Between Two Worlds

 

BetweenTwoWorldsArt Credit: http://maye6.deviantart.com/art/Bridge-Between-Two-Worlds-374582242

 

It appears to me, at this moment, that there are two worlds, opposite each other, that I am torn between.

One World, the world of money, of material things. A world driven by material success and objects as status symbols. The world of fancy dress, the denial of emotion, the suppression of feelings in order to fit a mold projected upon us by external forces.

The Other, a world of self expression. A place where emotions are expressed and cherished, both good and bad, where the drive to move forward is built upon mutual uninhibited self expression and the desire to explore the deeper meanings our interactions and emotional hangups.

Perhaps, torn between in the wrong term. The more I explore this spiritual realm, the more I realize how much both are needed. One will support the family I wish to create, while one frees my spirit to express itself fully with no limitations or denial or the self.

Is there a way to live in both worlds completely and not feel like I am betraying one or the other?

I have no desire to “use” one to complete the other.

That feels inauthentic.

Someone told me recently that in the practice he studied, there are typically two paths one can take in the spiritual journey.

  1. Nirvrtti Marga – You can break free of all society, and go live in a cave for 40 years in order to reach a higher spiritual plane.
  2. Pravrtti Marga – You envelope your responsibilities, raise a family make money and as you find time in between, progress your spiritual journey as time allows.

I have been giving that some thought as of late.

Are the two really different?

Going off in to a cave to find the secrets of the universe seems somewhat self serving to me. A practice that feels driven by the ego, to separate from the “material” world and only seek the connection to the spiritual plane with no interaction to the physical.

Though, so does fully allowing yourself to be consumed with the pursuit of money or with power or status. Or self abandoning by creating a world or structure that is purely based on gaining money for the support of a family or objects. It seems as if that could have the same traps at multiple levels.

So, I guess I kind of reject that they are truly separate paths.

I feel that once one starts down the path of self exploration, it never really stops.

You cant just, get off the ride.

Not without causing damage in one way or the other that will manifest externally eventually. Whether it be a fight with a spouse, an argument at work or even a drug or alcohol problem later down the line to silence that voice.

At least, this has been my experience when I self abandon and try to pretend I didn’t just realize some deep seeded belief or motivation that has powered all my decisions leading up to this point.

It seems easy to just hide away in a cave somewhere, sure it would have its difficulties, but it seems they would all be internal. There would be no way to “express” or test them in the outside material world in which we are all really a part of.

There would be no manifestation of those discoveries back in the “material” world. No opportunity to see how they shifted, or perhaps even upset the things within it and in turn learn to listen and understand how that shifts back and influences you.

Its my thought that you don’t really know if you have discovered something until it has manifested externally. Our experience is all internal and we can make all the conclusions we want on the inside. Make beliefs that aren’t challenged by anything or anyone, but our own thoughts and perspectives, but where the rubber meets the road is when belief is expressed externally and met with the friction of the outside world.

Only then can we put our discoveries to the test, as well as our conviction, and truly understand how they are felt within AND without.

So, no. I don’t see a difference between them.

I will continue to seek the middle ground between them.

Perhaps, it is a path not yet discovered and there is no one to lay it out for me. In which case I shall just continue to follow the clues I see from the people before me as well as the clues within.

Or, perhaps there is a master along my path who pass that knowledge within me instantly.

But, the latter doesn’t really sound very rewarding.

After all, what use is knowledge that isn’t gained through our own experience or pain of change? Is that truly ours? or do we even really understand it?

I don’t know. Maybe I am just missing something.

 

Back to The Basics

Whelp, I let it happen again.

I stopped my practice and self care for too long and as a result the last week my mind has been foggy and I have felt unclear and exhausted. I spread myself too thin.

Tried to do too many things, to keep to many things in my mind and the structure collapsed in on itself.

I just bought 4 notebooks and had created intentions for all of them.

One for personal journaling , one for project ideas (relating to youtube videos, blog posts, general internet projects, studio marketing), one for education (writing down information from the MANY books I am reading) and the fourth… well just a journal with no intention whatsoever.

I also have been working on personal videos, blog posts, and figuring out a plan for videos for the Studio itself.

If that isn’t enough, throw a full time job, a girlfriend, and the need to express myself as an individual through travel, time to myself and somehow finding time to visit all the people that mean most in my life.

It is just too much for my to hole, so now I find myself completely wrecked and pretty much in a state of complete paralysis preventing me from doing any of it. Not quite present in any situation just kind of numb and going through the motions waiting for a day like this that I can sit and vent it out in to the world.

I’m still struggling to figure out what to focus on.

On one hand, I really have the drive and need to capture my progress through this amazing journey in the form of videos, blogging and the practice.. but on the other hand… Life and time… Where is all the time?

How do I find the ability to make it ok to NOT work on something until I have time\focus?

How to keep the unexpressed intention from building so much it gets me in a complete dither, unable to function at all….

Bloat up so much that my brain just kind of melts in to a puddle and I lose the drive to even practice in the mornings.

Its frustrating to want to create so many things and not have the time in which to create them while still having a life outside.

It boils down to finding that balance between life, practice, creation and work.

But….That is a lot of things, almost too many things it seems to be good at all of them.

Is a life of only mediocrity waiting for me if I try to balance them all?

Even in school, I knew that certain areas of my study would have to suffer if I wanted to become great at what I was passionate about. I guess I have never considered that and tried to apply it to my life yet. Or do I even need to?

I have in my head an idea that if I incorporate my practice and my studies in to my life, so that I am living and breathing it through each and everyday, that I will be able to reach higher levels of skill more efficiently.

Is that true? Is it a delusion?

Are there certain aspects of life that will always pull me from my practice and demand my undivided attention with zero applications to my practice as a whole?

Or is life my practice?

How do I evaluate the priority of everything?

Well… again, the most logical answer would be to gauge their level of importance to me. That will determine how much time and effort will be spent on the different subjects… but there are also considerations in the requirements to actually proceed forward… IE, I HAVE to work in order to pay for my lessons\bills\rent until I can find a way to make my practice pay for itself.

Long term goal is to find a way that I can start to make money DOING Tai Chi. It will pay for my studys and fund my travels to discover, learn and teach as much as I can about this magical and endlessly complex art.

The trouble I have is trying to figure out where traveling for fun and visiting friends and family fit in.

I have two magnificent nieces that I would never forgive myself for not being a part of their life as they grow. So finding a way to do that is an essential.

I have an amazing girlfriend who supports me and my passions and whom I love to travel and spend time with. So she is most definitely a keeper.

My parents whom I love and miss all the time are always not far from my thoughts ever. So finding ways to connect with them a must.

And of course all of my friends who live off in all corners are constantly on my mind to find ways to see.

Then, most importantly (sorry…not sorry but it is) the training itself, training that by its very nature REQUIRES practice… practice which equals time, devoted, focused time.

Centered, clear headed time. Time where all those pulls are gone, all those distractions dissolved and all the guilt resolved.

Time where the mind hears all things yet focuses on none of them. Where the mind and body unify and create with a pure singular intention.

A state of mind that can only be achieved by letting things go. Letting them take their natural course and only interacting within the boundaries of that path.

I have always felt I would have to leave something behind… But what will it be.

My hope is that it will be the guilt I create for myself every time I choose my devotion to this art over something else.

So a tiny voice inside my head is speaking…. “Go back to the basics”.

Stop trying to hold so much, You cant be everywhere at once. You can only be where you are, so be there. Give where and what you are a chance, cultivate it with the knowledge that there will be a time where you will HAVE more time. This is only the beginning of your journey, don’t give up now. Relax, the knowledge you seek will come. It cannot be forced and you can only learn at the rate in which YOU learn. Give yourself the permission to dig deep in to your life and move past the safety anchors you have left to retreat to if things go south. You will find that those anchors you have left in your mind were merely illusions, an unnecessary drag on something that by its very nature exists without need of restraints or ties to keep it in vision.

All those people, those lives, they are following their own way, honor them by following yours.

 

Well, that tiny voice got a bit bigger I guess.

That should do well to get a couple layers off.

Until next time.

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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

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.

Umm…Say What Now?

I was asked teach a new student yesterday. I knew I would need to eventually, but I thought I had a bit more time to mentally prepare before being cast into the fire.

We did the usual warm ups, 30 minutes of silk reeling, then the bomb was dropped.I was to take the new student to the other studio and teach the first move of the form. My brain had a mini aneurism. It was as if every ounce of what little knowledge I obtained had packed up and headed straight for the door. Suddenly, I was just some Joe off the street again, what business do I have teaching someone?? I had to struggle just to remember the form during warmup!

There was almost a haze in my vision as I struggled internally to calm myself. After several deep breaths I, barely, was able to grab the coat tails of my fleeting knowledge and drag it back into the entryway. It’s still fixing to leave…but at least I had a hold of it.

The session actually ended up going just fine. I was certainly nervous and spent the first several minutes fumbling around my descriptive imagery, but eventually came through and was able to teach the rest of the first move. The lead up to it however, left a disturbing unfamiliar residue on the hallways of my mind that I’m not quite sure what to make of.

I can’t recall anything similar to that experience in my past, nor can I remember reading anything that sounds similar. That makes pretty much a full week of new experiences and situations…. I am venturing into uncharted territory my friends. Let’s hope I packed everything I needed.

Sunday’s practice:

1.5 hours primordial Qigong

30 min silk reeling

30 min 24 teaching

Today’s practice:

24 form x4

83 form x1

2 hours silk reeling

Day One

I couldn’t think of anything better to title this,  but I suppose it works as good as anything.

I had a revelation the other day. I realized that I want to commit my life to Tai Chi, I suppose that could be considered odd… But I gave up not being odd a long time ago.

Tai Chi,  when most people think of that they think of old people in the park moving really slowly. To be honest, when I thought of it that’s what I immediately went to as well.  Then I decided to do it. Something happened almost immediately. My stress dissolved. It was like all the anxiety and stress from the last several years was a frozen mass ice and Tai chi set a flame thrower to it. It all melted instantly escaping through every energy channel possible out my feet. I was hooked.

It’s been about a year and a half since I have started practicing.  The first six months I did it everyday,  almost religiously. Practiced the 24 move from mostly,  but through in some of the qigong excersizes here and there,  but I was mainly focused on memorizing the form. The next six months were focused on the more subtle aspects of the moves, I started doing a private lesson a month and getting direct coaching from my teacher to correct my particular habits.

All the while I was taking dynamic qigong classes, as well as primordial qigong (which is essentialy cleansing of the energy body and gathering chi). These classes are by far the most beneficial I have noticed. They break down individual moves and are learned through repetition.

Now I am taking one private lesson a week, and have just enrolled in the teaching certificate program through my school. This certificate was offered to me as a kind of a in between step of being a full disciple. I don’t feel like I have earned the right to ask to be a full disciple yet and I don’t want to ask until I feel like I have. These classes are taking up the majority of my free time each week, yet I haven’t considered committing myself to it until recently. Strange one I am, or just slow on the uptake.

My favorite thing about this particular certificate program is that it is qualitative based NOT quantitative. My teacher believes, and I agree, that Tai Chi is a lifelong art. It’s also an art that is purely based on the individual and their practice. You only get what you give in to it. With that in mind there is no time requirement for this certificate but rather you must reach a certain understanding in your practice. Once example is you must “have” your dantian. You must be able to feel it, be aware of it and be able to move from it. The dantian is the center of all movement in Tai Chi. Right now it is just a vague concept to me that is right on the edge of being made up :). I still have many years ahead of me of study clearly.

Anyway, I have lost track of what I was talking about. I am going to document here my path towards making Tai Chi my main focus in life. I am currently working in the game industry and I have tons of student loans that I am still sitting on. There is still a shit ton I need to do and get taken care of before I can start doing it full time. I figured I may as well put it down here just so I can look back and remember where I was and how I felt.

 

Todays Morning Routine:

  • 45 minutes of a mix of dynamic qigong excersizes
  • 1 time through the 24
  • 20 minutes of Zhang Zhuang meditation

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