Monday, April 23, 2012

Noticing the Emotional Wall: Journal Notes #88

Notes from my March 2011 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 have the habit of saying, "That's weird" in response to noticing a new kinesthetic feeling in stance practice. In this context, I notice that feeling precedes thought. However, I have the same verbal response to a variety of new kinesthetic feelings. Why would I respond with, "That's weird"? What could be the underlying intention or pre-supposition to my saying this?
Answer: Knowing you, Mike, it could be judgment. I've seen you curious and I've seen you judge and shut down. Try being curious without the judgment. What do you notice?

* During stance practice in class, our instructor adjusts our zhan zhang postures. While working on one student, some emotions started surfacing from the adjustments. In response to this, I noticed that I disappeared into "stance trance". I went emotionally numb. Later I realized that I'm afraid of feeling emotionally charged situations and so I shut down, withdraw, disappear. I do the same thing in zhan zhuang when the kinesthetic feeling overwhelms me.

* During a class where we did a lot of bio-work, I recognized my "baseline feeling", meaning, the amount or level of feeling I usually connect with, which is more a disconnected, non- to little-feeling state. It's where I'm in a "lifeless data mode", where there is no "sparkle" in my eye. It's where I feel emotionally "safe". We spent some time trying to get me to display named feelings on command. I couldn't do it. I don't know many feeling labels or names. All this work left me very tired but my body relaxed and opened up a bit more.

* I was thinking about how exhausted I was after class the other day. I recalled a comment, "It must be very tiring to keep that wall up." I need to learn how to connect with and express emotions and stop holding up the wall against emotional feeling.
(The deeper my practice gets, the more often I find that feeling is feeling. I repeatedly find a direct link between my ability to feel kinesthetically and my ability to feel emotionally. To the extent I block feeling one is the extent to which I block feeling of the other. To the extent I engage and feel one is the extent to which I engage and feel the other. Progress in deepening feeling kinesthetically hinges on progress in deepening feeling emotionally).

* We had a long discussion about questions, principles and processes. The main point to get is that when you are clear on your purpose, then you will be clear on what is "in scope" and what is "out of scope" when it comes to what you need to practice.

* I've been practicing the 3 breath cycle method we talked about last month and have noticed the following:
  • It's possible to keep track of the count without counting.
  • Counting helps to keep the mind engaged and reduces wandering thoughts.
  • Toward end of practice sessions, I'm able to keep some mind in body and some keeping track of count.
  • I had an idea to log what I noticed holding and letting go of and made an effort between sessions to check-in on one of those and let go if tense and what life situations cause it to tense.

Further reading:
Introductory article explaining this "Journal Notes" series: Zhan Zhuang Training Journal
Previous article in this series: Ph.D. Level Gong-Fu: Journal Notes #87
Next article in this series: - Setting Your Intention: Journal Notes #89

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

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