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

Getting Rid of the static

We have so much static coming at us every day. Static is the stuff that keeps you occupied but doesn’t actually fill any sort of need, the information and energy coming at you every day, every minute of your life these days. So many more ways to advertise to you, to keep you in the loop, to keep you informed with what your friend of a friend had for dinner tonight. All that energy coming at you, the TV, the computer monitors, the phones. “They are overloading your radar dish, making it hard to find the real signal through the noise”,  as my teacher would say.

I have personally started to become acutely aware of this static. I have begun to notice the place it lives inside my head, kind of constantly buzzing there.

“Wonder what Facebook has on it.”

“Oh, I should check instagram.”

“Oh, who can I send a snapchat to.”

Once I started doing standing meditation more, it started to become louder and louder inside my head. It has been getting in the way of my free thought, distracting me from the things I actually want to think about. The more time I spend on a device, or checking out these websites, the farther away my practice seems to get. Its like it starts to consume my every intention until there is nothing left but updates. GOTTA GET THOSE UPDATES!! I started to wonder, all of that thought spent tuning in to those sites, just wasting away on useless things. What if i started to expend that towards the things I love in life?

So I decided to do a test. Last Thursday I turned my phone completely off for the entire day. It only took and hour before I realized I had was fully engulfed in another addiction in my life. Now… As a little background, I have spent most of my adult life battling one addiction or another. Some are big, some are small but all of them have had some negative impact on my life that I have wanted  to stomp out of existence. A lot of them I still battle and more often then not I end up just replacing them with a more positive one. The REALLY bad ones though…they just turn in to something…you know… “less bad” :). Maybe one day I will get in to that a little deeper, but for now….just an brief intro.

Anyway, after the first hour of having my phone off I had tried to check my phone about every five minutes. I knew the phone was off, I knew I would get nothing from it, yet still, I picked it right up and checked it. I had been doing it so long and so regularly, that it had literally become part of my daily habits. Needless to say by the end of the day, I was going a little nuts. I couldn’t figure out what to do with all of that free time and free headspace! So I gave it another day.

Now lets back up a little bit, about 3 weeks or so.

I was in a private lesson with my teacher and as always we were going through the 24, picking it apart one painstaking move at a time. My teacher looks at me and says “You know, you could possibly show promise at this….”

I am Utterly ecstatic with pride at this sentence. So excited that my hard work was noticed….But trying to keep it completely under wraps…

He then says “But you better start getting in a little better shape.” (Or something of the sort. What I heard was “Ok, your fat and lazy now. Do something about it”)

This is a totally valid evaluation of me BTW. I’m not over weight by any means, but I am also not anywhere near top physical condition. Since I started Tai Chi, I stopped doing any other form of exercise. Given that I have been doing it about a year and a half now…. lets just say any definition or bulk I may have had in my arms\chest has been redistributed to my belly. Turbo gut. mmmhmm

So with that in mind, I had started doing random push-ups through the day. Any time it popped in my mind, at work or at home, I would go to the corner and do a set of 20 push-ups. I have been increasing every week for the set number and have now gotten up to 30 a set. Some days I get on or over 200 a day :D….but, anyway I am devolving. Lets get back to the point.

Now that my phone was shutoff I had some extra time to do…literally anything else. So I started to throw in some pull-ups in as well. There happens to be a pull-up bar near my desk at work that makes it really easy for me to jump over and crank out some out. Not only that, but with my phone off, my mind stayed completely clear that day. I didn’t care what was going on in facebook land, any text messages that came in I could get to later, phone calls….who does that anymore?? I was free!! and I was getting in shape to boot!!

It felt absolutely liberating!

So decided to do that everyday now. I shut my phone off during work hours and dont let anything distract me from my work tasks. Not only does it help me during the day and make my day 1000% times less stressful, but when I get home at night I don’t feel like I have been pulled in a million different directions, like I normally am!!

I have come to realize that I only have a limited amount of attention during the day and I now have a drive to fill that attention with the things that give me feeling of true vitality. Tai Chi has become one of the major providers of this feeling.

Allowing myself to be distracted by all the noise has honestly led me to nothing but a stressful incomplete day. This new approach has left me feeling fulfilled each day, I spend the time and energy learning, doing or acting on something that fills me with a vitality I haven’t experienced since after Highschool. When I had no cares in the world, all that was required of me was to work and party.

Now the spare moments I have I am focusing on one of two things; How can I spend this spare moment practicing\learning an element of Tai Chi or, how long has it been since I have done a push-up\pull-up set. The simplicity is the most freeing experience of a lifetime and its something I am actively trying to get more of in my life.

Today’s Practice:

30 minutes standing meditation

1.5 Hours of Dynamic Qigong (Silk Reeling)

1.5 Hours of studying the 24

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