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


  1. Rock on Aho

    So many people stop standing a 15 or 20 minutes... adding a minute or two every few days is a great way to get to an hour. Setting the amount of time before one stands is so helpful. That way when the "monkey mind" comes up with a reason to stop you already chose. Then following through help develop one's intention! Great blog and I enjoy the posts here... thanks!

  2. Thanks for the comment Rick...wasn't sure if I was making sense but I'll try not to post so late at night when I should be sleeping haha

    Incorporating intention training in my daily life has been pretty interesting as well...noticing moments when I make excuses for various things and realizing the opportunity to follow through with my original intention helps me stay on track whether it be stance practice, work, or even simple tasks like doing laundry or taking out the garbage! In ways like this, it is beneficial and fun to make training an every waking moment reality...

  3. It's interesting how focusing on one thing (bringing the back and shoulders down) leads to "a-ha" moments. As another example, so I'm currently working on relaxing and lengthening my scalene muscles, opening the upper chest, and I notice that my posture sitting at work actually contributes to shortening these muscles, I'm practicing 9 hours a day+ exactly the opposite!
    mike from

  4. Mike,

    I agree that work can be a particularly brutal place providing adverse effects to one's practice but this got me thinking (and please bear with me as I try to explain haha)...I truly believe that the awareness of certain going ons in one's body found during stance practice provides us the opportunity to apply such awareness in real life to the point that it becomes natural no matter what we are doing. For me, I try to apply this to the relaxed abdominal breathing as well as the whole shoulder issue I discussed in my post. If I ever find myself in adverse posture (while on the computer, watching tv, etc) I try to notice the opportunity and find stance in my daily life. Noticing the opportunity is such a brilliant thing to me...half the battle but worth it as we try to make the internal practice an "every waking moment" activity...

    Thanks for the comments everyone!

  5. I really like the exchange here in this thread with this blog. Yea, I'd like to say having focus and paying attention and noticing are all very cool and at the same time very different ideas. Now simply noticing and adjust during the day is GREAT... Although different than practicing all day. A 24/7 practice involves a lot awareness at all times deep focus attention and noticing as the primairy hence the idea of calling it a 24/7 practice... If it becomes a secondary or even lower where you notice and then do something else and then notice again then I would call it simply nice. I know you two aren't talking 24/7 practice... Yet I know people who have and I'd just thought I'd bring this into the mix... Just for fun... LOL

  6. Appreciate the clarification there Rick...Sometimes I get a bit vague with terminology and use things loosely but you're right, 24/7 practice is something altogether different than what I was talking about before...merely incorporating practice throughout the day. Is it too ideal to think that the things we train for during practice can become second nature rather than secondary response?

  7. As mike said "You Are Where You Are and That's Where You Start" in his blog at

    That saying "You Are Where You Are and That's Where You Start" is a common Wujifa saying... Just like the Wujifa saying "A small step, no matter how small, starts the momentum. Keep taking small steps. Many small steps will take you a long way."

    Playing with the small steps and playing with and "Practice the ordinary until it becomes extra-ordinary." Then one can discover naturally the deeper practices... in time...

  8. I like your post Aho,
    and the discussion here in the comments section
    thanks for bringing up the topic of stepwise progression little bits at a time with a duration and a vision of a larger goal (the adding 1 min a time and goal of an hour stance). I will add this back into my practice as I've lost sight of it recently. Thank you again. Don't worry about being correct with wording etc. the mind dump is helpful and revealing of the mind sets and training topics others will be working on and playing with. Thanks again for posting bro. Rock on.

  9. Oh also developing the ability to be aware does transfer over into all aspects of life - school, work, etc. Very cool how a little intention and atention can bring about results even outside of "regular training" times.

  10. Thanks for the comments's funny how far little steps can take you, and looking back on my original posts I have gotten to the point of a consistant 30 minute stance in less than 2-3 weeks...The act of just doing it (a la nike), setting a specific goal, and being secure in your own ability is something I have found to grow out of such incremental practice, but more on this in my next update ;D

  11. Aho, thank you senior brother for your insights. I appreciate what you've said about noticing opportunities to find more stance in daily life, like on the computer, for instance. One minute every few days is awesome! That's how I got up into the hour range. It warms my heart to hear how you're training and thinking. Thank you for your inspiration!

  12. What wonderful sharing and insight and noticing... how these oppertunities show up... bth internally and in the world around us too.