Sunday, September 27, 2009

The second step: Giving Effort

First off, my apologies for the lack of posting...although I offer no excuses I do feel that I should spend more time on providing more frequent and thoughtful content (as well as working out all the layout issues...).

I've recently been offered a specific goal, something to work up to, a training routine of sorts. Although the whole idea seems so out of reach to me right now I am gradually working up to one hour of stance in the morning and night on top of movement exercises during midday. In all honesty I have only been able to work up to a routine of (as of today) 22 minutes per go, although I have been adding a minute each day. While 22 minutes is nowhere near an hour, I have been noticing so many different changes within my body especially with's funny how you can think you've been doing something right for so long and then you're give one adjustment which changes everything. For me, bringing the shoulders down and back while relaxing the chest has led to so many "ah ha!" moments...which leads me to the main topic of my post: how to get the most out of your practice through putting effort into small, specific points or tasks.

During practice I often come across two distinct mindsets: the tranced out "stuck on the feeling"/faux meditative mindset, and the "awake/present in the moment, working on specifics to get the feeling mode". While it is always easier for me to fall into the former, I have found that I get more out of practice with the latter.

For me, the "specifics" in stance are basically a run through of correct structure utilizing the 1,2,3,4 1,2,3,4 method (as seen here: on wujifaliangong) which helps me find areas of tension or lack of balance. This specific and systematic way of running through stance gives me structure...and structure, balance, and relaxation are all interconnected (to find one, do the other two).

As I continue stance practice and work on extending my time to an hour per session, I continue to find ways to fight the "monkey mind" will be interesting to see if the answer is simply in the specifics as I suspect it might be all along...

Disclaimer: Thank you for bearing with me as I work out how I want to run this you can tell from this latest post, its just one big mind dump to briefly type out some things I've been thinking about...As I get better at this, I hope to keep you a bit more interested ;) There are so many things to say with such a deep practice and I'm just attempting to begin to discuss it all so thanks! Having just re-read my own post, I can already spot out three different branching topics and no real underlying theme but I leave this post up raw and unedited for posterity...

-your humble aho

Friday, September 4, 2009

The first step: Trust

For a while I've been debating what my first post should consist of. My current view of stance practice, the going-ons in my own life, maybe a lengthy entry on my future training goals and concerns. But then I realized; why not just write about the one thing that has gotten me past many struggles in my own life (as recently as a few days back) that should be at the root of the beginner's mind: Trust.

Trust in the positive, trust in others guidance, trust in the limitless potential of the vast human mind. Trust that "yes, you can", and trust in everything being "OK". This trust I refer to is not necessarily a blind trust, rather, a trust that encourages the seeking and realization of OPPORTUNITY in the moment.

Trust has gotten me a long way, and as I learn to trust in my own practices (zhan zhuang and the wujifa system, etc.) I am beginning to understand more and more the benefits of such a simple word. Trust yields curiousity, trust builds connections, and trust forges opportunities we might not have had before.

Do you truly trust in your own practices or are you drudging through, SEEKING and FORCING what shouldn't be sought or forced? As I play with zhan zhuang more and more, these are some obstacles I continue to tend with. "Once you get the feeling, get rid of the method" as we here at Wujifa like to say, but how do we truly get the feeling without a forceful method? And why do we lose the feeling if we try too hard to hold on to it? Do we not truly trust in the method or am I missing the mark completely?

Zhan Zhuang is such a simple ( ;) ) yet seemingly daunting practice. As I continue on this path as a "beginner" I do not hope to one day "master" such a practice yet try to remind myself to enjoy the practice itself. Maybe, one day, this trust will bring a certain understanding...on my path to the truth!