Ye Ma Fen Zong, that’s how it sounds in Chinese, the name of the Taijiquan 24 posture 2. I will never be able to remember that, anyway. But I remember the wild horse part.
We have wild horses here, not far from my place. I went to watch them closer a couple of times. They are beautiful. A bit rough-looking, and playing rough too, but that’s because they are wild. Such natural grace about them…
The name of the posture always reminds me of wild horses I saw. The mane is separated by the wind as it’s galloping free in the field, releasing energy, stress, tension. It’s is such a happy sight, and a feeling. When I do the posture, my palms pass each other as they move in separate directions, without any force, allowing energy flow freely.
I made an audio recording of this posture today, as an episode of my Taijiquan “morning exercise”. It helps me to pay attention to the details and perfect my movement without thinking what should be next. I listen to my voice, telling me what to do, so I can focus on key points - heel first, palm facing up, palm facing down, stances, angles - and it helps me to remember everything the right way.
One of my favourite postures, and one of my favourite living creatures…
“When God wanted to create the horse, he said to the South Wind, ‘I want to make a creature of you. Condense.’ And the Wind condensed.”
– Emir Abd-el-Kader
Looking for truth outside yourself, you won’t find any.
Everything you know, and want to change, is right here, inside you.
As we all spend more time contemplating (we are, one way or another) these days, I’ve been reflecting on where my humble, DIY practice of Taiji and Qigong took me. I decided to write a journal to map my journey around a core point: what this practice is - to my body and mind? What it does? It’s a personal exploration, based on my own experience - certainly not an expert word on anything - and I thought someone else might find it useful, too.
I will be writing about my journey - which is still very much on, more than ever - in the following posts. Right now I’d like to outline a few major points, answering the question about body-mind practice, what’s that for me, and how I got to the point where I am standing now.
It started with my body, and then moved on to my mind. And then they became one. All thanks to the practice.
We all come to a point where we turn to physical exercise because we want or need to improve our body. I was hurt, I had problems with my spine, I was scared I wouldn’t be able to walk normally again, to function normally, but I couldn’t commit to something like Pilates or power training. Instead, I searched for a type of practice that would allow me to work out in a slow, “live-in” manner. By that “living-in” I mean - my approach to physical training was from the point of view of my body, I wanted to understand how it worked. Like a car mechanic, I needed to see where the problem was, and to understand the whole mechanism, all essential parts of it, what was important for it to regain function, I also needed to see the connections, the influences, the dependences, the whole body universe. Enter Wuxing Theory of Five Elements. Enter ancient knowledge. Both ethics and aesthetics of which were extremely appealing to me. Finally I stopped dismissing Buddhism as a religion, yoga as a yuppy trend, and zen as a word to oose intelligence. I started reading and thinking it over, for the first time seriously - I wanted to understand. I needed to understand. Because it was a part of my body experience, - clearing the attic. The hard drive, the mind… All that was mind work, you see. For the first time during a work out, I actually was in that work out, with my thoughts, inside myself, focused entirely on breathing, posture, movement, unison, balance… It’s an amazing thing really. True Yin Yang. I sort of withdraw myself from the world for a moment, go into a bubble, to get something from there, to touch a precious core of Universe inside that warp I go in, and suddenly I feel the walls disappear, and I am reunited with the world more than ever. I breath in unison with the Universe, I feel in unison, I see through the eyes of the Universe. Mind-body experience is something I never had before I started practicing Qigong and meditation. I invested years into my body improvement (and I long forgot about any back pains!) and by doing that consciously, with awareness, dedication, care and respect to tradition, I was given keys to the world of Chinese medicine, ancient martial arts and poetry, but also was glad to discover fellowship of practitioners, as myself. Everything I know I learned from other people. There is no other way to learn but following the crumbs.
So, the answer to my own question, what is a body-mind practice?
It’s a life-style of … an aware being. Aware of themselves in the world, and of the world within. It’s not a matter of an hour or two of practice. It’s a live-in, always-aware, connected to every other being by billion of invisible threads, existence. To me it was a true life changing experience, and I am still learning.
This is my journal.