Monday, December 19, 2011

How Do You Know: Journal Notes #70

Notes from my August-September 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.)

* The various feelings I've been experiencing in stance class like, connection and presence, are so unique and so different that I can't find any other data terminology to compare them to.
(This drove me crazy when I first started feeling these feelings. Now I've come to accept the uniqueness of this exercise. It's OK that there are no words.)

* Are you motivated by carrots or sticks? If I'm holding the stick, then I can't relax and respond because I'm holding the stick. Noticing the stick leads to a dead end. Noticing the opportunity when getting hit by the stick leads to....

* Finish all statements about your zhan zhuang experiences with "That's weird." Why do this? Because a statement/explanation is produced by the ego and reinforces identification with the thought. When you say "that's weird", you question the basis of the thought and this creates an opportunity to explore other avenues.
(There's a place for being definite and for being not definite. I've learned that there's a difference between getting clear on feeling and getting clear on the concept of or "the talk" about feeling... That's weird.

Notice the shift?)

* I'm still too focused on "doing it right". I'm still too stiff when I practice stance. I follow the rules too rigidly: notice, relax, balance, structure. A good medicine for me now is to do silly, uncoordinated, goofy dancing to loosen my grip on "doing it right". When I goofy-dance, I "feel" silly and embarrassed but my body responds by naturally relaxing. Goofy-dancing loosens my mind's grip on my body and my whole system relaxes naturally without all the effort I normally apply.
(As I mentioned in previous posts, I discovered I cannot compartmentalize zhan zhuang practice from daily life. Whatever attitudes I demonstrate in daily life will naturally appear in my zhan zhuang practice. "Relax" and "let go" cannot be a kinesthetic phenomena isolated to zhan zhuang practice. "Goofy dancing" is a method to help put me in a "relax and let go" frame of mind-body.)

* When you notice a pattern, then you have an opportunity to break that pattern and try something different.
(If you dare.... )

* Question: In stance class, you always look me in the eye and ask where am I. And then I learned about my pictures. Bringing this to my attention, I'm now noticing differences in peoples' eyes. What's up with this?
Answer: The level of intensity emanating from the eyes directly corresponds to the amount of relax and expanding-ness in the body. The two cannot be separated. Relax is about expanding. Expanding is not pushing outward. "Pushing" implies using force. Relax and allow expanding.

* How do you know?
(This is a great question often heard in Wujifa class!

Another great Wujifa statement is "Show me." This typically follows the response to the "How do you know?" question. Here's a sample dialogue from a typical Wujifa class:
"I feel Qi flowing." How do you know? "Because x,y,z." Show me.

"I feel grounded." How do you know? Because x,y,z." Show me.

The "How do you know?" and the "Show me." I think really contribute to keeping internal skill development functional and demonstrable.

How do you know?)

* Be specific on the edge of what you can influence. Playing on the edge of your circle of influence will expand what you can influence.

* You can conceptualize and visualize 1,2,3,4 - 1,2,3,4 and imagine connection but if you don't practice kinesthetically feeling connection through 1,2,3,4 - 1,2,3,4, then you won't get it.

* The method is not about noticing "x" and doing nothing about it. Don't just notice stuff. Rather, notice "x" and then use 1,2,3,4 - 1,2,3,4 to further refine "x" and in turn, then further refine your practicing 1,2,3,4 - 1,2,3,4.
(The 1,2,3,4 - 1,2,3,4 mentioned above refer to the Wujifa Zhan Zhuang alignment.)

* Question: In the last class you set me up and I felt a deep, lower belly relax. Over the past two weeks of practice, I lost that feeling, or have been unable to notice the same feeling again. How do I get back to that feeling again?
Answer: Whatever feeling you are noticing now in response to the method employed to help elicit that feeling is "the feeling". Think of "the feeling" as a point. As you refine and feel more and deeper, you can then look back at the various feelings you noticed. This is why it is good to keep a journal. When you look back, you notice that each feeling-point became a pointer to the next feeling. You notice the points line up to point to something. That "something" is the direction of progress.

For example, when you walk up a flight of steps, you use the same method to get from one step to the next step. With each step you notice that the view changes. You don't try to recreate the view from the previous step on the new step.

Similarly, with each "step" in stance practice, you notice changes in what you can feel. As you become more sensitive to a greater variety and depth of feeling, then what you are able to notice in yourself and others also changes. Your capability to notice and feel will change and deepen with practice over time.

(In Wujifa practice we are developing our ability to feel the internal kinesthetic sense of fascial connectedness. When I began this practice, I did not feel connection. In fact, I did not feel much of anything! Simply developing the ability to feel was not simple. Over time with practice, the feeling skill is honed and more areas of the body open to feeling. Slowly, glimpses of the connected feeling are emerging for me.)

* Question: You mentioned turning feeling into a method. How can feeling turn into a method?
Answer: The feeling can become a method if you keep going back to recreating and practicing that same feeling. If you stay stuck on whatever feeling you are noticing and feeling now, then you will not progress.

Further reading:
Introductory article explaining this "Journal Notes" series: Zhan Zhuang Training Journal
Previous article in this series: Developing Presence: Journal Notes #69
Next article in this series: - Building Internal Community: Journal Notes #71


  1. Goofy dancing... Silly dancing... I wish you would post a YouTube video of you practicing this. The giggles and smiles could help many relax more... Thanks you for sharing from the heart.

  2. Good Reminders, Mike. Thanks for helping advancing my practice with your sharing.

    Remember to watch out for bears.