Not everyone wants to learn about chi and not everyone wants to learn to meditate. I asked my teacher why he didn’t teach meditation and he replied that most people don’t want to learn it. In later conversations he explained that it has a lot to do with the fact that most people can’t get into what meditation is and just forget about where they’re going to end up.
You know if you are building a road that, if you keep at it, one day the road is going to be completed. However, maybe you need to think about the kind of work force you have. What kind of machines do you have? Did it rain so no one could come and work for a while? Or, did you get slowed down because the heat got up to 120 degrees outside in the Arizona desert? You know you’ll have a road, but you can’t necessarily know how long it will take to construct. The considerations for meditation really are no different.
Can you have a long view? And, can you actually enjoy-become completely absorbed into-moving each little piece of dirt around, shoring up whatever is necessary so that the ground underneath doesn’t collapse? It’s not always sexy stuff pouring concrete; it’s not always glamorous making sure you get all the rebar placed properly; it’s not always exciting handling all of the tiny details. Yet it’s the little things that will eventually help to create a stable foundation for your road.
Now, unlike the construction workers building roads, meditation work is not something that you’re getting “paid” to do and, in our culture people will do virtually anything if they get paid even if they hate it the whole time. You need money to live, but when it comes to doing something on your own free time there has to be an intrinsic interest in it. When it comes to meditation, you’ll have to find some love in being in your inner world and feeling the chi of your body, the way your body works, the way your mind works, the way energy flows inside you and the ways in which your psychic capacities and karma manifest.
If you’re genuinely interested in meditation, as opposed to getting high as you release all sorts of neurotransmitters in your brain, you will enable yourself to hit bliss states every once in a while. Maybe some people are willing to do a lot of meditation work and continuously practice simply for an incredible sense of happiness and bliss. However infrequent these peak experiences, it’s still about getting psychic heroin though. And, that still doesn’t get you anywhere because you’re missing all the other nuances needed to construct a solid road. Each minute detail contributes to the strength of your road and whether only a kid’s wagon or a 50-100 ton truck with who knows what loaded on it can go across. You set the stage for what becomes possible to open up inside you in each previous phase.
When I was learning people would ask me, “How in God’s name, as a 19-year old, can you practice chi gung/qigong and tai chi for six hours a day on your own without anybody watching you, inspiring you, goading you on, giving you brownie points, telling you how wonderful you are or how to practice?” I had a vague idea of where I was going. It became obvious that what I needed to do was to keep looking for that which didn’t allow me to practice, as well as that which allowed me to practice.
First I started to become reasonably flexible. Next, I went for actually doing movements while internally connected. When I began doing Cloud Hands, for example, I wasn’t really moving much more than three or four inches off my center line in either direction. I wasn’t turning my waist to 45 degrees and definitely not turning to the back, which I was able to do eventually. I started looking at every single component as I moved. I could feel this or that as being tense and think, “Hey, I gotta relax. Wow! I can feel this is disconnected.” I only got as far as, “It would be nice if I were connected; it would be nice if I weren’t tense. I want to be relaxed; I’m clearly not.” I just kept going. It felt amazing to be connected rather than disconnected when I finally got there, but I had to go through quite a bit of practice before I could actually get what it felt like to be connected versus disconnected.
I never did a six hour practice session. I kept doing an endlessly repeating series of one minute practice sessions. I would go to one side and it was a whole new ballgame from the other side. If I did a swing or a tai chi move, every single time I finished a little piece, I knew the variables were going to change because my insides were changing. Every time I went further downstream, weaknesses would present themselves even though they did not always show up on the surface. They would just kind of come up. When you’re remodeling a house, you don’t always see rotten wood until you go up in the attic, or maybe down in the basement. You actually have to start looking inside the walls until, “Oh, my God, half of this place has been eaten by termites!”
My remedy was to take practicing moment by moment, minute by minute. I used to end up having my arms in the air for six hours at a time. Actually they would go up and they would go down and they couldn’t always stay up the whole time. Most of the time, however, they were up and I wasn’t standing there with the idea, “I’m going to stand here for six hours.” It was a minute-by-minute proposition. What’s going on now? What’s changing? What opportunity do I have to get the show on the road?
I don’t know what’s going to happen a thousand years from now, but I know what’s going to happen this next minute because I’m living through it. I love my game. You’ve got to love your game.
By Bruce Frantzis
Repost from April ChiTalk – Stay tuned for third segment