Practice Update

Short on time this morning, so I figured I would just pop on for a brief Tai Chi Practice update.

I am sore :).

Pretty much my whole body, but mainly my Kua (Inner Hips) and my all the way up my lower spine.

It’s a good soreness, like the one that comes after a good workout, and it confirms my suspicions that my movement has indeed changed.

The ongoing focus on incorporating my upper and lower body has start to pay off and I have started to be able to keep my mind in my lower body for longer periods of time. Before, I was moving my upper arms with all my intention in my upper body, treating the lower half as just kind of a tertiary unconscious movement. Unable to “feel” my legs moving, let alone which parts were moving when.

Encouraging progress for sure, but I still have a long way to go in order to integrate it in to my movement without having to thing about it.

There is a two week break coming up in classes for the fourth of July, I plan on using that time to put together a couple more videos I have floating around in my head. I have come to the conclusion that shooting, is the easy part. The editing and graphics are going to take a bit.

So, I am going to shoot three or four videos and spend the next three months editing and releasing one at a time. Not really sure the increments yet, but I imagine it will sort itself out :). But at least I will have content to mess with and hopefully start to release in a more timely schedule.

If you havent already, checkout my YouTube Channel and subscribe so that you get updates on new videos, they wont always have a blogpost associated with them :).

 

CHAKRAS

There is no Fast Track

With the internet, there is a limitless library of resources are available to us that previous generations could only have dreamed about.

Literally anything that could be researched or explored is a couple of keyboard strikes away from lighting up our screens and going directly in to our brains.

Books have been digitized, scientists have written blogs, NASA publishes papers, and the old masters once hidden on mountain tops have been captured on video and published on to YouTube for all to see.

With all of this knowledge just sitting there ready to be taken in, I have found it too easy to fall in to the trap of trying to replace knowledge with experience.

Trying to stuff every bit of information on all related subject in to my head at once. Including things that are far beyond my grasp to even comprehend. Comforted with the thought that, “Oh, ill pack it in there and when the time is right I will be able to understand it.”

But, as I go through these phases, and I begin to feel my brain getting so packed I begin to have tunnel vision. I reign myself in.

All of that knowledge, those advance techniques, those advanced energy concepts, those are all being taught by someone who ACTUALLY feels or can experience them. Someone who can interpret the movement or patterns of those concepts from their own reality, not just recite from a book they read or from a video they watched.

Those tomes of information in your head are all just theory.

There is absolutely no substitute for experience and experience is gained through practice. Hours upon hours of careful deliberate movement and mental intention that is pinpointed on FEELING all the parts of the body involved. Peeling back the layers of body insensitivity built upon by years of neglect and misuse.

The secret to mastery, to me, is not cramming more information in, being able to recite every principle or move in manderin, or being able to write all of the branches of tai chi lineage holders by heart. (Though, with time it is a goal I have 😀 )

No, its practice. It’s being able to FEEL, to CONNECT, to EXPERIENCE a unified complete movement and unbroken intention through every motion.

 

I bring this up to remind myself how far I have to go. It has been a year since I did my first recording of the 24 movement form. I posted the video on my YouTube channel and watched it after first viewing the original.

There has been HUGE improvement over the year, (To which I mentioned to my teacher and all he had to say was; “Well hopefully”.)

Much improvement, yet still MUCH farther to go.

I have pulled back on the reading I was doing and have limited it to things only loosely related to Tai Chi. Mostly books on energy healing and the energy body in general to help expand my basic knowledge of the energy body or the philosophical ideologies. Favoring the approach of trying to build this basic knowledge up to build a stronger broader foundation in which to bring my practice up as a whole.

As a result, I have actually had much stronger clarity and focus in my daily practice.

No longer feeling the rush to try some of those more advanced moves\techniques or distracted by figuring out how to work them, without fully understanding how or why.

My hips have opened up greatly, and the 24 is starting to become second hand. Passed the stage of trying to just remember and far in to breaking down the fine corrections\intentions in the movement itself.

I feel much more grounded when doing my form practice and, for the moment, its a great place to stay for a while as I continue to dig the holes for the footings of my tai chi practice.

Simple is better. Breath

 

fast-track-01

 

March 2015 form:

 

March 2016 form:

 

Can you spot the differences?

Getting Rid of the static

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

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

“Wonder what Facebook has on it.”

“Oh, I should check instagram.”

“Oh, who can I send a snapchat to.”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

It felt absolutely liberating!

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

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

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

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

Today’s Practice:

30 minutes standing meditation

1.5 Hours of Dynamic Qigong (Silk Reeling)

1.5 Hours of studying the 24

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