Sunday, September 13, 2009

You Are Where You Are and That's Where You Start

A lesson I am still learning is identifying where I am, what I am capable of, what I am ready for.

As I mentioned, in my early days I thought I was ready to jump in to the higher level stuff like learning forms, push-hands and sparring without having a grounding in the fundamentals. Even now, in my Zhan Zhuang practice, I tend to not content myself with noticing and discovering where my " here and now" is, but will ask conceptual questions which would not merit asking were my capabilities and understanding at that level. I still approach a feeling-based practice with thinking-based habits.

Here's an example.

I'm playing with the Gao Style Bagua Ban exercise as posted on the Wujifa blog and I'm curious about how Ban works the kua as compared to the Wujifa side-to-side exercise.

Ban is obviously much more 'active' with larger physical movements and I initially had a difficult time noticing the kua open and close. Then I played with the intention of closing the kua on the bent knee side and opening the kua on the stretched out leg side and I could feel the movement a little clearer and deeper.

And when I bring this intention back into side-to-side, I find I can notice a little bit more in the quieter movement of side-to-side. However, playing with too much intention causes me to force a feeling and a thought. I could also relax and feel the feeling already there.

So where I am kinesthetically is noticing and feeling the kua open and close. Yet, I asked a conceptual question like, "So does fa-jing work by developing a quick, forced, side-to-side muscular contraction?" and the answer I got was, "No, you relax quickly."

Relax quickly? How does this work? The monkey mind searched frantically for a match, for a hook, something, anything to make sense of this two-word koan. Relax quickly.

The conversation then turned back to where I am now. In relax, what do you notice? Do not try to notice something. You are not looking for anything. Rather, simply, relax and notice what is there. What you notice is where you are and this is where you start.