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The Secret Technique in Plain Sight - Zhan Zhuang

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On 5/13/2018 at 9:00 AM, Mikey_Power_Up said:

Why standing still and not swaying? Standing for too long is harmful. I've used a standing desk for 10 hours straight and the pain is just awful. As a teen I worked as a cashier standing all day, another dose of the ouchy.

 

My theory is that our bodies are meant for motion. I do need to.incorporate more standing work, lately I've been cultivating while walking or standing while moving my hands and swaying. It seems like pure standing might be great for dissolving into the void. 

 

A standing desk and a ZZ posture are totally different. To say ZZ is "just standing" is not what a seasoned practitioner would use to characterize what ZZ is, especially since there are huge differences between how you stand and more importantly, how you are in the meditative state in ZZ versus using a standing desk. 

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25 minutes ago, Earl Grey said:

 

A standing desk and a ZZ posture are totally different. To say ZZ is "just standing" is not what a seasoned practitioner would use to characterize what ZZ is, especially since there are huge differences between how you stand and more importantly, how you are in the meditative state in ZZ versus using a standing desk. 

 

Obviously, but my point is that standing perfectly still or being dogmatic about posture isn't necessary. 

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Posted (edited)

in my experience, when I'm doing standing it is too easy to get some stupid idea that I need to do something and then run off and do it but if I'm sitting I'm kind of 'stuck' where I am and more likely to stay.  Therefore it is better to do standing with another so we keep each other from drifting away to do some errand which doesn't need to be done at the time.

 

However there is one way to do Zhan Zhuang which more easily keeps one in the game so to speak, however it may not fit some people's definition of ZZ.

 

Edit:   Dayum!  I just found out I posted in the sex forum, my first one.  Why is this thread here?  Wait, I know.

Edited by Starjumper
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54 minutes ago, Mikey_Power_Up said:

 

Obviously, but my point is that standing perfectly still or being dogmatic about posture isn't necessary. 

 

That depends entirely on your teacher and system. In two of my four lineages, one of which includes Yi Quan from a direct student of Wang Xiang Zhai--yes, perfect stillness and the many specific postures is necessary. 

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On 2/22/2018 at 7:28 AM, Miffymog said:

Just to play devil's advocate, there could be a couple of reasons for this. The first is that in the West an easier and more gentle approach to Qi Gong might be a bit more palatable. Also, it might be that Zhan Zhuang is best taken up after a degree of proficiency is achieved in other practices.

 

Just a couple of days ago I added a lying practice to my standing, moving and sitting practices and I’ve found having a variety really means each one assists the other.

 

My favourite one and the one I do first thing is a stand, but now I’ve got other ones, I know that if my knee gives up, I’ll still have three other techniques to fall back on which all help my wellbeing.

 

 

I have found that if you are experiencing knee problems that you can slightly change foot position and thigh angle and get relief without lessening overall results. You may have to catch it early on though.

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On 2/22/2018 at 11:29 AM, Cheshire Cat said:

If man was to follow nature, then he should avoid standing still.

One of the main points of Zhan Zhuang is to relax the body under strain while holding yourself up with intent, instead of muscular strength.  One cannot go to the next level without the sharpening of relaxed intent.

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On 2/23/2018 at 2:37 AM, Miffymog said:

 

:)

I like seated meditation because it's something I feel I could have stumbled across by myself as it feels nice to do. I've always seen standing as something I'd never have come up with myself, and like Cheshire Cat says, not something you come across in normal life.


 

I was reading something somewhere that suggested that because evolutionally we’ve only learnt to stand up fairly recently, the posterial muscles we should be using for this haven’t caught up and developed as they should yet. A standing practice strengthens them and gives you that ‘evolutionary edge’, kind of.

I find that mixing up standing and sitting, when done, correctly, complement each other.

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8 minutes ago, moment said:

I find that mixing up standing and sitting, when done, correctly, complement each other.

 

This is exactly true, as my Tai Chi lineage strongly emphasizes both sitting and standing, ideally back to back daily followed by our movement and Nei Gong practices. 

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Posted (edited)
6 hours ago, Earl Grey said:

 

That depends entirely on your teacher and system. In two of my four lineages, one of which includes Yi Quan from a direct student of Wang Xiang Zhai--yes, perfect stillness and the many specific postures is necessary. 

My comments above about intent (or if you wish, focused will through concentration and imagery) also comes from my experience with Yi Quan as well as Tai Chi. I always enjoy reading what you have to say.

Edited by moment
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2 hours ago, moment said:

My comments above about intent (or if you wish, focused will through concentration and imagery) also comes from my experience with Yi Quan as well as Tai Chi. I always enjoy reading what you have to say.

 

Fantastic combination using these two systems, isn't it? Let us talk more sometime about it because I am always happy to trade notes with fellow practitioners, especially those with a similar focus!

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Posted (edited)

Sedentary ppl would greatly benefit from standing or moving practice. My thoughts are when it comes to the endgame of ZZ, if you move or don't move the result will likely be the same.  What is the theory behind my statement not being true, outside of tradition says do XYZ? Our nervous system works no matter if we are sitting, standing or slumped over. I feel the same about practices that demand a straight spine so that the energy can flow or perfect form. I only believe in 'perfect' form when it is for health reasons, not for energy flow or just because. 

I'm going to take up this practice passively and actively. 
 

Edited by Mikey_Power_Up

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Posted (edited)
1 hour ago, Mikey_Power_Up said:

Sedentary ppl would greatly benefit from standing or moving practice. My thoughts are when it comes to the endgame of ZZ, if you move or don't move the result will likely be the same.  What is the theory behind my statement not being true, outside of tradition says do XYZ? Our nervous system works no matter if we are sitting, standing or slumped over. I feel the same about practices that demand a straight spine so that the energy can flow or perfect form. I only believe in 'perfect' form when it is for health reasons, not for energy flow or just because. 

I'm going to take up this practice passively and actively. 
 

 

The best way to answer your questions would be to first eliminate the tendency to understand by theory rather than practice. Whether it is Zhan Zhuang or Qigong or Taijiquan, to go in with a mindset that has a way of explaining creates expectations, which in turn affects the practice due to the nature of observing things like in quantum physics changing the property of atoms.

 

In Qigong terms, it would be, "The qi flows where the yi goes" (yi here referring to mind) and part of Zhan Zhuang at the very beginning is to eliminate the mental noise and that includes thoughts and emotions, as well as all attempts to understand it through a framework that actually is not inclusive of many of the core principles behind the system and the practice. To pick and choose what you believe without a qualified instructor to explain everything and why the tradition elects to follow its core practices is akin to trying to explain what sex feels like to a houseplant without first explaining what genitalia, orgasms, lust, and the like and the houseplant disregarding each of those parts of the whole since it doesn't fit into its experience or reality. 

 

It may be best for you to find a qualified instructor who can teach you instead, as what I have found is that there are those who have very good instructors and years of practice but have difficulty explaining in laymen's terms to other practitioners or curious individuals because simply put, most people have difficulty conceptualizing this without experiencing it first. On the other hand, there are those who just like to discuss what they've read or encountered, and results may vary based on their experience or lineage, if any, and some call themselves experts from merely watching a few videos on YouTube. 

 

Having four lineage instructors I report to, there are many areas they completely agree on for Zhan Zhuang, and there are other areas they have different opinions, but that's because they have different systems, ranging from a TCM doctor and Qigong master whose Zhan Zhuang is mostly from Bagua and Taijiquan, a Taijiquan and Xingyi master who uses Embracing and Trinity postures primarily, a Yi Quan and Liuhebafa master who taught me "The Ten Thousand Postures", and lastly a warrior scholar of multiple Qigong and Neigong and IMA styles whose Zhan Zhuang is "unique" to say the least. 

 

What they all describe as fact though is firstly that energy flow and health are tied to one another, and the degree to which you move does actually affect your results. Looking at my student who trembles a little versus another student who blows his nose and scratches his back with one arm or another who shakes up and down and even moves her hand out of position, see the health and the development of martial skill between the three. 

 

I believe you once mentioned you're not into dogmatic practices, and this is by no means dogmatic. I'm simply sharing that it's not as simple as picking and choosing what works and what doesn't for ZZ because some things are not opinion, but facts, and a qualified instructor can help you better understand. 

 

A friend, @NATURE BEEING mentions Lam Cham Kuen's Qigong: The Way of Power which talks a lot about Zhan Zhuang and is a good read.

Edited by Earl Grey
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I'm not a big fan of tradition or even loyalty to a teacher. I'm more of the show me what it is, I will give it a serious 'shot' and then make it work for me. I know that some are into lineages, history, and authenticity. I'm more of the belief that the human body is the human body, we can all hack it, but of course having a great teacher to get you started is great.

 By the way, I just did around 40 mins of ZZ and it felt great. It totally took me out of my morning slump. On the physical level, I can see how it can help me regain strength in my ankle I injured trying to be LBJ. On the energy level, I played around too much and got outside the confines of the teaching but when things start to stir, I tend to want to tangle a bit. I will add it as something I do throughout the day. 

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Posted (edited)
13 minutes ago, Mikey_Power_Up said:

I'm not a big fan of tradition or even loyalty to a teacher. I'm more of the show me what it is, I will give it a serious 'shot' and then make it work for me. I know that some are into lineages, history, and authenticity. I'm more of the belief that the human body is the human body, we can all hack it, but of course having a great teacher to get you started is great.

 By the way, I just did around 40 mins of ZZ and it felt great. It totally took me out of my morning slump. On the physical level, I can see how it can help me regain strength in my ankle I injured trying to be LBJ. On the energy level, I played around too much and got outside the confines of the teaching but when things start to stir, I tend to want to tangle a bit. I will add it as something I do throughout the day. 

 

Then continue what you are doing, but your understanding of Zhan Zhuang will unfortunately not have much depth because trying to hack it will not get you far.

 

Anyone who does Yi Quan who comes across a Tim Ferriss type who thinks they can find a way to get the health results and mastery in a better and faster and more pragmatic way to save time will shrug their shoulders and let them be, because those kinds of attitudes don't get very far or deep in terms of development, and the masters and teachers spend years refining themselves through both understanding and practice, and proper practice leads to understanding, and understanding leads to perfection of practice.

 

I mean no offense when I say that, I simply caution you to try to avoid the trap of knowing when not knowing since it's a lot more complex than that and "showing you" is not the way serious practitioners handle it, it's "do it and the questions will come and answers will eventually follow" not through a defined absolute but a riddle that is constantly being explored. 

 

An easier way to say it is "Practice does not make perfect, but perfect practice makes perfect even better". 

Edited by Earl Grey

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How is willing to do the work without any extraneous additives lesser than taking on all the ideas that may or may not be pertinent towards reaching the endgame of such a practice? Or any practice? 

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Posted (edited)
33 minutes ago, Mikey_Power_Up said:

How is willing to do the work without any extraneous additives lesser than taking on all the ideas that may or may not be pertinent towards reaching the endgame of such a practice? Or any practice? 

 

I suppose I should illustrate clearly that having these kinds of conversations, this is just about the point my teachers would gently remind me that divulging any more would be like teaching for free and serious students respect that is not appropriate. If they want to understand better, they will learn under a teacher, as discussing in these forums is a crapshot because sometimes you can meet practitioners who know what they are talking about, then you will encounter those who are limited by their means of access to a teacher, affording a teacher, or how good a teacher is, or their attitude towards teachers. All of these are valid reasons due to many questionable teachers whom I will not name for their poor understanding and instruction and outright scammers who really don't know anything they talk about. 

 

I can't speak for your goals of practice, but I have found with my own students and my classmates that picking and choosing what works for you and rejecting the basic foundation because it's "too outdated" or "doesn't makes scientific sense" or "is nothing but blindly following a teacher or system without question" tend to struggle with the practice at a certain point and don't recognize they aren't developing, or more precisely, can't recognize how they are developing at all since the five senses deceive them. 

Edited by Earl Grey
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Posted (edited)
On 5/16/2018 at 4:38 AM, Earl Grey said:

 

Fantastic combination using these two systems, isn't it? Let us talk more sometime about it because I am always happy to trade notes with fellow practitioners, especially those with a similar focus!

I practice my standing by examining every joint, ligament, muscle until the slightest effort has tension and relaxation as one. Then I work fast and slow, forward and backward,  up, down, lifting, pulling, putting my intent farther and farther out and pulling it back again like it is against heavy water.  I review all of my known polarities, all of this with little to no physical movement.  After awhile of that, I am ready for Tai Chi.

Edited by moment

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2 hours ago, moment said:

I practice my standing by examining every joint, ligament, muscle until the slightest effort has tension and relaxation as one. Then I work fast and slow, forward and backward,  up, down, lifting, pulling, putting my intent farther and farther out and pulling it back again like it is against heavy water.  I review all of my known polarities, all of this with little to no physical movement.  After awhile of that, I am ready for Tai Chi.

 

That actually sounds like you've either learned something very profound or discovered it independently through deep understanding. How do I know this? It is one of the later practices in Yi Quan. 

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9 hours ago, Earl Grey said:

 

That actually sounds like you've either learned something very profound or discovered it independently through deep understanding. How do I know this? It is one of the later practices in Yi Quan. 

 

Try not to sound so surprised:) I prefer to do my aforementioned intent projections while doing left and right Santi Stance(San Cai Zhuang).I sometimes do a rhythmic bouncing back and forth between my perineum and sphincter muscles after I move into Cheng Bao Zhuang (tree hugger). That is a tune up for when I tighten my perineum muscles and do deep diaphragm breathing.  Even though some Tai Chi Masters teach that type of breathing, I learned it from Hirata Sensei, a great 5th Dan Aikido teacher back in 1972. I sometimes will do that while still in Cheng Bao Zhuang.  It tends to make my Tai Chi sets more interesting.

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On 2/25/2018 at 1:02 PM, idquest said:

It is stillness that is important, not the pose so much.

 

They are both important, each posture does a certain energy task and they have a synchronistic effect with the stillness.

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This kinda came from instinct, but at home when I meditate inside I keep my hands together and against my dan tien.  When I'm outside, for some reason, I feel the need to be more open, and keep my arms separated, hands resting on my knees, two fingers against my thumb and facing up. 

 

When inside, more of closed unit, focused more on dantien, outside, more open, accepting.. sun earth.. stuff.   Don't know if thats good or bad, just something I've fallen into. 

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12 minutes ago, thelerner said:

This kinda came from instinct, but at home when I meditate inside I keep my hands together and against my dan tien.  When I'm outside, for some reason, I feel the need to be more open, and keep my arms separated, hands resting on my knees, two fingers against my thumb and facing up. 

 

When inside, more of closed unit, focused more on dantien, outside, more open, accepting.. sun earth.. stuff.   Don't know if thats good or bad, just something I've fallen into. 

 

Absolutely,  a lot of things change for me when I am in one of my favorite nature spots.

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