A guest post from Dan Kleiman.
I’m on day 4 of daily practice by the ocean, but it’s more than that. We’re staying right on the beach, so I get to soak up the energy of the ocean pretty much all day long.
Now, I didn’t used to have any sense for what “the energy of the ocean” meant and like pretty much everything else energetic, I’m sure my sense for it will evolve even more, but I want to share my experiences from this week with you anyway.
Lately we’ve been talking about two ways of practicing standing qigong: by form or by feel. This week I’ve been using both and both methods have revealed interesting things.
First By Feel
Holding the same posture for the same amount of time when you stand gives you the opportunity to “just feel.” By having a consistent baseline, the posture and duration, you can compare the feel from one day to the next to reveal new internal space and sensations.
When you practice by a huge natural power source like the ocean, though, you can also discover “activity” that varies day to day.
The energy of the ocean works like a giant amplifier this way. When you settle in and get quiet, you can connect to it and get a big signal boost. In other words, the volume gets turned up on all the internal sensations you typically listen for.
What has been so exciting about practice this week is that the thing that gets amplified and really stands out is different each day.
One day it was the lower tantien directing energy down through the legs and stabilizing the lower body. The next day, I found more space and expansiveness through the heart.
On the very first day, a stuck spot I had been working with for a few months began to open up and continued to unwind itself as I sat by the ocean after practice. Thanks, Ocean!
When I tell you about practice experiences like this, it’s not that I want you to go out and search for these specific ones. You can’t. You might encounter them, but I didn’t set out with an agenda to experience them ahead of time.
You have to open your awareness to see what naturally emerges and your reward is the surprise of discovery.
Doing the Form
Now, this all might sound like spontaneous practice, but there’s an important role for the form here.
Remember how I framed “just feel” practice? Set the same conditions as much as possible, then be surprised by the contrast.
When you get the boost from a natural power source like the ocean, you can go back into the form and have extra juice for feeling, sinking, and dissolving, as you work through the body in a systematic way.
Many of you have been sending me questions about sinking versus dissolving lately and I’ve been thinking a lot about the best way to capture the difference.
As we go through the process of working on the Gates, you use both techniques in each practice session, dissolving the “gate of the week,” then sinking down through the rest of the body.
As a result, you have the opportunity to contrast the two techniques every time you practice.
- Dissolving is lighter, sinking saturates your tissues and gets heavy.
- Dissolving breaks things apart, sinking pulls them down through your body.
- Dissolving is letting go without forcing, so is sinking.
In both cases you have to rest your mind in one place and let the process unfold, but dissolving and sinking happen on different frequencies. Don’t ask me what kind of frequencies. I can tell you that model captures my experience, but I don’t honestly know if that’s an analogy or what.
What I do know from practicing by the ocean this week, though, is that when you get a Great Amplifier for your form, you build stronger internal connections, go deeper, release more and if you listen just right, you figure out new things about old patterns that you can hopefully bring back with you to your regular practice.