Diving Deep — The way out of your head is having practical, body centered experiences. Here are some examples
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It’s about escaping from the stories to the reality
of actual experience
A while back, I shared some stories from my 1994, out-of-print book, Stories From the Sea of Life. As today is the last in the series regarding the chart I presented (here,) I thought I’d dig out another, and then some exercises to it.
Before I do, here’s the point
As we discussed last week, the path of re-examination, the path that leads to visiting the repressed, Shadow material, is definitely the “path less taken.” The norm is to simply recycle old beliefs, and to stay stuck in the same loop.
The reason we suggest such things as Bodywork and Breathwork is that learning to listen to the voice of the body is one way to get out of the mind-trap. Our minds, and especially our Ego Voices, are repetitive and demanding.
The Ego Voice wants you to be safe, but it’s a safety based in childhood, where monsters hid under beds, parents were huge, and you frankly knew squat. The Ego Voice pleads with you—don’t rock the boat, don’t do anything to get us punished, sent to our room, ignored, ostracized.
The more you press against your boundaries, the more insistent the voice becomes.
A client mentioned that she hadn’t been sitting the last month or so—her Ego Voice was coming up with louder and louder reasons why sitting was a waste of time. The timing was perfect, and mirrors precisely her starting into some real depth bodywork that is challenging every wall she has ever erected.
The Ego Voice is clever.
It isn’t attacking her depth work. It’s undermining sitting, which would ground her depth work. This is common. I have several clients right now who are resisting their meditation and physical practices, and are filled with excuses. I just point out the fear behind it all. The Ego Voice fears dissolution. So, it fights back.
It takes many forms. Clients blame others: “My husband doesn’t want me to do this, as he doesn’t want me to change.” “I’ve gone far enough.” “My in-laws think I’m wasting my life.” “I just want to teach this stuff, not actually do it.” (That one from the mouth of a therapist!)
So, let me tell you the old story, and then suggest a couple of ways to challenge yourself, while nudging the Ego Voice back stage.
Pete from Iowa was one of my Freshman room mates, in 1968, at good old Elmhurst College. He introduced me to the idea of meaningless and superficial refreshment.
Pete told me that the town he came from was so small that the chief entertainment for teens was to jump into their pickups and cruise around the block, which just about circled the town. Then they’d go over to the A & W, have a root beer and check out the girls. They wore an “outfit” — crew cut, black jeans, tee shirt (usually white) with a pack of smokes rolled up in the sleeve … and cowboy boots.
Pete liked to feel refreshed. All the time. He told me that. Repeatedly. I thought that meant he showered a lot. Wrong.
I noticed that he had brought along to College what for me would have been a lifetime supply of the industrial size cans of Right Guard Aerosol Deodorant. Initially, I was glad that he was so conscientious, as it was a small room with no air conditioning and I therefore considered deodorant to be a direct gift from God.
About a week into the Semester, I was lying abed studying, when in rushed Pete. “Boy oh boy, guy,” said Pete. “Shore is a hot ‘un out chere.” And he grabs a can of Right Guard, lifts his arm heavenward and sprays a goodly dose of the product on the appropriate area. One small problem, though. I noticed that he had neglected to remove his white tee-shirt.
Ever the kind soul, ever willing to illuminate this backwards kid from Iowa, I pointed out the error of his ways. To which he replied, “We always do it that way back home. Cools ya right off.” I think it was then and there that I began to hate the expression, “We always do it that way.”
This little trip to the aerosol can took place not once a day, but every time Pete left the room. I began to wonder how he was able to raise the arm of his shirt, so heavily laden was it with Right Guard. Right Guard ceased to be my product of choice, from that day on.
Refreshment (becoming fresh and alive again) has more to do with a state of mind than it does with taking a day off. It is an attitude, not a technique. It can’t be bought and applied. It must be lived. It is an internal choice, and thus is not about vacations, relaxation, exercise or eating right. It is about a change of heart and a change of mind.
Well, that’s what I wrote.
I suppose I’d conclude it differently, something like: “Well, how’s that working for you?” That may be what you’ve always done, and maybe that’s what daddy did, but it might be in your interest to think things through a bit.”
Me: “And what are you feeling right now?”
Client: “I’m feeling confused.”
Me: “Confused is a thought, not a feeling. What are you actually feeling in your body?”
Client: (pause) “Tight, right here.” (Pointing to stomach/solar plexus, which is home to self esteem issues.)
Me: “Rub that spot, and breathe.”
Client: deep sighs, wet eyes, tears.
Me: “That’s what you’re feeling, right now. And that’s you, expressing it.”
When I was training to be a therapist, I led a group. The participants were all women, and oddly, all cop’s wives. The city had disbanded the SWAT Team, the husbands were all members, and things were not going well at home.
One participant was a nurse, weighed about 90 pounds, and had a huge smile plastered on her face. (Nice teeth, as I remember…) I’d ask about her marriage, and she’d sigh and talk about drinking, fighting, the silent treatment. All the while, smiling.
I was a bit green back then, so it took me about 4 sessions to shift things. I asked her if she was angry. “No! Of course not! He’s having a hard time and taking it on me, but it’s fine! Really!” Beaming smile, bright teeth.
I picked up a 3 x 3 pillow. “Here. Imagine this is your husband. Why not do what your body needs to do?”
Client: “Silly! I’m happy! I’m fine.”
I pushed her with the pillow. The smile faded a bit.
Me: (push, push) “Don’t what? Aren’t you just supposed to put up and shut up. (push, push)
A couple more pushes and she attacked the pillow I was holding, pounding and screaming. It went on for 20 minutes. She knocked me from one end of the room to the other and back again. My arms got so tired I put the pillow on the floor and sat next to her while she wailed on the pillow. At the end, she calmed, smiled a real, small smile and asked for a hug.
I ran into her on the street 6 months later, and she’d left the cop, and was doing well.
Pick a partner, stand about 10 feet apart. One person directs, the partner follows the director’s hand motions. Hand motions are: come closer, step away.
- director goes inside and feels for the other person’s energy. Sounds odd, but we’re picking this “vibe” up all the time. We’re doing it subconsciously, and this exercise brings it to consciousness.
- director, signal the partner to take a step forward, then stop. Director, feel the shift in energy. Repeat. Signal partner to come closer. Partner, take one step and stop.
- the partner can “feel” too, but should mostly just follow the hand directions. You can talk about the experience, or just have it.
- repeat until the partner is close, or choose to signal the person to step aside.
Point: this is an internal exercise of observation. Lots of times, the internal feeling shifts with distance, say from neutral, to uncomfortable, to chargy. It’s a factor of social distance and personal receptivity. And the “walker’s” vibe is a big one.
I did this a couple of weeks ago, and when the person signaled me in to about 2 feet, I got “whacked” with heat and tingling in my head, heart, and lower belly (the three Chinese “burning centres.”) Had either of us been up in our heads, we’d likely have missed the underlying sensation.
These are exercises in letting go.
Go inside and ask yourself, “What am I afraid of?” “Resisting?” Then, ask yourself, “What could I do, in the real world to get some experience with this?” Set something up, with partners, friends, therapist. Just press a bit–go where you fear going (pound the pillow!) and see what releases.
It’s all what it is, and it’s all worth experiencing. It’s the judging and avoiding that’s killing us by keeping us stuck.
QiGong Secrets – Week 5
Preparation for practice is the key theme for week 5. My previous experience with QiGong learning has first been a focus on just moving and using the mind to direct the flow of chi. As we practised, we were often told, “Where the mind goes, energy flows.” Time was also spent learning a proper QiGong stance. Next I worked through a series of DVDs from Exercise to Heal with Lee Holden. I would follow the movements, with my main focus on moving my arms, hands, legs, feet, and body correctly.
Following these movements, I became more aware of the chi moving in my body. Through the movements, I was able to develop a more relaxed state, improve my posture, and generally create a feeling of being content in my life.
This was followed by my first introduction to an in-depth QiGong training course.
I signed up for the Chifusion online program, and later the instructor certification part of the program. Using this program, I have learned to focus on the exact details of every part of the moves I was learning. I love what I am learning from this course, and I love how my QiGong has improved by paying attention to the details. I believe this will make a big difference when I begin to teach QiGong. (a side note – The Chifusion online course is excellent if you are interested in fine tuning your skills to a high level. I also recommend it if you are interested in being an instructor. Even if you don’t want to teach the Chifusion program, you will learn about the mechanics of QiGong and how to teach it.)
My most recent experience is the QiGong Secrets Home Study Course. I think that the word ‘secrets’ in the title is the key word. Although I bring many experiences with QiGong to the program, I do not believe that is a requirement for this new learning experience. The ‘secret’ of the program is all about the preparation for a QiGong practice. We have only learned two movements so far. Marcus will have spent 6 weeks on learning what is means to have a QiGong practice. This is new for me and I am excited about what I am learning.
There are benefits to practising QiGong at any level. Any effort to get the chi moving in your body can result in improved health, if practised on a regular basis. Remember that the mind needs to be engaged and not busy obsessing over something someone said or did, worrying about what needs to be done, or planning tonight’s supper. Simply following my first instruction of using your mind to direct the energy is enough. In fact, standing straight in good QiGong posture and breathing will result in an increase in chi energy flow in your body. This simple practice is enough to experience results if practised regularly.
The QiGong stance I am referring to is also called the Wuji stance. Stand with your feet hip distance apart. Your middle toes should be pointing forward. In yoga class, we would be told to have the sides of our feet parallel to the edge of the mat. Place on hand on your upper chest and one hand on you abdomen. Push up with you top hand, and down with your lower hand to elongate the spine. Lift the index finger and place your chin on it for the correct head placement. Move your top hand to lower back and tip your pelvis so the sacrum is dropped. This can be achieved by pushing down with the hand on your lower back. Imagine a hook in the top of head pulling you up so the top of your head is aligned over your spine and your spine is straight. Relax the joints in your body. Chi can’t flow through a locked, tense joint. Check your weight distribution. You need to be 50% on your left foot and 50% on your right foot. You also need to be 50% on the balls of your feet and 50% on your heels. (A video explaining this stance will be available with the free introductory videos to the new membership site we have been working on.)
Breathing is relaxed and gentle. Breathe in through your nose and out through your mouth. Breathing in through your nose makes sure that the hairs in your nose can filter out any impurities in the air. You are breathing in chi as well as oxygen when you breathe in. Breathe out through your mouth. Creating a ‘Qi Flow’ means you are allowing your body to naturally heal itself, creating a Yin/Yang harmony in your body. As the chi moves to areas of blockage or deficiency, negative chi is the result. By breathing out through your mouth, this negative chi is released more easily. Think of the negative chi as toxins in your body.
A regular practice of standing in the QiGong stance, allowing energy to flow freely in the body, breathing, and letting go of all thoughts as they arise will result in improved health. The learning in the first five weeks of the QiGong Secrets Home Study course, as well as a promise for more in week six, is all about taking this QiGong State of Mind to a deeper level. From this new place, the benefits will increase. I will write more on the benefits of QiGong next week.
With practice, entering this QiGong State of Mind will eventually become an instant reality. This ‘secret’ has been well worth the cost of this reasonably priced on line learning program. Check it out if you have not already done so. Marcus has also provided lots of free information in his blog. http://qigong365.com/