Monday, December 17, 2012

Habits, Patterns, Blockages: Journal Notes #108

Notes from my November 2012 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.)

* Note for November, I'm still not fully back to practicing my Wujifa zhan zhuang training on a daily basis. I am doing some stance maybe 2-3 times a week for 10-20 minutes a session. However, I am doing the Wujifa adjunctive exercises and my Tai-chi form every day.

* Instructor's question to me: Why do you come to class? You're not training. You're not following through on breakthroughs you make. Why do you keep coming to class?
My answer: I don't know. Habit I guess.

Instructor: What if I told you that you couldn't come back?

Me: I don't know.

Instructor: What do you mean you don't know? I can see the expression on you face. What are you feeling?

Me: I would be sad... There must be something I'm not noticing.

Instructor: That's why you get stuck. There are things you're not noticing. How can you notice more of the things you're not noticing? Like when you said you'd be sad but that didn't come out as a response the first time.

* When you're discombobulated, confused, uncertain, that's when you're in a position to discover something. If you're in your patterns, then you're not in a position to discover anything.

* Question: Am I doing the rubberband hands exercise with more connection and movement through my upper chest? I've been practicing this the last couple weeks.
Answer: You are still using too much trapezoid and rhomboid. You need to relax more and find out how the breath moves the shoulder. If you let the shrimp move, you'll discover connection.

There are many shrimp in your body. When you feel the Wujifa shrimp, then that will help you. You have shrimp in the shoulder, neck, sternum, and kua. You have many shrimp. Don't limit yourself. Learn how the many become one.

* Question: What are you talking about, "shrimp"? What do you mean by "Wujifa shrimp"?
Answer: Here's a whole body movement exercise. You can see a similar whole-body movement in the Zebra and Mantis Shrimp when they are escaping danger.

* Fa-jing is simply an umbrella term for the quick release of stored energy. There are different ways to do this once you figure out how to move internally.

* One blockage to progressing is being afraid to really get it and become part of that small minority who really got it, who became great; being afraid of putting yourself out-there, becoming "public", taking challenges, taking "the heat".

* You must be able to move, that is, not move in a manner you've grown accustom to and as you normally identify as moving. There is another quality of movement which when done, looks like sheets of theraband pulling and stretching under the skin.

* Don't tuck! Use a different focal point to get "tuck". Push in under xyphoid process on the inhale. This creates feeling of rolling the dan-tian, belly up which creates tuck without tension. Then on the exhale, roll the belly out, down, and forward which "untucks".

* Notice your level of your functionality. If you can see the bigger picture, you can see the level of dysfunction you have. Once it is exposed, then you see the problem and what you have to work on.

* (Victor Chao made a guest appearance at the November 25th class. Here is what I consider to be the key points):
  • We practiced a method that he's currently teaching to help develop "sinking" which involved dropping the weight to the front of the "Bubbling Well" point rather than into the heel.
  • He too noticed that I'm holding in my chest; not letting go and dropping enough. Rick suggested I get Rolfed on my rib heads to help free up that part.
  • Victor read my pulse (Traditional Chinese Medicine style) and said: Strong Qi. Weak heart.
  • We then talked about "Qi flow" and arrived at an understanding that "Qi flowing" has a particular meaning in the internal martial arts which is distinct from all other definitions and uses of "Qi". In the internal martial arts, "Qi flowing" is a short-hand, abbreviated way to say the bones and connective tissue are correctly aligned which allows a particular body quality to show up. (In Wujifa we call this quality, "connection".) "Qi not flowing" means the opposite, that something in the alignment is wrong. There's muscular tension or fascial adhesion which is skewing the skeletal alignment; no connection.
  • Keep the abdomen and butt relaxed. These muscles are very strong but what you rely on for muscular strength will prevent or inhibit internal development.
  • Need to develop and use muscles of the inner side of the thighs; muscles that you normally don't use. These are the muscles used to develop fa-jing.
  • Must practice many times throughout the day even if only a few minutes. Need to develop muscle memory. If you're only practicing once or twice a day, you'll never get there because what you're not practicing is what you are practicing. Whatever you habitually do is either building or reinforcing muscle memory. (Sitting behind a desk, steering wheel, lunch table, sofa, etc. 10-12 hours a day outpaces 1-2 hours of practice.)
  • "Dragon Waves Tail" in BaGua refers to moving the tailbone. The tailbone has to move for fa-jing to occur. If you practice stance and your tailbone doesn't move, then this is practicing the wrong way. Need to open and close with breathing. If not, then you are locking.
Further reading:
Introductory article explaining this "Journal Notes" series: Zhan Zhuang Training Journal
Previous article in this series: Back To Where I Was Six Months Ago: Journal Notes #107
Next article in this series: - Submitting to the Experience: Journal Notes #109

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