Old Habits are Dying too Easy

Words are not coming easy this morning.

I know I have a lot to say, or ask, yet the questions do not come out. They just exist is the hazy fog of confusion. Confusion that mostly just surrounds my daily life.

I extract general ideas on how to proceed with things;

“Oh if I just keep practicing my circles, I will find my dantian.”

“If I meditate everyday, I will eventually relax in push hands.”

“If I keep my mind on my dantian, it will eventually form.”

That’s all well and good, but what am I doing? How does this affect me? Whats the point?

Every layer I can feel get peeled back, a thicker layer with deeper roots takes its place. On top of that a whole new perspective is exposed that needs to be explored and understood before progressing. A different way to view things, or new tools in which deal with something that was held back before.

For example, after that Chakra Healing course, I now have to actually deal with my emotions.

What a massive pain in the ass.

I sit here and have to actually talk things out or express them in a healthy way in order to put my mind at ease so I can progress through the day. Whether its an uncomfortable situation that comes up from my past, or an action taken by someone that doesn’t sit well with me. Its got to be put out there or it just cakes over all my mental processes and gums up the whole system.

So annoying actually being conscious of where my issues are and feeling the cleansing relief of actually dealing with them. It makes it impossible to go back to old habits.

Curse you self care, for no longer allowing me to binge watch netflix or drink for days on end without looking deeper in to the deeper reason why.

No one said you could come in here and muck with my self destructive system.

 

erosion

Chi

Ok, I am ready to call it what it is. I have started to feel Chi in my body.

String him up, he took another step down the woo woo path.

That’s right, that mystical “energy” you always hear about associated with eastern medicine and martial arts. That thing that even though, I want to believe its real, my western mind says, “No way to prove it, your making shit up. You cant trust your own internal instruments.”

I have felt it a number of different ways, sometimes it feels like weight that I can shift around with wherever my attention goes. Sometimes it feels like increased circulation in certain parts of the body, and sometimes, like 10 minutes ago, it feels like a little point light traveling through the body attached to, again, wherever my attention goes inside my body.

Attention is weird. The more I meditate the more I have become acutely aware of a specific point in which my mind actually is.

Right now it mostly lives in three different spots, either in the center of my head, my dantian, or my feet.

These are the areas that come with the most awareness with them, but I am able to shift it around the body at will at times.

Now when I say chi like a point light… I mean that once my attention goes to one of those points the area around it “lights up” almost draws power from that point and i am able to “feel” or become aware of a sphere around it that was almost numb before.

Or…Maybe its not chi at all, maybe its just increased focused awareness.

Whatever it is, the more I pay attention, the larger the point light gets. So I am just going to keep practicing.

 

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The Paper Man

The paper man, assembled from every expected aspect of the canned society. Written down and stored in a box.

A box stored in the heart of the man.

A man who does all the things “expected” of every man of the age. He goes to work, he pays his taxes, he chases women.

Doing what he can to pass the time until death comes.

But there is a dark spot in the man. A spot he fears to enter. The time between the script of his created self and the next day.

A place where there is nothing. A hole that exists in where there are no tasks to be completed. No smiles to put on. No hands to shake.

Thats where it shows itself and he dare not ever enter it.

So he fills that gap with booze, with drugs, with women. It blurs the gap, fills it with a hazy memory, easily forgotten.

For that, that is the spot where dreams lay and he dare not dream. For dreams are unwritten, unscripted.

Dreams are unknown.

Dreams could be fire. Fire could burn this paper man, leaving nothing but the horrors that live in the boundless wasteland of the imagination.

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The Great Divide

Recently, I have been playing with the idea of a separating my waist and hips.

Exploring around during Qigong with that concept and how it would play out in the body.

During meditation several weeks back, I started to become aware of the tension inside my hips and was sending waves of intention down to try to let it go. As I did this, I noticed an almost sensation in my legs that felt as if I had opened up the flood gates of blood to them. The feeling went  all the way down in to my feet, which began to feel like they were pulsing.

Along this same time, during certain meditations, I began to notice a feeling of electricity building up and shooting around inside my body. Much like the blood flow feeling, it’s like it was just a trickle before and now energy was free to flow more openly through it giving sensation to the areas around it that were asleep before.

I mention that, because today a different sensation started to encroach onto my awareness. An almost heaviness, that I could shift around internally from side to side through the body, or throw around to power my motion.

After about a week and a half off, I started a practice session this morning.

After some warming up, I noticed that my hips were moving with a lot less tension then before but there was still some tension inside the inner kua and the lower abdomen. So, I sent down the intention of letting that tension go.

Instantly, that tension melted away and I was able to sink farther than I have been able to comfortably in the past. Not only that, but my movement was originating in the waist instead the hips, which were hardly moving at all, yet the waist felt like it was almost going 360 degrees around my body with no effort what so ever. It changed the entire movement, I no longer had to think about each part of my body. Instead, I was just gliding from one move to the other with all my muscles relaxed.

 

I could swing my waist from side to side and it moved completely independent from my hips, which stayed pointing straight ahead as my waist was going one direction to the next.

No idea what this means. I often find that coming back after a break I have a different sensation in my movement. It will most likely go away as I dive back in to regular practice, but it is kind of exciting to feel the increased awareness of what is going on inside my own body.

That is all the motivation I need to keep going. To keep learning, exploring what is on the outskirts of my awareness in an attempt to shine more light on it.

 

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Layers of paint

When you try to open the window of an ancient unkept house, the kind with those old single pane windows with frames that appear to be more paint than wood. The latch, so covered with paint over the years, sticks. You have to wrench it open over and over forcing the built up paint to scrap off in to a path.

The more I get used to writing everyday,  the more I feel like my brain is that latch and the paint is every unexpressed idea or emotion. Every thought I feel gets held back or delayed until “later”, one more coat of paint upon the last one, until I feel like I’m slogging knee high through a marsh with every thought getting thrown in the cue keeping me from being present moment.

Stuck processing things from days before whether I want to or not.

Writing scrapes off that previous layer of paint. Stripping my brain down and preparing it to process the next thing clearly and in the moment.

Despite this knowledge, I still struggle to actually sit down and write. Falling on the excuse of not being in the usual position or in the quiet. Things aren’t “perfect” so I can’t just make my space for self care.

So, now I am writing in the midst of the Christmas chaos.

Children running around, people chatting, the roofer on the roof trying to fix the leak, bacon cooking, dogs barking, mom running around trying to frantically find things for the people on the roof…. Me sitting on the couch a quiet pocket of relaxation and internal quiet watching it all around me,  happy to be amidst the comfort of familiar voices and holiday insanity.

Just peeling away yesterday’s paint.

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Hulking Out

Aggression. Frustration. Confrontation. Pissing Matches.

These are the things I actively avoid. These are the things I have come to associate with negative emotions\reactions.

These are the things, we as a society, have allowed ourselves to drink too deeply of.

Instead of the standard of confrontation being empathy or application of logic, like… “Why is this happening”, “What part am I playing in the escalation of this”, “Is this even necessary?” “What is REALLY going on”. We have come to accept physical violence expressed either verbally, or through physical\emotional violence.

Instead of frustration being expressed or acknowledged as emotions, like “When you do that thing, it makes me feel undervalued because of blah. I would appreciate you not doing that”. We lash out, or worse yet, internalize it. Directing it inwardly and letting it to build up until the containment seal breaks and infects whomever or whatever is around at the time.

There are healthy ways to express all of these, you kind of HAVE to express all of these, they are a part of us. They cannot be completely ignored, nor can they be expressed in a way that results negatively to yourself or your environment. Got to find that balance, find that root, of WHAT is causing those feelings and express THAT.

I haven’t learned to do that. I suppress those feelings the moment I feel them. I won’t let myself be an aggressive male, I won’t let myself be someone who resorts to physical\verbal violence, I push it ALL down. Contain it and don’t allow myself to express those aspects of… well me. (Consciously anyway)

Through this process, as my teacher would say, I have become very yin. So afraid to seem aggressive or express it in any way that the automated response is retreat or withdrawal.

I seem to have lost the yang.

Maybe not lost, I know where it is contained. I can feel it yearning to come out. Those times when I am tired, I flash back to the times that I wish I had thrown a punch, those times I was cornered, a coiled, fiery ball of anger and fear, wanting to lash out and attack with all its force. Yet, contained by an impenetrable wall of logic saying, “This can only end badly if you let it escalate. Use your words, boy.”

There is no regret for not striking but still, I can’t help but wonder in those exhausted and frustrated moments,  what IF I had thrown that punch, tackled that clown, kicked that douche bag in the face. Expressed my rage, exerted myself and CLAIMED that space that was being challenged MY SPACE. Laying waste to my him, tossing him to the ground in utter defeat. Could I have done it?

There is no way to ever know.

So instead devolving back into an animal, I find myself here.

Week 4 of a chakra awareness class  and focusing on the heart chakra, where apparently, that containment system is. All that suppressed aggression and Yang energy have been clawing to be let out and expressed.

It didn’t take shape until last night after practice on the long walk to the store. I wanted to punch something, I wanted to exert my dominion of the space I was holding, I wanted confrontation, I wanted to show how much space I filled, I wanted to YELL.

I was walking very full, I felt like there was a bubble 20 feet around me projecting myself into the space all around me. A bubble full of just presence projecting challenge to anyone wishing to breach it.

I did not know how to express any of it. Aware that it needed to be released, but no clue how to do it healthily without collateral damage. I kind of started to empathize with the hulk.

Then I made the connection.

The form. I would yang the fuck out on the form.

So when I got, I yanged the fuck out. It was fantastic. In fact, writing this I feel like going back and doing it again. Totally did it.

I stamped, I kicked, I punched, I held my space.

Holding my space. I should probably do more of that. In all aspects, don’t be afraid to hold it… but don’t be an asshole.

 

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Plugging In the Charger

For countless reasons, my individual Tai Chi practice has been slipping the last month or so.

My mornings I have ended up sleeping in, my week days have been skipped here and there and my weekends have been spent dealing with life in other parts of the country. Taking me away from my regular routine.

One could say; it has been chaotic, to say the least.

Right on the tail end of all this madness, came along a chakra awareness class meant to stir all your shit right up in front of you in order to, well, to START deal with it. It is a great class, turning into more of several guided therapy sessions than I originally thought, but hey it’s about time I dealt with some of that deep emotional programming anyway.

All this life and self work has really sent me up into my head. Leaving out the balance of body mind integration work and started to lead me back towards that stress and anxiety that got me pushed me down this path in the first place.

In other words, the cable was plugged into the phone but unplugged from the wall.

In class we are working on the 83 form. I have been frustrated in my lack of focus and practice time outside of class in turn leaving me feeling unfocused and unclear in class, but not having time to practice in class because we are learning the next move. Thus continuing spiral of frustration and anxiety.

This is the second full weekend I have had in awhile and I realized today how much I had been missing while skipping my morning practice.

I started the day feeling pretty grumpy and tired.

6 AM was too early this morning.

After we cleaned the guan, the senior students worked on the 83 more. My mind was everywhere, forgetting the moves, thinking about groceries, work… you name it my mind was there.

At one point i was getting frustrated in Tai Chi itself, didn’t even know why I was there or doing it because I felt totally disconnected from it.

Thats kind of when I figured something was really wrong.

After about an hour of this internal struggle, something inside me finally woke up.

What I need to do is STFU and practice, I thought to myself.

So that’s what I did.

I stayed in front of the mirror, refused to let myself get distracted and worked. Around the 5th time through the section we had been working on I was finally starting to feel connected to my body again. Allowing myself to quiet down and slowly experience each move. Letting the motion of my body lead my mind through its energy patterns.

Pure Joy.

The rest of the classes went very similarly, quiet, focused intention on every move, every inch, every position.

Finally the calm is back taking over my brain, like a long drink of cool water after a long hike.

The stress and the anxiety are still right there at the edge of my awareness, I think they always have been. Tomorrow will be more slow, quiet intention as I return to the daily practice I am so reliant on. My hope is through a combination of this chakra class and tai chi I will be able to deal with some of the larger fears and stresses that live deep in the foundations.

I am reminded once more, happiness, contentedness is not a constant state. There are always fluctuations, external or internal, that will shift me around from one end to the next.

I must allow myself to relax and stay connected in those moments to keep the mind and body clear and relaxed or the old patterns start to emerge.

 

Added Bonus!!! My 24 form from about 6 months ago. Captured it in the studio and will be capturing another one soon for comparison!

 

The wall of fear

I keep a wall between myself and the world around me.

A large, hideous, cold stone wall. I can see it as I close my eyes, its tall, its gray, and its numb. Comfortably numb. Its the wall that keeps my empathy at bay.

The wall that keeps me from commenting on the pain I see in someones eyes.

The wall that keeps me from telling a stranger I love them when its clear they need it.

The wall that keeps me acting “normal”. Keeps me in line and following all the social norms of the people around me.

The wall that bounces inquiries about “How I am Doing” back with “I’m good”. When in fact I could fill a good 20 minutes expressing the multitude of emotions and feelings I was having in that exact instance.  Instead, bouncing off that expanse of wall with the generic, flat, canned response of “I’m good”.

The wall that keeps me from blurting out at the talk of money, or how to get more, that I don’t care about money. I don’t care about how to get more of it. I don’t care about changing my life to be more financially solid. What I want is to have a community of people around me that care about each other.

That want to expand self knowledge to the next level. To looking beyond this fantasy world that we build around us to make us feel better about having absolutely no goddamn clue what the hell is going on. Building these stories around us that hide the fact that we are actually all making this shit up as we go along.

Whenever I say that, people think I am kidding. I often find myself wondering if they think they are actually aware of what is going on around them.

What truer form of creation can you have then to take the day as it presents itself and make something of it. You have an idea, but that’s all you have of how the day will unfold or what you want to get done.

You will never know how that day will actually happen until you are in it. At that moment you have a choice.

You can choose to ignore the beauty around you and push through only focusing on the task in front of you, or you can look at it in the beauty of the moment, the beauty of beginners mind.

How would you look at that moment if you allowed yourself to see what was around you for the first time. Never again in the history of the universe will what is around you exist in that way again. Can you spot the miracles?

How many completely unique things can you spot in that moment? How many of those things speak to you personally? How many of those things are related to you? How many of those things are because you are there in that moment?

I am tired of this wall. I am going to melt it with the fire of a thousand suns, I am going to work towards taking it down piece by piece with my bare hands if I have to in order to uncover the pain that it hiding from me.

Pain and fear, so many fears. Pain I want to feel, I am tired of the numb. I just want to open up the real me and start living without limits.

One with the Earth

I find it much easier to stand while meditating.

I have been taking a course that is designed to allow a deeper understanding of yourself through increased awareness of the chakras and the emotional charges inside them. One of the major tools of this course is a guided meditation introduced in a standard sitting position. A position that is not one that my hips and lower back relax into easily. Regardless, I have been trying to settle into it without much luck.

As the first imagery is introduced I am instantly met with resistance. My mind gets stuck in the hips and back as they fight to find a relaxed position. The imagery in particular is one of rooting. Sprouting roots from my feet and perineum (root chakra) and allowing them to penetrate deep in to the center of the earth creating a link between me and the planet. Needless to say, my roots don’t go very far.

So I decided to try something different. Yesterday I went back to standing and was immediately greeted with a different experience.

I started at the train stop in the middle of the street. As I took a couple of breaths and let my mind sink to my feet, the world around me instantly became muted and distant. I could feel my body melt downwards and my stress just liquefy and flow down in to my feet, which immediately got a very physical pulsing sensation in the arches. I felt connected to the earth, as if my lower half and the earth were one piece and it would take a massive force to move me from my spot and I hadnt even begun to try to root yet.

To put this to the test, I decided to continue on the train when it got there (only partly due to there being no seats).

I stood in between the doors as I got on and took my stance.

Again, I was immediately shown that same grounded feeling. This time, however ,I was starting to notice a distinct tingling in my dantian and my intention would pass through it. Kind of like the feeling associated with “getting the chills” but localized to a particular area.

I was solid, the train and me were one. The normal turns and shifts that would cause me to shift my feet were nothing more than a tiny ripple, diffusing in to the ballistics gel of my body. It was by far the most grounded I have ever been on the train and it lasted until I hit the subway where I then took the rest of the ride to write down my experience.

Structurally and mentally that was the most grounded I had become, however, the guided meditation itself had its issues. The roots still have trouble getting deeper than a couple feet and moving on to the other stages gets muddy and lost at times. So, there is still a lot to work towards, but these little victories help me know that I am making progress.

I am going to continue experimenting with different postures, the fact that some are more difficult just tells me I still have things to work on and I look forward to discovering what they are.

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Laying the foundation

Its easy for me to fall in to depression.

When I was in my 20’s I tended to have huge spikes of happiness followed by equal magnitude lows. I refused to take medication for it, often falling to self medication, but slowly started creating a routine for my life.

I discovered, through the reading of many self help books, that a routine could help me manage more consistently day to day and start to get some of the major swings under, relative, control. It took multiple years to get to a point where I was able to create a more constructive life for myself and has lead to several great friendships and life events that have created an great foundation for me to work with.

The progression of my free time has also evolved. Before I started this little routine building procedure, I was feeling overwhelmed with the minuscule  amount I was doing everyday. My day would consist of going to work, about 8 – 9 hours, making some sort of pizza or otherwise easy to cook “food”, then sitting in front of the T.V. until I passed out. That was too much for me and I often wondered how I would ever find time for anything else.

Fast forward to now, I find myself going to work for 8 – 9 hours, cooking something from scratch for breakfast and dinner, working out or meditating for an hour before work, leading\practicing tai chi after work everyday, spending up to 14 hours on the weekend studying tai chi and finding time to spend some time with the people the amazing people in my life. All that, and I am still wanting to find ways to do more.

I look back and I am amazed at how far I have come and it all started with the idea of just creating a routine.

8 years it took me to grow that. One layer at a time and just now the concrete has started to cure.

There has always been a catch, however, when I find myself in the same routine for too long it becomes stale. Being in the same place at the same time everyday doing the same(ish) thing each time tends to get monotonous and I would fall in to old habits to mix things up, usually involving drinking too much, just to make things feel fresh again and revive my perspective of my progress.

The last couple weeks have been packed with travel and a commitment to continue my practice in between. The whole time maintaining this idea that I will be able to get back to “Normal” and be able to continue on this tightly packed schedule I have. But, today as I see several weeks of full practice ahead of me, baring any other unforeseen life events, I realize how valuable switching things up is. Going in to the next couple weeks I am excited to put my whole focus back in to my practice and my studying, i will again be able to pour all my extra attention in to it all the way up until thanksgiving break. After which, there will be another pause and then an intense couple of weeks back in to practice.

I am starting to realize sometimes it is the lack of a routine that helps to keep the routine alive. It breaths new life in to it and challenges it to make sure it is still valid. My routine is not my life, it does not define me, it does not dictate my every move, but it is a PART of my life. It is the structure I can deviate from, the rules I know so well that I can begin to deviate from and create new experimental art.

Without that, I am just blindly throwing paint on to a canvas.

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