Thursday, January 14, 2010

Thoughtless observer

Last night in class we were working on observing. Just observing. Losing the thinking mind and just practicing being in the moment.

It's simple, but in a traditional, typical day, it's something most people (in the U.S.) don't do.

So we practiced standing: feet hip width apart, feeling the entire foot on the floor, with the most of the weight focused at the ball of the foot.

Knees are soft, slighty bent.

Pelvis is relaxed, and just tilted forward, without tensing the stomach or lower back muscles. Just enough so that the curve in the lower spine is lessened.

Shoulders are in their natural curved state.

The neck is relaxed.

The crown of the head is the highest point. (Place the thumb on one clavicle and the third finger on the other. Allow the index finger to reach up toward the chin. Does it touch the chin? If not, lower the chin so it does. Does the finger reach the divit between the chin and the lips or even highter? Raise the head slightly so the index finger gently touches the chin. This is a good guideline for making sure the crown of the head the highest point.)

Stand in this posture and just bring your attention to the palms of your hands. Don't think about them in your head. Don't imagine what they feel like, really FEEL them.

Do you feel a gentle pulse from blood flow? Do you feel air passing by the palms? Just observe what you feel, without evaluating, judging. Just feel.

Do you sense a fullness in the hands? Tingling? Heat? Coolness? Nothing?

Whatever you sense, or don't sense, is okay. You're just here to observe. What you sense is just...what you sense. There is no good, bad, right, wrong.

In class, as we move deeper into this kind of practice, we bring our attention to a bigger part of the body, moving up the arms, adding the torso, the legs, the feet, the head.

As we really sense the body, just observing the changes, the delicate movements, shifts in balance, pulsing, qi, we practice not only being present in the moment, we become aware of the subtle messages we get from our bodies, others bodies and from the environment around us.

The practice moves from the body to just outside. Being aware of the space just outside of our body, connecting into it. Deeper practice allows one to feel connected to everything in the room. Be aware of where things are, if they shift or change.

This is what internal arts masters are so in tune with. This is why, when you try to strike a master, they know your move before it even comes. And you're down on the ground wondering what happened.

People who have trained so deeply to be in tune to their environment aren't separate from it. This is why they respond so swiftly and accurately. There is no pause. There is no "re"action. There just is.

Happy practicing.


  1. I like it

    Contemplating on the day's events without thought of future plans nor judging one's actions.


  2. Hi - I just came across your blog while surfing! Just wishing you lots of luck at your taiji practice. I love to see that more and more folks are involved with taiji. Maybe one day tai chi (taijiquan) will be as popular as yoga. I also practice and teach it, and run a tai chi convention with tai chi workshops in June. It's such a positive thing!

    -Loretta Wollering

  3. Rick- Thanks. I visited your .com and am jealous to find that you practice in Hawaii...enjoy your lovely surroundings (I'm in Ohio under snow), and happy moments to you! :)

    Loretta- It's funny how certain practices gain and lose popularity. I know taiji isn't for everyone, but I'm sure glad (as you probably are) that it's around for me!!

    Happy practicing, teaching, observing...


  4. I enjoyed your blog. This post struck a particular chord. I'm used to grounding just like you used to do with a "cord" attached to the center of the planet as mentioned in one of your other posts. I've written a post that I call, "Letting the Day Come to You" and I'd love your feedback on my most recent post, "All is Well." Namsaste, Sherry
    Daily Spiritual Tools