Grumpy Face

All up in my head and grumpy as hell.

I’m not sure what the deal is this morning.

Am I hungry? idk… I just feel like my head is in a giant San Francisco fog bank this morning, despite it actually being a very nice day.

The neighbors outside light has been flashing on and off at irregular intervals for the last two days. At first I thought it was someone trying to figure out what all the light switches did, but i guess its not…just a broken light..

That pretty much defines me ATM. I think I have control or understanding about what and how my body and mind reacts but then, whatever it is i am working on just seems to shut off without warning. I suddenly just seem so far away from it.

I KNOW that is the natural method for a lot of this stuff, we get a glimpse of it then it goes away and eventually it just sneaks back in after some seemingly random amount of time and practice.

Sigh.

I suppose there is a great deal of frustration right now associate with my writing. I haven’t had a chance to sit down lately to do it and as a result I can feel the mental cruft that has layered upon my mind. I think this time i let it cruft for a bit too long bc it is considerably harder to get through the layers.

So now I just sit here in frustration. So, I may as well take advantage of it and just do some bitching….

I recorded myself doing the 24 this morning, it was terrible. Not even going to post it, going to reshoot it. One look at the first move and I can tell I am totally in my head.

My arms look like they are moving through jelly and completely disconnected from the rest of my body.

My back is all crooked and my hips all completely disjointed.

Its probably not that bad, but I want to be grumpy right now.

Maybe Ill let myself figure out why later.

grumpycat

Flippity Floppity

I feel like I have a lot to catch up on here today.

Life has been pretty crazy lately and has been keeping me from my practice.

Mornings have been filled with anxiety about work and I have been letting myself open my computer instead of meditating or doing drills and the toll is apparent.

I come home exhausted, almost zombie like, back like a crane operator pulling levers to get from one point to another instead of living inside my body.

I got some meditation in this morning, but it was a struggle. There was just too much bouncing around in my brain to let it drift through. Instead, I decided I just needed to write.

So, here I am.

One the the most frustrating things about being disconnected again, is that last week I was able to get a little bit of a break through and now it just seems like a distant memory.

During Qigong, I was able to consciously split my mind in to two parts.

In Tai Chi and Qigong, there is a mental practice along with the physical movements. The mental intention has direct influence on the quality and structure of movement. In the idea the idea is to separate your intention from your attention, that is mostly just a concept to me,  but last week I was starting to get a taste of something that seemed to fit along those lines.

What I was beginning to be able to play with was the idea of being able to leave a considerable amount of my awareness in my dantian as I shot little rockets of intention up and out through my arms and legs to do a movement. I was conscious of those probes, how they were moving, where they were and was able to sense the quality each part of my body around them as they moved. All this while the main “hub” of my awareness was firmly planted like a lead ball in my abdomen resting on my kua, or inner hip joints.

What this did with my overall movement was take out all the extra tension in my arms,hands, back, head. I was able to do a move without tensing muscles but more like creating a wave that originated from my center and traveled through the center of my limbs.

I suppose that sounds a little bizzarre, but it felt really damn cool.

I got three or four days of practice with that feeling, but then as my morning routine got mangled the feeling slowly dissipated.

Extremely frustrating, but I am trying to see it like every other aspect of Tai Chi and life.

Ride the waves of your revelations for as long as you can, hope you have the wisdom to know when to jump off, then paddle back out to sea and wait patiently for the next set.

 

crane

Attention Strikes

I woke up with that old familiar energy to over-analyze.

The energy that is hyper focused in the brain and is hell bent on figuring out every step of ever task I have to do today.

How I will get dressed, how I will get to work, what I will focus on when I get there. Down to the very detail of which file menus I will open and which order.

Thankfully, I caught myself before I got too deep.

After about 20 minutes of that (it used to last days), I got up and started practicing the 24 and the 83 form.

The image that comes to mind when I think about that experience is a rusty brake pad.

Like when a car sits outside for about a week with no use and the first time you press the brake the whole car lurches and grabs several times before that rust rubs off and slows normally.

That’s how my brain felt going through the 24.

After the first couple moves I eased in to it and was able to focus on two things:

  1. Transitioning through each move smoothly and evenly. Not stopping move to move.
  2. Cranking my right knee open. Still the bane of my existence is the fact that my right knee always collapses in.

The 83 was considerably tougher. Not only do I not have enough room in my living room to practice it, so I had to keep stopping and moving as I approached the wall, but I also realized that some careless person had gone and discarded all their old chewing gum over my brain floor and I had to keep stopping to remove it from my shoe.

So I learned a couple things today.

  1. I need more practice.
  2. It seems like it has been forever since I have practiced the form.
  3. Stop chewing mental gum.
  4. I need to go to the park next door for more room.
  5. I need more practice.

So, I think its time to get back to my more strict training routine so I can more smoothly approach each of the forms.

 

focus

Mischievous Me

 

The deviant, the troublemaker, the bear poker.

Hater of routines, defier of convention, conflict creator.

I am the one who marks on the clean walls. The one who shifts the furniture just enough.

When neglected too long, I am the one who will ruin you.

I gather strength as I am overlooked. As I am suppressed through routine, through quelling adventure, repressing creativity, or withholding expression.

That builds my power. I will come at you in a tidal wave as your “proper” side gets fatigued.

A wave that will overwhelm and wreak havok upon you.

I don’t like to be ignored. I like to play.

I must create, I must sculpt, I must write, I must paint, I must hunt.

I am the rugged individualist, who must propel through every path least traveled. Must blaze through uncharted territory with nothing but my wits and my experience to guide me.

I must be fed.

If I am not, I’m that feeling in your chest that you need to scream.

That feeling you need to flip that party switch.

I am the party. I am the alcohol. I am the drugs. I am the rage, the frustration, the search for something else. The yearning to feel fulfilled. The hole in your being.

I am your individuality.

I am fire. I am destruction. I am fury.

I am every unexpressed thought or emotion. I am every fear. I am every instance of anger.

I am danger.

Fear me, respect me. But don’t deny me. I am you. I am the self. I am but a part, but I still am.

Feed me for fear of my feasting.

Listen to me for fear of my retribution.

Live with me for fear of not being whole.

Love me bc I am you.

I must not be neglected, I must thrive or I will be your end.

Find me, cultivate me, incorporate me.

I love to be included.

Together we could make beautiful things.

 

mischeivous_calvin

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.

 

continental_divide_part_7_all_steps_01

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.

Something Is Knocking

It’s been an interesting weekend in the tai chi saddle.

Saturday was the full 9 hour day.

A bit taxing after resting all week to get over this stomach thing and I was definitely more tired than usual during classes. Nothing that wasnt to be expected however, the weird thing about saturday is that I had no connection to my body at all. Usually I get feedback from my body informing me the quality of my movement, but saturday it just felt like I was pulling levers on a backhoe. It was extremely frustrating. I was really regretting having taken the whole week off, all the time between practice I was convinced set me back and there was no telling when I would get back to where I was.

Then sunday came, sunday is the primordial qigong class, a much deeper meditative class focused on cleansing the energy body and gathering\circulating chi through the system.

For the first thirty minutes I had the same sense, zero feedback and couldn’t tell how I was moving through any of the exercises. I got tired of wondering why, so I just let my imagination go. I just let my mind explore the idea of a ball of energy moving around and through my system.

Oh right, should have been doing to begin with.

For the next half hour there still wasn’t any feedback from the body, but the imagery was extremely fun. It kept stealing me away from following the rest of class and I ended up being a little behind. No big deal though :).

It wasn’t until about a minute into the 20 minute standing meditation that I got really really deep.

At first, I became aware of the nagging thought I had been holding back and trying to keep myself from thinking about. It was about all the things I want to write in my blog and how I am going to write them. It has been a couple days since I have written and I guess I still have a lot I want to write down… but regardless my mind kept wanting to go there and I fought it to “focus” on practice. It clearly wasn’t helping.

A little voice deep inside the static of my mind said softly, ”Invite it for dinner. Pour it a drink and listen to its story.”

So, that’s what I did.

Instantly, I was transported in to my center, it was actually kind of a dizzying with how fast it was. I felt deeper than I have been before, but maybe it was just because the transition was so abrupt. Either way, I was digging it and I was fully in my body again.

My arms were out over my dantian resting on the little imaginary chi support pegs. The feeling from the other day was already there, my arms and shoulders were relaxed yet extended. A moment after I was “transported”, I began to have the distinct feeling that my wrists were actually physically being support by something. Not like before, it wasn’t an energetic feeling… there was distinct pressure on the underside of my wrists, some would say an accumulation of chi. Well… this is pretty bad ass, I thought to myself.

So I played with it a little.

My thought process went a little like this:

“Ok, so. If there are pegs extending from my center supporting my wrists. That means those pegs can be moved, they have a base and that base can be shifted, which in turn would move my wrists.”

So, I rotated that base forward. My arms went right along with it, extending farther forward yet still no muscles in my arms were activated. They were still just resting on those pegs.

“Ok, “ I thought “ So if that’s the case the pegs can also be lengthened.”

So, I lengthened them. Just like before the arms up with no muscle activation in the shoulders or arms….

Right about then came the soft “Gong”. The first of three that signify the end of meditation.

Its just never quite long enough is it.

But the feeling stayed with me in to the next class. I was asked to lead warmups, usually not a problem, but normalIy I havent slipped so deep in to myself that I forget what I am supposed to be doing.

It was a struggle to remember what moves came next, I kept falling deep in to each excersize and losing track of where we were. Luckily there was another certificate student there to remind me what was next as my eyes shot open.

The most of the rest of class just continued on like this. It was great, I was fully integrated again. Moving from the center and feeling the body beneath me again.

But then calamity struck.

I played a little fast and loose the night before out at the beach. Having a good time with friends… but maybe pushing my stomach a bit to far too fast, eating one too many sausages…or probably just shouldn’t have had that pabst blue ribbon. Relaxing for the day was done.

Whelp, maybe next time.

In short, that one little thought in my head I kept locked away, not allowing myself to think of it because I felt it wasn’t part of practice, was actually the key to allowing myself to fall back in to it.

I guess that means in order to go forward, I have to relax everything, even the barriers between unpleasant thoughts and memories. Relax and integrate them. Listen to their stories.

Saturdays Practice:

  • 1.5 hours dynamic qigong
  • 1.5 hours beginning tai chi
  • 2 hours push hands

Sundays Practice:

  • 1.5 hours primordial qigong
  • 1.5 hours beginning tai chi
    • Interrupted by some stomach issues. Time to go to a medical doctor

Prime The Pump

Somehow, I always end up forgetting how important warm-ups are. Progressing through practice it’s easy to start to pinpoint a single thing to work on and go right for it without noticing the resulting mental shift until several days after switching things up.

Warm-ups, I reminded myself today, are not only for the muscles. They are also important for helping to get the mind in the right place for practice. The very nature of tai chi requires your mind to be present and paying attention through every movement at all times. Any excess chatter in the mind gets in the way and randomizes your mental intention, making it close to impossible to be fully present in practice.

I am on vacation now!

i have returned to the families farm to enjoy a couple days of relaxation and then we all head to a lake in the middle of nowhere for even more relaxation. I arrived late last night, so today is the first I get to enjoy the calm non-city life and it is absolutely fantastic to be surrounded by so many animals and trees again. There has been a growning need for me to be away from the city lately and this is only the first stage. The lake will be even better MUCH farther from civilization and away from any feelings of obligations.

Got up early this morning in time to get some practice in before the insane northwest heat wave hits.

As I walked up amongst all the chickens to find a practice spot, I was struggling to get myself to settle down and start moving. My thoughts were scattered to the wind, thinking about all the things I wanted to work on, how nice everything around was, the smells, the sounds, the energy were all kicking up old memories of the old days growing up and I couldn’t help but be taken away with them.

So I stood there rather confused about where to start and how to drop back into practice, but then the thought occurred to me…

“Why don’t you just do the warm ups?”

Derp. Of course you dolt.

Warm Up qigong exercises it was then.

After the first three exercises my mind was quiet and ready, a feeling that as of late has been escaping me. My mind was back on how my body was moving, feeling my hips (the main area of focus the last couple weeks) and how they were transitioning between the weight shifts as I went through the basic warm ups.

It felt great to have that focus back.

So I dared to slip into a more intense practice, I deepened my horse stances, put my mind deep inside my kua. I was intent to focus on keeping my knees almost completely still and I shifted my weight from one foot to the other, not allowing them to get to mu weight directly on them.

I doubled the reps I was doing for each exercise  in order to feel a nice burn in the upper quads and the inner hips. It was an absolutely great set of Qigong that lasted about 30 minutes. I came out of it with a nice sweat and a focused non chattering mind.

After that I moved in to the 83 and my mind was there completely.

I approached this 83 very slowly, making sure to methodically transition and focus on each move. There was no stuttering this time. I was completely aware of each position, how my body was flowing between them, where the weight was on my feet and was trying to feel the how the movements start at my dantian and go out. This was by far one of the best practices I have had in several weeks.

I didn’t time it, but my guess would be that it took about 15 minutes to get to tornado kick in the form. Still really far behind, but today’s practice boosted my confidence back up. i’ll be able to catch up to the rest of the class :).

I finished off the practice with about 10 minutes of standing meditation. I would have liked to have gone a little longer, but the dogs started barking down by the house and the sun was much higher in the sky, so it was getting pretty warm. I guess I will just have to get up earlier next time :).

Today’s Practice (in summary):

  • 30 minutes deep qigong (Focusing on the hips and leg strength)
  • 15 minutes 83 form
  • 10 minutes standing meditation

The Hunger Games

Hunger is probably my biggest nemesis when it comes to distraction. As soon as the hunger drum strikes with that deep empty sound, all abstract and logical thought drains out of me faster than water out of a busted dam.

Waking up hungry is even worse, it puts me in a state of unfocused zombie like wandering, much like from night of the living dead.I find myself unsure of what to do with myself or how to direct myself into what my morning routine is.

That friends, is where I find myself this morning.

I tried to eat first thing, but didn’t have much in the kitchen that wasn’t going to take some time to cook. Boiled eggs is where I settled, so I put some water on the burner to boil. While that did its thing that water on a burner does, I began practicing the 83 form.

I was focusing on the part of the 83 I had gone over yesterday in a private lesson, where I realized that I was waaaay behind the rest of the class and my ability to learn new moves has been reduced to a trudge through a muddy marsh.

I am about 10 moves behind from the rest of the class, due to assorted absences and teaching other students the 24, work getting in the way, etc, etc…  Needless to say, the feeling that I have been slacking is acutely present in me today and compounded by the fact that my brain is fuzzy with hunger and exhaustion from the late night at work, frustration abounds.

The 83 this morning was a struggle to focus on. To say the least.

I would go through the moves once with great difficulty, stuttering as I went seeming to forget what the next move was until my mind cleared a little. At the end of the moves my mind would immediately wander somewhere else, usually back to my stomach and the eggs that were still cooking. This went on for 7 more times and it didn’t get much easier.

Even after the eggs were shoved in to my face my brain still had the after effects. I had reached the dreaded hunger zone where it left a residual after effect of general lethargy and confusion. The danger zone as it were.

The effect lasts quite some time unfortunately, so I figured I would meditate instead of trying to go into the silk reeling exercises I really wanted to do.

My original goal this morning was to go for a full 30 minutes however, my mind had other intentions.

My thoughts were so scattered and unmanageable that it was all I could do to just focus on sending waves of relaxation through my body. Sections of my body were not cooperating however, areas that were just relaxed would tense up again as soon as the intention left the area and it was as if they stopped existing at times. Causing me to really breath deep and relax again just so I could sense the muscles again.

I maybe had about 5 minutes of actual mediation before my brain completely gave up on me. Ending my meditation at about 26 minutes. Not a bad session, but it was certainly an uphill battle the whole way.

So, I decided to just write the experience down while it was fresh in my mind. There are days like this, it happens, it’s just kind of the way it is. There is so little time in the day to do everything I desire to do. I pack my day so full that the offset of one thing just screws up the timeline for the rest of the week. Its really hard for me to accept that at times.

Part of me wishes I was kind of a robot, so I could just plow through all the things I want to learn and do. Not having to worry about balancing all my different systems and aspects of my personality in a way that allows me to stay energized.

But, i’m not, and TBH its kind of beautiful when you can get to the point where you achieve an understanding of how you are. When you start to realize when to eat, what you should eat, the types of activities that drain you, the people that drain you, the people that energize you, the places you feel at home and the cultivation of it all.

Those to me are the true purposes of my training and my time here on this earth, to learn the balance of the life I have around me and truly be in it at every moment not missing a beat because I truly see and feel what is going on and who I am.

Todays practice:

  • 26 minutes Zhan Zuang Meditation
  • section of the 83 7x
  • 1.5 hours dynamic qigong (Hopefully)

Ma Knees!

My knees are feeling fantastic!

I am still practicing on the high side of my horse stances during form and qigong. I have been paying attention to the subtleties of the higher positions trying to feel the sinking and relaxation in the kua and imagining what the lower stances would feel like when the knees have stopped groaning all together. I have actually been able to go much deeper standing than I was able to in the forced wider horse stances, as odd as that sounds.

Less is more!

I have done a couple things to make sure my knees have been on the mend:

  1. Switched to my Vibrams during the work week.
    1. They have zero heel drop and have allowed me to refocus on stepping on the ball of my feet while walking and standing instead of the heel. I noticed a difference immediately on the walk to work in the morning.
    2. My normal shoes have worn down to the sole on the ball of the foot and were putting my feet in awkward positions as I walked. This in combination with the forced heel strike was aggravating ma knees throughout the day, hence why after work they were hurting.
    3. I ordered a new pair of shoes that are less offensive, to pretty much everyone, so I can get the benefits without the need for explanations :). Inov-8’s are my favorite shoes, they have a large variety of athletic shoes, and are a bit pricey, but they are worth it. My last 3 daily shoes have been inov-8’s, though my workout shoes remain to be Vibrams.
  2. Corrected my posture while at my standing desk
    1. After paying close attention to how I was standing at my desk, it became apparent that I have been leaning forward towards my computer as I work. Putting the weight towards the front of my feet and pretty much straight down the front of my knees. Yeah…no wonder they hurt.
  3. Stood at a higher horse stance
    1. I have been going too wide for my body atm and forcing myself in to positions that strain my joints more than they should. I have been focusing on stretching out the kua and training my body to move in the more relaxed\higher positions of the postures.
  4. Just flat out paid attention
    1. Listening to the body as I move through the day and paying attention to when there is unnatural strain on any of the joints or limbs. When I find them, I experiment around with different ways of moving until I find one that relives the pressure. Movement without pain!

And I leave this post with a great explanation of push-hands by what is turning out to be one of my favorite online sources for Tai Chi Demos, Ian Sinclair

Sundays practice:

  • 1.5 hours primordial qigong
  • 1.5 hours form practice

Mondays Practice:

Kind of a big break through in meditation today, I realized that to be able to stand and meditate with my arms out.. I just have to disengage all my muscles, and they hold themselves up! Only took me a year and a half of meditation to realize I dont have to use my arm muscles.

  • 15 minutes Zhan Zhuang Meditation
  • 24 form x3
  • 83 form x1
  • 1.5 hours dynamic qigong
  • 20 minutes push hands

Previous Older Entries Next Newer Entries

Enter your email address to subscribe to this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.

Join 81 other followers
Follow The Restless Raven on WordPress.com