Monday, March 30, 2015

Stop Expecting the Feeling to Be Like Something: Journal Notes #131

Notes from my February 2015 Zhan Zhuang Training Journal. I train with The School of Cultivation and Practice which practices Wujifa.

* My "do it my way, have to be right-ness" is my armor that is preventing me from learning. I won't make progress until I submit which means letting go of these deeply ingrained attitudes, beliefs, judgements.

* Question: About the mini-breathing squat, I can feel the inhale pressurize my lower abdomen on the rising part of the squat but I can't feel a depressurizing on the exhale. How can I feel an equal but opposite feeling?
Instructor: Lay on your back on the floor. Then one school brother is instructed to push down on my chest (to prevent chest breathing). Our instructor then leaned over me, his straight arm ending in a fist, pushed into my lower abdomen just above the pubic bone.

"Breathe out. Now, as you breathe in, push up against my fist. OK. Good. Now breathe out just a little and maintain that push against my fist and stop. And then a little more and stop... and a little more and stop." We repeated this until my breath was fully exhaled. "What did you notice?"

Me: The exhale was more like a stepwise lessening of the inhale/pressure. It felt like pressurizing in the other direction.

Instructor: Good! That's a big breakthrough for you! Now, stand up and do the mini-squat.

Me: (I do.)

Instructor: That looks more like mini-squats! What's different?

Me: I think I was expecting the exhale to have a certain strong feeling like the inhale but when it didn't, I couldn't feel what I thought I was looking for.

Instructor: Stop expecting the feeling to be like something. You'll never get it that way.

Instructor: Have you ever experienced a sunrise on top of Mount Tai?

Me: No, but I've seen pictures.

Instructor: And from pictures and others' descriptions you imagine a certain experience. But when  you experience it yourself for the first time, don't you say, "It's not what I imagined?"

Me: Yes, I've found this to be true in many other "first time" instances.

Instructor: The feeling of connection is like that. If you've never felt it, you really don't know what it feels like so stop wasting your time doing an exercise that you think is developing your "idea" of the feeling of connection. Just do the exercise and work to feel and notice a little more each time. One day the feeling will be there and you won't even know it because the feeling of connection is beyond what you can imagine. This is where a teacher is valuable - to notice for you! A teacher who has connection can see when you are demonstrating connection and say, "That's it! Practice that!"

* And stop saying, "I can't feel." This sets up and reinforces a pattern or neural pathway that keeps you locked in to not feeling. It would be better to say, "I can barely feel..." It would be even better to say, "I notice that I am feeling..." Notice whatever you notice. Build that pattern! Build that neuropathway!

Further reading:
Introductory article explaining this "Journal Notes" series: Zhan Zhuang Training Journal
Previous article in this series: Preconceived Movement Patterns: Journal Notes #130
Next article in this series: An Rx for Progress?: Journal Notes #132

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