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RELEASING YOUR FLUID CONSCIOUSNESS

Waves on shoreIn Tai-chi training we first work with momentum flowing through the body and eliminate any tensions that block that flow. At a certain point, we feel a flow through the body even while we are still and we experience that flow in a finer and finer way. This is what we call “chi”. If we are still enough, the attention itself begins to flow. We can practice standing Qigong, using the state of the “passive observer” to notice the dynamics of these flows.

At the beginning we cannot maintain the flow of attention for long as the slightest distraction contracts the attention, locking it up. We practice allowing the flow of attention to last longer. When we practice a form we “long for” the flow of attention and chi. The attention “knows” the form. Each muscle and joint “knows” the form. And we discover that even chi “knows” the form. The only one interfering with the form is the calculating mind.

The form is no longer a series of postures where you move from one posture to another. It is a series of circular flows of momentum within the body, created by the movement of each part of the body. These momentums interact with each other causing patterns. The student’s creative ability is to move the parts of the body so they create interesting patterns of momentum. At the same time each such dynamic must have martial applications to be considered a legitimate Tai-chi form. So you can be creative as long as there is a martial reason for it and the body mechanics are sound.

We soon feel that the thinking mind can be defined as that which blocks the flow of attention and chi. The mind fights for its dominance to make the form happen, thinking about doing this movement and then the next movement – and you can see the result in someone’s form. Once you say to yourself, “Oh, stop it already” and let the form happen, a great change takes place inside of you. You notice another type of “knowing” besides thinking. You notice another type of flowing besides moving the body around.

And then you notice how much the calculating mind has created your relationship to the world around you and deprived you from experiencing the world directly. The mind has acted as an agent, negotiating your relationship to the world. You are not allowed at the meetings between the agent and the world. And you are not sure what secret deals your agent put in your contract. Tai-chi training encourages you to read the contract.

If the agent acts without your consent or knowledge, then he becomes you. In Gnosticism this is known as the demigod – it takes the place of your creative spirit. Moving in flows of momentum and then allowing attention to flow in the same way, drains the demigod of its power and restores your original creative identity. That identity, that spirit, functions by connection. It is what connects you to the world around you in a direct way.

For some, that way feels too personal. They are used to having an intermediary identity to deal with the world. They are not comfortable with direct connection for the following reasons:
They don’t want the responsibility of dealing with their lives directly and honestly so they play little games with people to give them a little “space” or wiggle room. That wiggle room of games is the agent.
They aren’t sure of their competence to deal with their lives directly.
If the games have become their identity, then that’s all they have as far as they know.

Tai-chi solves the last problem by giving them the experience of their Body-Mind, a more primordial level of consciousness. It lies underneath and provides the foundation for the thinking, scheming mind. It provides them with activities that require the Body-Mind to be competent. When they gain this competence, they are more confident to deal with their lives directly and honestly. As they gain confidence in handling their lives, they no longer fear the responsibility of their own choices but look forward to applying the Tai-chi principles to everyday life.

We originally made sense of the world by placing our experiences into convenient categories, like file folders, so any new experience could be dealt with by reviewing information from the files. This solidified our lives and also our view of the world. It removed the aliveness from the world, the three-dimensionality, so that it could fit into the files.

Tai-chi students are comfortable with, knowledgeable about and competent with fluidity in their attention and in the world around them. They are competent with the connection of their aliveness to the aliveness of the world. That connection is chi. Chi is felt and it is useful if you are living in this way. It is the substitute for the file cabinet and the agent. It is experienced when you are familiar with its dynamics and when you yield your attention and identity to it. You don’t really lose anything. You re-gain your original creative spirit – your true identity. You understand that you are the creator not the created. You are no longer impressed with deadness or strive to attain it. When you experience the fluid aliveness of the world around you, you know what your true identity must be.

THE SUBTLE BODY

Zookenisis - The Laughing Dragon

Zookenisis – The Laughing Dragon

The term, “subtle body” refers to a person, having let go of habits, tensions and trauma, now experiences what is left of himself. For each habit or attitude released, he gains an experience of himself that is his connection to the world around him. The habits can no longer claim him as their own.

Devoid of his isolation from the world, he melts into it, returning to his original state. For a while, he is disoriented, not seeing the source of his intentions. That source is “relationship” – the relationship of each part of himself to the other, in which the term, “himself” is his total experience of his existence. His intentions arise from his biological state, trying to maintain health and balance.

It is at this point that the principles of the teaching in which he is involved, must be re-enforced, to keep him from going adrift and losing energy.

At this school, I call the tradition we provide as “zookinesis” or “animal exercises”. It is the study of the relationship between the consciousness and the physical bodies of animals, which then leads to an understanding of the complex dynamics of the same relationship in humans. While I teach Tai-chi and Qigong, there are many approaches to teaching these disciplines from strictly traditional to the modern “conventional” approach. I prefer the strictly traditional. My term, “zookinesis”, while sounding modern, is actually a reference to the original tradition.

The student then, lives in two worlds – the world of separation and a battle of programmed behavior – and the natural world. He must be able to live in both because, practically speaking, we need to be able to function in the world most people live in. Yet those habits cannot be allowed to control him. One of the ways habits control him is that they affect the senses.

Zen Koan: “Give your flesh to your mother and your bones to your father and show me your original face”. You can think of the bones as the habits and conditioning. The flesh would be the way these habits affect how you actually see things. The world looks, sounds, smells and feels different each time you let go of some habit. The world, including your experience of yourself, becomes fluid.

That fluidity is the living quality of the world. Most people try to stop the fluidity as if we were preparing a slice of muscle tissue on a slide so we can view it through a microscope. They want the world to stay in place so they don’t have to deal with its complexity. The zookinesis teacher (or teacher of any other training) convinces the student that the fluidity is extremely beautiful and is life itself. “Fixing” each moment in time (as you would “fix” a tissue slide with a stain) is not as fulfilling and not an effective way to live your life. In fact it is really the “living dead”.

Such training can only be taught individually as it is not just a question of memorizing movements. I also do “energy healing” in which I physically re-align the student’s body structure and energetically re-align their flow of energy (chi). In reality, I am just removing the effects of the habits, attitudes and programming so the body and energy can do their natural thing.

The result is that the student feels very “light”, free, energized, aware, creative and connected to the rest of life. “Zookinesis” isn’t just exercises imitating animal movements, it is a return to our biological selves, which of course is spiritual. The “spirit world” we then enter is not a different world; it is just a world that is not warped by our habits, attitudes, programming and fears. It is a very “light” world, yet very dense with life.

The “subtle body” is the living body that is completely connected to the living world.