Monday, June 6, 2011

Changing My Diet: Journal Notes #42

Notes from my November-December 2006 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 were no notes for October 2006 and very few notes for November and December, so these months' notes are combined here.)

* Question: Does my diet, what I eat, contribute in any way to developing internal strength?
Answer: Eating habits determine energy level. For example, eating a raw, live-food diet yields the highest energy levels. Eating habits can contribute to improvements in stance but following any particular diet is not required.

(I think what's interesting about eating habits is noticing how my body feels when I change my habit. For example, when I gave up sugar, I had strong cravings for sugar - I call it sugar withdrawal. When I was growing and juicing my own wheat grass, a mere ounce of wheat grass juice gave me a jolt of energy which felt qualitatively different from the energy of a larger amount of a sugar-caffeine drink.

So while eating a certain way will neither contribute to nor detract from developing internal strength, for me personally, noticing the results of my eating habits has given me a lot of insights into how my body works. For example, eating a good amount of fiber in the morning can help me out in the afternoon.)

* Question: What do I do with all these different kinesthetic feelings I'm noticing? Is there some progression or something?
Answer: The progression is something like this:
  1. Noticing individual feelings (for example, local fascial stretch, tension, relax, numb, etc.).
  2. Connecting fascial pathways (refer to Anatomy Trains).
  3. Discovering how one feeling contributes to another feeling.
* The question came up again, How long should I stand each day? Answer:
  • First twenty minutes for health.
  • Second twenty to forty minutes for health and development.
  • Third forty to sixty minutes for development.
* In class, I was given repeated postural adjustments and I was able to feel where one kua muscle was relaxed in a previously incorrect posture and how another muscle worked harder when moved into the correct posture while the relaxed muscle was relaxed. The trick was to keep the relaxed muscle relaxed. The "activated" muscle was not strong enough to do the work alone. I noticed/got a much clearer feeling and understanding of what "relaxed" in the kua area means. I have something very specific to work on. Very, very cool!

* There is a difference between looking at and copying a movement based on sight (structure) vs. copying the feeling that gives energy to the structure.

(In the internal arts like Qi-gong, Silk Reeling, Tai-chi, Ba-gua and Xing-yi, many teachers only teach the external, mechanical movement and not surprisingly, many students only see and learn the external, mechanical movement. However, the real stuff is in the feeling; noticing what the body is doing to create the external, mechanical movement. It took me a long time to develop an "eye" for this.)
* Question: What does it mean to use the knee as a hip joint?
Answer: Using the knee as a hip joint means that the knee and lower back move but the hips stay locked in place due to chronic muscular tension.
(The first time I heard this, it made absolutely no sense to me, and for a long time after. However, the more I practice and deal with my own tensions as well as seeing tensions in others, the more I understand what this means; it's as if the upper femur and pelvis are fused into one bone which leaves the knee and lower back to function as a hinge instead of hinging at the hips.)

* Having flexibility in the hip allows you to use the hip to sink the weight without having to go into a lower stance, bending deeper with the knees.

(Another problem with tight hips that I experienced is that adjustments to my structure to get my weight to drop into my legs typically resulted in my "ratcheting down" with each adjustment. I've since learned that low stance is not required to sink the weight but the hips need to be more relaxed.)

* "Fascial stretch" are words used to describe a feeling that cannot be adequately described.

* Question: Do I have to resolve all my problems and get rid of all my armors to get internal strength?
Answer: Resolving problems, dissolving armoring is not required to get the basic structure, however, doing so does contribute to reducing the time it takes to develop good structure.
(Rolfing massage therapy has done wonders for improving my structure! I highly recommend this!)

* Question: What about using affirmations to help develop internal strength?
Answer: For most people, reciting affirmations doesn't work because there's no feeling underlying or energizing the words.

* Question: How does the old Bible verse, "Ask and you shall receive." apply in this practice?
Answer: If you read for data, you will get data. If you read for feeling, you will get feeling. You get what you are looking for.

Further reading:
Introductory article explaining this "Journal Notes" series: Zhan Zhuang Training Journal
Previous article in this series: Not the Usual Child's Play: Journal Notes #41
Next article in this series: Circle of Influence: Journal Notes #43


  1. Mr Mike,

    The right food in the morning makes for a great day. I think you are a very wise person Mr Mike! When the "turbid Qi" is expelled from the systems a man can truely smile.

    I like how simple and logical you present information here Mr Mike! I find there are always good ideas I can find for my own practice

  2. Hi Mike, love you blog, but want to caveat a raw food diet is not for everyone, especially those people with to much "cold" in their constitution from a Chinese medicine perspective.

    Caucasians tend to have warmer internal constitutions than Mongoliods hence they are better able to eat salads, swim in the ice cold river in winter, etc.

    best to check on one's own body type before committing to such diets.

  3. Thanks for the comments!

    Regarding raw food diet, I did about 80% raw for a while and had great energy but lost weight - tons of nutrition but not enough calories. So for that reason, I backed off to maybe 60% cooked and 40% raw fruits and vegs which is about what I'm currently doing.

    My cooked portion is maybe 70-80% whole grains and beans and 30-20% is meat and fish.

    It's interesting to notice the effect of different foods and eating habits.