This week's lesson is about being receptive, and balanced, and relaxing into being *bigger*.
I've been able to use walking as taiji practice for a while now, and that's been *super* useful. As I learn more about what the internal parts — specifically what people rather vaguely call the "core", but which I understand now to mean a thousand distinct muscles — do in taijichuan as a martial art, I've gotten to a place where I can practice with them while I walk. Not every time, but many times, I now manage to shift my weight and relax my hips and engage my lower stomach and open my chest all just so, and I hit this stride that feels…well, amazing. Walking like that feels like doing gentle situps, but it takes all the stress out of so much else, and optimizes all the forces at play to such a degree that I feel I could walk like that forever and never tire. And I go faster, too, which is odd because it shortens my stride — yet I gain more speed walking-as-practice than I do trucking full-out with huge steps.
I also…get bigger. (Apologies if this doesn't make much sense, but as I'm sure you know by now, writing it down is part of how I grok it.) Yang energy, or "the creative", moves in straight lines — think of beams of light. If it's moving, it's fast and direct; if it's stopped, it's "off". Yin energy, "the receptive", moves in circles — like the planet. When it moves, its energy spirals outward, moving with gravity in a less-direct and less-100%-wham, but still incredibly powerful (and sustainable) way; when it's still, it closes in around itself like a flower, storing energy inside. One's literal, kinetic sense of self — the haptic awareness of where your body is — changes depending on how the energy in your body is moving. Mostly these are subtle changes and/or related to energies we don't pay attention to, so we may not notice, in these terms, when we "are bigger" or smaller. But I've been learning to detect and control those forces for a while now, and one of the interesting effects is that if you can get the balance, the spiral, the spin from inward out and back again just right, it…unfolds you. (Again, maybe think flowers.) All the tiny parts of you that were holding tight relax, but you're not at rest; you're spinning a ball, and the motion is fast and effortless, but constrained by nothing other than the gravity that's helping it go faster. And you, your idea of the boundaries of you, expands. I can't really describe it other than to say that it feels like being bigger — having a wider range of sense-perceptive area, I guess?
The trick is, this is yin energy. As soon as you forget that, forget how it works and why, or try to wield it like yang energy, it all dissipates. Yang energy is expressed tension, and it's the absence of tension that makes this "receptive" energy possible. (It's called receptiveness, by the way, because while it doesn't mean being weak or not moving — do you think of the planet as weak or unmoving? — it does have as a characteristic being open, paying attention, and making room for everything. The phrase "yield to overcome" applies here.)
OK, time to go for a walk. ;)
March 11, 2014 No Comments
Hey, napping world, and other awesome people! Just letting you know that I will be at the awesometastic Penguicon again this year — it's the first weekend of May — and wow am I doing a ton of stuff this time!
The polyphasic presentations last year were standing-room-only, so they'll be back — and improved! — this year. One's a more focused presentation on napping, which I hope will be useful to both poly- and mono- folks. The other is a "Birds of a Feather" meeting for polyphasers and people interested in it: There was so much great discussion last year, I figured we could just devote a whole event to it. ;)
I'm also doing some non-polyphasic stuff, because, well, I find it all very interesting and I suggested the panels and the organizers for some reason agreed, yay! I love to blather about this stuff, so I'm sure I'll have fun, and I hope everyone else does too. Here are the official descriptions so you can judge for yourself!
Advanced Napping: In Public, At Work, Even Instead of Sleep (1 hour): "The science is pretty unanimous: Naps help improve concentration, energy, mood, and may be linked to other health and lifestyle benefits too. But how, in the real world, can you really get the naps you want? Long-term polyphasic sleeper and author PureDoxyk will give tips and answer questions about napping in public, negotiating naptime at work, prioritizing naps, and teaching yourself to fall asleep quickly and wake rested."
Polyphasic Sleep BoF (2 hours): "Have you ever tried, or wanted to try, polyphasic (nap-based) sleeping? Come to this open discussion and talk to other people — including some long-term polyphasers and the author of the book _Ubersleep_ — about your experiences, your curiosity, or your doubts."
Taiji! (1 hour): "Ever wanted to study the traditional Chinese internal martial art of Taiji (Tai Chi)? Get a taste of it here, and sample the health benefits while you're at it! This session, led by a longtime student, will cover basic movements and body alignment based on the awesome Chen and Wudang styles. Wear loose clothing and know your body, fitness & limitations — there will be opportunities for more advanced practice for those who want it."
What's the Deal with "Internal" Martial Arts? (1 hour): "You see it all the time in movies (think Kung Fu Hustle): The martial artist whose style is soft and flowy, but who somehow mysteriously is ten times more powerful than the Chuck Norris guys. What's the deal with the "internal"-power styles, like Taiji and Bagua? What's really the difference between an internal and an external martial-art, and which is really more powerful? What's the secret to the One-Inch Punch? What characters in movies, anime, and scifi are doing which styles, and how accurately? Come get your questions answered!"
- How To Hold Your Breath Until People Give You What You Want (1 hour): "Fun fact: There's a simple trick you can do to double your breath-hold almost immediately. Apnea is a fascinating study from a psychological, physical and meditative perspective — come learn about it, including trying that trick out! Marie is a licensed freediver and an underwater hockey player."
…So, yeah, that should be fun; and !@#% I have a lot of work to do! ;)
March 8, 2014 2 Comments
It's good to get out of your head. And it's good for many reasons, but I want to hit on one: It's good to see that other people out there are struggling too, that everyone has a big tangly psychological story-arc; that the messy painful trickiness of having a life is happening all around you, in a hilarious diversity of permutations.
There's an old parable which goes, "A grieving woman went to a Buddha, begging for help stopping her terrible, constant pain. The Buddha agreed to make her a medicine that would fix it, and gave her a list of ingredients to gather. One of them was, 'mustard seed from a home that has never experienced a loss like yours'. The woman walked all over China, knocking on doors and asking people about their tragedies in a desperate search for a home that had never experienced one. And she was cured."
Cured because, of course, the act of seeking out the stories of others' similar experiences helped put her grief in perspective. And perspective — which is not always the same thing as distance — is a great healer. It's like a magic telescope that you can use to look at a gaping wound, turn a knob and shrink it to the size of a scrape. Honestly held up to the world, viewed in the context of what life is, our pain is both smaller and friendlier than it feels.
One of my other favorite "old parable" type things — I've probably written about it before — concerns a young pelagic wave who talks to the sun as he's moving through the vast expanse of the ocean, surrounded by other waves as they journey together. Eventually he sees that the waves ahead of him are crashing on the shore, and freaks out (rather predictably I guess…wouldn't that be like finding out that everybody explodes on the day they turn 50?).
The sun says to him, "But you're mistaken, little one. You are not a wave, and you can't be destroyed. You are the whole ocean."
You, and I, are the whole ocean. These experiences, this body, this perspective is just a wave, one of zillions that the ocean is doing.
(Tangentially, I love the Sun as a backaphor* for the Higher Power in this story: It must be really amused, from its point of view, by the shit the waves say to it. Then again, from that God's-eye view, the ocean (or the planet, or humanity, or carbon-based life) is a single creature with an incredibly diverse form of consciousness. As a unit it has known, experienced, done and felt an unimaginable variety of things, but it doesn't — I assume — integrate all of those experiences into one voice, instead preferring the authenticity of a zillion first-person points of view.)
[*backaphor, right? Because actually God is a metaphor for the sun? I kinda like the word, but maybe it's a face only a mother could love. ;)]
March 7, 2014 3 Comments
Oh my god why isn't there more art like this?? I love this.
The scrolling is just so…peaceful to me.
Yes, yes, I have That History, of tinkering for hours and watching make scroll its deliciousness and feeling that rush of pseudopower, of moving through a dimension in which I'm barely an avatar. But I think it stands as an awesome artistic element even without that — it just says so much, with so little, it reminds me of taiji.
February 25, 2014 No Comments
Lessons I'm sure I'll never have reason to teach anyone, but which are cool to be *qualified* at teaching:
I'm awesome at this now. Whenever someone wants it, over the phone, in their ear, in text-messages, I jump right in and enjoy the hell out of myself, and it's always well-received. But I hear from many people that they find it stressful, intimidating or difficult.
But I wasn't always awesome at it; I had to learn. So maybe I can help those who want to do it but find it tricky.
(Put behind a mercy cut for those who don't care for these kind of topics.)
February 21, 2014 No Comments
Hey, world! Four a.m. polyphasic update again — it's been a while, since I type most of the day now and have been avoiding the computer during my morning chunk of time.
I'm two weeks (back) into full-time out-of-the-house work. Sleep's been going ok: Work is actually pretty good for napping; it's hard to slow down as usual, and it's not the absolute best napping location — it's right in the middle of everything, and not very quiet; but it is warm and comfortable (there's a couch!) and they don't object, which is 99% of what I need.
I'm still adjusting to a lot, so I'm feeling my way along my schedule each day — NOT something I recommend for people who aren't already used to being polyphasic! If it weren't for my (kind of hilariously) well-ingrained napping habits and my body's tendency to wake up (or at least feel wakeful) automatically after 3, 4.5 or 6 hours depending on the naps I've gotten, I'm pretty sure maintaining my schedule through all this other change would be impossible. This falls under my previous / book advice: "Don't change too much at once". In my case a lot of lifestyle things have changed, but my sleep schedule is largely the same as it has been for [some number of] years, thank goodness.
One weird thing that's been happening for a few days now is that my preferred core has shifted to earlier — a couple times now, I've passed out near ten or eleven p.m. and woken up at two or three — after about four hours, having on those occasions gotten two naps that day. Today, for example, I missed my evening nap, but by ten I was wiped, so I laid down to read and woke up (feeling great) at two a.m. It's four-thirty now and I suspect I'll have no trouble staying awake until my regular seven-a.m. nap. So that could be a thing that happens sometimes now, I guess?
Everyone at work — there aren't many; it's a small company — seems curious and dubious about my sleep-practices, but not hostile, and I haven't gotten any complaints about it being disruptive, so yay. Most of them stop working to eat at some point (I don't; I prefer to eat at my desk and not break my stride for it), and one takes smoke-breaks, so loss of time hasn't come up.
My athletic schedule has been a little reduced lately, partly because of the ungodly winter we're having; but I still have three kungfu sessions a week and one or two hockey/swimming sessions, plus the little things like walking several miles and learning to do pull-ups (I'm up to four!) at home. All this seems fine, though it isn't quite enough from the perspective of how much kinetic energy I need to off-gas in order to stay happy and balanced. I'm planning to add regular visits to the climbing-gym once things settle in a bit more, and we'll see how that affects things.
Aaaand that's pretty much the update. My eyes have kind of had it again — extra computer-time having that effect — so I'm going to log off for a bit and do some much-needed stretching.
Peace out, everyone!
February 20, 2014 3 Comments
and other stimulants
the sensation of waking up
Coffee and smoke and other things
that have a side-effect of a feeling of aliveness
the first gasp
after minutes without air
the control that must be iron just so
it can feel amazing when it inevitably shatters
of the jaw or the eyelids or both;
pushing against the tendency to shut down
in the face of speed or height
or water or the kind of physical contact
that sets off all of those chemical fear-things
“Oh my god it’s on my face”
“oh my god it’s throwing a punch”
and my task is just to open up
to let it happen
Light in the darkness
feeling in places that are hard to reach
Soreness deep in the core-muscles
staring hard into the dark under meters and meters
and marching the paths of the subconscious
holding torches lit by will
and, yes, by logic
Laying blazes on trails
finding out that others have been here
or might be soon after
Translating from languages that only have intent in common
February 20, 2014 No Comments
There's more to it than just sharing your toys sometimes and not hitting. Being an adult friend means these things too:
- You will not hurt your friend. That means no deliberate cruelty, ever, in verbal or other form — if you lash out and try to hurt your friends, you deserve to lose them, even if you had other motives*. And if you're inadvertently cruel, which we all are sometimes, you'll apologize and make up for it — not in proportion to how much you think the thing you did should have hurt, but in proportion to how much it did hurt. COROLLARY: You will know how much it did hurt by listening to and observing your friend.
- You will be there a) when your friend desperately needs you to be (see COROLLARY) and b) when you said you would be. If you aren't there at either of those times, you will, again, apologize and make up for it. "Making up for it," by the way, means taking an active role in correcting your mistake in an appropriate way — not just saying you're sorry and then doing nothing. If you flake when a friend needed or had a right to expect you, you're responsible for offering and scheduling a good time and way to make it up to them.
- You share not just your things, but your time. You'll do things with your friend that are not just things your friend came up with or invited you to — sometimes you'll do the inviting or suggesting of a thing too. If you never have time for your friend unless "they make it happen", then you aren't being a good friend.
- You pay attention. Related to (3), if you always drop off the planet unless your friend contacts you, if you can't be bothered to occasionally call / text / ping and see how your friend is doing, or know about and be at least a little available for things like their birthday and other important days, you're not being a friend. Friends take time and effort: If you don't have this to spare, it's your job as an adult to explain to someone that you don't have the time or energy available to be their friend right now.
- You want what's best for both of you, which includes a good friendship. If all you can offer is something that isn't very healthy for your friend, then you won't offer it. You care about your friend, so you won't deliberately continue an arrangement that's obviously bad for or going to hurt either one of you — and you'll discuss what you can offer, and what you need, clearly and frequently, and tell your friend when those things change. As an adult, you'd rather be a good acquaintance than bad friend: Your friends are people you care about and want to spend time on, not just something you collect so that you can say you have a lot of them.
*hurting someone deliberately when you had other motives — i.e. making them act a certain way, or protecting yourself from some social or other thing — is called manipulation, and repeated manipulation of one person in a relationship by another is called abuse. If the pain you're inflicting is "only" emotional pain, it's called emotional abuse, and it disqualifies you from having friends just as much as the physical kind does.
February 16, 2014 1 Comment
February 14, 2014 No Comments
So this just feels like it has to happen.
It's blather, not a post, so skip it if you're visiting my site for useful information — this is just me, having a moment.
February 14, 2014 4 Comments