Monday, November 14, 2011

Keep the Plates Spinning: Journal Notes #65

Notes from my March 2009 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.)

* Think of the circus act of the plates spinning on a stick. Keeping all the plates spinning keeps you stuck because there is an effort involved and a consequence if the plates stop spinning. Being a Polly Anna, "Oh, how wonderful! Look at all these spinning plates!" is dysfunctional. She doesn't see how she's stuck. Not seeing how she's stuck, she can't begin to imagine how to let go.
(Practicing Wujia zhan zhuang over a period of time helped me identify where I was "spinning plates", where I had holding patterns, both kinesthetically in terms of muscle tension and in terms of everyday life patterns.)

* Question: If you have a lot of plates spinning, do you let them all crash or take them down one at a time?
Answer: That's up to you. Kinesthetically, bodies tend to unwind slowly which is like taking a plate down one at a time though some changes can feel like a plate crashing.

* Question: We talk a lot about simply "noticing". What do I do with what I notice?
Answer: Noticing leads to application. Do something with what you notice. See the big picture. Look for small opportunities first all the while moving towards the bigger vision. Work on the small opportunities. Apply activity to opportunity. What you notice that is not going toward your vision, may need some effort. Do something.

(Many small and incremental changes over time lead to large results. Patience and perseverance is a key characteristic.

The guy who's spinning the plates thinks he's persevering. In this case, he should just let the plates crash. This is different from the guy who wants something else besides spinning plates. The feeling of the guy who's persevering in pursuing what he loves is very different from the guy who's persevering just to keep life together.

One uses patience and perseverance to get through something, the other uses it to stay locked in.

The whole point is to choose between whether you want to be driven by intention or by externals.)

* Question: So say I notice a tension here. I want to make that relax. Is this what you mean?
Answer: It's not about trying to force something to happen. This creates dysfunction. It's about relaxing and allowing.

* It's OK.

* I see you.
(Practicing Wujifa Zhan Zhuang over a period of time has a way of taking down the spinning plates so the audience then gets to shift focus from the spinning plates to see the real person who kept the plates spinning.)

* Question: I've had some experiences recently with feeling opening. Should I focus on finding opening or on connecting and grounding?
Answer: The goal in stance is to connect and ground. Opening is a by-product.

* Question: Why is stance so difficult? Why does stance take so much energy?
Answer: It takes energy to keep things closed. If you are connected and grounded, then the energy flows through easily. It's not about trying to open but about allowing yourself to relax and connect. The difficulty you notice is your resistance to letting go.

* Question: Why don't I allow myself to relax and connect?
Answer: Fears. Habits. Patterns. Stance is a small chunk of life. The fears you notice in stance are the same fears you have in everyday life. Build in new habits for energy to flow through.

* Question: Is intention functional?
Answer: How you choose to engage your intention is what determines whether your use of intention is functional or not.

* Question: How do I get "person x" to connect with me?
Answer: You can't force another person to connect with you. You must connect with yourself first and then you will know how to connect with another.

* It's best to be flexible to be able to shift between moving toward what you do want and away from what you don't want. A functional mix is about 80% Toward (what you want) and 20% Away (from what you don't want). However, many people you meet have a mix of 99% Away and 1% Toward.

* Question: What's an easy method for me to know what's Toward or Away?
Answer: What's your favorite meal? "Steak". Your answer was frank and natural. There was no judgement. If you notice judgement, then that's Away.

* Don't make the feeling into a method. Any practice when done routinely can become a method. In stance, find another area to play and notice what happens. If you routinely focus on relaxing the shoulders, then change it up and relax the belly and notice what happens in the shoulders. When one part moves, all parts (should) move and you should notice this too.

Further reading:
Introductory article explaining this "Journal Notes" series: Zhan Zhuang Training Journal
Previous article in this series: Zhan Zhuang Medicine: Journal Notes #64
Next article in this series: Connecting Intention and Body: Journal Notes #66

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