4/18/12

Training went pretty well today. Mostly because I just observed my self. I refrained from judging as much as I could. I noticed a few things.

1. I can't seem to release between my shoulder blades. It always get tight and stiff there while training. What can I do to help this? 

2. Turning the body and keeping the belly button and breast bone together is actually pretty tricky. I have done some Practical Method Chen Taijiquan and they do all kinds of twisting of the waist. I had seen others online doing it and now I see it is a habit in my body.

3. Not forcing the breath or trying to be dramamtic with the breath is also kind of hard. I noticed over and over, as I was trying to refine my bitter pill, That my breath was protruding my abdomen instead of softly inflating and expanding all around. It always felt better when I mindfully kept the breath soft and sunk. 

4. My right arm started to tingle. It still is a little bit as I type this. Kind of a buzzy feeling. I don't know what that is.

5. My feet feel like I am beating the living crap out of them. I would say that they feel heavy but I can step easily. They just feel like I have beaten them with a tenderizer. Not painful...kind of how your back feels after someone does deep tissue massage on you for about 20 minutes. Slightly sore and a little jelly fied.

6. I can feel a small buzzy spot on the ends of my big toes. Is that part of the big toe energy?

7. When doing the fajin exercises, you say that the feet remain quiet. Well I live in a house with a crawl space, not a slab foundation. I am shaking the floor and the pictures on the wall. LOL! Some times the feet don't "do" much, as far as the heel trying to come up, but still sending plenty of force into the floor. I refined it until there was probably 1/3 of the floor shaking by the end of it.

Well, there it is. Everbody comment away, PLEASE.

 

Comments

Hey Michael,

Wanted to throw in some of my own experiences to your outlined observations, mostly because some of these are EXACTLY some of the same things I've noticed early on in the training....

1. (shoulder blades/ point in-between them).  Have the same issue, but its not nearly as it was in the beginning.  What I found is that I was 'hunching' just a bit in the shoulders and chest.  In my attempts to 'drop' the shoulders over the hips while tucking the ribs, what I was actually doing was rolling the shoulders forward.  What this did was engaged the traps and locked the breath, or at least some of it, up high in the chest.  It caused my upper back to have to engage in order to compensate for what was going on on the front side.  So I eventually found that the shoulders needed to rest in the sockets, which to my suprise ended up being much more lateral that I had figured.  At first it felt like they were being held a little bit back, but when looking at myself i saw that they were really straight over the hips, and it allowed the traps to settle down, the blades to seperate laterally and the cervical spine to open up more naturally.  The chest did feel a little less 'hollow', but if I just softened the front of the neck under the chin, the chest dropped out like it was supposed to.  I still have to remind myself that this feeling of 'chest more open' and the shoulders feeling like they are going back a little are only feelings due to the fact that my body has blockages and habits to overcome.  So the right thing doesn't always feel 'just right' the first times i do them, for those reasons.  This also helped me get the 'stacking energy' and the lower torso more 'full as it allowed everything to drop down.

2.  (breast bone/belly button)  Same thing on this one, plus a couple other things.  This also was helped by getting the shoulder alignment more clear.  As the shoulders are allowed to hang from the joints, instead of us 'holding' them somewhere around the joints, the energy can drop to fill the low abdomen and yao.  When this happens we can more easily release the upper torso so that it 'catches a ride' on the low torso.  And as long as I've got the crown energy and the sternum and shoulder kuas quiet, then the two structures are in unison.  Another thing I noticed that hindered this union was recruiting a lot of muscle to make the movements, this seems to automatically disconnect the belly button and sternum.  I have to really keep mindful of 'release and fullness' that way I don't do a habitual cranking of the waist or ab or back muscles in order to make a turn, and if I keep the ease and allow the expansion, condensing, absorbing and projecting to create the move then it all turns together.  It simply takes time to break these habits, lots of time in my case.

3.  (breath), Exactly, my ability to keep the breath sunk and soft relies almost completely on my ability to keep my body quiet.  As long as i'm keeping ease and stillness and calm with a smile, I can take an easy breath that fills.  The instant I begin to 'do' something, its gone.  I have to remind myself that I can't 'make power', it has to manifest from the ease and principles.

4. (arm tingling)  Same thing.  Had this going on very early while doing ZZ.  Never figured out what it was although someone once told me it may be that my chest still wanted to expand and project, which was working against the expand and project at the back, and this created a bad angle with my entire ribcage in relation to my spine.  Ultimately messing with some veins or nerves going through the shoulders and arms.  It eventually stopped as I learned to drop and release the shoulders and the shoulder kuas and keep the ease.

5. (feet)  I still get this from ZZ.  I just chalk it up to being my feet not used to getting as much of the load as they do when I get my body aligned properly.  For the last twenty something years there wasn't much of a pathway for gravity to get to the floor, so the feet probably aren't used to it and are adjusting.  That's what I figure anyway, but am not sure.

6. (big toe) I don't know about buzzing, buzzing happens in a lot of places but I haven't felt it in the big toe so i can't say for sure.  For me, big toe energy means that I can feel a very tangible connection from big toe to center of the kua.  Also, that there is a light suction at the POC of the big toe and the floor, and the yang surfaces really wrap in the whole body on the horizontal plane.  It also really brings the yang energy down from the split at the mingmen, down and around the yao, down the outside of the legs and straight to the big toe, hitting all the surfaces as labeled on the map.  When these things happen I feel that I have gotten the big toe energy.  Plus, there is a real sense of the 'forward and downward' feeling of the big toe as Sifu has described.

7. (fajin throwing hands)  I don't do a whole lot of fajin exercises.  When I do them I try not to let it come 'out of the body' as it were.  So, in other words, I try to not have the feet feel much of the force.  I feel I've done it right when I trigger the 'issue' or the throw and theres a big 'popping out' of the yang surfaces and at the same time a very similarly instant suctioning of the yin surfaces.  WHile at the same time I can feel a real lengthening or fast and substantial wringing of the connective tissues.  But typically I have to do the exercise slowly so as not to disconnect, as I still have an issue with engaging the muscles and disconnecting the body when trying to make power.  If I can get a deep stretch adn really create room between the bones and the tissues on the 'throw' then I feel I've done a decent job.

 

It simply took time for my body to begin to organize itself in a way condusive to our training. In the beginning it really wanted to resist and fight what I was doing as it was nearly opposite of what I had been doing my whole life I guess.  Once it started to get with the program (which only came from practice practice and mroe practice) things became a bit more clear and the feelings Sifu talks about are much more easily recognized when the body isn't working against me, haha. As far as what I've experienced since beginning this program it really sounds like you are going the same route, having the same issues and thoughts, etc.  Makes me feel like all the confusion and worry I had in the beginning was for no reason, haha.  One thing it took me a long time to get over was this confusion and worry... about whether or not i was training the right way, whether this or that feeling was supposed to be felt, etc.  When I realized that it takes a lot of time for the body to begin to work itself to a place where this work is done, and that the feelings and things were going to vary wildly, adn that the mind itself was being molded and going through transition... it became obvious that there was nothing I could do about it besides simply surrender to the process and the method, not attach to anything that came up during the process, stop figuring things, thinking things, and simply listen and train as Sifu says to do.  And when I dropped it all, the process began to work me, instead of me working the process, and its a great feeling.  At first it required a little faith, but once the training starts to figure you out, and work on you instead of you figuring it out and working on it, there's nothing else but to enjoy the ride at that point.

Patrick

sifu kelley's picture

Thanks Patrick! 

Good job, Michael!

In order the recognize the dynamic unity of the suchmess feel, we must clearly hold on to the requirements of the 3 mental factors, present, formless and neutral.

Neutral means many things, but foremost is 'no judging'. This means no judging of anything, especially ourselves. To learn means to maintain 'empty cup,  beginners mind'. If you want to optimize learning then optimize neutral, begin and maintain neutral by not judging. Yes, I know it's hard, doesn't matter, just do what teacher says. :)

Have fun, train well.

how pronounced should the feelings be should they be as light as possible in our awareness or should they become more and more pronounced?

sifu kelley's picture

How pronounced is dependedent on the quality and duration of your training. At first the feelings are barely perceptible, then as your brain changes and the attention is built up, they become clearer, eventually obvious and inevitable. time and quality spent with the 3 mental factors.