Monday, August 31, 2015

Unstable Foundations: Journal Notes #135

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

Note: Throughout July, I continued to focus on my ankle problems and did not really practice any Wujifa exercises. Also, I'm still struggling with how to practice without feeling a need to "get it" anymore.

Question: How can I practice without having the goal of "getting it" as a motivator?
Answer: (Summarized from a lengthy discussion) Use this phrase, "I get to..." I get to practice physical therapy and discover stuff about my ankle. I get to learn and feel deeper into my body instead of mechanically going through the exercises. Use your natural inborn curiosity to explore and move forward.

* If you're pursuing a goal then you're always pursuing a goal and not appreciating what you encounter on the journey. If you focus on exploring then you'll discover stuff in your exploration that you very likely would have not noticed or dismissed in your rush to the goal. Exploring can lead you to your goal and beyond.

* When we take our past and move it into the future, this is where we meet problems, for example, taking lessons learned in Tai-chi and thinking they apply to and can guide a Wujifa practice. Trying to make the old pieces fit in a new puzzle will not help you see the picture you are looking for.

* The future is a place to explore and connect.

* My school brother noted that I use tension to feel stretch, that I don't know how to feel stretch with relax. I've never noticed this before. He is developing a keen vision!

* In class, it was brought to my attention how much I enjoyed working with the "new guy"; showing and sharing what I've learned. Notice that. There's still a love for the art and a love of sharing.

* Practice had become another thing I had to do, another thing on the list with all the other things I have to do. By doing this, I influenced how I approached practice; "I have to...". How can I change this dynamic?

* Widening the hips means moving the greater trochanters to their outermost position; not pulled back, not pulled forward. Most people's are pulled back due to chronic tension through the lower back and gluteal muscles.

* Question: Is there a value to naming "the feeling"? Here's the context. I've noticed that "the feeling" will just show up in the body after the body reaches some unspecified, personal level of preparedness (call it "relax-release"). I've seen this happen with two school brothers and myself. However, one brother gave it a name, something meaningful to him, and now you can say to him, "Practice X" and he can go directly to the feeling. To call it "Qi flowing" is one name but certainly not personally meaningful to him or to me. In the past, when I've had my posture adjusted and I experienced that sense of "connection" (for lack of a more personally meaningful word), I said it felt like "nothing". And so I'm wondering if equating "it" with "nothing", did not help me. Thoughts?
Answer: You're main problem is that as soon as you reach that level of opening, you don't want to deal with the implications of this in your daily life and so you shut it down. You repeat this pattern. Open. Close. Open. Close. Regarding naming, don't say that "it" feels like "nothing" because "it" is not a nothing feeling. It would be better for you to say that "it" feels "faint". You can give it a name if you want but that in itself won't help you until you are ready to live with that level of feeling in your daily life as well.

Now, regarding the name that Mr. J. gave the feeling, the name he associated with the "feeling" represented a wonderful childhood memory; "the feeling" feels like ... to him. The way he feels the feeling and the name he uses to describe that feeling is meaningful to him and meaningless to you.

* Regarding your Achilles tendonopathy, you need to get a better physical therapist. At this point, the lumps on your Achilles tendons are not swelling, it's scar tissue. You need to get cross-friction massage and break up the scar tissue. You might want to look into Prolo therapy also.

(As I reflect on these notes, I think back to when I was a kid (in the '60s), I wore special shoes called "Thomas Heel". So maybe my pronation problem is something I was born with. Maybe fifty-plus years of standing and walking on an unstable foundation (wobbly ankles) has resulted in a chronic, low-level of anxiety-tension throughout my body. Maybe if the foundation is wobbly, then the structure above could be both anxious about falling down and compensating by tightening to try to hold everything up. This seems to fit with the class experience of relaxing in one area but the body then making micro-adjustments and tightening somewhere else. The structure is never really able to let go and relax because there isn't a stable foundation upon which to rest. Well, it's an hypothesis. I am going to look into getting orthotics again. I don't think this is the whole problem, but it may be one piece?)

Note: My July 2010 entry, Zhan Zhuang Foot Alignment, talks about my foot structure. At that time, I followed-up with getting orthotic inserts to correct the pronation. I used the inserts for six months and then stopped. A problem unaddressed five years ago is still a problem today. Imagine that....

Further reading:
Introductory article explaining this "Journal Notes" series: Zhan Zhuang Training Journal
Previous article in this series: Letting Go of Wanting to Get It: Journal Notes #134

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