Monday, October 11, 2010

A Little Honesty: Journal Notes #8

Notes from my July 2000 Zhan Zhuang Training Journal. I train with The School of Cultivation and Practice which practices Wujifa zhan zhuang. (My current reflections are added in italics.)

* I have a bad habit of moving the pelvis too much. Keeping the waist to heart locked and wobbling the shoulders in counter action to the pelvis. Practice keeping the pelvis moving level, moving the knees as little as possible and getting the waist to heart to stretch open but don't "raise the chi", keep it down by always sitting down.

* Two types of introspection: thinking introspection and feeling introspection. Need to develop the feeling side fully in all of life. If feeling and sensing is isolated to push-hands or the form, then this is fragmentation. If the whole me, the whole feeling me isn't pushing hands, then there will be something that isn't connected. There will be a broken path. If the path is broken it really isn't push-hands. Then it becomes an external style sticky hands.

* Tai chi is an internal art which means feeling!

* Here is a tool to help develop more awareness of feeling. (Fill in the blanks.)
1. I feel _______ . And the reason I feel _______ is because of _______ .

2. When I feel _______ , I want/don't want _______ .

3. When you say/or do _______ , I feel _______ .

et cetera
* The point in push-hands is to "connect" with the other person. To feel their center, to be able to uproot them. The exercise or training for push-hands is in real life - CONNECT to others through feeling. Through understanding and feeling your own feelings, you are better able to feel and understand another human, even your opponent.

* Typically, the greatest opponent is yourself. Myself. To allow myself to feel freely and not create new armor or block feelings, to remove old established blocks on feelings is a GREAT challenge. The latter requires the courage of a martial artist.

* In Taoist philosophy, the original "place" is Wuchi - no action. This is represented in the standing posture. No action. No intention. If a single muscle is tense, that indicates intention. So relax, dummy!
(This is a really interesting entry. Check this out . . .

notice the language-ing; imagery, imagine. These a head words, not body words. This entry looks like an instruction on how to get the feeling through imagination rather than a description of the feeling. Big difference! In the end, imagining sinking did not create the relaxed feeling for me called "sink". Playing with imagery only fooled me and bolstered my ego; I had more words and concepts that made me feel like I knew something.

The "chain in a tube" drawing comes from Erle Montaigue's Advanced Qigong Volume Two (MTG 175, 1988) video.
(At that time, I volunteered some web design time for Erle's website and though I asked for nothing, he graciously sent me a selection of videos. One of the videos was the above. I never actually trained with Erle nor any of his students but I have watched the videos he sent.)
So I went back to this video to see if he actually talked about "imagining". Here's an unofficial transcript from minute 14-16:

"Think about this concept that I've spoken about many times of a chain in a tube. And the chain is from the back of your head here right down and branches out to both heels. That's the chain in this tube. And it's stretched up or something. Now what you're gonna do is to let the chain go and sink everything straight in a vertical line...

As soon as you start the movement, you don't feel anything at first... As soon as you start to drop that chain, there, you get these feelings. I can't tell you what these feelings are... You must get them yourself...

It's like there's a sledge hammer hitting you on the head driving your feet into the g round. I'm trying to find anecdotes to tell you to bring it to you...

As you sink down, there are certain things that you may not see physically happening but there's a whole lot of stuff happening minutely physically and greatly internally at the Qi level..."
So I notice now that he's speaking anecdotally. He's not saying "Imagine..." Big difference! Yet somehow, at that time, I got "imagine" out of this. I now see this as a clear example of interpretive filters (generalize, delete, distort) at work. I didn't "hear" what was plainly spoken. He described what he was feeling and I distorted the anecdote into "Imagine..." And I didn't even know I was doing this! I didn't have a feeling to compare. I was stuck in imagination/visualization land.

Now that I'm beginning to actually feel relax and sporadically feel connectedness, I might represent the feeling of relax as transcribed in this old journal entry, or as Erle described it or maybe even another way. But representing a feeling and trying to imagine someone else's representation are not the same at all.

A more accurate entry might have been: Here's a couple ways others have described the feeling of "sink". Continue standing and relaxing and one day, maybe even now, I am discovering a feeling that I might describe like .... )

* The first intention to move generates polarities - left-right, forward-backward, up-down. These are the six fundamental directions.

* How to achieve Wuchi? In the old days in monasteries, you sat in meditation. This sitting removed every block by creating only one block - sitting. Then to achieve wuchi, the sitting block was taken away. In today's world, soma-psychotherapy can remove one block at a time. Different methods, same goal.

* Most push-hands resembles an external exercise. To play internally, play point/off point. Point/off point is played with intention inside. There are no visible external movements.

* Intention + Action = Intentionality. Spirit + Action = Spirituality. If you sit and meditate and imagine that you are spiritual, in fact you are not. Not until your spirit is put into action.

* You might have "good" intentions but they are impotent until mobilized in action.

* The action doesn't have to be the fully imagined action. A small step no matter how small starts the momentum. Keep taking small steps. Many small steps will take you a long way.

Further reading:
Introductory article explaining this "Journal Notes" series: Zhan Zhuang Training Journal
Previous article in this series: The Keys To Something: Journal Notes #7
Next article in this series: The End of the Road: Journal Notes #9

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