Notes from my October 2015 Zhan Zhuang Training Journal. I train with The School of Cultivation and Practice which practices Wujifa.
Note: My Achilles tendonopathy seems to be on the mend, slowly. A left knee problem emerged; tightness, weakness. Going to PT for this now. Small gains here as well.
* In class, I had my first experience of “dropping” into stance. When I tried to replicate this, I could not. This leads me to conclude that dropping into stance is different than trying to drop into stance. In the former, there is a unity/presence, a naturalness, a spontaneity. In the latter, there is a separation of ‘me’ from what ‘I’ want my body to do. It’s not about doing, it’s about not doing.
* Notice how many times I deviated before having an honest expression before I allowed myself to simply drop.
* The amount that you can drop and just be there is the amount you can be approachable and relate to others.
* “It’s easier than you think.” This will go down as another great Wujifa saying. The difference between trying to relax and relaxing is that if you think about how to relax, then you’ll block yourself from relaxing. Don’t try to get a result. Try the following example. (Remember this?) Let your right arm go totally limp. Now have your partner grab your wrist and raise your arm in front of you. When s/he gets your arm about chest high, then let go. If your arm is really relaxed, it will drop and swing a few times before coming to rest. Now, do that in your body… with structure. Notice to what extent the muscles allow. If you can achieve relax/let go, then we can work on those muscles that are not letting go.
* Stop trying to make Wujifa fit you and start allowing yourself to fit Wujifa!
* You can’t do side-to-side unless you first have the ability to stand relaxed on one leg. You can’t stand relaxed on one leg until you first have the ability to stand relaxed on both legs.
* Wujifa is a very step-by-step, progress-oriented art that is congruent with the way the bodymind naturally relaxes, lets go, and develops.
* In the last class you experienced, but didn't recognize how moving one part causes another part to move. This could be due to tight, shortened muscles, your neuromuscular 'wiring' and/or fascial adhesions. The point is that you want to get to the place where you can move all parts independently; where moving one part does not result in the moving of another part. It is only after you resolve the stuck-ness of “one part moves then another part moves” that you are conditioned or prepared to begin exploring “when one part moves, then all parts move”. Does this sound contradictory? It’s not. In the first case, parts of the body are frozen together; shoulders/torso, pelvis/hips are typical frozen areas. Only after the frozen areas “thaw”, can a greater, more powerful unified movement emerge.
* Particular words/phrases can trigger a particular body response. (The slang phrase is, pushing "someone’s buttons.") When working with and talking to the body to get it to relax, open, and connect, it is important to know and avoid those triggers that would cause it to tighten, close, and disconnect. Hitting these trigger words from time to time is also a test to see how much the body has changed (if any).
* I noticed that when I go on my walks during workday breaks, I tend to walk leaning slightly forward with my chest leading and pelvis held and following. I've been practicing walking with relaxing and allowing more of a 'sloshing around' in the lower belly just above pubic bone. Then it occurred to me to actively lead with the pubic bone. So with each leg thrust forward, I simultaneously thrust forward with my pubic bone. I noticed that engaging my pelvis in this way when walking results in a different emotional feel than the more flaccid relaxing and allowing a 'sloshing around' in the lower belly.
* Sometimes I can be a real contentious jerk in class. For example, I came to one class eager to demonstrate a break-through I thought I made. I proudly demonstrated my “progress”. My instructor responded by further refining my structure. However, in this class, I got really frustrated that I couldn’t feel what he was noticing and adjusting and I got really argumentative. Why? We were working with my pelvis with tuck and untuck; trying to help me notice that relaxed spot between the two. I was hitting a resistance to letting go and I ‘fought back' emotionally, verbally.
* The pelvis is the seat of sexuality. Depending on how this sexuality is expressed or repressed and the emotions associated with this expression or repression hugely influence the muscular holding pattern around the pelvis. In my case, holding back expressing the sadness and resentment surrounding denying the expression of my sexual-ness is the root of why I cannot relax through the pelvis. Encountering the holding and asking it to let go and relax simultaneously releases the "pent up" emotions associated with the muscular holding.
* Come to think of it, as I'm writing this entry, my current knee problem emerged about the same time as I got serious about addressing this repression issue. It's as if the body has a mind of its own to keep everything locked in place... or the tension shifted from one area to another? I don't know...
Introductory article explaining this "Journal Notes" series: Zhan Zhuang Training Journal
Previous article in this series: Underlying Attitude: Journal Notes #137
Make sure to visit Wujifa.com and the Wujifa blog.
And stop by The School of Cultivation and Practice.