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.

 

Crazy Dreams

I woke up in the middle of the night after a crazy dream… I was compelled to write it down and this is the result :):


Catching the world in plastic bags.

Reviving life by thinking and running around catching it all in plastic bags. Tons of plastic bags, fitting everything in it. Everything shrinking to fit inside.

Creating silliness and stopping to enjoy the things around us. But focusing so much on what is ahead or behind.

Chasing cars and trying to put them in a plastic bag. Pure silliness.

Chasing the long lost reality will get you nowhere. But creating your own will lead to the greatest treasures. The past is gone, create something from today.


planet_bags

I have taken December off from physical training.

Instead I have been meditating on yin. Trying to figure out what it means to do something you love, without focusing on an end goal. Doing for the sake of doing, instead of doing for the sake of achieving.

I made some considerable break throughs this week, but the most important one is I have found my laugh.

It was hidden deep inside the moment, no longer thinking of how I would be training next, or day dreaming about the day I start my own school. I found myself in the present, interacting with those around me with no buffer time. (You know, that time where you spend trying to decipher hidden meanings from the conversations and the responses get catered to the scenario…No? You dont? oh… well there is a snippet of my brain for you.)

My mornings have been consisting of compassionate awareness meditation. Allowing my monkey mind to express its frustrations and its need to drive forward as to better understand where all that is coming from. Still a lot to uncover, but I have started to discover some of the fear and the insecurites that have been rooted in a lot of my long term training.

Fear of seeming weak, fear of letting my body fall apart, fear of being seen as unfocused and well dumb. Its has been rooted in there for so long that I kind of forgot that I should look at it.

The funny thing is, as soon as I realized it and allowed myself to accept it there was a physical weight that lifted from my shoulders. I started asking myself, what do I feel like doing right at this moment? If I had no THING to do, what calls to me?

Suddenly, I had\have space in my mind and was free to laugh and joke with strangers waiting for the train.

Much like Super Adam, the drunken me, I was laughing and having a good time with people I was never going to see again. But, not only strangers. I have been more engaged and present with people I have known for much longer. Able to laugh and joke freely, from the heart, like I haven’t done in ages without the aid of alcohol.

It has been truly liberating, I will continue with my mediation and see where I end up at the end of december.

Oh! I also forgot to mention, my cough and all signs of flu\sickness have vanished. I think have been bottling things up and forcing things instead of trying to listen. Just like Malcolm said, but don’t tell him I would hate for it to go to his head.

Colds, Exhaustion, Frustration and Food

I haven’t written in my journal or my blog (obviously) in over two weeks.

When I got back from vacation, I was completely floored for 4 days with, what I am assuming to be, the flu. Since then, I have been trying to get my strength back to practice at full capacity again. My morning routines have fallen away as I have been restless through the night fighting off night sweats and yet to have a full nights rest, leaving me exhausted for much else then trying to get ready for the work day.

I have been to several classes, but as I was not sure if I was contagious I missed a week and a half after I got back. Since then, I have gone to 4.

We are learning the sword in the advanced class, so that has been memorization and the other classes I have been leading or going through the 24. I have picked up some new concepts from the reviews, but over all I just feel extremely distant from my practice.

Without my personal practice time, I loose my connection to my body in class and I am not able to delve as deeply in to the forms, or the movement in general. I begin to look at it again through the analytical mind instead of discovering the movement through my body.

This has lead to a lot frustration internally that tries to lash out looking for someone or something to blame it all on. From my inability to ask the right questions, to looking for more teachers, to wondering if I have ever been actually developing in the first place.

But the crux of it is, I have not been practicing and the blame rests squarely on me and my exhaustion. But perhaps blame is the wrong word, it implies wrong doing, I have just been too tired to focus on full training.

It’s a couple weeks of this built up that I woke with yesterday morning. A morning with eyes open at my regular time (7AM), feeling awake and with more energy I have had in the last couple weeks.

So naturally, I decided to work out AND train.

I have read that working out can help boost the immune system, and in the past when I was training for intense obstacle course races, I had broken this cycle of getting sick during the winter. So the answer must be that I need to start sweating regularly again.

I kicked the morning off with 15 minutes of meditation, to get my mind right. Then I went in to my routine.

Squats, leg lifts, crunches, squat holds, scissor kicks and hip thrusts. Aimed at getting my legs and core activated and the blood\sweat pumping.

It took about 30 minutes total, but was aimed mostly for intensity and I worked up a really nice sweat.

Then it was time to train, I practiced what I learned of the sword twice, then timed 15 minutes of stick work targeting a deep horse stance and keeping my mind centered and focused on the activity at hand,or at least pulling the attention back when I felt it wander. (After almost two weeks without meditation it was quite the greased hog to settle down).

Then it was time to eat, I was feeling really good!

3:00 hit at work, it was time to do Qigong with a coworker. We have been doing 15 -20 minute routines just as a nice afternoon break, yet another thing that has not been done in 4 weeks. (Vacation + sickness + exhaustion).

So, I was all jazzed and feeling great so we went off and did a full 30 minutes. It was probably one of our best sessions, we both worked up a sweat and I was able to correct a couple of movements for him.

Overall, I was feeling pretty good about myself and honestly really excited about being able to start real practice again.

Then about 5:30, I started to feel it.

A flushing of my cheeks and a heat to my face. At that moment, I realized that I had also been coughing today more than the last couple. One that was more insistent than just a nagging piece of phlegm that had dislodged and needed to be expelled.

The worse kind of cough, a dry pointless one.

My girlfriend, out of pure chance, made her famous chicken soup last night.

Perfect timing, I thought to myself.

I gobbled it down, along with tea and zinc for dessert.

But it only helped momentarily.

At 10 the coughing started again, and I could feel the pressure in my sinuses start to build. It was taking hold.

Coupled with an open window last night, and the heater in the house being turned off. I woke up sick.

I was up sneezing at 5 AM, blowing my nose and wheezing yet again.

I woke up long enough to gargle with salt water and write an email to my teacher saying I’m not coming in for fear of infecting others.

Needless to say, I am pretty god damn tired of being sick.

This time I am going to defeat it fully. I am going to be eating chicken soup every day and drinking tea with every meal, I will just take stock of my studies and read some books. Practicing VERY lightly until I feel strong for more than a day.

sick

Meditation Week

 

Ok, yes. I have been “off” for the last week or two.

I accept that.

Is it who I am? Yes, it is.

Am I fighting it tooth and nail?

No I am not.

But, that does not mean I am not practicing and moving forward with my study.

This week, I have decided, is going to be focused on meditation.

Going back to core of the practice, a relaxed mind centered on the dantian.

Each morning, starting on Monday, I have been doing 30 minutes of zhan zuang (standing post meditation) a quiet practice focused on not focusing, instead relaxing the mind and bringing it to rest on my dantian (center). Attempting, to allow thoughts to drift by unsnagged by my mental net of intention.

The weirdest thing starts to happen after a couple days practice, after settling the mind reaching that point of lightness, I am always able to sense when my alarm is about to go off.

Cant explain it, but literally a “3, 2, 1” counts down in my head, then the alarm begin.

Anyway, its only Wednesday. Still 4 more days to go, we will see what happens by the end!

I am thinking of starting to chose a theme each week to focus on. I feel the need to do that to keep myself from getting to hyper focused on one concept. A weekly shift may just be a good frequency.

calm

Dreaming Of Chen Village

I just watched a documentary on Chen Village the other day. The village in China that is largely thought to be the birthplace of Tai Chi.

The video went through some of their training techniques and the amount of time they spend practicing, it made me super jealous.

They train in three sessions a day up to 3 or 4 hours each, morning, afternoon and night. How great would that be! I am lucky if I get to practice twice a day for half an hour let alone 4 hours.

I lack the discipline and focus to get myself to practice that much. Often, I just lead myself to complete and utter distraction after an hour and end up trailing off into thoughts of work, life, or what I want to eat.

It got me thinking though, what if I went over there to study for a couple months? Could I pull that off?

I think in the back of my mind I have always wanted to go over there and study hardcore for a while. It almost seems necessary in my career if I want to teach this to people.

In fact I will pull it off! That IS going to happen… Its just a matter of when and how much I need to save!

How cool would that be!?!? To study with some of the lineage holders of the art itself for a while and get the time to breath and eat it every day for…what, how long? 3 months? A year?

Maybe it would help get me closer to this woman who won 1st place at a competition recently for Chen style. (Another catalyst that has me all stoked to practice)

The way she sinks and moves in to her hips is crazy! I have only just begun to even understand how my legs move underneath me, let alone move how she does!

This coming from a guy who spent 4 years doing 10 – 20 obstacle course races a year!

Exciting stuff, I love being reminded of how little I know. There is so much to discover!

Even in the documentary, Grand Masters are explaining how much their Tai Chi has improved each year through their practice.

Truly amazing and humbling stuff. Just goes to show that it doesn’t matter what stage you are at, there is always something new to learn, so learn to love the process!

No end in sight, and loving every moment of it!!

 

6SDAOqM

Ma Knees!

My knees are feeling fantastic!

I am still practicing on the high side of my horse stances during form and qigong. I have been paying attention to the subtleties of the higher positions trying to feel the sinking and relaxation in the kua and imagining what the lower stances would feel like when the knees have stopped groaning all together. I have actually been able to go much deeper standing than I was able to in the forced wider horse stances, as odd as that sounds.

Less is more!

I have done a couple things to make sure my knees have been on the mend:

  1. Switched to my Vibrams during the work week.
    1. They have zero heel drop and have allowed me to refocus on stepping on the ball of my feet while walking and standing instead of the heel. I noticed a difference immediately on the walk to work in the morning.
    2. My normal shoes have worn down to the sole on the ball of the foot and were putting my feet in awkward positions as I walked. This in combination with the forced heel strike was aggravating ma knees throughout the day, hence why after work they were hurting.
    3. I ordered a new pair of shoes that are less offensive, to pretty much everyone, so I can get the benefits without the need for explanations :). Inov-8’s are my favorite shoes, they have a large variety of athletic shoes, and are a bit pricey, but they are worth it. My last 3 daily shoes have been inov-8’s, though my workout shoes remain to be Vibrams.
  2. Corrected my posture while at my standing desk
    1. After paying close attention to how I was standing at my desk, it became apparent that I have been leaning forward towards my computer as I work. Putting the weight towards the front of my feet and pretty much straight down the front of my knees. Yeah…no wonder they hurt.
  3. Stood at a higher horse stance
    1. I have been going too wide for my body atm and forcing myself in to positions that strain my joints more than they should. I have been focusing on stretching out the kua and training my body to move in the more relaxed\higher positions of the postures.
  4. Just flat out paid attention
    1. Listening to the body as I move through the day and paying attention to when there is unnatural strain on any of the joints or limbs. When I find them, I experiment around with different ways of moving until I find one that relives the pressure. Movement without pain!

And I leave this post with a great explanation of push-hands by what is turning out to be one of my favorite online sources for Tai Chi Demos, Ian Sinclair

Sundays practice:

  • 1.5 hours primordial qigong
  • 1.5 hours form practice

Mondays Practice:

Kind of a big break through in meditation today, I realized that to be able to stand and meditate with my arms out.. I just have to disengage all my muscles, and they hold themselves up! Only took me a year and a half of meditation to realize I dont have to use my arm muscles.

  • 15 minutes Zhan Zhuang Meditation
  • 24 form x3
  • 83 form x1
  • 1.5 hours dynamic qigong
  • 20 minutes push hands

Killer Mutant Snow Goons

I am amazed some form of this is not taught in western schools. Actually….come to think of it…our education system is pretty terrible so not that surprised. But it should be!

Remember how I was going to take yesterday off? Well I kind of lied.

After work I got bored and headed to the afternoon silk reeling class, and I am glad I did. We got a full list of silk reeling exercises as well as went over a new format for classes. I was still tired, I was expecting to just practice but ended up leading for a bit. I got out of it as soon as I could though so I could focus on practice. 😀

That is one thing I am starting to realize. My classes are starting to become focused on learning how to lead and is taking me a little away from the practice itself. That’s totally fine, it’s just something to adjust to. That just means that my morning practice is going to be even more important going forward.

Continued study is the key to being good practitioner of anything, IMO, nothing is more annoying than someone who takes a weekend class on something and is suddenly and expert. Tai Chi\Qigong are extremely deep arts, so deep there really is no end to their study. I will have to be both leading AND practicing in order to truly embody this art and go as deep as I feel I need to. Let me tell you…that is pretty deep.

Today’s practice:

Today was a great morning! Got up super early, didn’t check the phone…and just started a full workout sequence. I blame yesterday’s recharging for the amount of energy I have. Now to just remember that next time I make myself take a break :). The body signals are becoming pretty clear when it is time for a break though. So in theory… It should get easier to take a break right? I just have to remember to listen.

  • x3
    • 6 pull ups
    • 30 squat presses
    • 20 single leg squats
    • 30, 20, 20 push ups
  • ? Min standing meditation
  • 40 min Silk Reeling

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