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

 

 

Sausage and Eggs

1-eggs-sausage-milwaukee

There are few things in this world as annoying as being shown how far your perspective of your progress differs from reality.

I have had this wild idea lately to start augmenting the blog with a video log. Thinking that I would be able to explain some of more movement based concepts I am exploring in a better way.

Last night I did a test shoot just to get some sample footage to start editing and messing around with to get a feel for what I need to mess with. I learned several valuable lessons.

  1. I hate watching myself on camera.
  2. I need to get MUCH more comfortable talking to a camera.
  3. My movement is light years away from looking comfortable or correct.
  4. Its going to take a shit ton of self acceptance and patience to get anywhere with videos.

So, im taking that frustration and trying to fuel my practice with it….So far, I just find myself at the bottom of a mountain with nothing but a claw tooth hammer and a ball of twine to climb with.

 

Focus:

Did the 24 this morning twice forcing focus on moving from the dantian, getting my mind in to my body and expressing each move. Making sure to move with full intention and expressing punches and kicks.

Onward and upward. I leave you with this wonderful Tai Chi video

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

Cardboard in the Rain

I grew up out in the country, what I consider a farm.

Back when I was around 11 or 12,  we used to burn all of our paper waste out in “The Burn Barrel” out in the front yard.

Once or twice, we went out to the old rusted trash can, poured some gas on its contents and set fire to all the newspaper, garbage mail, wood  and whatever else got collected during the week.

One particular week, we had bought some large appliance, either a refrigerator or dishwasher I’m not really sure at this point, but, like all paper waste, the box was moved out by the burn barrel once it had been emptied.

I could see the burn barrel from the front window and next to it, that box. Sitting in the grass awaiting its fate.

One day it started to rain, as it often did in Washington, and for some reason I was compelled to watch the box as the rain fell upon it. I felt empathy for the box, sitting out there in the rain by itself. It had been created and then put to use as a protector of whatever it held and was now discarded and forgotten awaiting its fiery doom.

As I stared at this box, I was suddenly compelled to go outside to the box and climb in it. It was still rather intact and the water had not yet penetrated the outer shell of cardboard, so the inside was nice and dry.

I crawled in, closed the lid behind me and laid down.

It was here that I experienced my first moment of complete peace and silence in my mind.

My senses were completely overwhelmed, the smell of wet cardboard, grass, and rain filled my nose.

The sound of the rain on the cardboard all around me filled my ears with a ryhtmic echoing, each drop layering on top of the last in an endless beat.

My eyes closed almost immediately as I was taken away from every thought in my head and absorbed directly in to the present moment.

I’m not sure how long I laid inside that box. Could have been just a minute, or could have been an hour. It was a timeless vortex.

Eventually, the water started to come through and I was brought back to myself. I left the cardboard box in the rain and helped to burn it several days later.

I had tried to go back after it had dried, but it was not the same.

The cardboard had warped and it had started to collapse. The structure had been compromised in every way.The sounds of the rain were no longer crisp, but muted and dull. Absorbed through the softened paper around it. No longer echoing in that transcendent beat that melted me.

I have had many boxes sense then. Of all shapes, sizes, and forms. Each with a lesson, each with a world it has shown me until its structure melted and it no longer was able to sustain the doorway it once had.

I have departed each box with great sorrow, thankful for what it has taught me, yet sad that what I had experienced will now just become a memory, destined to dull as the next one forms.

My hope is that one day, I will no longer need a box.

That the rain will fall directly on my skin and create that unfathomable rhythm within me and I will become own portal to the present.

I will be able to create my own window and that although my structure will change, the sounds will not loose their crispness.

They will only change their pitch.

 

 cardboardintherain

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

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

Peng Energy, or “Boing Power”

Here is a great video demonstrating Peng.

Peng is one of the four main directions of energy in Tai Chi. The best description I have heard is “Springy Power” or “Boing” power as described in the video. It’s the idea that, without muscle tension, you can create a structure in your body that requires no effort to maintain and is able deflect incoming energy in to nothing.

I am still learning what my body feels like to have Peng, but this video describes it greatly. I sense it the most during standing mediation, I am beginning to feel my arms being filled almost like a balloon and that buoyancy maintains their structure.

This concept is present through all of Tai Chi and is one of the most vital of all the energies as all the other ones are really just deviations of Peng.

Check Out the video!

Yesterday’s Practice:

Still taking it easy on the knees. They are pretty grumpy at the end of the day, during work I stand for most of the day and when I sit I think I need something to put my feet on something to keep the pressure off my knees.

  • 30 minutes standing mediation
  • 24 Form x1
    • Extremely slowly and keeping a high horse stance. Paying attention to the hips and knees
  • 25 minutes train surfing
    • No real choice in this one. No place to sit on the train

All About the Form

The knees are a talking.

Last couple weeks I have been noticing some aches and pains in the knees. More acutely in the right knee, but the left has been creating a bit of a racket as well.

For the last couple weeks I have been trying not to hold back during my practice. Allowing myself to get much deeper when sinking and really pushing the horse stances making sure I am going all the way down.

This has really brought to light the fact that I am just plain moving wrong.

After analyzing my form as I practice, the first thing I noticed was that I am allowing my knees to go past my toes in those deeper stances, a very common mistake while doing squats.

In order to correct that, I have to push my butt back farther and keep my weight directly over the center of my foot. In doing this it,  it also points out my ankles are still fairly inflexible, so pushing back strains the ligaments/tendons a lot. Need to stretch more 🙂

That I can work on, but keeping my weight over my foot immediately relieves the pressure that was on my knee and keeps the aches from happening during the movement.

The second thing is that I have been rotating my knees out FROM the knees in my stances. I was told that my knees tend to collapse while doing the form, which is dangerous and can cause injury. So I have been trying to correct it, but was doing it improperly.

I was putting my mental intention on the knees and forcing them outward from the joints, this is completely wrong and extremely dangerous. Now that I am aware of it I can feel the difference, but what I should be doing is rotating my thighs out FROM the hips, or open the kua. This may be hard to visualize, but the more I experiment with different points of movement, the more I realize that where I THINK I am moving directly affects where my body actually moves.

Now that I have recognized these bad habits I need to work on fixing them. Unfortunately, I have already gotten to the point where my knees hurt. So I will have to allow them to recover first.

Going to spend the next several weeks letting them rest. When the pain eases off I will do a couple of test movements just to see how they feel and that will be my gauge for when to commence some of the harder movements.

Until then, much easier workouts. Not as deep in the stances and paying close attention to the subtle weight shifts in the movement itself. Listening to how it feels in a less extreme pose will make the deeper ones later on a little easier when it’s time to shift. But overall, the key during this recovery is NO PAIN!

Practice overview!!

Been a couple days since I have posted. It’s been pretty busy over here!

Saturdays Practice

  • 1.5 hours dynamic qigong
  • 1.5 hours form practice\analysis
  • 2 hours push-hands

Sunday

  • 1.5 hours hunyuan qigong
  • 1.5 hours forms practice

Todays Practice

  • 2 hours 24 form practice
  • 1.5 hours dynamic qigong

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

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.

Next Newer Entries

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

Join 78 other followers

Follow The Restless Raven on WordPress.com