Sunday, September 20, 2015

There Is Nothing to Understand: Journal Notes #136

Notes from my August 2015 Zhan Zhuang Training Journal. I train with The School of Cultivation and Practice which practices Wujifa.

Note: Throughout August, I continued to focus on my ankle problems and a knee problem. I received a new, ergonomically designed office chair at work. With this chair, I do not have the crippling ankle stiffness upon arising after an hour of sitting. This is a help. I've also been doing a lot of self-massage on my calves and Achilles tendons in the evenings. I began sporadically practicing Wujifa exercises. I feel like I'm coming to grips with how to practice without being motivated by a need to "get it".

Question: I've been doing a little sitting stance. But I don't know if I'm doing it right or not.
Answer: Sit in that chair. (After some adjustment to my head and torso), rest your palms on the tops of your thighs. Do reverse breathing. Very strongly into lower abdomen. What do you feel?

Me: Feels like something moving under the skin with the breathing.

* I had a huge "A-Ha" learning moment watching my instructor working with a new guy. Watching the two of them is like looking at my own attempt to learn over the past twenty years; intellectually understanding every answer and adjustment and not understanding that there is nothing to understand. I actually feel quite a bit of sympathy for him and I wonder how it is possible to get through to someone like him to help shorten the journey. Unfortunately, it may be the case that coming to this understanding is the first step to "getting it". (I also feel a lot of sympathy for my instructor who struggles week after week for years trying to get students to that breakthrough moment.)

I had read a book years ago, Get Out Of Your Own Way: Overcoming Self-Defeating Behavior however, I did the worst thing that I could possibly do which is ironically what I do best; I understood the material. I intellectualized the material and could not understand that understanding was my self-defeating behavior and this is what was in my way. My strength was not a weakness per se, but more a hindrance to progress. My own predicament which was invisible to me then is now blatantly on display in another. I wish I could yell at my twenty-year ago self: Do or do not! There is no understand!

* After class, a school brother and I were discussing "getting it". We both agreed that there is no direct cause-effect path. You can't do something to force "it" to manifest itself. The body-mind  process simply does not work this way. Where we disagreed however was in the how. I contend that you intentionally engage practices which set up conditions in the body for "it" to manifest itself; e.g., releasing chronic muscular tension and myofascial adhesions. He contends that the process is more about a mind-set of allowing. The practices are methods but primary to practice is the mindset of forcing or allowing which determines how you engage the method. This may seem like a subtle difference but it is huge! If the mindset is one of forcing, then the body forcing itself is not conducive to getting it. If the mindset is one of allowing, then the body allows. How do we know if we are forcing or allowing? That's what we eventually discover after years of practice.

* So one night after doing my PT and massage stuff, I did a little stance and the following internal dialogue struck me as one of those important insights:
What's left after wanting it is gone?

Curiosity.

Where can this be applied?

Anywhere. Choose something to focus curiosity on.

For the duration.

Where can I apply my curiosity in complete freedom?

In my own body.

Noticing changes everything.

Yep... processing some stuff....

Further reading:
Introductory article explaining this "Journal Notes" series: Zhan Zhuang Training Journal
Previous article in this series: Unstable Foundations: Journal Notes #135

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

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