Monday, March 5, 2012

Zhan Zhuang Questions: Journal Notes #81

Notes from my August 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: I've been asking questions in class for a long time and I've never asked, "What's the best way to ask a question?" What's the best way to ask questions about my zhan zhuang practice?
Answer: The way you tend to ask questions is that you first explain how you arrived at the question before you ask the question.

Providing all that background only narrows or limits the range of possible answers. For example, when you say, "I read X. I saw Y. I'm thinking Z so how do I feel connection between my hips and shoulders?" then it's as if you have established the parameters through which the answer should be answered.

If you simply ask the question, "How do I feel connection between my hips and shoulders?" then this leaves a wide open opportunity for any number of answers. It expands the range of possibilities to explore.

(I've learned there is a mental-context and a feeling-context for questions regarding my zhan zhuang practice. As I transitioned my zhan zhuang practice from being a mental-construct based practice to a feeling-construct based practice, I had to relearn even how to ask questions about my practice.)

* At the August 1 class, we practiced a form of laying down zhan zhuang with guided bio-exercises (details withheld) and I experienced my first full-body reflex response; several minutes of spontaneous cranial-sacral pulsations moving through my body. Wow!!! Huge breakthrough!!!! After the pulsations abated and I was finally able to stand up, I felt very light headed and high-like, silly, free, open.
(The previous most amazing experience I ever had in class was two years ago on July 6, 2008. It took me a long time to get to where these major roadsigns on this path were possible. What I find fascinating and enthralling is that I never know what the body is ready to reveal or when...

The significance of this experience to me is that I believe some level of tensions/blockages had to be removed in order for this kind of whole-body movement to arise naturally. I say this because I've done similar exercises before without this response. Something in my body has changed!

Experiences like this give me a lot of "juice" and rededicating to practice is easy and natural!)

* Question at Aug 15 class. Over the past two weeks, my zhan zhuang practice has been dramatically different! I feel more in my torso than ever before!!! It's a completely and utterly amazing feeling! I've been noticing that my torso feels like one big hollow cavern wherein I can feel points but it's like I don't have enough attention to feel all these points at the same time. How do I feel and connect all these points?
Answer: You are still thinking of your body as separate parts: torso, arms, legs, where some magical Dan-Tian movement pulls the strings of the puppet. In fact, it's different than what you think!

Ask yourself these questions: How are you noticing? What are you noticing? How big is one part?

Remember, "When one part moves, all parts move."

What if your entire body is one part?
What if you and another person are one part?
What if you, another person, and the surrounding intention are one part?

How would that affect your frame of reference?

(Looking back, it seems I've gone through several phases or frames of reference to date:
  • Disembodied - Body exists to do bidding of thoughts.
  • Learning about body as a bio-mechanical collection of parts.
  • Becoming aware of body and still thinking of it as parts.
  • Having experience of awareness and sensing my body as a separate entity and still thinking of it as parts.
  • Having experience of unity of body and intention feeling, whole-body movement and still thinking of it as dis-integrated parts.
  • Beginning to think of my body as repeated in-class experiences point to; the feeling of whole-body movement.)

* Question: What do you think would help my zhan zhuang practice the most now?
Answer: Bring a more playful attitude and silliness into your zhan zhuang practice. You're still trying too hard. Notice without judgment. Judging creates a pause. Judging creates room to think which displaces feeling.

Before your practice session, put a question, "out there". Ask a simple question. Don't try to find or answer with analysis or logic data. Wait and notice what feeling shows up.

* Question at the Aug 29 class: During the last two weeks, I've been practicing zhan zhuang with a question, "How can I feel more connected?" and then wait for an answer to show up but I'm not feeling anything. How do I get this method to work?
Answer: It's like baking chocolate chip cookies. You get different results if you put the chocolate chips in before or after baking the dough.

If you start stance with the intention, "Oh bugger! I have to stand now." that intention frames the practice. However, if before you get to stance, you ask, "How can I feel more connected?" one answer might be, "I can practice zhan zhuang."

Then too, this depends on where you put the emphasis. There are different ways to ask the same question and different ways to interpret each question.

You may be getting the answer to the question you are asking but you are not aware of the feeling and intention beneath the words in your question - you are not aware of what you are really asking. Develop a sensitivity to the intention and feeling underlying the data represented by the words in your question.

* Question: I'm still having a hard time with Feeling, Understanding and Being Aware. Can you go over this again?
Answer: Feeling is kinesthetic. Understanding is data. Being is not Understanding. Being is not feeling. Being is more Aware. Awareness is the closest to reality without running through the NLP filters; generalize, distort, delete.

What happens when you let go of understanding? You'd probably have awareness - simply knowing.

* Question: How do I get peng?
Answer: Rephrase the question into:
How do I meet myself with a power that is not my own force?
What is the process of activity that a person can connect with a type of energy that is not generated by myself?

As long as you are caught up in yourself, you won't notice the force that's not yourself.

What's your understanding of "peng"? What is your understanding of "bedeezle"?

You attach your concept or understanding of others' descriptions to "peng" but you have no rational understanding to attach to "bedeezle".

You think your concepts of "peng" will guide you to the feeling of "peng" and yet you have not achieved "peng". So how is this approach working for you?

You might make better progress pursuing "bedeezle" for which you have no self-limiting concepts to run match to and you have only feeling "bedeezle" to be curious about.

(Note: "Bedeezle" is a non-sense word used to illustrate the point that having a concept of the goal I want to achieve can actually prevent me from reaching that goal. Even though I may eventually describe my experience of "peng" the same way, there are so many, many steps between here and there.

The road to "peng" begins with making an honest assessment of where I am now and beginning training at that level. Others I train with come to this same conclusion as well.

You have to give up what you want to work on where you are now to get to where you want to go.)

* Question: Why is it so hard to let go?
Answer: It's like dying. Something is ending. Something that kept you safe at one time is now what is holding you back. You don't recognize that it is no longer needed to keep you safe. You only feel the fear of letting it go.

But remember that letting go and surrendering are not the same as giving up and quitting. Surrender and let go but don't quit. Never quit surrendering.

* What people don't want to experience, they will hide in the area they don't usually use. For example, if someone is primarily Audio, then they will hide what they don't want to experience in Visual or Kinesthetic (because they are not primarily Visual nor Kinesthetic).

(Believe it or not, I've seen in myself and others who, when they say they want to relax and change to develop internal strength, and when receiving adjustments to their zhan zhuang, will quite unconsciously move the tension being worked on to another area of the body effectively avoiding the change they say they want.)

* Gaps and breaks are defensive. There is a need to defend because of a mis-identification in some way.

* I watched the movie, "The Bow" (2005), a Korean film where there is no talking between the main characters. They communicate with feeling expressions only.
(For a guy like me who long held that communication only happens with words and certain hand gestures, this was an interesting film demonstrating how much communication can take place with feeling.)

* Metaphors can be wonderful in that they are flexible. Their flexibility only becomes a problem to the mind that wants exactness.

Further reading:
Introductory article explaining this "Journal Notes" series: Zhan Zhuang Training Journal
Previous article in this series: Beginning How to Feel Connection: Journal Notes #80
Next article in this series: - Feeling Letting Go: Journal Notes #82

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

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