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The trickiest principle (maybe) of tai chi chuan!

Crown Suspending

Recent interesting and invaluable posts of a kung fu brother (if humbly I may say it) questioning about practice and his feelings and Sifu’s answers were inspiring and enlightening in many aspects. It enticed me to talk a little of my own practice feelings.

Generally I feel nothing special apart a rare tingling or warm sensations during practice. I used to feel nothing specially many years ago in my beginnings of taichi/chikung, which caused a little frustration (that I attributed to fail enough practice). After some time (years), tingling and a few others sensations began to appear and naturally I felt happy because I wrongly correlated that feelings with some degree of accomplishment. Now I know that imbalances or sickness may result in such kind of sensations during practice. I also know that any physical sensations bring with them a certain feeling of wrong or unhealthy sensations or a mild elated and/or healthy feeling - which I learned to ignore in practice context.

What I generally feel are a very good stamina and my body responding better than when I was in my late teens or twenties. So I could say I feel nothing special almost forgetting body existence. But in order to improve in all aspects of my life I have, of course, to be mindful of body and mind. The 13 points as an anchor for a wandering mind and a fleeting present moment are of utmost importance. 

Suspending Crown, as I see it, is a symbolic formula which encapsulates a meaning which tries to convey in words a certain way or feeling that equates a good structure. Suspending Crown is a key point to whatever internal work maybe - meditation, martial art, chi-kung and even one’s natural bearing.

When confronted with this basic principle a few years ago trying to grasp its meaning, I tried “forcibly” to put it at work (according to my understanding at the time) in my structure and form practice, trying to do it correctly, resulted in a taut posture and I began to feel the difficult subtleties of this principle. So, here begin the tricky business of suspending the crown without “doing” the suspending.

This was a major issue for me and I put a strategy in practice which implied to try whenever I remembered and whatever situation to “balance” my head over the neck to meet the principle of suspending crown. Relaxing the shoulders was part of the recipe. Most of the time I was unaware and distracted (fortunately) so “doing” was much put aside except for form practice and eventually some sitting meditation!

At first sight there was nothing exceptionally wrong with such a strategy. Except for the simple reason that put all my attention statically on just one of the principles and forgetting the rest compromised the body structure as a dynamic whole and paradoxically but with logic a proper suspended crown. Watch http://ucbprogram.com/tensegtity.

As I understand it now, mindfully minimum adjustments – this is the better way I can put it – have to be in place to align the body when practicing. In fact I cannot “do” the alignment, it’s more correct to say that alignment does me - it seems a little weird but that’s the way I feel it.

I don’t need to be perfect instantaneously, but be aware of my flaws and mindful of principles and sifu’s guidance. Grasping the daoist concept of “not doing” would help, I think, feeling at ease and open awareness to go deeper.

I would like to finish drawing attention to Sifu’s post: Start with basics.

Thanks Sifu and temple_river777 (sorry don’t know your name). Following here the example of Joey I thank to everybody that makes so precious program available to anyone who wants to do the first steps to the infinite interior landscape.

Paulo

Comments

Letting these qualities come about and finding the 13 points is, as sifu says, in a very small place. Somewhere between effort and non-effort. It is neither and both. It's no wonder people give up or try to find some other way. All of the seemingly meaningless fortune cookie paraphrases that contain the principles of these arts. "Try without trying." The whole wu wei concept can fry your brain until you actually, through training, experience it and then a light bulb goes off and you are very comfortable with the language because it makes sense to the one who has experienced what they describe. To everyone else it just seems like riddles and unattainable. By the way, my name is Michael. :) I'm glad that my lack of understanding may lead to someone else's learning.

Paulo and Michael,

I appreciate that both you guys make an effort to share your experiences on here.  We all gain from them, we are all doing the best we can from a distance (which is very difficult as we know) and every little bit helps, especially when it comes in the form of fellow classmates speaking their thoughts on the training. And as Paulo pointed out, what goes for one student and the dialogue promoted with Sifu from that experience has a lot of times a profound effect on the process of another reading the exchange.

I know that Paulo's posts have helped me a ton... and it's funny that usually its the confusion and the questions and uncertainties that spring the most helpful info (unlike my posts which will contain occasional delusions of insight, lol)...  what we may be feelings as chaos in our minds can become understanding for ourselves and others once put out in the open and Sifu takes a crack at it.

Michael, I'm right on the same page with you on this 'do and not do' issue.  When we spend a lot of time with a lot of 'things' and principles and alignment points and movement templates, etc. its very difficult to remember that we might need to 'not actually "do" any of those things'.  I have a hard time sometimes keeping in mind that these things are to be 'recognized and realized' and not 'performed'.  The greater flow, the yin and yang balance... much of the time I'm trying to 'condense the yin' and 'expand the yang' and send flow in a circuit around my body, when it's much easier to simply notice the yin condensing and the yang expanding and allowing the circuit to flow through the body. 

So it seems to me that the real 'effort' comes in the form of NOT making effort, lol.

Thanks guys,

Patrick

Thank you Sifu for your approval of my post :-)

Michael I’ve to thank you for the opportunity to learn you gave me and I agree with your comment one hundred percent but about your lack of understanding I have my doubts :-)

You rightly mentioned the Taoist concept of Wu Wei or “non-action” which I suppose to be the correct conventional English translation. Not doing (in this context) presuppose a Self that will take an attitude (which is not natural or spontaneous – Wu Wei).

Patrick I cherish above all what you've said and I'll underline: "every little bit counts". It is a truth which passes easily unnoticed that sometimes (if not ever) the “little bits”, small events which nobody pays attention, little coincidences and so on win a war. Those "little bits" have in fact more importance than large pieces of hardware in whatever domain we consider. As we all know (standing still or moving swiftly) to overcome an opponent whatever martial art we consider, timing is critical, that “little bit” of a fleeting moment - to change with the change - Wu Wei.

Truly speaking you helped me a lot too. Your posts, your motivation and quick reasoning brought me information outside the scope of my slow reasoning which I would have never reached!

Talking about distance, we have the Atlantic Ocean and my violent struggling with English separating us so please take a rest, the potential for confusion, the inevitable questions and the stack of uncertainties are of such a magnitude that we might have, for sure, plenty of fruitful chaotic inspiring matters to consider, to confound and - and more important - bright enlightening conclusions to attain. :-)

I’m sorry to you all for such an amount of silly talk. I’ve warned you!

Thanks a lot, for your feedback for a bunch of words expressing my feelings concerning practice. It really feels nice,

Paulo

Not to wax religious, but I am what some would call a religious person; the Bible says in Hebrews 4:11 "Let us strive to enter that rest..." The context of of that scripture is not in reference to the body, but the principle is true by extension. The principle is true in every facet of life. The only strife we should have is the effort moving toward rest. Also, just a side note on awareness, when Moses asked God what His name was His response was "I am that I am." You don't get much more aware than eternally being in the present tense! Its much more theologically loaded than that but we can same that for another time. ;-)

Nice to hear from you!

I’m not quite sure to clearly follow you in this type of metaphysic topics. The concept of eternity doesn’t make any sense if what we have is just the present moment and nothing more – while breathing, thinking and acting in any possible way it’s just the Present. The Past as well has the Future are for us merely concepts acknowledge only by thought (this sequence of past, present and future is conventional) hence science models this impression/observation with the “entropy (arrow of time)”, see: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Entropy_(arrow_of_time)

It’s an illusion when the Present is that “something” (still I can call it the present moment) that’s immediately after the Past and imminent before the Future. By the same reasoning even Present isn’t a plausible concept either because in spite the logic of the apparent sequence of past, present and future, I need the past to have the future and vice-versa but I don’t need neither of them for the present moment to be. In fact is all the way around. We cannot conceive the pair present/future per se and unless you equate present moment with eternity leaving past and future out of the formula you won’t have any awareness (here and now – when the myriad of ILC or TCC principles start to unfold). Plus awareness is not a question of quantity (the infinite past, the “little bit” fleeting present moment, and the infinite future). As I see it awareness is about quality (going deeper) nothing more… (If I’m getting right sifu’s teachings)

Is the web enough tangled? Do not be misled; tomorrow I’ll still be using my watch :-) 

Fragile creatures as we are the only access to divinity is the inevitability of being in the present moment totally aware of it or completely stuck in fictional worlds created by our own minds…

By the way I appreciate and understand (I suppose) the idea of strive in order to obtain the highest good, but don’t forget sifu’s teachings and especially the warning of “being at ease” that we often tend to forget. This will bring resilience (both mentally and physically) to your already (so it seems) strong commitment and good character (I’m sorry, I don’t want to judge you in any way – these are just my impressions) and thus make the goal easier to achieve.

You see, I’m very stubborn, It seems like I simply remade what you’ve said but it had to be my way because I haven’t got the “being at ease” part yet - I’ve to strive to get it! :-)

I’ve lots of practice drills to put up to date, today and “for the next future” :-), I need urgently be at ease. Have a good practicing time.

Meanwhile I will go for a rest ... :-)

Thank you for your reply. Eternity should always be understood as that which transcends time altogether. When time is transcended then all that is left is the present moment. So your comment is correct. :-) As far as ease goes, that is the point of both my comment and the scripture that I referenced, that effort and strife have no place in God's design for humanity. The problem is that we are prone to it. Therefore He says to strive to enter rest. Not strive to get rest, or that striving is resting. Rather, that the greatest strife is to let go of strife itself. Our greatest effort is to release effort and find ease. These are universally true principles. That was my reason for referencing them from the Bible. Some would consider the philosophies of taoism and Christianity to be exclusive to one another, but on some very basic level they do share a common ground in their philosophies. All truth is God's truth no matter where you find it. The truth seen and observed in nature is very fascinating, especially concerning the human body and mind. The invisible attributes of God are clearly seen in the things that He has made. That is why this course and the study of internal martial arts always leads me to a place of wonder and awe. It is the chief reason for my continued study. I see God's handiwork and am amazed.

 

There is always something very enriching for us when someone comments our posts even when so little important or dissonant they may be…

Michael, I would like to express my gratitude for your interest, intuition and clarifications.

Have a good practice time!