Workshop Oostrozebeke december 12-13/2015
By Nathalie G.
• 5 loosenings
• Short form + details of some pieces
• 8 basic pushing hands
• Applications (related to the process as practiced in the form)
• Daoist meditation
The main focus was on motivating people to connect with their deeper part through listening deeper in the center and getting a better control of the movements of the center.
It is important that people train from the very beginning in the right way so they don’t lose time with superficial practice.
We practiced following principles in the loosenings, in the form and pushing hands:
First close down the mind and feel the loosening effect on the body. Don’t do anything more until you feel this happening very clearly.
Then start listening in the center and feel the smooth movement of the center. You should always try to listen more deeply then you did before.
Your understanding of listening in the center has to change over time. You first have to listen very deeply in the movement of the center and feel what is good and what can be changed or ameliorated.
Then you try to change something very consciously.
Then you have to focus on what happens between the foot and the center. The center is pushed away from one foot, starts to turn (exercise 1 and 3), relaxes clearly (and keeps turning) and then starts to sink (and keeps turning) to the other foot. We tried to find a more refined way of sinking the center. You always have to feel the mind releasing first, this can cause the body to relax and the center will start to sink. The moment of first connection between the center and the foot is sinking into is a very delicate moment.
This first connection has to be made as delicately as possible, there can’t be no rough contact, no jamming, no contraction in the leg that will support the center. And most important, the center really has to relax internally when falling. Don’t just move the contracted center down onto the contracted leg….
The moment you find that first delicate connection between the center and the foot, you have to keep strengthening that connection while the center keeps sinking. That means that every joint has to move in such a way that this connection gets stronger and stronger. You have to listen to the three inner sensations at the same time to be sure the right things are happing:
1. You have to feel that the pressure in the foot and heel is constantly increasing
2. The muscles in the leg have to be stretching
3. You feel the sacrum is falling down and turning in the right direction, listen to all the joints moving in the right alignment
The moment the center is sinking into the foot and gets lightly supported, the falling starts to slow down and slowly comes to a stop because of the growing support. But the sacrum is always free to fall more if the center is supported in the hip joints. That further falling of the sacrum starts a rotation of the center that causes the spine to lengthen and straighten. If the upper body is also loosening at that time, the falling of the upper body causes the center to be pushed down more and that causes the pressure to increase in the foot. The falling and the relaxation of the upper body cause the pressure in the foot to grow and the spine to straighten (the curved shape of the spine straightens). The falling of the spine causes the sacrum to be pushed further down and causes the pressure in the heel to increase even
In the second and fourth loosening, this process is just up and down without turning. You can search for a connection between the feet, the center and the top of the head at the moment of maximum sinking. In the first and third loosening there is an additional turning of the center but the falling and rotation of the sacrum also has to happen.
In the fifth loosening the falling of the sacrum causes the opening and stretching of the front of the back hip joint. This falling of the sacrum is a refinement of the process of sinking and sending out the wave of inner force in phase 4 of each movement. We are generating different types of force according to the way in which we move the center in phases 2,3 and 4.
The most basic way of generating a wave of internal force in phase 4 is first to sink into the center and then push the back heel onto the ground to generate a forward movement of the center, through the upper body and to the arms and hands. This is a contraction in the lower body that generates a stretch in the upper body and arms. This is the first method beginners learn because they normally have no pressure in the back foot when sunk into the center. So they have to reconnect to the back heel by pushing the back foot against the ground. And this causes a wave of power to rise through the body.
The second method of generating power in phase 4 is by rotating the center when you reach the center, instead of pushing the foot into the ground. Once in the center you can try to relax the center a little more and to let the sacrum fall in the direction of the back foot in such a way that the pressure increases in the foot and the heel.
When you send out the mind, the coccyx rotates under causing the sacrum to come into a vertical position and that causes the back hip joint to open and move forward. You have to feel that the falling of the sacrum to the back heel causes the rising of a subtle pressure from the foot to the hip joint. It is that pressure that causes the joint to open further and move forward. After passing the hip joint, the pressure continues through the center and the trunk and it causes the opening of the chest. At that moment the shoulder blades fall and that causes the arms to get pulled closer to the body before the wave of force passes through them and the hands move out.
The third method we practiced today is a further refinement. We try to do all the things as described before in one continuous movement through the phases 2,3 and 4. From the moment of the very delicate connection between the center and the foot, you start to sink and before the sinking is fully completed you start the rotating of the sacrum and let the wave of pressure rise through the body. You send out the mind the moment your sinking is almost finished. So there is no more stopping in the center and the wave of pressure is continuously rising while you are sinking and sending out the mind.
To be able to establish this very delicate first connection between the center and the foot it is very important.
It’s indispensable that the mind is clearly in the foot before the connection is made.
When it comes to the pushing hands we feel how difficult it is to sink properly with increasing foot pressure. In the applications it is even more difficult. That makes you realize how much more you can refine the process in the loosenings and the form.
The practicing of a process that becomes more and more refined forces you to listen deeper and deeper to be able to do all these different things together. There is no chance the superficial mind is able to do it. Going deeper is what causes our inner strength to grow, not only physically but also emotionally and mentally. Once you start awakening the deeper part of yourself it is important to practice very regularly and to use the right kind of intense effort over a long period of time. This inner part is as a newborn baby at first, it has to be cared for and fed very regularly. Otherwise it dies and fades away.
While practicing it is always important to observe yourself very well. The superficial mind is very strong in everybody and doesn’t want to give up its control over us. The moment you lose your concentration for one fraction of a second the superficial mind takes over from our deeper part and we switch back to our habitual patterns. A good example was of one of the students that drove to her work instead of to the workshop in the morning. She was not really concentrated and had no clear intention and her body did what is always does in the morning, driving to work.
So you have to be very alert to the smallest signs that you switched back to the superficial mind. For instance, when you start to move more slowly to be able to control the process you are practicing. Or when you start a process in a partner exercise and you think things aren’t going to work and you switch to a rough push…instead of trusting the process and continuing it.
It is also very important that we suspend our disbelief in the workings of the processes we practice.
When we first start to learn how to develop real internal force, it seems never to work, it is weak…. If our mind is convinced we are not able to do it, it will never work. We have to be realistic about ourselves, not overestimating nor underestimating our possibilities.
The deep state we reach in the meditation when we come back into the deep emotional sphere after we we’ve connected to the beyond is a very good state do to all kinds of work, “the daily dying”, thinking about problems and conflicts in our lives, looking at our life and thinking what we can do in the future that doesn’t block our inner growth. It is not so important what you do but the way you do it is more important. You have to act in such a way that your inner development is supported.
The more our inner part grows the more we see the things that we do in our daily life that cause our problems in life. Then you can change these things. There are also problems happening to us from the outside that we cannot change and that we didn’t cause by ourselves but then we can learn how to deal with them in a better way.
‘It’s the universal struggle of the part of the mind
attached to the body and the deeper part which
wishes to evolve. Every action in life strengthens
one of these and weakens the other, in some small
but important way.’