(There are too many notes from January classes to compress into one post and there are too few notes from February class for a single post. Therefore, this Part 1 is the first half of January and Part 2 is the latter part of January and February.)
* Reflecting on past few classes and past years...
* I'm becoming even more aware of the difference between 1.my ability to feel-sense within my body (the kinesthetic awareness I've often written of) which now seems like a kind of "mechanical feeling" and 2.something else that is more than the usual body-awareness feeling; more a kind of feeling that I think is referred to as the feeling of being "authentically present".
* In past classes I have been repeatedly led through an exercise which results in me getting to that place where the "real" me shows up. Recently I realized that over the course of my life, I easily get into this "state" quite spontaneously and naturally with particular people. With certain people we become the proverbial gasoline and matches; co-inspirators.
So I got to wondering, why is this particular "state" (it's not an emotional mood in the customary sense) so important for developing connection? How does being in an authentic "state" contribute to stance training?
Answer: Physiologically, the difference is between living life from the sympathetic system (fight/flight) or from the parasympathetic system (state of relaxed openness). Stance practice is not about troubleshooting and solving problems. Many of life's problems are not traumatic situations and yet we respond as if they were by either going numb and becoming robot-like or we "act out" how we think we should respond according to what we believe is appropriate. Watch CXW. He enjoys silk-reeling. He's fully present. He's not mechanically going through the motions like a robot.
Question: It seems that this "demeanor" can only show up when I'm with another person. It's as if it is the interaction that triggers this "alive-connection" or "authenticity". How can I manifest this "state" on my own?
Answer: Find and listen to old songs that can connect you to that time when you lived that demeanor, that is, when you expressed yourself freely and openly and shared a real connection. Let the music-memory recreate that feeling, even now...
When you are with another person, you put the focus on "we". You made the "we" of particular friendships responsible for your being "alive" instead of making "me" responsible for "my" aliveness regardless of whether you are alone or with whomever. Practice a little at a time. Remember, "Silly Dancing"? Do this too and nurture and sustain these feelings. Don't put them in a box as you've done in the past!
* As we talked through these questions, I became even more clear on the difference between the feeling of a "connected presence" and a "disconnected-mechanistic" feeling. And I noticed the clarity with which I can now distinguish the two; how both feelings truly come from me, and how easy it is to flip between the two!
* Remember the story of Goldilocks and the Three Bears? This bed is too soft (limp). This bed is too hard (rigid). This bed is just right (relaxed). Limpness and rigidity are both ways of resisting or blocking. Being relaxed is being alive to the world.
* Wow! So I finally understand the difference between the connected-present feeling and my disconnected "robot trance" feeling. Now that I recognize and understand this distinction, the challenge is to be in the "alive" state more and more.... particularly during stance practice... but it's not really a "challenge" because I can 'flip' into it as easy and quickly as a heartbeat... The challenge is not how to develop that state, but to how flip into it on my own without relying on another person to get me there.
* Practice this past week has largely involved paying attention to my "demeanor" throughout the day and 'flipping' into the more alive state.
Question: What I am now finding challenging in stance is that I can somewhat muster this demeanor but in so doing, I lose focus of feeling the details of my body and when I focus on feeling the details of my body, then I lose this demeanor. I assume the two are not mutually exclusive but I don't know which way to go. What would you suggest?
Answer: Go with what you are calling "demeanor" for awhile. Build this habit in. I'll bet when you lose demeanor you are adding tension somewhere. After you build in demeanor you'll notice feeling on a new level. The level of feeling you have been doing has kept you on a plateau. Sometimes we need to take a step in a different direction to move forward again later.
* The most common demeanor "state" that I've been noticing is a kind of weary resignation. I can 'flip' into a more lively demeanor but it takes some attention and energy to maintain. The former feels more flat and the latter feels more sharp. I suppose this is an improvement; being able to shift between these two feeling "states" on my own?
Answer: Notice the box you are using; "sharp and flat". And notice how you are speaking of the two as if they were things disassociated from your personal experience of each.
Try this as an example of sharing the feeling of the flat and sharp experience: "I love the energized clearness I feel when I'm "sharp". This sharp feeling feels so powerful to me I can even notice a bit of it as I'm talking to you about it. On the other hand, I also feel this flat feeling too. I feel dull and tired and off. As I say this, I even re-experience this kind of weariness now too. The amazing thing is that I'm getting excited as I share these states with you because I'm feeling both even more... now...."
Granted, you might say this differently but the point is to notice that by sharing your feeling instead of talking about your feeling as if they were dead objects, you notice how your boxes (the way you are sorting/categorizing your feelings) seem to disappear and how experiencing your two demeanor states are held more and more dearly. Continue sharing your exploration of feeling. This new phase is very exciting!
Introductory article explaining this "Journal Notes" series: Zhan Zhuang Training Journal
Previous article in this series: Unknowingly Lucky: Journal Notes #140
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