Monday, December 27, 2010

Practical Non-Attachment: Journal Notes #19

Notes from my July 2004 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.)

A "theme" in this month's journal entries seems to revolve around how to practice non-attachment to feeling an idea of the feeling; why "not knowing" can lead to a step in the right direction.

* Don't think about what something will feel like based on books or hearsay. Just practice the pattern drills until the feeling reveals itself to you.

* A fellow student, after having his structure adjusted said he could feel "something weird" in his tan-tian area and that the feeling wasn't what he thought it would be. This is why we avoid saying that "the feeling" is "X,Y,Z" because then the mind starts looking for, starts imagining, starts creating X,Y,Z feeling and you wind up missing the self-discovery of the real feeling.

* Just do the exercises. Keep focused on feeling the fascial stretch and one day you'll feel your tan-tian. It all happens quite naturally. Once you get the feeling, then discard the method that brought you to the feeling. (The method is not the truth.) and then focus on amplifying the feeling.

* Another example of why we use contradictions to speak the truth. For example, if the question is: "Is the feeling subtle?" and if the answer is, "Yes", then you'd look for something subtle and you'd miss a dramatic feeling. If the answer is, "No", then you'd look for a dramatic feeling and miss the subtle feeling. Either feeling, subtle or dramatic, may be the next "a-ha" moment. So.... the feeling is both and neither. It is like.... maybe... . Speak of the feeling obliquely and in ambiguities so the mind has nothing to attach to.

(I grouped the above entries as I did because these all speak a single truth to me. I have heard many teachers and read many articles expounding just the opposite advice; focus on the tan-tian, feel a warm ball of energy or imagine hanging from a string attached at the top of your head, etc... None of these artificially produced or imagined "feelings" helped me at all. When I tried using my mind to forcefully will a feeling I got nowhere. Now I'm taking a more Zen-like approach of simply noticing what shows-up. )

* Teaching how to develop internal strength is an art in itself.

(I've discovered the truth in this statement for myself! There are a lot of teachers. There are fewer masters. There are fewer masters with some level of internal strength. There are fewer masters with some level of internal strength who teach how to develop internal strength. There are fewer masters with some level of internal strength who teach how to develop internal strength who have students who are developing internal strength. No wonder there are so few people actually "getting it". There is a difference between "having it" and being able to teach it. )
* I need to be able to roll the femur heads forward. Could practice while sitting as well. Still can't get them forward enough but getting closer as I was able to feel the "hot spot" faintly and briefly.

* Progression of practice for me:
  1. Correct stance
  2. Side to side
  3. Silk reeling
  4. Tai-chi form
* Without correct stance, you won't do side-to-side correctly. If you don't do side-to-side correctly, you won't do silk reeling correctly. If you don't do silk reeling correctly, you won't do Tai-chi correctly. Period!

* You know you are standing correctly when you get a searing burning pain in the quads, mid-upper, outer thigh.

(A question came up in class one time, "How do I self-validate if I'm doing stance correctly or not?" and one answer is, if you get that burning pain sensation in your mid-upper, outer thigh, then you are sinking your weight.

I regularly use this as one of the calibration points in and outside of practice. I play with how quickly I can "drop into my legs". And especially in practice, how intense can I get that feeling and how long can I endure it?)

Further reading:
Introductory article explaining this "Journal Notes" series: Zhan Zhuang Training Journal
Previous article in this series: Relaxation Riddles: Journal Notes #18
Next article in this series: Chen Xiaowang Seminar 2004: Journal Notes #20

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