December 13, 2011 at 9:47 pm #38226
I am now entering my yearly winter hermit retreat.
I will be in retreat for 3 weeks.
I am staying in hermitage cabin,
surrounded by woods and in isolation.
There is no phone, and no internet connection in my hermitage.
Once per day, I may walk through the woods for 10 minutes to
a location where I may connect to the internet, but I may not
do that every day . . . especially when I get deeper into the
First few days are always an adjustment . . . lots of sleeping.
Your body suddenly realizes that it doesn’t need to meet any
demands anymore, and surrounded by an impenetrable silence, your
body suddenly releases a ton of previously unknown tension,
and you feel called to rest.
It is SO quiet here. You forget how noisy the world actually is,
until you experience real quiet. Everything we consider as being
quiet in our day-to-day life, even quietly in an apartment, just
doesn’t compare to the level of quiet that is experienced in isolation
from civilization deep in the woods. It is such a wonderful feeling!
Once the detox period ends, I’m beginning serious daily practice
in earnest. My usual 2 hr per day practice will expand to more
like 6 hrs per day on average, with periods of rest, reflection,
silent reading, etc. not included in the 6-hr figure.
My plan is begin the more intensive schedule on Thursday.
Stay tuned for updates. 🙂
StevenDecember 14, 2011 at 5:41 pm #38227
I woke up this morning highly motivated to get
going on my serious practice period. Usually I need
more detox time, but I already feel the detox starting to wane.
So far today has been pretty good, practice-wise.
I did 20 minutes of Yiquan/Iron Shirt practice, followed by a wonderful
round of Primordial. I did about 10 minutes of some Zen chanting,
then watched a qigong video for an hour. Then I lay down on the floor
and did about an hour of Tao Yin practice. Breakfast and lunch occurred
in there somewhere, along with another hour of qigong video, plus some
reading . . . that and also spending some time sitting motionless on a
recliner and looking out the window into the forest and watching a
squirrel play around for a little bit.
My intention for the second half of the day is to do about another 1.5-2 hrs
of practice . . . a few more qigong forms and some meditation as well.
All told, I’m pretty happy. So far, I’m more or less on track for my
usual daily schedule, except for my 1.5 hr walk that I missed today
due to needing to make several trips to my hermitage with armloads of
wood for the wood stove . . . I guess that counts as walking 😉
StevenDecember 27, 2011 at 6:01 am #38229
Steven i’m wanted to ask you for a while… but if it would deviate your efforts on your retreat to answer me i would be quiet happy to wait until you returned to hear your answer…
From what i remember you are a university lecturer. This would mean lots of reading, marking of assignments and exams. How can you possibly do this in wu wei? Don’t you need to concentrate to mark correctly?
Even in my reading about tai chi you need to spend time in you wei before you can go into wu wei. In your job you would always be learning/reading something new how can you be in wu wei when you don’t know what you’re reading?
Have you learnt that speed reading i’ve seen they talk about on tv where you can read a page in about 10 seconds.. that kinda stuff to stop you getting tense in trying to digest a page at a time?
I was a software engineer but i can’t continue in this because i can’t do it in wu wei and stay relaxed, i get tense and get sick. How do you concentrate and stay relaxed? I can read while staying relaxed but can’t get it to ‘soak in’ without tensing.December 28, 2011 at 10:07 pm #38231
Wu wei doesn’t mean being in a state of drowsy relaxation,
at least to my understanding . . .
To me, wu wei means “effortless action”.
You can concentrate, and still be in an effortless state.
You don’t need to tense your body up and agitate yourself
due to self-induced stress from the mind.
Concentration just requires being focused.
In essence, all it really means is that you are paying attention
to the immediate task at hand, and not letting your mind wander off
into all kinds of other thoughts and worries about the future.
In a lot of cases, when someone is doing work that involves being
focused, there is actually a lot of chatter/judgments from the mind
that are being sung in the background . . . stuff that gets believed.
E.g. You need to figure this out. You need to figure this out.
Why haven’t you figured this out yet? You need to finish this soon.
This has a deadline. There are other things you need to do, so
you need to be more efficient now. You are wasting your time, as
there are more important things to be doing right now. You
don’t have much time, as you have to do XYZ at 4pm. You should
be progressing faster than you are. How much more of this do I
have to do?
I can go on and on with very little effort in generating such
poisonous comments . . . because they should be quite familiar
to a lot of people! They are these very comments that really
your brain is engaging that creates tension in the body when
concentrating. If you were simply just being focused, where
could tension arise?
For this reason, I highly recommend doing grounding practices
regularly as well as doing Zen meditation.
Actually, Zen meditation is a “concentration meditation”.
The whole point of it is to develop concentration, bring focus
and to increase present moment awareness–to decrease the manic
mind’s tendency to rush off into reliving scenarios from the past
and daydreaming about the future (either worrying about it in some
way or fantasizing about something).
I find it to be a supportive practice that supplements the
Healing Tao curriculum. You might give it a try.
I think it would probably help you quite a bit.
An analogy here is useful I think:
An obese person can’t walk a block without getting out of breath,
but that same person after slowly building up a daily routine
of exercise and losing weight will find that they can walk farther
and longer with relative ease. All it takes is practice.
The same can be said here with concentration.
StevenDecember 28, 2011 at 10:48 pm #38233
What an enriching time this has been!
Each year is so unique, so different . . .
I’m so used to be surrounded by snow, but
this year there is no snow!
The time has just flown by this time around;
I can’t believe that I only have a few days left!
On average, I think I’ve gotten more practice in
each day than I did last year . . . it is becoming
more natural to me now.
Certain activities such as doing some Yiquan/Iron Shirt
standing practice each day seems as natural to me as
brushing my teeth . . . and as essential (in my view).
Pretty much each day here on retreat I’ve done Yiquan,
I do Primordial, do Tai Chi Qigong, do Big Dipper Qigong,
do some chanting. To that, I add a mix of other things
depending on my mood. I do each day also aim for doing
a Tao Yin set, doing Deep Healing Qigong, and going for a
walk as well . . . but to be honest, those three I don’t
manage to do each day . . . I end up feeling too tired, but
I do do other random things throughout the day. On good
days I do 6 hours of practice; on lazy ones, around 2-3.
And usually a lazy one follows a good one. 😉
Certain forms consistently call to me at certain times of the day . . .
E.g. Yiquan and Primordial in the morning, Big Dipper at sunset,
and DHQ at bedtime (if not too tired)
I had an interesting experience about a week ago, where for some
reason my body felt racked with fear. I couldn’t eliminate it.
Healing Sounds, Fusion, Inner Smile, LKL were all useless,
and there did not appear to be any “reason” behind the fear . . .
Then I did the Deep Healing Qigong, and upon getting to the
Bathing sequence between the Sun and the Earth . . . for some
reason, the sun washed away all fear!
Anyhow, just one interesting experience I had,
that I’d thought I share here . . .
Enjoying my time here . . .
Love and qi,
StevenDecember 30, 2011 at 1:30 pm #38235December 30, 2011 at 1:31 pm #38237January 9, 2012 at 9:54 am #38239
I am now out of retreat, but sort of on vacation
until next week. My hermit retreat went by much
faster than usual this year, and I would have liked
to stay much longer. This is especially true as I
felt some big shifts take place . . .
It was a very productive time, and I seemed to average
more hours per day doing practices this year than in
the past. My energy level seems to be much higher this
year than last year (by comparison).
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