Monday, June 20, 2011

Match and Mismatch: Journal Notes #44

Notes from my February 2007 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.)

* Question: I've noticed in recent months that you've been adjusting my structure differently than in the past. Is this a different level of 1,2,3,4?
Answer: 1,2,3,4 is always the same. Now you're feeling and adjusting at deeper levels. As you relax and open the hips, you're getting more movement in the hips and relying less on the knees and ankles as a virtual hip joint. So the adjustments are in response to how your body is changing.
(In the most recent Wujifa class I attended, I noticed there were even fewer and less frequent adjustments to my physical structure. Rather, the more frequent "adjustment" was my instructor asking me, "OK, where are you now?"

For me, the increasing levels of feeling, of being present in my body is so overwhelming that "I" disconnect "psychologically". This is an armor that also shows up in other areas of my life. I tend to externalize and rationalize certain emotions rather than fully engage and experience them internally in the present moment. Stance practice is a great place to notice this and a safe place to work on integrating these aspects.

In my own stance practice, I am able to notice when I'm already disconnected and then when I reconnect but I'm not yet able to notice the moment when I disconnect or at a more subtle level, what prompts "me" to disconnect. This is one area I continue working on.)

* Regarding the way people sort or process information, here's how I understand "Match and Mismatch".

According to NLP, people run different meta-programs. What I'm calling "Match" is what traditional NLP calls "Sameness sorting", people who look for similarities. In "Difference sorting", people look for differences. Mismatch is a third type of sorting sometimes called "Same-ness/Difference sorting."

When I run "Match", I dismiss the uniqueness and value of a new experience by categorizing it as being the same as a similar previous experience. By claiming sameness, there's nothing new to discover in the current experience. Notice. Analyze. Match. Done. Next.
(I've discovered that I tend to run "match". While useful in some situations, when it comes to stance, this is another way I use to disconnect from the present moment; it's the same as 'X', so I don't really have to be here now. My tendency to do this is also a factor in why it is taking me so long to develop internal strength.

That said, "Match" is not bad when it comes to taking care of "To Do" lists. However, if it's the only meta-program I run, then it can become a sticky point.)

* Question: Don't I want to run "match" in stance, for example, always find and go to the "sunk" or "drop" feeling?
Answer: In stance, always run mismatch. Your stance is never the same from one session to the next. If you can notice at a fine enough level, even your feeling of drop changes each time you practice. Your body changes with every practice session. And in between practice sessions, your body also changes. It's a false mental construct to think you can duplicate the exact same feeling as last time.

* Question: How to work with counter moving forces? When I sink and push up, these cancel each other. How do I do both completely and simultaneously?
Answer: This is a phase you're going through. Once you notice down, you assume up must be the opposite. You assume both are distinct because you're working in a Yin-Yang paradigm. When you feel both as one feeling, then you'll have jumped out of the Yin-Yang paradigm and tasted the Wujifa paradigm.
(The sinking feeling is my noticing my muscles relaxing which creates a stretching kind of feeling as gravity pulls my softer, relaxed muscles down off my skeleton which by comparison, does not move. Pushing up from the heels is a trick to help notice the feeling of the skeletal structure, so I don't develop a collapsed structure. Remember, relaxed is not limp. Relaxing simultaneously creates a sinking and pushing up feeling, however, only focusing on the sinking, I can't feel the raising/pushing up feeling. Noticing both arising together...)

* When I practice at home, I can't hit that "sweet spot" that I'm guided to while in class. The place I get to in class then becomes my goal to try to repeat during the week in my own practice.

(In Wujifa class, I will receive adjustments that can take me five steps ahead of what I'm capable of producing on my own. It's like I'm shown what lies ahead. And then in my own practice, I try to recreate that kinesthetic memory, which I can't really do because "me" or "my body" really isn't ready to sustain that level yet.

For example, in a recent Wujifa class, I got to a point in stance, with minimal adjustments, that yielded a similar feeling of "intense presence" and connectedness that I felt about three years ago with a lot of adjustments. Three years ago, the feeling completely overwhelmed me; "blew my mind". This time it was a little more familiar and comfortable except that I couldn't stay with it.)

* Question: Is the Dan Tian feeling I got last time something to strive for?
Answer: No. The feeling of the Dan Tian will arise naturally through your regular practice.
(Here's another example of my tendency to want to match my present practice experience to an experience in the past. In this case, by inquiring about whether I should force myself to find a feeling based on where my body was yesterday, last week, last month...

It's easy for me to get stuck trying to force a feeling I heard or read about, or have some mental concept about, or I
get stuck on trying to recreate a feeling I once experienced. For me, it's more challenging to stay present, work at the level I'm at and notice how the feeling keeps changing and evolving.)
* Question: Is the feeling of connection more kinesthetic or more a general awareness?
Answer: You're asking from a Yin-Yang perspective. Jump out of this.
(Again, I was looking to try to match the feeling I didn't yet feel to some concept or other feeling I once had instead of being present in training and noticing, and trying to describe whatever feeling I'm noticing. When I tried describing recently what I was feeling, I was told, "What you're trying to describe is the feeling of connectedness.")

* The body remembers the energetic experience but the memory assigns different meaning to that over time. Strip away the meaning you've assigned and get to the feeling experience.
(For me, another problem with "match" is that I tend to match to concepts and meanings assigned to kinesthetics and so my trying to match to a kinesthetic feeling will usually be mistaken. "Match" always works with the past. I make the most progress when I am present.)

* The terms "open" and "closed" depend on which art names the feeling. The point is to be able to feel and do both and not get caught up arguing semantics.

* The clearer the purpose, the better the teacher will be.

* We read a children's story in class: Hou Yi Learns Archery. What I got from this story is that a teacher can teach you the skills but cannot give you the experience in applying those skills. You have to gain experience on your own.

* Question: What's the difference between bracing and internal strength? Pushing against two people, one using brace and one using internal strength, both feel the same to me.
Answer: Bracing means to line up the structure so it is rigid and strong in one direction. The problem with this is that if you are pushed (take a force) from off-point of the brace, then you are weak and have to re-adjust the brace to that direction. True internal strength is more like an egg in that it has strength in all directions. The entire structure can take pressure from any direction.

(From my experience, bracing is the easier internal skill to master. However strong bracing is, brace is not the real internal strength. The more I practice, the clearer the distinction becomes as my instructor points out to me when I am using brace and when I'm using the real internal strength. I tend to fall back and rely on brace when the incoming force overwhelms what my fledgling and weak internal strength can ground.)

Further reading:
Introductory article explaining this "Journal Notes" series: Zhan Zhuang Training Journal
Previous article in this series: Circle of Influence: Journal Notes #43
Next article in this series: Getting Up and Down: Journal Notes #45

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