Monday, May 21, 2012

Faux Feeling, True Feeling: Journal Notes #93

Notes from my August 2011 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: How can I apply the Quality Control principle to zhan zhuang stance practice?
Answer: You keep losing sight of the end goal by getting bogged down in the details of the method. Stand and relax is the process. The goal is to get the coin sized burn in the center of you quadricep muscles and feel internal connectedness. Your goal at this time is to feel and develop connection. Just work on that.

* Note: I was carrying the weight in my outer quadriceps. I've somehow moved that to the inner quad which left the outer quad softer in comparison.
(There is something to learn in which muscles should be activating or "firing" and which should be more relaxed to get the weight to sink and to get good alignment. Working on the musculature is a method that helps to both set up the body for and develop sensitivity to feeling fascial connection.)

* My verbal response ("That's weird") to new kinesthetic feelings is my way to judge and dismiss anomalies to my habitual state of feeling. The Quality Assurance way is to explore anomalies.
(Notice in your own practice how you respond to new kinesthetic feelings. Your response may either inhibit further growth or may foster further growth just as I have learned here.)

* When I come to class, I am "asleep", not present, pre-occupied, on auto-pilot, in a kind of zombie mode. This is the pattern I tend to run in daily life. Not very "in the moment". Not really "present". I think these are the fruits of my shutting down emotionally because I haven't learned a strategy to express myself without "getting in trouble" or without offending others. So rather than live authentically and piss-off some people, I choose to shut down and make nice. But this behavior directly contradicts the goals of my Wujifa zhan zhuang practice. How can I stay in the awake place I get to during class?

* My gong-fu practice should be to state my concerns everyday in the same way I tolerate others expressing their concerns to me.

* The biggest step is taking the first step.

* Question: Is the "push-up from heels" feeling a feeling of whole-body tumescence? (We were talking about how the feeling of "peng" is like the turgid feeling of tumescence.)
Answer: No. It's not caused by pushing. We then worked for 20 minutes on my zhan zhuang stance. Yes, pushing up from the heels does create a "peng" feeling. Then he had me shift onto one leg and asked me to create the same push-up feeling in the empty leg which I did but by using a different method, without pushing up, but more kind of like a mind-fullness filling the leg. So now the instruction is, when standing, don't push-up. Push up is a method.Simply stand with that feeling. Remember, the method is not the truth. Once you get the feeling, get rid of the method. But even the feeling of peng/tumescence is not the true feeling or goal either. Peng/tumescence is the finger pointing to the moon. Somewhere in the feeling of peng/tumescence you must discover the feeling of connectedness.
The point is that what is true at the current  level of feeling and understanding is faux at the next layer.

* Now I see a pattern to developing feeling - Practice methods to develop feelings. Practice feeling at whatever level I'm at to refine my ability to feel. Refining my ability to feel prepares me to feel at the next level.
(It's not a matter of "getting in touch with yourself" or developing "inner awareness". I've learned that these and similar phrases are too vague and ambiguous. The practice really is about developing a specific kinesthetic sensitivity.)

* Methods can yield a feeling. I relied on methods. Any feeling is not the end of the road. The puzzle is, how is the feeling achieved? For example, tense muscles can yield a feeling of connectedness but tension is not relaxed and so at this level, tension creates a faux-feeling of connectedness.
(There have been many times when I've gone to class and proudly demonstrated a new found feeling of connection only to be told I'm using too much muscle and that I need to relax more. These moments are both discouraging and at the same time I am grateful for pointing out to me how I'm heading down the wrong path.)

* Question: I've noticed there is no strength in the outer metatarsals of my right foot when I stand on my right leg. How can I strengthen the outside muscles of my foot to help keep me stable so I don't wobble?
Answer: The problem is not in your foot. The problem is that you are not yet able to notice your own muscular patterning. When you notice your foot rolling, I see your right knee turning out and your back is over tightening. You back is compensating for a weaker core. Work on strengthening your core first then you can relax and get your femur head to roll forward more which will help keep you knee in alignment and your foot will no longer be an issue to you.

* The "Seeing Test". I was talking about how I can see more of people's muscular patterns. My instructor then stood and tensed different parts of his body and asked my to identify where he was tensing. I was able to identify a couple easy ones but as he reduced tension levels and changed patterns, then I lost it.

Further reading:
Introductory article explaining this "Journal Notes" series: Zhan Zhuang Training Journal
Previous article in this series: Intention, Process, Results: Journal Notes #92
Next article in this series: - What I Never Understood: Journal Notes #94

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