out - letting go.

Further reading:
Introductory article explaining this "Journal Notes" series: Zhan Zhuang Training Journal
Previous article in this series: Zhan Zhuang Questions: Journal Notes #81
Next article in this series: - Compartmentalization Compromises Connection: Journal Notes #83

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

1 comment:

  1. Mr Mike

    The feeling an instant before you fell on the floor. Mr Mike You have such a way with words!