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My Ongoing Journal: the Intersection of Shaolin Arts and Life

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  • My Ongoing Journal: the Intersection of Shaolin Arts and Life

    Hello and welcome to read my Shaolin journal! This was partially inspired by the beautiful thread of my Sisook Santiago, but then I have always entertained the thought of keeping a regular journal to keep a detailed watch over my "inner progress." Now there is no excuse of lacking utility, so I might share with everyone my personal experiences with regular practice. You can read my introduction thread here, where I briefly went over my practice highlights to this day.

    ~ Let the chi flow ~

    On last monday I finally learned the Lohan Art that I had waited for the most: Golden Leopard Trains Claws. The experience was not what I had anticipated after the vigorous sweetness of the Big Bird Spreads Wings purifying my hands and fingers, as I had expected something in similar vein. Instead I got through-outly consolidated internal force, the strongest so far of seven exercises, with tremendous mental clarity that had a strong view of ponderousness to it. I can certainly understand why the Northern Shaolin monks used this exercise or something similar to train their chin-na and why Sigung says that training Tiger Claws helps grasping of intellectual concepts. Considering my student status and aspriration of becoming a world class mathematician, I am certainly most interested in detailing the progress of what doing this exercise once a week for a year might already grant me. Not to mention the problem solving aspects of the forthcoming Intensive Zen Course in Dublin, haha!

    My Sifu (lovely and superbly competent Nessa, in case you didn't know) asked by the end of class if any of us had interest in learning the other half of the 18 Lohan Art in the next autumn. I think about half my Shaolin siblings (lovely term) raised their arms along with yours truly, so if everything goes fine with Sifu's scheduling, we will the opportunity to complete this training soon. There are so many interesting courses this year, and I can just amaze the range of regional courses: what a buffet! I had to pass the opportunity for the Legacy of Zhang San Feng this year in Dublin because I did not have enough of my health recovered so far for me to think it as a wise commitment. Sigung will be teaching the Shaolin Five-Animal Set in Vienna, but likewise it remains a question mark for me for now. I have been slowly warming up to the UK Summer Camp which could be the perfect complement to the Zen Intensive. Then of course, how could I ever miss the chance to learn from Sigung during the proposed King's Road series?

    All these opportunities are wonderful beyond doubt, but the practical question of money is becoming a hot issue for me. I live a stingy life and spend fairly frugally, but that alone is not capable of granting me financial muscle. Luckily I had some savings and could ask a favor for this time for my Dublin participation. Filling into your job application that you have been years away out of workforce because of chronic pain and a variety of other ailments which modern medicine can't treat and that you are still kind of recovering is not exactly what the usual employer is gladly looking for. Applying for a loan will not do either without employment, as I have discovered. Hopefully after Dublin I posses the magic of transforming some of my chi flow into money flow. Or maybe I can find a pot of gold at the rainbow's end?

    Really looking forward to see my luck change! Yesterday I skipped the morning session out of hurry, which was a bad idea. The whole day felt like I was constantly missing the beat for good things. Experiences like this illuminate how important it is to get the chi flowing the first thing in the morning or carry on with the consequences of not having nice chi flow carrying you through out your daily affairs. To this day I have not a single day without any practice, and only seldomly skipping one of the daily sessions, but I think at this stage when my health is still not completely recovered it is very important to do a complete session of chi kung twice a day. Hopefully I will not get up on the wrong side of the bed anymore!

    With sincere respect,
    Olli

  • #2
    I made a post in the Gratitude Thread about the greatness of gratitude and thankfulness, which makes excellent reading if you wish to understand how I supplement my Shaolin Wahnam Chi Kung and enjoy my life like never before. I'll quote myself here to arouse your interest:

    Personally I believe that I have started to get at least three times more benefit from chi kung when I started to take gratitude and mercy as my moral beacons which I entertain habitually throughout the day.

    Comment


    • #3
      ~ Relax, Smile, and Let Flow ~

      Today I wondered about smiling from the heart and had a question succinctly answered by my Sifu. I had mentioned in the Gratitude Thread that this foundational practice did not feel always that great to do, but now the problem seems to be easing if not figuratively melting away in warmth of my rekindled spirit. One candle lightning another, the world is becoming a sea of light in this school. Recently it has become daylight clear to me that both thankfulness and mercy are very powerful for opening the heart and its meridians. The indirect impact of gratitude is pronounced when in standing meditation my Zen mind has a subtle default state of thankfulness and open hearted satisfaction. Sometimes the sensation of subtleness has been sweet and strong, sometimes barely observable, but either way the practice stays the same and is equally good in my eyes. It was quite a discovery when in this morning's session I started to experience spontaneous smiling from the heart while completely letting go in Zen. In the evening it was even better, and in fact relaxing overall seems to have become a lot more effortless and joyful thing to do: just by letting go I am already getting the most of the benefit of relaxing physically, mentally, and smiling from the heart without having to apply these arts individually.

      Relaxing mind is another skill that I have paid special attention every once in a while, and that too seems to be producing felicious fruit. Tonight evening's vigorous chi flow was simply outstanding. When I began my Chi Kung, I actually found Lifting the Sky a difficult practice in terms of benefit when compared to any other Eight Pieces of Brocade. There has been a lot of tension pain and discomfort in my hands, so maybe that is why it was not bringing the best out of me in terms of relaxation and chi flow. Now the situation is changing and Lifting the Sky is becoming my favorite Brocade movement: the relaxation, flow, and relief that it generates is starting to become really huge. Such profundity in so simple exercise and it will only get better as my skills grow!

      It is clear that my heart is opening in a fast pace now. For the past three days I have had moments of tears of happiness running from my eyes and I am no longer making any effort to hide or shelter this wonder as I have done with my emotions in the past: these tears I will wear proudly. Today there was a nice moment when letting my heart speak I experienced Zen in brief action--a foretaste for Dublin, no doubt! In less than a week I will be generating an energy flow and experiencing the cosmic shower under the guidance of Sigung. Just the thought of that has tears well in my eyes. Maybe I shall bring with me a bunch of handkerchiefs just to be safe and able to mop the salty rain.

      With sincere respect,
      Olli

      Comment


      • #4
        Originally posted by understanding View Post
        This was partially inspired by the beautiful thread of my Sisook Santiago,

        Olli
        I am glad Sijat Olli that the "Shaolin Journey" has inspired you and that you have enjoyed reading it. :-)

        At first, I wrote it as way to show my gratitude to Sifu. Later, I discovered that I have been the one who has benefited most from writing it as I have learned immeasurable and beautiful lessons while doing so. Also, when I read it again I can see the amazing progress that I have had in my life thanks to the Shaolin Arts. That shows me how special these Arts are and how lucky I am to have them in my life.

        Congratulations for starting yours!

        With Love, Care and Shaolin Salute,

        Santi
        Last edited by sancrica; 19th February 2016, 08:44 PM. Reason: grammar :-)

        Comment


        • #5
          Thank you for stopping by in my humble thread and offering kind words Santi Sisook! You are correct that journaling makes for excellent self-regulation and self-observance.

          ~ Lost and Found ~

          A bit over two weeks since my trip to Dublin. Many had cautioned that training with Sigung would make me stuffed with energy, which I found to be true. However, Sigung's skills are great and I never felt like training excessively under his tutelage, unlike when doing the last lesson of Lohan Art on March 7th. Fortunately that sense of overloading dissipated very quickly, but it was good to have a gentle experience how overtraining will make you feel uncomfortable.

          I felt a lucky chi flow in the second morning of Zen: something good was certainly coming. I had not expected that the Zen intensive would offer us the chance to Merge with the Cosmos. Total D-I-S-B-E-L-I-E-F! Tears are just flowing from my eyes when I recall what took place there on that day. Anyone who has practiced Chi Kung with Shaolin Wahnam but haven't experienced this skill with Sigung through his Intensive Chi Kung course, I say you are doing a disservice to yourselves. I can hardly contain myself to wait until the end of this month and experience that *unspeakable beauty* once again. What we were led to experience was not the whole story of it, not at all. How we were taught to access Satori as a simple skill is a treasure beyond any monetary value. How lucky are we indeed! I am looking forward to experiencing Sigung's marvellous teaching in his native Malaysia in the future.

          While I was recently casually watching Intensive Chi Kung Course clips from Penang 2014, I found that just hearing again Sigung instruct makes chi inside me stir. He really has a voice that resonates within my heart. Of course, he was even more impressive in person. The moment he stepped into the room it felt like chi started flowing over to me and gently purifying my blockages. I have no regrets whatsoever over going to Dublin. It might be wrong to say that I became another person, but I definitely felt something move in my heart very profoundly. The timing was good for me and I keep on getting benefits from what we learned. Using the one-pointed mind and subsequent no-mind in preparing for university examinations has proven to be of great practical value, as I suspected it would.

          In a previous post I mentioned that I was pondering about participating in the Five Animals course in Vienna. Tough luck! My experience with the Cosmic Shower was a surefire confirmation that I wouldn't be able to bear force training in the intensity and volume of Sigung's Kungfu courses. It's ok though, I was more looking into the opportunity of learning something nice than pouring my heart completely into it. So what's next on the menu?

          I was looking at the four combat sequences of the UK Summer Camp Kungfu course, and alternating between feeling and analyzing them. The pummeling of Lohan Kungfu, the graceful simplicity of Taijiquan, the mystery of Baguazhang, and the profound linearity of Xingyiquan all impressed me very much. I liked the Taijiquan sequence greatly, and it seems to be the most obvious choice because of me having just started beginner Taijiquan. Soon after asking my Sifu about the Summer Camp participation I reviewed the sequences in greater detail and experienced something competely outlandish. Watching Baguazhang started to feel more pleasant than usual, and when I even turned my bare thoughts on its name or imagined performing its patterns, I would experience warm and subtle chi flowing up my back and shoulders. It's definitely not the usual chi flow because it seems to well from deep inside, unlike my regular and superficial chi flows, so I am thinking it might have something to do with the Merging with the Cosmos and some karmic bond untying. Who knows? All I can tell is that a few months ago I had a convincing thought out of nowhere that I should become an expert of open palms in Kungfu. The chi flow seems to have something dragonic to it, but I would leave that as speculation at this point. It's undoubted that my connection to it is very intimate, as I've tried disregarding Baguazhang, belittling it in favour of other martial arts, and even insulting it, but it doesn't seem to be a fancy that would go away when in fact all those negative actions immediately caused me to develop great sadness and break out in tears, so to my experience I should now treat the art of Baguazhang with uttermost respect. How unusual it is that a martial art chooses you and not the other way around? It feels very comforting to be able to receive such a blessing, as I have no doubt that it will bring me great results in due time. However, it is still open if I should learn Taijiquan or Baguazhang for getting the best benefit in the Summer Camp and becoming a better martial artist more efficiently.

          I began Taijiquan two days ago on Monday. I immediately felt like having come home: relaxing into the Three Circle Stance was natural and activated a powerful chi flow into my dantien. The internal force training felt very flowing and soothing, but it definitely had high volume to it, much higher than what Lohan Art regularly would produce. Practicing the stances seems great fun, especially since my Bow-Arrow Stance had gotten much more pleasant and fluid just before Dublin.

          Modest appraisal: This year might turn out to be my best so far. I have met so many incredible new people and learned so much in life-giving skills that I am speechless and in tears again trying to grasp a sober thought on how to express my feelings. Thank you everyone for having me among you with such kindness! My heart goes out for my Sifu and Sigung who have given new meaning to my life.

          With sincere gratitude,
          Olli
          Last edited by understanding; 15th March 2016, 11:41 PM. Reason: grammar

          Comment


          • #6
            Almost there!

            ~ Taijiquan Springs into Summer ~

            I had to make at least one update before the UK Summer Camp, so here it is.

            My beginner Taijiquan got completed on last week's Monday, and the course was really great overall. The benefits and intensity of Kungfu is far greater than what just mere Chi Kung could provide and it's not just the the time we are supposed to invest into it. There's Chi Kung, force training, stance training, sequence training, training on form-level and the skill of generating energy through Kungfu, combat application, and Art of Flexibility. All of them are good stuff and could work as independent practices.

            I've improved in many ways. My flexibility has grown a bit, but most importantly my footwork has gotten much more solid and agile than what it was in the beginning, although there is plenty to achieve still. Then midway the course my energy flows started to grow very wild and there has been more emotion involved than ever before. Cleansing can be so harsh! I had not expected that the finishing stages would have all my anxiety, sadness, and anger surface so strongly for their last moments. Then again, my Wahnam Family members here rarely have uncomfortable experiences to share regarding to their Chi Kung, and rightly so. I had to cut down my practice into just basic Chi Kung twice daily to just avoid being agitated all the time. It's a bit unfortunate timing considering the looming UK Summer Camp, but avoiding overtraining and overcleansing takes priority. I have had enough rest now, so I'll reintroduce Taijiquan today.

            I wish I could unwrap more of the Dublin gifts now or soon, even just the basic stuff and not Cosmic Shower nor Merging with the Cosmos, but the depth of Sigung's teaching is so great that at this time it would be way too much. I have to take this into consideration when I'm planning to take more courses with him. I have come to understand why diversifying too soon will not be helpful. Fortunately all the courses I had and have planned with him this year are thematically "simple" and recurring, so it's easy to focus on skills, which is the decisive factor for getting the great benefits we do.

            There have been moments of wonderful relief interwoven into this intense cleansing. On Sunday 8th of May I experienced for the first time what it may feel like to be completely rid of all lingering illness. It's a cruel irony that I have forgotten how I used to feel like before I got sick, so I can't even compare if what I encountered was even better than anything I had ever witnessed on daily basis. I suspecting that once I'm cleared of my internal injury I will be feeling better than ever before, since there is a feeling of dormant benefits just waiting for their time to spring.

            For the UK Summer Camp I ended up training the Taijiquan sequence which is lovely and definitely the right choice. I'm indebted to my Sifu who helped me to make the right decision and also very generously came in early few times to teach me the sequence and some of its applications.

            I am happy that I will be able to continue the whole 12 level Wahnam Taijiquan syllabus here in Helsinki in autumn. It's also great that during the summer we also have extra training outside of the syllabus.

            Thank you Sifu for your kind teaching and Sigung for making it all possible.

            With sincere gratitude,
            Olli

            Comment


            • #7
              ~ Reflections I ~

              Today I just experienced for the first time Smiling from the Heart clearly affecting the whole body and even slightly beyond. Previously it had localized as a sensation confined in the chest and now the bird has escaped the cage. All sweet and tender inside like an ice cream cone melting in a warm summer breeze.

              There have been many deep experiences since last time I wrote. On few occasions when I went outside and started walking it suddenly struck me overwhelmingly how beatiful the world is. It really felt like a huge wave swooped over me and I was simply stunned.

              An encounter prompted me to experiment how gratitude applies to vipassana or enquiry into reality. Every once in a while I have been thanking the part in me that suffers, craves, or longs for some, presumably as of yet unattained, satisfaction. The sensations associated with it are really peculiar: expansion and contraction, twisting and moving, vanishing and reappearing, and bliss. The limited self or ego seems to have become much more superficial and apparent in response if that makes any sense. Exciting progress, I must say.

              It's been really warm here in Finland. Good thing that the UK Summer Camp is soon, so that I get to enjoy a cloudy and cool summer. Haha!

              See you folks very soon in Guildford! I am so much looking into meeting people I met in Dublin and new faces in our lovely Shaolin Wahnam Family.

              With sincere respect,
              Olli

              Comment


              • #8
                ~ Summer Camp Revisited ~

                I thought Sigung looked younger than what he did at Dublin in February. Incredible!

                I experienced Monkey Play while in chi flow in Guildford for the first time even though I hadn't formally learnt it. Now I think I've had it happen four times in total, which is a good result especially considering that I somehow had been feeling very anxious in recent weeks. It sure relieves anxiety and worry by letting us feel the world as playfully as a cheeky monkey does.

                I wanted to write more subjective experiences of the UK Summer Camp here. I don't think I've ever received so forceful and obvious transmission from Sigung than we trained the stances. "LOWER!" It felt as if my legs were going to explode and I would be firing up to an Earthbound orbit by the end of the training. Somehow my mind started to beg for the end of it, although beneath the excruciating immediate sensation was a feeling of doing it just fine as it should be done. When it was over I felt so overbearingly tremendous energy in my legs that my spontaneous and urgent reaction was to just let go. Sifu Mark would have to come by and firmly tell me that Sigung had instructed otherwise - be flowingly still. Oh dear, I wonder if I had unwittingly done a great wrong. Thanks for saving me Sipak! It's probably because of the stance training that after the Summer Camp it has become more obvious how much tension I harbor in the pelvic area and how I need to keep relaxing it.

                My first time with the One Finger Shooting Zen produced a curious experience: the energy flew very strongly through my legs and especially big toes. Isn't that the spleen meridian? The skills introduced in One Finger Shooting Zen are obviously very deep and will keep yielding marvellous results for dedicated practicioners. I also started experiencing cold-like cleansing symptoms in the second day, but naturally under Sigungs teachings and using the Chi Kung paradigm that was no big deal. Still having a bit of cough though.

                One thing this intensive Kungfu course really showed to me was how clumsy, physically unfit, and outright dazed I can be, as if I hadn't gotten enough confirmation from a life's worth of experiences already. Note that even though I was aware of my faults and shortcomings I didn't worry or intellectualize about it during the Kungfu course, as it was just due course and I could really do nothing to overcome those issues for the time being. I don't mean to be reckless, but it may manifest as a natural consequence of my lack of good health and mental clarity. It was definitely a life saver how Sifus Tim, Mark and Barry kept emphasizing on taking it slowly and just relax. If I can take anything strictly positive from the course is that I didn't injure anyone despite facing a lot of sparring, and despite the fact that Mark had to admonish my handling of his head as not to wring it... I'm so sorry for initially not being careful enough with the instructions and with you Mark. Generally I mostly went for slow enough pace to learn the sequences and not degrade Kungfu by unwanted improvisation. Sigung also rebuked my "embroidery kicks and flowery fists," but maybe he really saw that I could've made some easy improvement already there? Bringing the whole package of correct form, timing and spacing, bridging and covering, and smart application was hard enough for my low level, even without the skill of letting chi flow from dan tien and giving you the necessary speed and power. Nevertheless, as I mentioned in the Summer Camp thread, it seemed to get better by the end of the Xingyiquan sparring session, after which I experienced for the first time how chi flows can produce a spiritual expansion. When through practice I learn to utilize the chi flows better for work and Kungfu, I am certain that my performance will be greatly enhanced without sacrificing any of the other underlying skills.

                Hopefully you all understand that I have been going through great motions to improve myself, but the progress has been unfortunately painful and hard through the years. The review which I wrote on the Summer Camp thread prompted a few thoughtful comments which I greatly appreciated. Before posting my review I had given it a thought that it probably served us well to make us go through an unexpected challenge of learning much more and breaking through it. It just happened to hit me on a very personal note, and even so although most of you might have seen it as directed to others, it was more self-criticism than anything else. In fact, having another look on my criticism actually makes me think that it almost borders self-loathing. My life has been very difficult, and it was quite a divine inspiration or some unearthly encouragement that got me to reshuffle my life and apply to Helsinki University in 2014. By the end of the first year I would feel getting seriously wound out again, and it hasn't really gotten much better yet despite having done Chi Kung for almost nine months now. I feel easily overtaxed by simple and even enjoyable things like studying. I am in a more serious shape than what most of you may have realized; even though my internal injury has gotten better, though not clear yet, my kidneys especially are still sore and and I usually feel exhausted, tired, or sleepy. In the past month I have had some very sweet glimpses of having excess vitality and really enjoying life like never before, but even then there still was some sense that my kidneys are not well. I have been trying to shelter myself and not commence in demanding labors because it has been a practical experience for many years that I could easily get worn out and be unable to finish my commitments. The second year in university has been particularly bad in this regard because now I am really struggling to finish with enough study credits in order to keep up with my studies and avoid financial difficulties. It has precisely been my preparation and natural skill that have carried me this far because studying in the proper manner is not making me feel good. Yet, without having Chi Kung providing support for my health, I would've surely had to drop out and get back to square one without any clue how to advance smartly without regressing in health and spirit. Just in this transition of my life the concepts of "unprepared challenges" and "pushing to reach further" are something I'm consciously saving for later time when I feel healthy and able through and out. Of course this kind of thinking needn't apply in a course with a high level Chi Kung and Kungfu Grandmaster, but as a precaution I probably would have disqualified myself and not take the course if I had known all it demanded. I must say that taking the course was smart and the right thing to do, regardless of the second guessing I have just explained.


                ~ How Was My Today? ~

                Today was a rather difficult day. Monday was so nice and Tuesday was good enough, but somehow now I felt uneasy at heart and lacked energy to complete any meaningful tasks, so eventually I decided go outdoors with the hopes that I could unload some of my burden. I spent quite a while time sitting in a nice spot with a view ruminating about life and turning bad experiences into good opportunities when suddenly I had an unexpected visitor: a bumble bee had decided that my feet and legs were interesting enough to crawl around with its tongue extended to my skin. I usually only get attention from mosquitoes and flys, so I valued highly to get such esteemed company. You wouldn't had known, but I actually have been very fond of bumble bees for a long time. Bumble bees make a sweet buzzing sound when hustling about in burnet rose bushes, so that I can easily spend an hour listening to their joyous labor.

                burnet_rose_bumble_bee.jpg

                The bumble bee saved me from moodiness! After that uplifting encounter I decided to try some actual Zen meditation for the first time since learning from Sigung in Dublin. It was great! I didn't manage to get as deep as I got in Dublin, but it produced peacefulness and opened my heart in a pleasant manner. There might have been some faint signs of a dhyana arising, but the main benefit was a ticklish relief in my heart. Although I didn't observe time, I'm certain that I had spent between 20 to 40 minutes in total until I spontaneously decided that this was more than good enough and shouldn't push for more, even though it seemed to get easier with deepening practice.

                All good for now.

                With sincere respect,
                Olli
                Last edited by understanding; 22nd June 2016, 08:26 PM. Reason: some spelling

                Comment


                • #9
                  ~ Taijiquan Training ~

                  Sifu had taught us basic Taijiquan Push Hands and some other things during three extra Taijiquan classes in the summer: we covered three basic kicks and dodging them, throws and evading them, and also some free sparring with kicks, which was super fun of course. Some time before learning Push Hands I had gotten interested in training sensitivity, so I was really looking forward to it. I however had very humble expectations of my progress considering how my progress hadn't often been what I had hoped it to be. To my surprise I was able to develop deep meditative experiences on our subsequent free training sessions that we organized together with my Taijiquan classmates.

                  After the first breakthrough, I've been able to develop sensitivity relatively fast. I've been able to intuitively detect when my partner's hand weighs odd and relates to tension in some specific part of his/her body. Sometimes my sense of body has vanished for a short while or I could sense my partners chi course all through him/her or just a part of his/her arm. Then there was one time that I intuitively experienced an opening in my partner's movement, and so I broke through his defence with White Snake Shoots Venom efficiently in an instant like it's supposed to be done.

                  Too bad that my physical body hasn't quite yet catched up with similar progress to these spiritual glimpses. It would be so great if I could confidently practice Kungfu more than once a week. In other words, I have had to scale more down in the quality of my training because my kidneys had started to feel quite uncomfortable from excess cleansing. It's a good sign that since then there has been a sense of strong vitaly abounding, so I'm taking this development as an extremely good sign. It's already been over 10 months of daily Chi Kung practice, so my internal injury could be completely gone any day now.

                  ~ Healing Starts from the Heart ~

                  Sometime ago, before the Helsinki Chi Kung courses and after the Guildford trip, I discovered that there indeed was something amiss with my Shen so that Smiling from the Heart didn't feel as good as it was supposed to. This was when I got to know a gentle rigpa inducing techique which enabled me to realize tangibly that the space of my heart was quite closed. After a small adjustment of allowing open awareness rise in my heart my sense of suffering got reduced and I enjoy life and Smiling from the Heart many times better. Happily enough this among my other new adjustments to daily routines have already brought significant improvements in my sleep and dream quality.

                  One thing I recently re-learned was that I really should presume less and completely have my cup empty before receiving teachings. Sifu, all the other intructors, and Sigung are really looking for the best for us, so it would be really ungrateful for me to not take heed of their recommendations even though it might sting at first for some selfishly justified reason. More so, any changes in the curriculum are only for our benefit as everyone may confirm it through direct experience. The Helsinki courses were outstanding despite the omission of Massaging Internal Organs, and especially the latter course was an absolute bombardment with some of the most advanced Chi Kung skills. Happily and completely unexpectedly, there was no obvious feeling of overtraining after this grand finale. Giving blessings after the Cosmic Shower provided two fantastic directly observable outcomes. Blessing my Shaolin Wahnam Family made me feel really close to everyone as if they really were my siblings that I grew up with, while blessing Sifu Andreas's family gave me an intuitive sense that someone smiled back at me. These might sound weird to some readers, but I've seen and heard of even stranger stuff happening in our courses.

                  Currently I am experiencing heavy cleansing, though it's mostly incorporeal. My body has started to feel surprisingly light, and my chi sensations have felt particularly integrating and nourishing despite some resurfacing old pain. Just being still is enough to produce a suffusive happiness. This might be foreshadowing the end of my internal injury at long last. One particular observation has been particularly important and timely: Smiling from the Heart and the ability to enjoy are related. Without enjoyment arising from the Heart, there can be no true experience of happiness, and therefore I now understand why my pre-Shaolin Wahnam meditation attempts were mostly unsuccessful. As odd it might sound, it's perfectly possible to use the mind to generate pleasant sensations, but not being able to enjoy any of the benefits because of a closed Heart.

                  I am extremely grateful and happy to be here sharing this beautiful moment and realization with you all good people, and in particular remember to honor Sifu and Sigung who made it possible in the first place.

                  With sincere gratitude,
                  Olli
                  Last edited by understanding; 18th August 2016, 01:16 PM. Reason: typos despite proofreading, adding some stuff :)

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    ~ Fingers Crossed ~

                    My cleansing has been going on with noticeable benefits day after day. I feel increasingly light-hearted and free in spirit, and it can be seen in that I may spontaneously smile at people, which is certainly something that I hardly ever did before. For a long time my hands had been feeling heavy and blocked because of my internal injury. You might recall from my earlier writing that after six months of daily practice my sharp pains ended, though there had remained numbness, weakness, and prickling as if chi circulation was blocked. Now strength is returning and even residual signs of illness are feeling very integrating unlike ever before. Any day now, will it be over soon?

                    Anyhow, there will be very good courses coming up in Helsinki soon. I missed Sigung's recent teaching in Norway, but our generous instructors saw that teaching it immediately would bring much benefit to continuing students. The Five Animal Play shall help me restore and harmonize my internal organs along with their respective emotions, and Taijiquan level 2 and combined sparring hours for both Taijiquan and Shaolinquan are also looming in the horizon in September.

                    ~ Surprise Fun with Xingyiquan ~

                    Then I wanted to share something that happened just now.

                    In Guildford I experienced something special with Xingyiquan. It was very difficult for me to get it flowing properly, but finally in the end I managed to break through and experienced gentle spiritual expansion during my chi flow. Fantastic. I didn't feel particularly interested in Xingyiquan, but nevertheless once back at home I had felt a strong desire to return to practicing some basic Xingyiquan force training, so every now and then I had practiced few repetitions of an abridged sequence of doing the Golden Axe Strikes Mountains x3 to have that urge served.

                    Today I suddenly recalled the concept of open eyes and Punching with Angry Eyes to train our spirit, so naturally the train of thought led me to experiment what it was like to do the Xingyiquan palm strike with fierce Tiger eyes or the mindful presence of Dragon. The spirit of Tiger induced more internal force in my strikes, but nevertheless it was the Dragon which quickly caught my attention.

                    When I did the sequence with the intention and mindfulness of the Dragon, all of a sudden I experienced something being unleashed on the third strike: not only there was now more flow and power in my palm strike, but my mind also experienced some kind of emancipation. Then as I prepared myself for another round, I was dissatisfied with my Santi stance, so I stood up and spontaneously let my intention to set the stance. To my surprise it worked perfectly and I effortlessly sunk into the right stance. I would perform about 12 repetitions with the same use of intention, and at the end of that I would fall into spontaneous laughter and chi flow, which resulted in a release. It wasn't very tumultuous but subtle and deep, so I'm thinking it was cleansing my nerves. My hands especially felt very light afterwards.

                    Life, and especially training Shaolin Kungfu, is full of fun surprises.

                    With sincere respect,
                    Olli

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      With Apologies

                      ~ Reflections II ~

                      Am I too excitable? Since my last post I've spend a few moments reflecting my life and behavior. I had made observations many years ago that I get too excited sometimes. This is not dependent on any external conditions, but it seems very much tied to some natural tendency that starts and finishes on its own.

                      It usually results in overt intellectualization in a bad way, and unfortunately I have shown some of that tendency before. Even if my motivations this time were subconsciously right to try to reach for an underdeveloped aspect of my training and even if the result was good enough to warrant writing about it, motivating the developments of more basic skills through invoking the terms and imaginary related to Kungfu animal spirits seems very fanciful and potentially distracting in hindsight. Therefore I have admit a problem of intellectualization and must guard more consciously against this deviation and whatever it might bring forth. Nevertheless, I am also now issuing an apology to Sifu and Sigung for trying to be too smart. I bow down my head in front of your feet and offer you both a cup of tea. Please forgive my error!

                      Dealing only with intellectualization might not be enough. The whole problem seems to be caused by a residual anxiety that leads to a more manic mindset. Perhaps the Monkey Play which we will be taught in the following weeks will be an effective remedy to this?

                      I also discovered that my chi flows have since my last entry become noticeably more smooth and my head also has signs of relieving the near-constant aching, which is all good.

                      With sincere respect,
                      Olli

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                      • #12
                        First Year in Review

                        ~ 365 Days of Elite Chi Kung ~

                        Yesterday I completed my first calendar year of Shaolin Wahnam's teachings. For a full year I've faithfully done at least one Chi Kung session a day. First there was a Taijiquan lesson with Sifu, and then I spent the rest of my evening in the brilliant company of Michael and Sifu Roland. It was a pleasure meeting you both!

                        Consistent practice profits well. The benefits that have come to me are incredible, and I especially cherish how my character and all of my small flaws have started to change for better. Now I pray every day, and have really taken to heart what Sigung has written about always having only good thoughs. It's tremendeously effective. I had tried to accomplish some of these changes earlier, but without the holistic toolbox of what I've learned here I couldn't help either my health or the awful out-of-place mental tendencies running loose. Everything in my life has changed for the better, there is simply no other way to express it.

                        There is one crucial goal that I didn't meet during this first year. Unfortunately my internal injury still persists, even though it's very clear how much better it is now when compared to what it used to be. The teaching and my teachers have been excellent, and I think I must've been an okay student at the very least despite my shortcomings, by just measuring and confirming how much healthier I feel after each session, so there's probaly nothing that really could help heal it faster. Nothing worrying, but merely a testament of my inability to assess my own condition and progress, and many you might know how difficult it is to truly to know yourself.

                        ~ What have I learned? ~

                        How I relate to Shaolin Wahnam now is not entirely how it was in the beginning. In my humble opinion, the most important things are not what Sifu or Sigung teaches us, the techniques and skills, but how wisely we are able to utilize and internalize the good we are shown. Of course, this is very challenging and takes a good while to acclimate because of the vast depth and breadth of our teachings. Hindsight may be unflattering, yet it is good to state that the most precious thing is how we are gradually and systematically trained to become our own healers. We are also inspired with confidence and shown good role models how to live an enjoyable life. Do I even have to mention about the bright and kind spirits I've met now on this path? Yes, I owe big thanks to all of you wonderful people that have made it clear that I don't have to be alone and can have proper help when needed. Very fortunately, I have also been corrected and set straigth a few times when my over intellectualizing had gotten on a bad track, so I consider it a blessing to receive expert guidance from a master who knows her Art.

                        The biggest obstacle to anyone's development may be the inability to clearly identify and strive to redeem any weaknesses. While training in Chi Kung and meditation, it becomes vital when trying to cleanse one's own mental blockages and unnecessary prejudices that tag along. When we address the human condition and the usual drama that comes with it, it's pertinent to separate between the person and act: so very few are able to live without inventing or carrying along an identity for the sake of selling an experience... If we happened to be thinking that our happiness was dependent upon others or any external factor, we would find it irresistable to present ourselves as capable and good for the sake of bartering for that something which always keeps escaping our grasp. It's an intrigue, or at least it may be if you want to keep it like that.

                        I have learned that the confidence of inner peace is a true sanctuary for anyone. I'm already so theoretical and intellectually driven person that it will only enrichen myself if I opened up more to the practical side of things and, most importantly, learned to become a better student instead of smarter. Once dedication, humility, and experience have fully ripened the novice skills into mastery, then it might be possible to be a truly good student first. Intellectual and whimsical notions distract from the practical side of things. Not being able to be a better student has a lot to do with my struggles with expectations and blockages of "currently not feeling good or healthy enough" which sometimes is a good reason for caution and sometimes a conventional facade which may perpetuate unhealthy thought patterns. Every healing cripple would eventually have to cast aside their crutches and start walking, even if still limping and having hard time moving about. I'm not saying that the tiredness and occasional discomfort I feel is fake, but that there's the great temptation and deception that "Oh, I feel like this and have reacted like that before, so therefore the same show should go on."

                        Becoming healthy again has everything to do with recognizing the precious opportunities to get yourself correct and avoiding ongoing mental narratives. As Sigung has stated, perception is often more important than facts. I have always been very wary of my own narrative qualities, but now having learned some Kungfu gives it an interesting twist that I haven't still figured out completely. I shall write more of that observation once I discover more, but it seems to me that the mental refinement in itself is an internal martial art.

                        That being said, there is one mistake I really wish I had done otherwise. I didn't quite understand well enough its meaning (as it also took some time for me to fully understand doing 30% of our best as not to overtrain) when Sifu told us that we should practice our Kungfu dynamically and focus on form, so that we may more easily develop internal force without overtraining and gain additional health benefit. Alas, my confidence wasn't really open enough to grasp how good advice it was.

                        Next year goals:
                        - finished with the remaining internal injury
                        - full of health and vitality
                        - lucid dreams galore
                        - learn Shaolin Eye Exercises
                        - substantial improvements to flexibility and legwork
                        - train Kungfu diligently, but not overdoing it
                        - become a better student
                        - make everyone really proud of my accomplishments
                        - travel the world, meet lovely people, take on fantastic courses
                        - lots of smiles and love :-)

                        With sincere gratitude,
                        Olli

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                        • #13
                          Do Shaolins Dream of Electric Satoris?

                          ~ Five Animal Play & Sparring Lesson with Sifu Markus ~

                          The fabled Five Animal Play began early September, and it has been a real treasure. First we learned the basics of the Bird Play which proved to be the gateway to the wildest chi flows I've had so far. Then there was the Deer, Bear, Tiger, and lastly Monkey on last Monday. The Bear was very vitalizing and refreshing, but Monkey really turned out to be another practice that I found to induce a very playful and liberating behavior. Overall I would say that the Five Animal Play has been a most useful and the funnest Chi Kung I have ever had. If there was just one technique that I would love to do for the rest of my days (far ahead ), currently I would name Five Animal Play as that.

                          This past week has been full of gratifying Monkey flows, even though all my Chi Kung has consisted of merely performing 3-4 times Lifting the Sky. It is just as Sigung wrote: Monkey Play is immensely fun. Nevertheless, I did not expect how well it would suit me, although my anxiety issues sure had been sticking long enough. There had already been some recent improvement before learning the Monkey Play, yet the health benefits of it are still very obvious: I don't think I have ever felt this harmonious and settled ever before. A lot of my residual pain also vanished like that. It made me also realize that the next year will be much, much better than I have even been daring to predict!

                          The sparring lessons have been excellent and very enjoyable as well. We are currently going through some basic skills and then we should be using just a limited range of techniques to spar with permutating classmates. As the class junior I am doing okay, and it's interesting to spar against those seniors who clearly have more internal force than what I do. It's a very good Taijiquan practice to not resist the force, but try to lead the opponent's strength against them.

                          By the way, one experience really brought into my mind one striking feature of all the instructors on whose courses or courses organized by them I have had: they all are sincerely confident and encouraging. You people seriously rock my socks!

                          ~ Kungfu Dreams ~

                          After having started the sparring lessons with Sifu Markus I had four consequetive nights with dreams of practicing Kungfu. Haha! I don't recall much of them, but I woke up feeling much more energized and refreshed than I usually do.

                          I also had my first glimpses of lucid dreaming about a week ago! For a moment I was flying across a room and it felt very vivid and exhilarating. Hopefully there is much more to come very soon.

                          ~ Overtaining, Blessings, and Learning to See the World ~

                          Unsurprisingly I have once more hit a overtraining phase, and had to cut all force training and Kungfu to zero at home. On Friday September 23th I felt a distinctive sensation that reminded me of the second skill we learned on the Essence of Shaolin Chi Kung course in Helsinki. I think it's the flesh level of Bone Marrow Cleansing, although I'm not sure what was it's name. I started experiencing a sweet energy all around me and an anticipation that it would perhaps sink and suffuse, but I just let it be. This went on intermittently for four days, until it stopped on its own. Then we learned the Tiger Play, which felt powerful and not very satisfying to me. After that the overtraining symptoms started to accumulate and manifest clearly, so I had to cut back.

                          Continuing with the theme of overtraining, most significantly it surprises me how good contributions I have managed to make despite having overtaining symptoms and irritability. I take it as a strong indication of accumulating mental clarity and overall well-being.

                          When the overtraining symptoms began to fade, I started experiencing strong chi winds inside if you recognize the sensation. However, this wasn't the end of it because it turned out that I still was overtraining in a very subtle level. I began to bless my food about a week ago, but a few days later I discovered that while casually blessing my dishes (what an idea, hah!) made them seem more attractive, colorful and bright. At first I was very confused, but then I contacted Sifu who confirmed that praying and blessing in our school are deceptively powerful, and that I may have overtrained them. It warrants to mention that while blessing I also feel a strange sensation in my abdomen, so I might have started to spontaneously develop Dan Tien or Cosmic Breathing. How embarrassing! In almost any other context that would be a magnificient development, but obviously in our school and in my condition of slight overtraining it's not the best possible outcome.

                          Now I really start to pay concentrated attention to every fine detail that Sigung and Sifu (and Sipak) share because every bit of their advice turns out to be correct and extremely beneficial. The instrumental word here is "gently", which I failed to fully comply for praying, blessing, and forgiving despite the clear instructions. I had felt so much remorse and bad conscience for my past that I really wished to pray and bless more to make it all better, so I unwisely had made them more comprehensive. That being said, my goal of making myself morally and spiritually purer and more rehabilitated has worked extraordinarily well and I feel deep ease settling inside, so the effort wasn't unsuccessful at all. Truly, I have taken Sigung's words for "always having good thoughts only" to my heart, and now it has become reflexive for me to apologize for and reassert distorted views once they arise before letting them fully vanish back into silence. I wish I had realized the possibility of having such a side-effect, and for my inexperience I clearly underestimated the power of the mind once again. Hopefully I can do more prayers and blessing in the future, as I still have a strong desire for them.

                          It's a source of much doubt, disbelief, and confusion to learn the internal arts. I'm reminded of accounts of born blind people gaining their vision in adulthood, and having difficulty relating their new visual capabilities with their established sensory experiences with other senses. I doubted myself so much that I had to ask Sigung whether there really was difference between praying, blessing, and transmitting chi. You will get to read the answer later on the regular Q&A series later.

                          There's also another meaning to that I've been learning to see the world anew: I began training the Shaolin Eight Eye Techniques yesterday with great success. It's an amazing testimonial to our Arts and the skills we are taught that just doing the gentle exercise first time really would make my spirit so refreshed without even having any Chi Flow or formal energy management.

                          I wish to dedicate another full round of thanks to Sifu, Sipak, and Sigung for sharing and teachings precious Shaolin Arts. I'm feeling so very happy at the moment, and I truly delight and cherish that I can continue to learn from you.

                          With sincere gratitude,
                          Olli
                          Last edited by understanding; 10th October 2016, 05:43 AM. Reason: thought =/= taught, I'm reaching for native level of English because this type of spelling errors are becoming more common

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                          • #14
                            Hey Olli,


                            Unsurprisingly I have once more hit a overtraining phase, and had to cut all force training and Kungfu to zero at home.
                            - To more effectively counter overtraining, instead of cutting down on kungfu I would instead recommend focusing on kungfu and cutting down on force training and chi kung. If you perform kungfu vigorously at a more external level, it is an excellent way to get rid of excess energy and to harmomize your energy flow.

                            Of course, if you emphasize force training and chi kung state of mind in your kungfu training, you will more likely aggravate the issue of overtraining. You don't necessarily have to stop training - rather lower the level of your practice as you've learned at courses with the Grandmaster and our local Sifus.


                            Best wishes,
                            Markus Kahila
                            Shaolin Nordic Finland

                            www.shaolin-nordic.com

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                            • #15
                              Hey Uncle!

                              Originally posted by Markus Kahila View Post
                              To more effectively counter overtraining, instead of cutting down on kungfu I would instead recommend focusing on kungfu and cutting down on force training and chi kung. If you perform kungfu vigorously at a more external level, it is an excellent way to get rid of excess energy and to harmomize your energy flow.

                              Of course, if you emphasize force training and chi kung state of mind in your kungfu training, you will more likely aggravate the issue of overtraining. You don't necessarily have to stop training - rather lower the level of your practice as you've learned at courses with the Grandmaster and our local Sifus.
                              Thanks for the advice, it's really good and basically what Sifu has been saying. I will do as you both have kindly suggested.

                              Right now I'm bummed with my right tight grinding up to my buttock. If I choose to have it manually reset, then I would need to take a few days off from Kungfu and let it settle safely. Otherwise I'm feeling excellent again and ready for more Kungfu.

                              With sincere respect,
                              Olli

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