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

The Dream Machine

I have been having crazy dreams lately.

The more I pay attention to my dreams the more involved they get. Im not talking about like a 5 minute random dream where all this crazy shit happens. I am talking about all three lord of the rings extended edition. A full story arc as well as continuing characters following a continuing story line.

I checked my facebook memories and apparently 5 years ago today I wrote;

What does it mean when you have episodic dreams everynight, and everytime you hit the snooze button you fall right back in to them where you left off… Kind of makes me not want to wake up…”

How is that for crazy? Maybe its something to do with the moon or something…Or maybe its because I have been meditating more and writing down my dreams… Most likely I am completely clueless.

That said, lets talk about my practice for a bit. Seems like it has been a while since I have mentioned what I am working on.

 

The Chakra class has introduces a new type of meditation that I have added to my weekly practice. I have been alternating between the standing Zhan Zhuang meditation and the sitting “Rooted” Meditation through the week and after each session I have been writing down what I experienced and any thoughts that come up and over all it has been helping me to process quite a bit.

It is pretty enjoyable to mix things up like that, it has really opened my eyes to the possibilities of meditation and that it has the potential to have limitless applications or approaches. The two forms have increased my awareness of different areas of my body and where I hold tension, as a result I have been conscious of a deeper level of tension I hold in my body. Through breath I am able to relax it and some of the aches I had before now melt away.

We have finished the 83 Form in class, it is still extremely rough for me, but none the less the whole thing is locked away in the brain somewhere. I, regrettably, have not been practicing as much as I would like in the mornings so the routine is kind of gnarled in several areas. It seems like the on practice I am able to get in lately is practicing in my head at bus stops or when I am cooking dinner.

Train surfing has become ridiculously easy. I have even started doing it on crowded trains with no worry of running in to anyone anymore. Using a forward horse stance is still a little dodgy, but I picked up a fix for a bad habit of raising my kua in the forward stance which has really helped me stabilize it more and allowed my to stand a little more solid.

Played a game of ping pong the other day, I usually get pretty caught up with it once the points start going and I start to get uprooted. This game was different though, I was able to stay rooted and relaxed and was able to return balls and react quickly. I sometimes went too far on the relaxed side and didnt go for the ball at all… but gotta find that balance right? So I think I may start to use that as a training bit for push hands.

Meditation and kua work have really leveled up the last several weeks. I feel a little more aware of my hips and dantian which is allowing me to correct a little more accurately.

Oddly, my awareness of the dantian has shifted locations, or rather maybe its just a new area of numbness. Since I have been able to feel my hips and waist more, there is an area deeper in my core that has no awareness what so ever. Maybe that’s the dantian? Or maybe it’s just the next area that needs to wake up.

One day maybe the picture will be complete…but until then, onward!

 

Three-Dantiens-207x300

 

 

 

Fierce and Full

In the private lesson yesterday, my teacher pointed out to me that it looked like my lower and upper body were holding back.

This really struck a chord with me, as its is something I have been acutely aware of in other aspects of my life.

I have always felt like I was holding something back. Holding back ideas, holding back my passion, holding back interest…just holding back something. Never pushing myself to that extra limit, always pulling up before reaching my potential.

People that know me would say…

“If that’s holding back, I don’t want to see your at full throttle.”

And they are right, I get intense when I am really in to something and yet despite that, I still always feel I am holding back…. 3 years of intense obstacle races, years of drunken out of control parties, crazy hours working on school projects, intense singular focus on work projects…. Yet, still always had the feeling that lingering feeling. Almost like I am waiting for something worthy of my full attention and intensity.

My mind can be a highly focused whirlwind. When it gets pointed at something everything else disappears and I live and breath that thing until I take it to the edge its capacity. More often then not though, I learn it doesn’t have the promise I originally thought and move on without looking back.

In the past, it has led to bad decisions, bad relationships, and tricky situations in general.

I never wanted Tai Chi to be that way. I started slow… For me :)… I went to class 4 times a week and practiced every morning for 2 hours. I learned the first form pretty quick…. At least the over all choreography (I hope to never stop learning corrections to the form). It took over my exercise routine time. So to me, it was just exercise and nothing more. I of course was really in to it, but it was kind of a probing cursory interest for about a year.

Well, I turned a corner one could say. I find myself wanting to take Tai Chi to that place I have never been. The place where I take it past my comfort zone, right past the point of passive interest, and straight past the point of no return.

I have amped up to next level and as a result I had yet another breakthrough in my form this morning:

Fierce and full.

Those were the concepts I was left with after my private lesson to kind of start exploring.

Fierce.. Not in a vicious way. Fierce like…. This is all of me to my limit. Not angry, not vicious, fierce just completely taking up the space my body and presence require. Fierce like, I am here, in the present and you have my full undivided attention.

Full, very similar to fierce. Full like my body is completely extended, my legs and arms released from inhibition. Completely involved and focused in each move, expression of intention from ever limb and every part of the body with a purpose.

With that in mind, My form completely changed. Half way through the first run through, beads of sweat started forming on my forehead. By the end, my arms had a layer of sweat on them as well. The speed did not differ from my usual (still too fast), yet my body and mind were fully engaged in each moment. This was a completely new feeling, allowing myself no distracted thought. Fully in the moment of what and how my body was moving. I think this was a taste of what Tai Chi is supposed to be. At least its a glimpse of a new level of practice
Three more times I did the form just like that. I have gained a new respect for the form and each movement.

Going forward I will be fierce and full. No more holding back and no more excuses. World of tai chi, here I come.

Todays Practice:

After the intensity of that form practice I got pretty tired later in the day. Took it kind of easy in the evening Dynamic Qigong class.

  • 24 form 4 times intensely
  • 120 pushups throughout the day
  • 14 pullups
  • 30 squats
  • 1.5 hours Dynamic Qigong

Dantian Opening

One of the hardest things for me to do is meditate in public. I can’t help but think “Who is watching me,  what do they think. Am I being too weird? Are they Making fun of me? ” I just cant help it. I mean, I do it anyway, but sometimes it does get the better of me and I stop sooner than I would normally. I tell myself I don’t care what people think, but it is a feeling that is pretty deeply ingrained in me. But hey, fake it till you make it right? Maybe one day I wont care.

This week I was rewarded with some bizarre and amazing results during an outside mediation session.

Tuesday morning was the first instance; I was practicing the 24 form and I suddenly felt as if a new muscle had suddenly appeared in my abdomen. Movements were almost expanding or extending from my center,  or my dantian.  I didn’t know what to think of it,  and the second I started to think about it the feeling disappeared. I immediately knew that this was the feeling my teacher has been talking about this whole time.  “Move from the dantian”   he says over and over again. That was what he meant, awaken the dantian and move from it.

I held that idea as just a concept until this week,  just kind of blindly holding it in my head half wondering if it was all bullshit,  but trudging on anyway. Well now I know it’s not.

After two days of dwelling on that feeling,  focusing on only that as I meditated trying to get the feeling back, I gave up. My teacher always tells me not to obsess about those kinds of things.  To listen to them,  but don’t pay any heed because “It will go away soon”.  So finally I conceded to forget it.  Telling myself “That was probably the only time I will feel that. Time to move on to my practice.” With that thought I was able to clear my mind and relax in to meditation. Later that day though,  my Dantian had another surprise for me.

As I was waiting outside for class,  I was meditating on a bench outside the studio. As always my mind was resting on my Dantian, but only just as a subtle awareness.  Not long after my mind settled and I began to relax,  I felt a very very real pop right at my Dantian. It was as if a tire tube had just pop it’s seal and air was instantly rushing out, filling up my body.  My spine extended, inflating up, and my arms started to lift themselves. Resisting the urge to hold the movement back, my arms kept going up until they hit the table in front of me. Then, it was gone.

For the rest of the night, however, my body felt…. Strange. It was as if the energy in my body had a new pathway opened up and it wasn’t quite sure how to use it. My Dantian felt… Not empty… Not full… But open. My body was, and still is,  trying to figure out what to do with this new feeling. Though, as my teacher reminds me,  I am trying to forget about it so it incorporates naturally in to my practice. Nothing but gentle awareness of it and I will see where it goes.

I now know what the energy body is not just an idea to hold in one’s head. It’s as much a part of me as my leg or arm muscles. I look forward to farther discovering and exercising this system that has freshly showed itself to me.

Today’s practice:

20 min meditation (Inside the dental Chair).

– Forgot about an early morning dentist appointment. From now on will be meeting some of my Tai Chi family early Mondays and Fridays to practice.

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