Friday, August 17, 2012

Emotions and the somatic practice of Wujifa

It’s not unusual that at some point different emotions may arise while practicing Wujifa. This is not generally the case, and for most people the day to day practice will be an attentive meditation that helps build body awareness and fascial connection. Understanding that, our emotions and attitudes are also connected with our bodies and are reflected in how we carry ourselves. As we work on adopting a functional support structure and posture, old patterns of holding can be encountered which may at times bring up various emotions which are tied into these patterns of holding. Normally, people do not notice these emotional patterns in daily life and they are often simply hidden from our basic awareness.  As we expand our awareness and connections within ourselves, this heightened state of awareness can sometimes lead us to notice these obscured emotional patterns.
Encountering emotional issues is fairly common in many practices including martial arts, although it is not often spoken of directly. This seems to be most commonly illustrated, for example, in many martial arts stories when the person who has practiced all of the sudden comes face to face with their frustrations, fears, or believed limitations and faces a long, dark night of the soul, to emerge on the other side a better practitioner for exploring these complexities.
As a simple example, when people first start practicing Wujifa standing meditation sometimes they want to jump out of their skin when just standing for a few minutes. What we’re suggesting here is that these kind of emotions would be worth noticing and exploring. Also, there may be times when a seemingly seasoned martial artist may start to experience deeper emotions while practicing stance. For example, they may start to feel sadness and then when asked later the reason for the tears will say, “I don’t know... I just felt sad and allowed myself to cry while continuing to practice, and I feel so much more connected now.”
The point is, If these things show up occasionally it’s okay to go with them. By “going with it” we mean continuing to stand or practice and allowing the emotional expression to simply flow through. The practice of Wujifa is learning to connect with our intention, our purpose and our body. In the beginning, this starts with developing body awareness and then developing fascial connection. The emotional aspect, as we mentioned here, is just something that can occur. It should not be thought as strange if it should show up occasionally in one’s practice.

Connections to our heart?

The parts of our heart that are hidden away tug on the body in ways that are beyond full comprehension. Joy, anger, sadness and fear: these emotions simply serve as a natural way to respond to different situations like a bird singing in the woods. They sing one way when a fox is nearby, or another way when looking for a mate. Why does the bird sing? Maya Angelou said that “A bird doesn’t sing because it has an answer, it sings because it has a song.” So many people want to pretend that they are above these kind of feelings, when they are simply a natural part of who we are.  Even the Buddha and other highly evolved spiritual leaders have all expressed emotion. The key is a functional expression in accordance with the situation that aims at simply expressing one’s heartfelt reaction, which can often be very helpful in connecting with yourself and with others.
At the same time, during practice the emotions that come up may not be in line with the situation, but may be part of other contributing factors hidden for so long that they may be beyond our normal understanding.. In this case, the functional response is to allow them to flow within the structure of the practice so that in later real life situations their influence will not contribute to dysfunction. Better to understand that allowing these emotions to flow when they arise within the practice is creating space for the process of your heart opening and unfolding and of becoming a more functional and connected human being. Creating space is like emptying your cup.

Making progress or steering us away?

Another emotional aspect that could be addressed, as long as we’re on the topic, is how emotions can work against making progress. The reason I’m saying that is that it’s not the emotions directly in themselves, but rather the blocking of emotions, or the subconscious control exerted by those emotions that can influence people and their actions.
It is a fairly common occurrence, and why we are addressing it, is that as one practices Wujifa that one’s emotional baggage will aim to steer one away from one’s intention. What we mean by that is that not wanting to address, feel, explore or face their emotional feelings when, for example, feeling frustrated in how their practice is going and looking for opportunities to make improvement. In trying to protect themselves from feeling the frustration, they may just find themselves forgetting to practice. This is an example that is often seen with Wujifa practitioners just before they are about to make a step up or progress in their training. They feel the frustration and choose to stop training or just “conveniently” forget to train some aspect.
It is also possible that as one begins to change one’s posture that the new position and way of supporting oneself will feel different, and this difference may be uncomfortable. It is possible that this discomfort may be experienced as a desire (subconscious or conscious) to return to old ways of being, and may even be accompanied by any number of feelings. This is how emotions can steer one away from one’s intention and can work against making progress. At these times, it is important to just allow these feelings to exist and pass without focusing on them too specifically or trying to hide away from them as you adjust to the experience of the new ways of being supported.
Also, sometimes people use too much emotion to distract themselves from the actual process of training. When we talk about emotions flowing, there’s also a level of noticing that should be developed. At times, people will have a pattern of emotion which will distract them from noticing, which truly can happen to all of us. When it happens continuously, without maintaining or learning to develop the capacity to notice, sometimes the emotions serve to distract the practitioner from actually making progressive gains. At this particular place, sometimes it’s better to step back, and focus more on the function of training, relaxing, or even some of the technical aspects of 1234, 1234 and Wujifa principles. If, for some reason, people run into problems beyond the normal emotional expression of life that takes place in human beings when they are functional, expressive, and alive, it may be useful for them to consult with a therapist adept at dealing issues of somatic psychology.

The deeper unfolding is all about connecting

The key to understanding our character and the role emotions play in our practice comes back to one word, which is “heart”. Cultivating heart or the spirit of one’s practice is learning to keep an eye towards your heart as it unfolds. Learning to open to the possibilities that a Wujifa practice can bring is about heart: about opening, and about discovery. Connecting to one’s heart and soul is a very deep and powerful practice, and it can take many years to understand deeply what it means.
One of the most amazing things is as people train together, whether they do manual labor, are doctors or lawyers, or regardless of their walks of life, they discover the connections of their school brothers and sisters that they may have never noticed out in their external world. As they start to discover more about what “heart” means, through their individual practice and from working and training with their school brothers and sisters, this opening of heart, this understanding, passion and compassion and these friendships and bonds also start to connect and carry forth into all their lives.

1 comment:

  1. Wow, great post. Good to see the new blog posts this month.