Walls, Boundaries, and Flexibility

Hiding behind walls is a sure way to stay out of contact and alone. Creating permeable, flexible boundaries is the path to intimacy.


Choosing a Way of Being in the World

The idea of boundaries and walls is nothing new. I’ve written about it; in fact it’s a prominent theme in This Endless Moment. My buddies Ben Wong and Jock McKeen have written and talked about boundaries and walls for decades. As I happen to have their book, “The Relationship Garden” on my desk, call use a few quotes from there. (both links are affiliate links)

I guess you could say that the biggest difference between a wall and a boundary is permeability. In other words, how much you let in, and how much you reveal.


turretDon’t come a step closer!!!

One way to picture a wall is to visualize the thick walls of a castle—the cold stone only pierced by slits that guns or bows can fire through.

Many people live their lives this way—hiding behind walls of silence, indifference, hostility, resentment, blame. They peek out, only long enough to sight on their target and unleash another barrage. And perhaps they wonder why they are locked in there, in the dark, damp rooms of their own creation, untouched, unseen, unloved.

Walls are created for protection against outside threats, and to keep what is inside safe, unsullied and un-stolen. The “wall game” always involves some form of aggression—from the passive-aggressiveness of simple hiding to outright war.

And it may even be that the walls were erected after some actual assault—physical or mental abuse in childhood, a betrayal by a friend or lover, a relationship that ends badly.

Or it just may be that the very idea of opening up makes you want to run from the room.

Most of us carry unconscious fears of intimacy (“I’m afraid if you know me, you’ll leave me” or “If we get close, I might dissolve, or lose my sense of myself” or “If I let you get close, you might annihilate me”). Out of this fear, people generally offer resistance in the form of walls and defenses, to prevent the slide toward intimacy. Ironically, these blocks, which people think serve to preserve them, are what prevent them from becoming whole, fully developed, and authentic.” (The Relationship Garden)

Boundaries, on the other hand are like balloons.


Or cellophane.

I suggest that my clients imagine being inside of an energetic balloon, and they have the controls to the valve. They can push the balloon out many feet, or draw it in to touch the skin, like being wrapped in cellophane. This internal process of establishing flexible boundaries allows the person to see, and be seen, without the layers of guardedness and isolation that walls create.

Boundaries are all about self-sufficiency.

This is because the person with boundaries realizes that (s)he is in control of their own reality. What goes on inside of us is all about the choice we are making—nothing inside of us (our thoughts, feelings, etc.) is caused by others. We accept full responsibility for who we are, what we are feeling, what stories we are telling ourselves. And we let people in on the games we are playing.

The balloon analogy is perfect, as you can see through an expanded balloon. Thus, creating boundaries is a choice to be “seen.” Perhaps not perfectly clearly—and this is the truth of it—no one will ever see you perfectly clearly. Hell, you might not even see yourself clearly.

But the balloon has a translucent quality that invites others to become intimate.

The boundary is the felt interface between the self and others; it is flexible and in constant motion, moving outward to reach for experience, and contracting to protect the Self from experience.” (The Relationship Garden)

Being and Boundaries

Intimacy is achieved at the direct meeting of two boundaries. I am still I, you are still you, and we meet to explore, to reveal, to be open and vulnerable. Our usage of intimacy, then, has nothing to do with sexuality. It has to do with revelation.

The revelation has to be authentic.

In other words, you are choosing to live in a balloon bubble, and therefore you are choosing to be transparent to those you choose to be intimate with. So, pretending you’re not doing what you are doing in there is a bit disingenuous. Intimacy is not about saying nice things, not about manipulating others to see things your way. Nor is it about hiding the fact that you have a range of feelings an emotions “in there.”

Intimacy is revelation

It’s taking the risk to let selected others in on what it is like to be you, without the expectation of praise, agreement, or even understanding. It’s revelation for the sake of being open and seen . It’s the truth, as you know it right now, spoken clearly, without goal, and without launching an attach. Thus, it is never about assigning blame.

It’s revealing your story

Since you are choosing to be open and revealing, that means “revealing all of it,” even the parts that you‘re not comfortable with. So , if you are blaming, or telling a story about how your partner “ought to be,” you reveal it—are open and honest about it. For example, when I get into lecture mode and Dar just sits there, grinning and not leaping up to do what I‘m suggesting, I’ll often say, “I just wish you’d listen!” She replies, “I always listen. I just don’t automatically do what you say.” I sigh. I speak again, and drop the lecture. Because it’s about me being fully me—not hiding anything from her, ever the weird and angry, dumb and nasty stuff. It’s just stuff.

This week, have a look. Have you walls, or boundaries? Can you “feel” the difference? What do you fear about boundaries? Are you willing to risk being open, honest, and vulnerable?

QiGong Secrets – Week 9 –Energy Flow

qi gong

Taking time to experience energy flow is one of the ways that the QiGong Secrets Home Study Course has had a major impact on my QiGong practice. When taping the QiGong practice sets for our Zen Life-flexibility Program membership site, I finished every session with a pattern called Bamboo in the Wind.  This is very much like the energy flow component of the QiGong Secrets Home Study course. In the Shoalin 18 Lohan Hands practice, it is called Flowing Breeze, Swaying Willows.

Energy Flow is simply a time to allow the newly moving energy to move in your body in a way that the energy wants to move. You simply have to let go and allow the chi to flow, undirected by your mind. This may mean that you hardly move at all or this may mean that you move a lot. It is like bodywork—sometimes trapped emotions need releasing. You may feel a need to stomp your feet or get angry. You may move, groan, or cry. There is the possibility of a wide range of emotions can be experienced during this time. It is all part of the Energy Flow.

In my past study of QiGong, I have learned many different patterns and many different sets. In the videos I created for our new membership site, I encouraged anyone trying QiGong from the videos to find the patterns that feel right for their body and their present needs, and to practice those patterns over and over again. In the QiGong Secrets Home Study course, I am learning a new pattern each week. Some are more difficult to master, and some are very easy. Each pattern is practised twice a day for one week. There is no long set to remember. My understanding is that this will continue when I am finished the 22 week course—my daily practice session will only have one pattern. I will use this pattern to get the energy flowing. My daily focus will be to enter a QiGong State of Mind before beginning practice (see last week’s article), practice one pattern of my choice to get the energy flowing, and then take time to enjoy the energy flow and get out of its way and let it do its thing.

Energy or chi flows through meridians all the time. These meridians are like energy streams in our body. Meridians can become blocked or restricted due to life stresses, toxins in our environment, injuries, our diet, illnesses, emotional dramas, and even thinking too much. Our bodies contain a road-map of all these life experiences. In Traditional Chinese Medicine, there is only one illness and that is a disharmony in the flow of the Chi in our bodies. Practising QiGong is an excellent way to work towards restoring this harmony.

Your chi flow in your body is similar to water flowing in a river or stream. Water always flows to the lowest point. When left alone, you Chi will flow to where it is needed most. Your body knows where the blockages and deficiencies are and your chi will flow there, if you get out of the way. Often the root of the problems we are experiencing are not directly reflected in our symptoms. We may try to find a QiGong pattern for these symptoms. The best test is how you feel when doing the pattern. Listen to your own body.

When you are new to QiGong, you will probably only move a little, or not at all. You may feel a warmth or tingling in your fingers or some other areas of your body. If your body does not want to move, that is okay. Try to be aware of any messages your body is sending you. If your body wants to sway, then sway. If you feel a need to shake a body part then shake it. Simply listen to your body and follow its lead. You may feel a need to move around. There is no need to stay in one place. You may feel a need to make sounds, laugh, or cry. With time and practice, you may find the need to move more and more. After awhile, you may find that you are moving less and less. There is no right answer.

Qigong Secrets Home Study Course

I am beginning to be aware of more messages from my body about how to move, or a need to shake part or all of my body. Every once in a while, I feel a strong sensation of energy moving in my body. Mostly I feel the energy moving up my spine. I think the fact that I am spending more time meditating these days helps me to quiet my mind during these times. In general, my mind would like to be in charge and send the Chi to the “right” place. It is a struggle to keep my mind quiet and listen to my body. Practicing twice a day certainly helps.

After what feels like 5 minutes of energy flow, focus your attention on your lower Dan Tien energy centre (2″ below your navel, 2″ in) and slowly allow your movements to come to a stop. Stand quietly in standing meditation. You can focus on your breath, thinking ‘in’ as you breathe in, and ‘out’ as you breathe out.

Your QiGong practice can look like this.
1. Start by relaxing your body to the best of your ability. Your Chi can only flow if you are relaxed.
2. Smile form the heart to relax emotionally and spiritually. (see last week’s article)
3. Choose a simple QiGong pattern that feels right for you. Practice it for what feels like fifteen repetitions.
4. Allow your energy to flow through your body. Let go, do nothing, and take your cues from your body.
5. Standing meditation (or sitting mediation if your cushion is nearby)

Have fun, playing QiGong.

Make Contact!

So, how does this week’s article sit with you? What questions do you have? Leave a comment or question!

About the Author: Wayne C. Allen is the web\‘s Simple Zen Guy. Wayne was a Private Practice Counsellor in Ontario until June of 2013. Wayne is the author of five books, the latest being The. Best. Relationship. Ever. See: –The Phoenix Centre Press

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