accidental cultivator of the spiritual path by way of physical aspects and attachments

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Hello Dao bums!


I've been lurking here off and on for the past couple of years.  and before that i lurked rum soaked fist for a while longer.  i thought that RSF would be the place for me, but now this forum is a lot more appealing. I used to be obsessed with cultivating the body and still very interested in traditional martial arts (gong fu). i now understand i should be cultivating the dao and my spirit, and my body will just follow.  and then i can focus on my gong fu once i know my head and my heart are in the "right" place.


the following is a copy, paste from a RSF post (when i was more heavily attached to body):


my history:

I've been meditating for ~3 years almost completely by accident (more on that later). And now I've been doing internal wudang martial arts/ qigong for about a year. Practicing both together at the same time is very synergetic! My meditation was something I stumbled on very naturally. My background is in western medicine (I've studied biology and all the natural sciences and went through the pre medical education here in Seattle). 


Before my meditation, I was in chronic pain due to incorrect weightlifting and bodybuilding that caused "lower back" injuries. i was also working with high levels of stress at an old job. I had digestion issues and chronic constipation and hemorrhoids (sorry TMI!). My left big toe would become numb sometimes and after a night of sleep I would wake up with numbness from my left pinky finger all the way to under my armpit/ shoulder blade area. I also had dry skin along these pathways. I've gone to seen specialty medical doctors to try to treat these symptoms, but after test after test, they could only prescribe me drugs. I was diagnosed with irritable bowel syndrome and rheumatoid arthritis. my neck was also in constant pain. I had stopped any further weight training but found that my body began to hurt even more. I began to spend time doing mobility exercises which helped. 


Eventually I began a practice i thought i made up myself I called "conscious relaxation." I would eventually find out that this is an established meditation technique. I continue to practice this body scanning and have developed very advanced levels of body awareness and control. In my past, I would never imagine such things were possible!

 My inspiration for this practice came from trying to replicate my own version of an isolation chamber but on my own bed and using the power of my mind (and lots of pillows). Through much body scanning, I was able to become super aware of inner body tensions (due to chronic muscle imbalances or injury?). Pairing that knowledge along with my anatomy studies and kung fu studies, I was able to self manipulate my body and ease and release these inner body tensions. 

I was using tools and techniques found in western physical therapy and massage therapy. At this time I was able to pin point exact muscles or muscle fibers that were in high tension. I would follow this tension along the body and found the joints or attachment points connected to these tensions."ORBITS!" I could then follow this tension and feel / see / understand that there would be disfunction on the "opposite" side of the body in the form on weak or "unactivated" or disconnected/unconscious muscles. I tried to isolate these "systems" of tension to loosen them to ease my pain and cure my imbalances but found that sometimes the tension would just move to different parts of the body. I came to understand that everything is truly connected. these imbalanced systems usually sat on top or a larger system that would most likely out of balance as well. I began to recognize different layers of muscle systems. I soon understood that any permanent alignment would require the deepest layers to be aligned first in order for the upper layers to be aligned properly. or something like that.

This is when I began paying attention to my whole body as a contained "universe."


I've somehow independently discovered the same ideas about tagonist and antagonist muscles. I identify tagonist, injured, high tension muscles or systems then use antagonist clues to balance these high tension systems. As long as I reference the "whole body" as a guide, I can eventually work out this tension out of the body. A body in high tensions is like a puzzle, a certain order of operation and large scope understanding of the body has to be kept in mind or else tensions will build up elsewhere in the body. A key question that I had: 

what reference would I use to help guide the goal of releasing tension for the whole body? 

Looking back, it seems obvious but all limbs work of the foundation of the spine and hips. the spine and hips are obviously controlled by muscles, but what are these core muscles? I believe these core muscles are the ones involved in "breathing"


western medicine tells us that it is the diaphragm that controls breathing, but i think this is oversimplified. our whole body is used in breathing. this lead me to study the Dan tian, and reverse breathing (dao/embryonic/ tibetan breathing). the eastern view of "breath" is fascinating to me. it's not really about oxygen exchange but more of life force "control" when a body part is moved by mind control, it is called "breathing" and every movement affects /is your breath. 

I researched more and started integrating instructions from tibetan yogis (breathing / and yoga exercises) and also tai chi/shaolin/ Uechi-Ryu-karate-sanchin training and techniques. the changes i've seen in my body are incredible. many people will tell you that the patterns of a person's abdominal muscles are dictated by "genetics." I now know that isn't necessarily true. the abdominal muscle pattern is just a reflection of inner tensions of the body (mostly tagonist and antagonist relations between ribs, vertebrae, hips and pelvis and all the various muscles attached). without meaning to, and certainly not for the sake of aesthetics, I have made my abdominal muscle pattern very much more symmetrical! body builders would be very interested in this knowledge, but many would be discouraged to find out that what it takes is increasing awareness and the mind body connection and focusing this efforts into your breathing. I practiced weight training and powerlifting for over 6 years without ever learning how to breath properly! I believe this was the cause of all my injuries, creating gross imbalances in my breathing muscles and become "strong" without first strengthening my dantian. too much external, no internal power. 


I practice internal kung fu, breath work or qi gong 1 to 3 hours everyday! I'm very consistent. My kung fu is improving so much that it almost scares me. I am very much in need of a guru. What is concerning is that I know my fundamental Kung Fu is improving , but I am still without a teacher, style or system, I am just going by intuition and internet research and good books. I feel that my natural abilities are what is driving me.


I think chi power for gong fu is just the awareness and coordination of the body to the Dao. and this power come can from the lower dantian, which i define as an imaginary area related to center of gravity among other things. but more importantly i related it to a point of consciousness or a "point of view." i think humans naturally center their awareness from their eyes or head. with kung fu training, awareness can come from any part of the body, and once mastered, awareness can be had even from outside the body (ie from the opponent's body!). the various dan tians are major key perspective points. if you become familiar with them and move from that point of view, movement with become more natural. or I play with the awareness between dantians and it brings my body in balance. thoughts and intents translate efficiently into movements. honest expression happens.


The more and more I look into myself, I learn new things, and usually if I do a search on my own new "discoveries" i find that someone else has already discovered this knowledge. It seems most of these discoveries have been ancient discoveries lost in time by the current generation who are so distracted by technology and "outside" knowledge. people are so quick to look outside themselves and divide and separate things in pursuit of knowledge, that in this day in age, people forget to explore the internal/eternal knowledge.


I have studied my own tensions and can break it down to sensing, understanding, control, transfer, balance

most people "stretch" their muscles incorrectly. most people don't know that they are hyper extending joints by way of the common stretch methods. I have yet to develop an articulate way to describe my method. it involves:

-sense by pin pointing where discomfort is (by way of relaxing and being sensitive enough to feel at the very start of the pain sensation in a range of motion)

-understanding what is causing the discomfort (this takes knowledge and experience). I like following the tension from the area of pain along anatomy trains or smaller "orbits." most of the time, the cause of pain is on opposite side of point of pain on other part of the orbit!!!!!!!!

-control the tension by mastering the involved muscles of the orbit. you want to expand the orbit and find out where there is too much tensions and where it is slacked and where it might be impinged. usually multiple orbits involved in a point of pain. its like untying a knot, got to have a sort of order of operation to things or else, just tugging on tensions could lead to worst tension build ups or injuries or worse. very common that many imbalances are factors to specific pain or tension. 

-transfer the tensions out of small systems into larger systems where you can spread the tension across whole body pathways (anatomy trains) achieving harmony in that orbit and effectively balancing the tension in your body (i think it maybe more accurate to say balance tensions, not release?)


my tensions are what guide my standing meditation. my standing meditation posture is the pile stance (i imagine my body is a pile of rocks or balls i have to balance... 7 pearls?). I stand in this posture and try to find "neutral position" in all my major joints by way of paying attention to muscles subtle "stretch" sensations as well as pins or pangs of discomfort or pain or by encountering of impingement through motion. peal the onion layers of distractions and ego then, I connect to breath (breath here means "control-ness" or "connectedness" of whole body). What i try to do is consciously relax as many muscles as possible while maintaining the balance i have in mind. when i reach a sort of hemostasis, i body scan for more muscles to relax. it is amazing how many muscles are flexed for "no reason". many times i will relax a unfamiliar muscles or joint and i will start to feel tension or pain immediately. this is how i "hunt" my tensions. this tells me that my body created a "lock" to protect from painful sensations.(locked "body chambers") If i relax just enough, to the edge where the pain just begins, I can explore the dynamics of the system or "orbit" in question. (balanced orbit=unlocked body chamber)

 when your body scanning skills develop, it is like your consciousness is a pin point that can travel anywhere inside your body. I use external palpation and body wiggles and taichi movements to activate these specific physical paths (tendon, fascia network connected to breath and movement). to me this is exploring the inner physical body realm. once you understand the systems at play, alot of power and coordination force can be developed inside the body and then transferred out. 

also the goal is to release as much inner tensions out of your body so your mind and body is free to sense more and express more efficiently. I believe that masters who develop kung fu forms do so in a manner that allows tensions to be balanced across the whole body and for inner body awareness to develop. that is the true purpose of all the "funny" forms in kung fu. of course each of the poses or forms can be made practical for some sort of situation as well.


what led me to this forum was these body sensation. what i'm come to realize is that i've stumbled upon the inner body tension systems "on my own", which i now understand is a foundation for the internal arts. I'm seeking local teacher at the moment for further knowledge and to standardize my language on Neijing / Neigong.


i also understan that my language is not standardized either.  I'm not formally taught. 

personal glossary: 

orbits: isolated movement systems or complexes. body cogs, chakras, dantians, tendon pathways. these all talk about the similar ideas IMO. mental divisions of the body to isolate systems for development and alignment. 

expand orbit: ideally orbits , anatomy trains, tendon pathways, etc should be smooth and aligned. but due to tensions or injuries they can be zigzaged, twisted, pulled, kinked, impinged. i imagine a crinkled loop. expanding the orbit means to physically align and expand by breath the muscles and body parts involved in the orbit. expanding the orbit slowly straightens out some of these imbalances. this first requires being able to isolate these orbits, which first requires being aware of the orbit. 

multiple orbits: for example look at the spiral anatomy train lines. I can consider one complete anatomy line and its antagonist as a big orbit. people can have disfunction in orbits due to tensions. these tensions can (will) lie at a junction of two or more orbits. or when looking at a movement of the body, one can study which orbits are involved in a certain action. 

internal martial arts is the dissection, examination, understanding and mastery internal movement. things that happen even before anything externally visible happens. thats why standing meditation is big part of my practice. orbits are just a way to organize and break down and simplify tension systems for the sake of understanding.  



since that post (about a year ago?) I have switched my focus. One really great book i read was " The little book of Hercules" by William Bodri. I would love to talk to anyone one really knowledgeable and who has read this book.  I believe i'm almost through to the 11th labor! the descriptions in the book as it relates to the body and the sensations one feels is most excellent.  I don't really get to talk to anyone in person about my cultivation (as i am a solo practitioner)  so when i read these descriptions of physical and spiritual attainments, it put me at ease because i finally didn't feel crazy!  I will now read other books by him and his master Nan Huai-Chin.


because of my medical background, and study of modern material like Anatomy Trains (by Thomas Myers) I believe that i can provide even further insight to the sensations of  to the shedding of impure chi and clearing out of channels.  Bodri does a great job though, and it was my first time reading a description of channels purifying that wasn't just imaginary bodies floating away.  he says things like "layers of chi wrapped around parts and chakras" that you have to almost peal off.  to me this is letting go of your body and letting tension orbits balance themselves out. another way he describes it is the "extrusion" of logs of "dirty material" out of channels.  I know, exactly, what he is describing.  he says that if you were in retreat and under supervision of a master or guru, this process of letting go and purifying the physical body channels can be as "fast" as 100 days.   since i stumbled upon all of this "by accident" and have no master, i'm about 2-3 years in to the process (which is exactly what he mentions in the book).  deep down i really to desire to go on retreat to "finish" up some stages but i have 2 young kids that keep me tangled in worldly affairs.  


I have gone through the Big Knife Winds, and even have pictures and videos of myself to prove it.  my big knife winds are not as intense as described in TLBH (1-2 days?), but have been going on for about  a year or so at varying degrees (because i had no idea what i was doing!).  like in the book, when the channels in my head began to purify, it was VERY uncomfortable.  So much discomfort that i resorted to applying hammer fist strikes and "knocking knuckle" strikes to areas of my head to help move the chi, just like the book describes.  when it releases, pure physical bliss is felt. so crazy to feel such intense pain and in a split second feel it shoot out of your body (my orbits or anatomy trains rebalancing and aligning is how i interpret it).  when this has happened during standing meditation, it has knocked my on my ass many times.  and then the pain is gone!


this book has helped me paint a bigger picture of the Path, and now i know for sure that I am at least "on it"

If i hadn't read this book, i believe i would have mistakenly continued to cultivate body only for the rest of this life (but probably because a really bad ass martial artist!) .  and because of this book (and other stuff too) I am now more interested in understanding and finding the ultimate truth, understanding the substrate of being, understanding fundamentals of nature and seeking the dao.


so at this point i just feel like i'm rambling. so sorry! 


I would love to find a master local to me in Seattle.  My body finally is feeling pretty damn pure, and i'm excited to really get in the "meat" of things related to letting go of conscienceless.  the crazy part is that I am also feeling my love and compassion for others rising.  I've never really cared for others in my life until i had kids!!!



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Hello, bruised, and welcome.


Your membership is approved and we're happy you found your way to us. We look forward to accompanying you on some of the way that you still have to go.


Please take the time to read the post pinned at the top of this Welcome page and take a look at the forum Terms and Rules.   This covers all you need to know when getting started.


For the first week you will be restricted to ten posts per day but after that you can post as much as you like. Also, until you’ve posted fifteen times in the forums, you’ll be a “Junior Bum” with somewhat restricted access and will be allowed only two private messages per day.


Good luck in your pursuits and best wishes to you,


Fa Xin and the TDB team


Welcome bruised,


Sounds like you've had a good amount of fun training over the years.  Internal arts & kung fu is nice because while it's training your body, it's also going to deeper levels, which you may or may not be aware of.  But relaxing is key, as you pointed out. Sounds like you found this forum at the right time. :) I hope it steers you in the right direction and helps with your journey.  Enjoy!


You are welcome to jump right in to the ongoing discussions, revive an older thread, start a new thread of your own, or start a discussion in the "Newcomer Corner" sub-forum to expand on your introduction or ask general questions to help you get started.


May you enjoy your time here.


Fa Xin

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Hi bruised.  Welcome.


Likely you were battered before the bruises appeared.


Sounds like you have a good plan.  Good luck on your journey.


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