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.

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.

spread-footings-framing-02

Slow down and feel the world

A great post I found from someone who has been liking mine :). Beautifully said and echo’s my thoughts on things.

“I make tools so I have to do less work”

Crazy People in the Rain

Tai Chi in the rain today… I must admit I kind of felt like a badass. The rest of the park was totally empty, it was just me and another student practicing it was amazing. Its been so long since I have been in the rain and had forgotten how rejuvenating it was. The only thing missing was a Chinese flute player playing in the background.

First day back during the week practice. Must say I am ready to get back at it and work hard for a couple weeks. I didn’t get a chance to sit down and figure out my weekly schedule, but I have one roughly setup in my head that I am going to try out.

After that full week of forced rest, it ended in what’s was starting to be a deep depression. It had been so long since I had taken a break that I forgot about what happens when I haven’t practiced for a couple days… depression.

It’s bizzare, but I can clearly tie it to my Tai chi practice so I guess I’ll just have to keep practicing :).

Saturdays Practice:

  • 1.5 hours of dynamic Qigong
  • 1.5 hours Beginning Form (24)
  • 2 hours of Push hands

Sundays Practice:

  • 1.5 hours Hunyuan Qigong
  • 1.5 hours Beginning Form (24)

Today’s practice:
lots of discussion about different mental intentions we could have when practicing. Mostly stuff we were each told in private lessons and sharing the critiques so that we can all have as much info as we can.

In class I was asked to lead, I completely blanked. I have been studying the warmup routine, but it has been a while since I have practiced the full 1.5 hour qigong routine. I know what I will be working on this week.

  • 24 form x2
  • 30 min qigong practice
  • 83 (as much as we know) x1
  • 1.5 hours dynamic qigong
  • .5 hour train surfing (its really kind of ridiculous how easy it is at this point…But….sometimes I do lose focus
  • 6 sets on the hour of 30 squats

Magicians

I have always wanted to believe in magic. The idea of a mystical power that can be seen and manipulated by some wizard.

My first inclination on strange occurrences is in fact always magic first, then slowly the analytical mind battles its way to the forefront of my brain and starts to break it apart.

Classic example… I was out in the back yard with my roommate and on the ground there was a round blue hairy mass shaped like an egg on the ground.

“Oh!! An alien egg!!!”  I had exclaimed.

“Umm…. No”, my roommate uttered with a raised eyebrow. “That is a rotten lemon.”

I guess Tai Chi has that appeal to me. I feel like I am in the realm of wizards  who have spent centuries toiling away and the hidden mysteries of chi and the human body. Passing their knowledge down the best they can to the people that will listen and practice.

But it’s getting lost. So few practice the art anymore it seems, lots of the masters are gone, the demands of the modern world prevent delving in to the depths of the art as far as some of the old masters. The cultural revolution led to the destruction and deaths of thousands of the old masters. Only a handful survived,  and the ones that did went in to hiding.

The knowledge lost makes me a little bit sad. I suppose that is part of the reason I want to focus so intently on it. I could spend my whole life learning it,  and barely scratch the surface of what has been learned. Most of the Tai chi masters spent their lives studying multiple martial arts by the time they took up Tai chi. I have done nothing of the sort.

What happens when there aren’t any more masters? The knowledge learned in Tai chi can’t be held in books, all books can do is show you how to practice. Only the people who have that passion for it will uncover the knowledge. But, maybe that is the way it’s supposed to be.

Only a rare dedicated few become magicians.

Here are some links on the cultural revolution if you are interested:

http://www.history.com/topics/cultural-revolution

http://people.howstuffworks.com/chi-kung-exercises2.htm

Vacation Brain

Second day back of relaxing. Forced myself to sleep longer than normal, even though the animals were trying their best to get my lazy ass up. It was fan-damn-tastic.

Did some more consideration of what my schedule is going to look like in the future.

I am thinking that Wednesday and Friday nights are going to be my relaxing days. They are the most free for chilling and should be enough to let me decompress and relax a bit, just have to be sure to allow myself to not DO anything.

Sundays I am going to start to get hiking back in there as well. Nothing like some fresh air to clear the head, plus my dog wouldn’t hate me as much :).

During the weekday I am going to alternate my practice in the mornings between jogging(TBD), Hunyuan Qigong, and Tai chi practice (of varying intensity). I will include meditation when it feels right and shoot for about 30 minutes when I do it. During the days I will cycle off days with push-ups, pull ups and squats. I will alternate those three exercises during the week so some weeks I will do legs twice… Etc.

Writing it out makes it look like a lot… I may need to revisit it later and write it in a scheduled form so I can see it all together. The idea will be to keep the energy level up during the week but still get some good practice and exercise in allowing for deeper intensity while practicing.

I have advanced Tai Chi tonight, it will be my first class back and I am both excited and nervous. I really want to drive back in but I have a fear of burning out as well. I hope that I can find a routine that allows me to go as intense as I want to but still be able to rest… There is so much to learn, I just need to step back and accept that I can’t run as hot as I have been and not burn out.

Today’s Practice:

We had a light practice as we were all relatively low energy for the late class.

  • 1.5 hours Advanced Tai Chi (24 form x 2 and once through the 83)

The Brain, Unplugged

Ok. So it turns out I do need some down time.

I took the last 3 days off of anything Tai chi and went up to visit some friends. It was good to give my brain a rest. I realized I got kind of caught up in all the things I needed to learn and was trying to cram it all in to every possible crevice.

Unstructured time is important, I have to remind myself yet again,  keeps me sane and just gives my brain a break.  Going to make sure I fit more of that in going forward so I don’t burn myself out.

The rest of the week is going to be pretty laid back. Going to ease back in slowly so I don’t completely ruin the vacation  brain I still have going on. I will spend most of the week figuring out what the proper balance is to achieve the level of training I want,  as well as keeping myself some down time.

Today’s practice:
not a damn thing.

The Morning Fog

I woke up this morning thinking I was starting to get a cold. I didn’t want to get out of bed, I had that foggy barely conscious feeling of a sore throat, and my brain was just…well moosh.

I got up two hours later than I normally do with an awareness of soreness all over my body and a lingering of sweat from last night’s sleep still on my skin. Something is definitely afoot.

A thought occurred to me as I zombied around the house trying to figure out what was up. I realized that I had spent an unusual amount of energy the other day being fierce and full. An amazing amount of focus and drive was pushing through each move… And I had done nothing to recoup that energy since then.

My head drifted to our Sunday morning primordial(Hunyuan) qigong exercises. This practice is mostly focused on energy gathering, and cleansing the energy body… So I thought… Ok, let’s give this a shot and see if this woo woo stuff kicks in.

So after I enjoyed a smoothie with banana, spinach, blueberries, almond milk….. Aaaaaannnddd that last mint chocolate ghiradelli square… You know… For good measure. (Absolutely Heavenly BTW….highly recommend) I decided to mix up my morning routine a bit.

I started with some meditation. I chose a different pose today than the one I normally do. I chose a t-pose with my palms pointing towards the ceiling. In my head I imagined energy being absorbed through my arms like a radar dish and sinking in to my Dantian. I stayed like this for about 10 minutes. It was surprising how easy it was to hold the position. I could feel my arms relax in to it and was vaguely aware of a sensation of energy ACTUALLY flowing through me. Imagined or not… It felt really good and was making me feel considerably more charged up.

After that, I did 20 minutes of some of the energy gathering Hunyuan sequences. I don’t know the names of them yet… But I kept my intention light and my awareness gently on gathering external energy and bringing it to my center.

After that I was charged up. Not fully but considerably more than I was! I felt like doing the form again! So …. I did! Man it felt really good, this time I was just trying to be “full” and focused on each movement instead of fierce. It was different than a couple days ago, instead of feeling like energy was being pushed out…it was more like I was just filled up like a balloon… But I still started to break a sweat. I was less acutely focused, but there was a feeling of my body being full. I only did it once this morning I did want to risk losing energy.

This experience made me kind of start to understand how all these different practices and energy cultivation can play off each other. I am going to start to think about and pay attention to my energy levels and start utilizing some of these new tools to redirect… And even invigorate my energy levels… I will need to talk with my teacher more about how to mix these up properly so that I can try to achieve some balance.

Very exciting stuff over all though. I love discovering these new applications and awareness of my body….

Ok, woo woo land… I think there may be something to you worth exploring more.

Today’s Today’s practice

took it pretty easy today. Need to recoup my energy.

10 min meditation
20 min Hunyuan Qigong
1 24 form easy intent

The Excuse Machine

It’s amazing to me how even though I know I want to do Tai chi for the rest of my life,  and I know I want to practice everyday…. I still wake up and don’t feel like practicing some times.

The excuse machine was on full this morning. Today was… Oh,  I used up all my intensity yesterday …. I should practice if I don’t feel like it yeah? Maybe I should just go to work early since I need to leave early… My legs feel a little tired… Maybe I’ll just give them a rest today…..Well I had a big break through yesterday… I should rest…  Oh my head just isn’t in it today.

Well… Obviously it wasn’t in it today.

I haven’t been able to pin down what the differences are between motivated days and unmotivated days… But regardless,  I was able to get myself to do some meditation. Even that was a little difficult to focus,  but I managed about 25 min.

In lieu of Qigong this morning,  I continued to read the “The Root of Chinese Qigong”  book by Dr. Yang that I found on my roommates bookshelf a bit ago.  I may not be training my body,  but I am going to further improve my practice in one way or the other.

I am not about to force my body to do something, I have been trying to listen to it more and just be more in tune with it. It wants what it wants I suppose.  I am not going to be able to force myself in to learning everything I was meant to know. That just doesn’t sound very fun :)… And I just don’t think it works like that.

I just decided not to argue with myself in the end. I went the path that had the least “noise”  when I thought about it.  That path was,  breakfast,  read,  meditate,  bus surf.

I’m not sure if I’m on to something,  or if I am letting my laziness get the best of me.  But all I can do is follow the day as it presents itself and just try to be fully aware of which direction is feels the best…. Or is that just another excuse.

Todays practice:

  • 60 minutes of train surfing (I think its time to mix this up. It’s so easy it is turning in to meditation)
  • 25 minutes of stand meditation (Middle position)
  • 2 hour seminar on a new health program. Possibly more details to come.

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