Monday, March 14, 2011

Practice Non-Polarity: Journal Notes #30

Notes from my August 2005 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.)

* There are different translations:
  • Round the back, sink the chest.
  • Expand the back, soften the chest.
  • Keep the back straight, relax the chest.
This does not mean to do both. Take a deep breath, raise the chest up higher and higher and now let the breath out. Notice what you felt. The chest dropped and the back naturally rounded. Don't try to make the back round. Rather, focus on relaxing the chest, releasing the tension held in the chest as you do this. Get behind the feeling in the back. Feel where the force is going. In the beginning, just feel for a while.Slowly and gently, then amplify and grow this feeling. This is the correct approach. It is wrong to try to force the back to expand without knowing the feeling.

* Question: Is improved structure synonymous with increased strength?
Answer: Structure, balance, relax are all factors in strength. If any single one is perfect, then the others must be perfect as well. In the beginning, you feel the three as distinct but as you progress , the three become one and the same. As you work on each individually, you are working on the others as well. You cannot change/work on one without affecting the others.

* Question: Is it better to practice stance in silence or with music playing?
Answer: The best is to practice in silence and focus inward on the inner silence. But in the beginning, this is torturous. So you use music as a drug to soothe the mind, to keep it occupied. Eventually, you will wean yourself off this drug to stand in complete silence, stillness.
(In case this didn't come up before... when I first started standing, I used and hid an alarm clock set for 10, 20, 30 minutes. This was really difficult waiting for the alarm to ring and I would check the clock to make sure it didn't stop. I moved into listening to music and timed how long it took to get through to a certain song and then stood to the end of that song. As that got easier, I moved into just standing, no alarm clocks, no music but with a clock in view.)

* Practice under-ware. Not a-ware, and not un-aware as these are terms of polarity from the yin-yang paradigm. Focus on the fulcrum at ever increasing magnifications.

aware vs underware vs unaware
(This is a fun play on words, a kind of a koan... )

Further reading:
Introductory article explaining this "Journal Notes" series: Zhan Zhuang Training Journal
Previous article in this series: Xing-Yi Quan Five Element Seminar: Journal Notes #29
Next article in this series: Yin-Yang Wuji Fulcrum: Journal Notes #31


  1. What's under there?

    Did I make you say "Underwear" Mr Mike? I remember that joke when I was in grade school. Funny one isn't it!

    Mr Mike I like how your teacher taught you to escape that idea of yin and yang polarity in your "under- ware." What is under there? This takes on a whole new meaning when meta processes are explored that run "under there."

  2. Is it polarity when you talk about practice or is that hypocrisy?


    1. the practice of professing standards, beliefs, etc, contrary to one's real character or actual behaviour, esp the pretence of virtue and piety
    2. an act or instance of this

    This wonderful quote is quite revealing.

    "Hypocrisy is the art of affecting qualities for the purpose of pretending to an undeserved virtue. Because individuals and institutions and societies most often live down to the suspicions about them, hypocrisy and its accompanying equivocations underpin the conduct of life. Imagine how frightful truth unvarnished would be." [Benjamin F. Martin, "France in 1938," 2005]

    I believe that the same applies to "feelings". ie..Imagine how frightful feelings unvarnished (by layers of armour perhaps) would be.

    Perhaps it is safer if we return to our possum like nature. sniff...sniff...sniff