Sunday, September 28, 2014

What's Sex Got To Do With It?: Journal Notes #125

Notes from my August 2014 Zhan Zhuang Training Journal. I train with The School of Cultivation and Practice which practices Wujifa.
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If you've been following this blog for the five years I've been writing, you'll know that I've never directly referenced genitalia or sex. The astute reader likely thinks this is odd since the pelvis contains, among other things, genitals, and genitals were designed for sex.

You should know that in the non-public, that is "indoor" classes which I blog here, genitalia and sex are in fact mentioned routinely. It has been my own sense of what is proper to write about which has prevented these class notes from going public as it were.

Something has shifted in my practice recently and I don't feel compelled by the same inhibition. And so beginning with this Journal Notes entry, I will begin providing notes that discuss the role of sexual expression in developing connection.
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* I've been practicing the laying down exercise; lay on back, feet flat on floor (knees bent up) with feet a little closer than hip distance apart, coordinate breathing with knee movement; breathe in and knees splay out to about a 45 degree angle to floor and breathe out and knees return to upright position. The key is to breathe into the lower abdomen so the area immediately above the pubic bone on inhale feels like a pressure pushing the knees apart and on exhale the knees return to upright.

* Through the month of August, I was waking up just before 6:00 am and practicing zhan zhuang for 30-40 minutes before going to work. Some of these morning sessions were more like "sleepy stance". In the evening I would practice other exercises like the mini-breathing squats for 30 minutes.

* I go for a walk each day during break at work. On these walks I focus on letting the lower abdomen just above the pubic bone relax and move as it will. One day while walking I noticed this area moving more than it had been. By the end of my 20 minute walk, that area was getting sore and I got a little scared of what might happen. (Nothing happened.) Whenever I walk, I focus on letting go of holding in the pelvic area as much as possible. I interpret this feeling like my hips are swaying with a feminine quality.

* Question: Now that I've noticed this holding and release just above the pubic bone, what is the next step? How do I work on this?
Answer: Don't "work" on it. Continue to set the intention to allow movement to show up and remain in the moment with it.

* Let's say that you have a knotted ball of string. Loosen one knot and focus on how that change impacts the whole. Don't continue focusing on that knotted area. Don't compartmentalize. Focus locally, notice the result, then focus globally and notice the larger result of that "isolated" result. This is the process.

* Me: I've been practicing the baby rollover that I learned in July and I think I've made some good progress.
Instructor: Show me.

Me: I demonstrate.

Instr: That is much better. Can you do it with more relax?

Me: I don't know. How? Where are you seeing not relax?

Instr: Drop your head. Relax your solar plexus/xyphoid process area. Don't go limp. Good. Now try again.

Me: I do it but with some shaking and jerking. I feel like crying. I want to call the change subtle and distinct but it is a huge change! I feel more of my entire body elongating.

* Question: Is shaking during zhan zhuang practice the door to fa-jing? I ask because when I was standing the other day, I was shaking and there were some very sudden drops which left the hands behind giving the impression of projecting the hands forward.
Answer: No. Shaking appears at the cusp of letting go. Shaking is oscillating between relaxing and holding. It is your brain saying, "Relax! No! Hold on! No! Relax! No! Hold on! No! Relax!..." much more quickly than you can form the concepts and words. When you get shaking, take a deep breath and relax. Let go. Calm down. You may get a few violent shakes afterward and that's OK. The goal is to relax, not to shake. Shaking is a byproduct of relaxing.

* The external way is to use muscles to force the desired structure to appear. The internal way is to relax and discover how the desired structure shows up.

* Those who are dedicated to a system tend to see through the lens/filter of that system. It is difficult for them to compare the internals of a different system to the internals of their own.

* People can't do whole-body (some say six harmony) movement because their pelvis is locked. You've got to get the pelvis freed first! Some women have a very free pelvis but it is disconnected from the heart and mind. Unlock the pelvis and connect it to the heart and mind.

* Data is a tool. It is useful but it is not the truth. Data is one step removed from feeling which is true. Concepts and words remove us from the present. Change perspective.

* When most people say, "That's interesting", what they find interesting is usually a trigger that inspires them to create action, to pursue what they find interesting. I used to be like that, following my curiosity. Part of my shutting down has been to diminish what I find interesting by putting it in a box labelled, "That's interesting" and then ignore it instead of explore it to see where it might lead.

* How does this show up in your practice?

* Question: What is a good student?
Answer: One who asks, "What is x?" and then says, "Show me." and then goes home and practices x, returns in a week and asks for verification. A good student is one who is curious and open about feedback.

* A word can evoke an image. An image can evoke a kinesthetic expression/emotional feeling. A kinesthetic feeling can evoke an emotion and vice versa, an emotion can evoke a kinesthetic response. Opening a long locked-down ano-genital area can evoke feelings which may be conceptually interpreted as threatening one's sexual identity. The response to this can be a renewed closing or shutting down to those feelings to keep the rigidity of the identity intact. Only when you notice this cycle, are you then able to change it.

* The "Gold Standard" of internal connection is, "When one part moves, then all parts move." Few if any are capable of going from 0 to 100 in three seconds. How do you get there? Deconstruct it. Dumb it down. Simplify it into a wide variety of simple exercises to develop feeling, to help the person get past their armors, to build a repertoire of kinesthetic feelings. THEN and only then can you begin to connect these experiences to develop a generalized feeling of connection. This is the Wujifa path to begin developing "When one part moves, all parts move."

* I realize now that for many years I completely did not understand the vision of the various exercises I was doing. I saw them as isolated, unrelated instances. Now I see more clearly how the various exercises are extracted methods of the "When one part moves, all parts move" kinesthetic quality. It's all to easy to get caught up in individual methods and lose sight of the purpose... even when repeatedly reminded!

* The phrase, "Where the mind goes, the chi follows." also means that language, words, semantics are a reflection of how the mind is operating. The words I use are a linguistic expression of my body disposition at that moment. The flip side of these phrase is "Where the mind is stuck, the chi is stuck." And by extension, where the body is stuck, so too the chi is stuck and so too the mind is stuck.

* If a practitioner for whatever reason is holding back from pursuing or engaging in sexual activity, it seems that the unconscious fascial response through the genital/kua region, that is, which connects from hip to hip through the genitals, assumes a "holding" pattern which is not relaxed and so inhibits the ability to feel in general and feel into the pelvis specifically. (Those who regularly engage in sexual activity but are holding somewhere else will also find it difficult to feel into their body.)  If sex is where you are holding back, know that holding is holding and letting go and relaxing the holding, will open a door to discovering more feeling and internal connection.

* Question: Why do you sexualize everything?
Answer: Back to you, Why do you interpret what I say as being sexualized? The truth is that 99% of people's problems are in their pelvis, including you. Getting the pelvis unstuck is the key to developing connection. Because the pelvis contains the ano-genital structures and this is where people are stuck, how else am I to talk? So if your structure is revealing that you are holding in your penis, the easiest way to talk is to say to drive your penis forward. And you have seen for yourself how you have difficulty with this simple exercise.

By nature we are sexual beings. We are only here today due to thousands of years of sexual activity of our ancestors. Ironically, we live in a society of sexual creatures that dampers their natural action/expression. You have to find a balance of expressing feeling without engaging in socially inappropriate action.

Most people drive their pelvis forward by moving the spine because the muscles in the back are locked. When the back muscles relax and let go, then the pelvis can rotate on the femur heads. You can't feel connection through slackness or tightness.

* Everything is Wujifa follows the principle of connection. Beginners look at parts. Working on parts is a useful method for beginners. But the principle of connection is to look at the whole. So if you see only a part, then this violates the principle of connection. As you gain skill, then look more globally. For example, if you only look at the front channel or the kua, or whatever, then you violate the principle. It is useful to understand how the parts work but getting stuck at the part level violates the principle. As a caveat, beginners should not try to do full body viewing because they overlook their own habitual disconnection. Hence, the reason for the methods that work on parts is to help the beginner notice and feel deeply into that part (even if  "deeply" for that person at that time is in fact very superficial).

* You can notice what you notice. You cannot notice what you do not notice. This seems to be an obvious truth but it is often overlooked.

* If you look at one part, the tendency is to ignore other parts that you're not paying attention to. So if the exercise is to only practice moving one part, you may inadvertently move five other parts. Hence, it is critical to have someone notice for you; to bring your attention to what you are not noticing. (The "noticer" will only be able to notice in you what s/he has already resolved in him/herself.)

* Me: Recently in zhan zhuang practice I noticed my entire torso from top to bottom inflate with each inhalation. (I demonstrate.)
Instructor: Good but don't go down that path. The problem is that you're hinging/bending the back to get that feeling.

Me: I didn't notice this.

Instr: I know. Can you get the same feeling AND keep the back straight?

Me: (Trying)

Instr: Now you're slightly rocking your pelvis.

Me: Now that you mention it, that is barely perceptible.

Instr: Barely perceptible to you. Obvious to me. The way you are rocking your pelvis is causing you to lose connection. You're losing upward force. Keep the pelvis rigid (as a temporary medicine) and feel the upward force.

* Question: I'm continuing practicing laying down breathing. Is there more to this exercise? I feel like I'm doing this exercise better now. I'm really focusing on relieving the stuck point between my femurs and pelvis that caused the pelvis to move. I'm feeling the breath pushing the legs apart and I feel a pulling of the legs together.
Answer: You're not breathing entirely into the lower abdomen (into the pubic area). You're breathing partly into the chest. This is a leakage. You need to have all the breath go into the pubic/kua area. Try this. Put your hands on your chest. Breathe in and raise the chest. Now breathe out and lower the chest. Notice the location of the chest on complete exhalation. Now, without moving the chest, breathe into your pubic/kua.

Me: I get more breathe into the kua. Wow! That's interesting. (I'm trembling after a few breaths.)  I get this at home but after 15-20 minutes of practice.

Instr: You start trembling when the charge gets into the pelvis. You just plugged a leak and so now more charge is going there more quickly. What is the trembling saying?

Me: Nothing. No words. Just an "ahhhh" sound.

Instr: If you gave it a voice, what would it say?

Me: "You go girl!"

Me: (surprised at the words that just came out of my mouth) "Whoa! That's weird! Why would it say that?"

Instr: You've got to wake up your penis (your male genital energy). It's been sleeping too long.

* Trevor Skyped in from California. He's making great progress! When you train like Trevor is training then you make progress. When you don't put in the time, then you don't make progress.

* After work one day as I was walking to the car, I was thinking, "Lead with penis" and I felt a little forward opening and then just as suddenly a thought spontaneously appeared, "Don't stick that thing out there! It will get cut off!" My conscious reaction to that was, "Oh, so that's how deep traumatic muscular memory goes!" (I was circumcised when an infant and like most guys never thought anything of this. About ten years ago I started reading about genital mutilation and its deep psychosomatic effects on individuals and society at large.)

Further reading:
Introductory article explaining this "Journal Notes" series: Zhan Zhuang Training Journal
Previous article in this series: The Intention to Roll Over: Journal Notes #124
Next article in this series: Exercise for Kua Freedom of Movement: Journal Notes #126