Friendship

I realized I am really out of practice with friendship.

I have mentioned before how I pulled myself through a lot of my addictions by separating myself from some of the extremely close friends I had back in the day.

There are a lot of positives that came from that, but I always feel a deep sorrow when looking back because often I feel that was the last time I was able to be carefree and allow myself to be completely open with those around me without the assistance of an intoxicant.

An unfortunate side effect to that experience is the nagging distrust I have for myself and others when it comes to dropping down my guard.

That dread of falling back in to old habits, or somehow slipping back in to my self abusive tendencies that in my head, feel like only a moment away from bursting free.

I have built up a behavior of mistrust and unease to remind myself that if let go, I will stop moving forward and go right back to where I started.

This has kept me from many deep friendships.

I recognize this as a new thing I need to heal from, but it is not easy.

Even this post has been extremely difficult to write, I have distracted myself several times to avoid some of the emotions that are stirring up.

It is something I am working on, actively reaching out more. Touching on those fringe areas of conversation that border on all out panic inside me. The fears, the vulnerabilities that I keep only to myself so that no one will see me as weak and I can “keep my advantage”.

Advantage over what? I have no idea.

Perhaps its the advantage of being so closed off that no one can get to me, no one will have anything over me to control me or manipulate me…. Manipulate me like I have manipulated myself?

There is a thought…

The idea that someone could know me well enough to invoke the same change I have created in myself kind of horrifies me.

Knowing all the things I have done in order to change my behavior, the knowledge of how easy it actually is to be influenced or steered in a direction. What if someone else sees that?

Perhaps its my sensitivity to any form of influence or manipulation that provokes that fear. Like a kid who was bullied when they were little, they will recognize all forms of it with much greater sensitivity and a stronger reaction than those without that experience.

Maybe, I have allowed myself to grow hyper sensitive and reactive to it, preventing me from even allowing myself to participate in the positive aspects of them. The aspects that are often present when a group of friends are having an open, raucous and fun discussion at the dinner table.

The kind of conversation that has no point, has no intention other than to enjoy each others company and to poke at each others personalities.

It is a frustrating struggle. To want to open up and join in but to not be able to find the words, or the connecting points to join the conversation, but it is still a pleasure to be around it.

*Sigh*

One day, I will finish repairing the damage I inflicted to rehabilitate myself.

In the mean time, thank you to all those I call my friends.

I enjoy your company and there will be opening, at some point, to a dinner table near you.

 

Friendship-Whatsapp-Status

 

 

Rest? Nah, work.

Why do I always get the feeling that if I rest I will never come back to practice.

I spent so much of my twenties resting, it was one of my most refined skills. Always “relaxing” taking it easy, chilling.

Why do I hate it so much now?

Even the thought of it brings up panic inside my chest.

“No, I cant rest. If I was really passionate about my practice I wouldn’t need to rest. I would find fuel inside the practice itself, you might as well just quit if you need to rest.”

At least that’s what keeps repeating inside my head.

Yet another form of negative self talk.

Here I was thinking I had found someway around it, silly fool.

 

Went to a friends wedding last weekend that set forth an unfortunate chain of events that is still emanating through my life as I write this.

As per expected, there was a great party. Filled with dancing, friends and of course, drinking. Lots of drinking.

Now it had been quite some time since I had gone to a party, so in the back of my mind I held caution. Just a little, left there to periodically sample my intoxication level and stand at the ready to raise the alarm.

Unfortunately, that caution is not well trained and while I was able to maintain my composer, I did not, however, limit my consumption of alcohol.

So, the day after drunk town….

It felt like any hangover day…Really shitty.

Did the normal things;

  • Biscuits and gravy
  • Drive Home
  • Lay on couch and watch movies all day feeling generally sorry for myself

What I wasn’t expecting was the day after that.

See, there was something lurking in the shadows waiting to pounce on me the moment my immune system let down its guard, or in this case, was brutally assaulted by expensive bourbon.

That’s right, some sort of virus.

It crashed on me bright and early Monday morning in the form of  a massive sore throat and the energy level of a tranquilized sloth.

So, I decided to “Rest”.

I stayed home from work and let the Tai Chi studio know I was taking some down time to recover.

Ha, down time.

So, instead of just sleeping, I pulled out my work laptop and logged in to the work network to get some work done as I laid there….

Sounds like the perfect relaxing way to recover from sickness right??

As you can imagine, right along side that work came ALL the stress.

All the work stress and NONE of the distractions. Just me, in my cave, sick and hyper focused on work.

I worked more hours that day than I would have if I had gone to work… and it was the same the NEXT TWO days!

That is how I “Recover”.

I drop all the self care and pull my work blankets up over my head.

Well.. at least that’s how I thought I needed to…

Now I find myself STILL sick, a week later.

Still feel like a sloth, but at least several hours after being tranquilized instead of freshly shot up.

I got fed up and did some tai chi this morning, the first all week, and it felt great.

My head is foggy, and I have this weird popping in my ears… but off I still go to work…

I think perhaps my priorities are backwards.

sloth

 

 

 

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 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

 

 

 

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.

 

pointlight

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

Marinate for 24 Hours

So,  I am finally ready to admit something to myself. I am in a yin phase in my training and I am ready for a break.

I was going fast and hard for several months there, not allowing myself any mental downtime and I am ready to just coast to let all that knowledge just marinate inside the brain.

The universe is telling me it is time and I am ready to listen.

September will be a month of madness, I have a 8 day trip to Mexico planned as well as a bachelor party and wedding on two different weekends (Not Mine). If I tried to cram training in as well, I would probably go completely mental. So, I am dialing it back to something a little more reasonable for that month.

I will keep my morning practice and only hit class twice a week, skipping the weekends, since I wont be around anyway. I still have two weeks of normal practice left that will be focused just on well, practice, instead of intensely trying to learn something new.

New classes start first week of October, which brings about a new schedule and structure to programs. It really is the perfect time for a little break before the workload changes.

So onward to an extended vacation!

Focusing on no stress, recovery and light (extremely light) practice.

Not stopping all together, that would just be boring, but not cramming new information or training ideas while I go travel around and visit friends.

This weeks practice\lessons:

This week has been a fairly low key practice week. Just focusing on the drills and meditation to keep my mind relaxed through a high stress work week.

I did make a little breakthrough in the structure of my hips however.

As you may, or may not remember, I was having some knee issues a while back. I was able to narrow it down to several things back then, but found another movement that was causing stress on the framework of my right leg.

As I transition my weight from a right horse stance to a left one, I tend to allow my right knee to turn inwards putting a great deal of stress on the inside of my knee. In order to correct that, I have been keeping that knee\hip rotated outwards as I shifted left, allowing the weight to travel through the center of the leg instead of getting caught at my knee and straining the ligaments.

This new motion has activated muscles that are not used to moving and is shifting the alignment on the underlying structure. I can feel a difference in structure quality and my knee has been popping and shifting a bit as I try to make the movement a habit.

Overall, the result has been less pressure on the knee in general. It even lets me get into a deeper horse stance.

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