In the modern world we are so focused outwardly – what it looks like, the appearance, what the other thinks of it. Rarely do we turn our attention inwardly. There is a pandemic of a different kind happening, one of an increasing rate of decay of relationship with ourselves. How many people now cannot stand to spend time alone with themselves without television, music, phones or some external source of distraction? We try to cover it up, to pretend it’s not there, to escape it in thousands of different ways, but in the end it’s always waiting there patiently for our attention.
What if instead of escaping, we turned our attention back towards ourselves and started working on our relationships with what is there. Typically the closer we get to ourselves, the more we will find the imperfections, the problems, the inconsistencies. The good news is, with practice we can resolve many of these problems, and learn to accept those that are there to stay – after all being human does not mean perfection.
Instead of being a victim of your internal landscape, you could get to know it thoroughly through practice, confront and deal with your problems, and live a life where you’re happy to be yourself, and be with yourself, without distraction.
I teach people to develop a habit of balanced practices designed to bring you a stable and healthy relationship with your body, breathing, emotions and mind, inspired by my experience with the Chinese and Daoist internal arts.
It is possible for anyone willing to put in a little effort to reconnect with the forgotten parts of themselves, to feel this inner landscape in extraordinary detail, to find and resolve the hidden tensions and weak links so we become unified and strong, and to forge a relationship with ourselves that will continue to grow into old age.
I have been studying the body and internal landscapes since 2003 through many perspectives, primarily the internal arts of China. I specialize in using Daoist and internal martial arts-inspired exercises to help people awaken their inner landscape by restoring the relationship to the hidden parts and confronting and resolving tensions and weak links.
Many people have walked these paths before, and it would be unwise to disregard the experience of those who came before us. Although not popular or very well known in the west, methods of this variety have been used for thousands of years in the east with great success, with many of the past masters having positions as advisors to government or other important roles in society. I did not come up with the things I teach, but I have learnt from many different teachers and always sought an underlying commonality in it all despite each teacher and tradition having its own unique vision.
As a result of this, rather than looking at a system of exercises, I became focused on the qualities that the given exercises create in a person. The exercises and techniques are not the qualities themselves, but the repetition of the technique acts as a catalyst to ignite the qualities within us. If we focus on the quality itself and practice until it is embodied in our unconscious, we can eventually do away with the exercises and allow the qualities to continue to grow in our daily activities. It is for this reason that I stick to apparently simple methods – lying, standing, shifting weight or walking, with basic motions of the arms and legs. If exercises are too ritualized and disconnected from our daily lives, it becomes difficult to bridge the moments of practice with the moments of mundane activity.
To train the internal aspects, you must first develop the external frame:
Once we open up, we begin to see that there are many areas of pathological tension that can start to release, and doing so will lead us towards a deeply relaxed system. At this stage it is counter productive to engage in heavy resistance training such as weight lifting which will encourage the system to close tightly. Relaxation in this approach is directly linked to the possibility of feeling what is going on inside the body, starting from our fundamental position and direction of travel in space, knowing the entire surface of the skin, then slowly going deeper revealing the relationship to the muscles, tendons, bones and even organs. By extension it also allows the possibility of true coordination – the ability to direct the entire body consciously.
Strengthening and Connecting the Weak Links
As we begin to relax deeply, many aspects of the body that have fallen into atrophy from disuse will be revealed. These weak links will be confronted, and slowly strengthened and reunited with the rest of the system. As this happens we go towards a more united strength, and a more robust body that distributes and uses force effectively, thereby allowing us to relax even more. This way of strengthening the body is a much slower approach but also is much longer lasting and continues to improve into old age rather than relying on the vigor of our youth.
The more we relax, the more we reveal and resolve the weak links, the more aligned and grounded we will become. Grounding means that forces (either from gravity which is always present, or from an external source such as another person or object) are able to pass cleanly through us, not getting stuck in our body at points of pathological tension and therefore giving us many more possibilities of interacting with these forces.