Saturday, April 13, 2013

Submitting to the Experience: Journal Notes #109

Notes from my December 2012 and January 2013 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.)

December 2012
* It occurred to me in the two weeks since Victor's visit in November (Journal Notes #108) that Victor's approach to developing internal strength seems more "mechanical", not concerned with integrating the emotional aspect, whereas the Wujifa approach involves both physical and emotional. I brought this up in class and the way I would summarize our conversation is that Victor follows more of a traditional Chinese teaching style. And while it's not his style to talk about his personal life in a class setting, one of his close training partners observed that he made a lot of progress developing internal connectedness after going through a difficult situation in his personal life.

* Tim Ferris has a new book out called, The Four Hour Chef. We listened to a reading of a list of questions that we should ask in class that were gleaned from or inspired by this book. While it was pretty boring listening to a huge list of questions, it was also interesting in that the kinds of questions revealed a particular perspective or way to approach training.

* December was a rough, tumultuous month for me. I'm struggling with trying to understand how my one instructor developed internal connectedness while still maintaining what I am now seeing as points where he is emotionally stuck in his life. Whereas I believed I had to let go ALL my physical-emotional holding patterns, I'm wondering now if this is not entirely accurate. Maybe I'm fixated on my resistances and surrounding fears and so I'm not noticing-feeling the areas where I have relaxed and let go; where I can feel! Maybe the mind-body only needs to let go to the degree which allows feeling into those areas? I'm curious, confused and angry over this discovery. Is this really true or not?  What if I accepted where I'm stuck, stop fixating on the fear and simply work with where I am now? I've done a lot of work. Do I have to be 100% free of holding patterns to feel 1% connected?  Maybe not. I don't know. Maybe, fixating on where I'm stuck is keeping me stuck. Can I let go of this?

January 2013
* We had a long discussion about defining co-dependency and how behavior patterns in relationships show up as emotional-muscular patterns in stance practice; rigidity, flaccidity and unwillingness to look at and work on what others can plainly see.

* My school brother, Mr. L. brought a side photo of himself from a Rolfing session. While his ear to ankle line was fairly straight and perpendicular to the floor, how this was achieved was with many twists and compressions through his body. This was not initially obvious until we analyzed the position of each part of the body; head, torso, shoulder, and pelvis. Seeing how each part was tilted forward or backward and how tension pulled this part into alignment with another revealed just how much tension there still was to let go of. The alignment was not achieved from homeostatic relax but was held in place with tension.

* We talked about my upcoming book which looks at the pelvis as an arch bridge, the sacrum as the keystone, and the difference between bracing and arch. In an arch bridge, no matter where the downward force is applied, the force is transmitted to the abutments, the feet. With a brace, there is strength only in line with the brace.

* Question: If tension determines the limits to which I am able to relax, then can stretching, like in yoga or physical therapy, increase the extent to which I can allow relax?
Answer: No, because stretching stretches the healthy belly of the muscle and does not necessarily result in relaxing the full length of the muscle. A tense muscle doesn't necessarily mean that the entire length of the muscle is tense. Areas can get bunched. Stretching may hyper-stretch that part of the muscle that can stretch while the injured or tense part remains stuck. It's better to work to the functional movement desired and the muscle will naturally respond as it can.

* A stance practice for me. Take three breaths and with each exhale say, "It's Ohhhhh Kaaaa-eeeee. (O.K. - acceptance)" Continue until I feel the "in-body" feeling. When I did this in class, I get a soft, relaxed, present, feeling. Feeling without words to describe what I don't know. Not knowing and accepting. Feeling. Experiencing. Submitting to the experience as I did in class today without thinking, analyzing, critiquing is a huge change for me! Being soft and relaxed in the lower belly makes it easier to notice.

* I'm noticing that there's a difference between: Belly tight. Belly relaxing tightness. Belly relaxed-soft. The latter two look the same externally but internally the feeling is completely different. Belly-tight is the "six pack abs" look. It's kind of like tense muscles can relax but they can't be soft and in finding softness, muscles can be strong without being tense.

Further reading:
Introductory article explaining this "Journal Notes" series: Zhan Zhuang Training Journal
Previous article in this series: Habits, Patterns, Blockages: Journal  Notes #108
Next article in this series: - Feeling in My Eyes: Journal Notes #110

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

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