Katsugen – Japanese Spontaneous Ki exercises. Quotes by Richard S. Omura, Bruce Lee and Botanic Crow. Movement and reclaiming our childhood bodies. Expressing the art of the human body.
This is a continuation of my 30 day Spontaneous Qigong Trial – Day 5. Click here for a primer of what this trial is all about.
Whilst researching my longer article on spontaneous qigong, I read through a book called ‘The Gentle Art of Wellbeing: Katsugen, by Richard S. Omura. In it he describes a kind of practice that sounds to me like spontaneous qigong, although he uses a different name to describe it.
I will discuss more about this book in my longer article, but here was a quote I picked out from it today:
“People imprison their bodies with the minds”
“Remember when you were a child? Or, if not, go to a playground and look at young children playing. They skip, hop, jump and allow the body to move as it wants without self-consciousness or inhibitions. It is only when they grow up that they lose this freedom. As they age, adults tell them what actions are proper and what actions aren’t. That is how people imprison their bodies with their minds.”
The Gentle Art of Wellbeing: Katsugen, by Richard S. Omura
This above statement is very apparent without needing to go to a park. There is a contrast between an adult who has spent years forcing him or herself into certain fixed positions like sitting and facing a computer screen. Then with a small child who is an embodiment of movement and spontaneous activity. The adult usually has backpain, shoulder stiffness and needs coffee to get through the day. The child only need a hug.
Movement represents youth
Movement is related to youth. The more active we keep, the more youthful a state we can maintain. This is why some people who have practiced any kind of sport or physical activity like yoga or martial arts for a long time – appear much younger physically than their biological age.
It is interesting that with age and self-importance comes inhibition. We tell ourselves not to be spontaneous – not to dance or sing or jump around when we become adults because it is strange and un-adultlike.
Child to adult
My 2 year old son jumps around, hops, runs, sometimes sings and laughs a lot when he feels it. He also cries, and when he is angry, to quote Osho – he ‘becomes anger’. I think a lot of children are the same. They are not inhibited. They express. In fact it is when you find a child that cannot express, is when you get really worried.
But once they go to school, they get trained to become like miniature adults. Playtime is designated to a set time and only to certain structured activities like football. They soon stop learning how to run and jump and scream.
Then when they become adults their training and inhibition is complete. And some people just go with this flow of least resistance and let the shell become fixed. Then we become old.
However, Some fortunate people find a way to continue to express their body by learning a physical art like dance, acting, singing, martial arts, weight training or other activities.
Expressing the art of the human body
There is this quote from Bruce Lee, who often talks about ‘expressing the art of the human body’. Here is a line, which I have paraphrased from a TV interview, where he discusses some of his famous film star students who came to learn from him:
“All type of knowledge ultimately means self knowledge…
They are coming and asking me to teach them, not so much how to defend themselves, or how to do someone in… but rather they want to learn to express themselves through some movement; be it anger, be it determinaton, or whatsoever.
So in other words, they are paying me to show them in combative form, the art of expressing the human body.”
I have read of simliar sentiments in other sports and physical activities by people who have attained a high level of proficiency. It is one of the reasons why it is good for a person of any age to practice something, whether it is karate as a child, salsa dancing as an adult or tai chi late into middle age. Or even the other way round.
I still remember my mother as a child would suddenly break out and start singing. It was always the same old songs from her childhood, and she would sing them even if other people were around.
English people are a little more inhibited, so they would always make a little embarrassed joke about her singing, but for me, I could see she was feeling naturally happy and this was her way of showing it.
As she got older and become more successful with her work, her shell hardened. She took on the additonal stresses and bad habits that can come with that kind of success (she is a lawyer). She also stopped singing.
Although there were many occasions where she would joke with friends and talk enthusiastically about holidays at parties, I never felt that same level of natural happiness that came from when she was a young unemployed single mother, and much poorer, but often singing.
Spontaneous Qi is also a metaphor for a spontaneous life
Spontaneous Qi is perhaps a way to let go the seriousness of the body. To do something a little bizarre like this Spontaneous Qi Practice and then write about it for everyone to know about, is perhaps a way for me to undo my adult-training.
Also for me to write my zombie love story is another way for me to reconnect to my inner child and spontaneous natural life. Because creativity and expression is at the essence of freedom and youth.
If we want to free ourselves of our shells, which contain within its hardened walls – all of life’s hurts and injustices against us; it is creativity and expression that will help crack it open. These are ways for me to recapture some youth and to stop taking myself too seriously. I think this can work for everyone.
And I do feel more relaxed after taking on this trial. I don’t care that it may seem strange to people reading it as it makes me feel a lot freer. Before I cared too much what people thought.
I had received this comment in a previous blog entry:
“I had noted your reflection of opening yourself to comment, whereas previously you had the comments area closed. Could this be something arriving in yourself more through the practice in a spontaneous fashion, than my own interaction with you?”
This is right. Before I did not care for comments because I didn’t want to be criticised or judged. I suppose I am afraid. Whilst doing this trial, I have become less bothered about how people look at me.
However, this is not complete, there have been some incidents recently that made me realise, I have some hangups still about how I appear to people, and these are issues I need to work through.
Live free and crazy
I have a friend – an acupuncturist who doesn’t seem to care that people think. He is a much more spiritual-minded person than me. He does some crazy things and when he tells me what he did, I can’t help but laugh naturally. Like a proper belly laugh. And I haven’t had many of those since when I was a child.
Belly laughing is hugely healing for the body. It floods your body with endorphins, your stress levels drop to zero, you inhale lots of oxygen and expel lots of stale air from the lungs.
Belly laughing is really healthy and natural. It is hard to fake a belly laugh. As a child I often had belly laughs especially when we misbehaved in class. As an adult, the only time I have a belly laugh is when I joke with friends like we are children again. Toilet jokes are quite effective at bringing out belly laughs.
Enough theorising. Onto my Spontaneous Qi practice Log:
Day 5 Log
After my episode with day 4, where I practiced spontaneous qigong after a late night and on an empty stomach, resulting in me feeling a little off, I decided to make sure I had breakfast before practicing.
I had a busy day planned, so didn’t want to overdo it. Also the weather is really hot this week. I started off lying down and focused on my dantian. After a while I felt some movements in my hand and was drawn to rubbing my dantian area (belly), along with light tapping up and down my torso, including in the Lung Channel area just around the sternum area.
This went on for a few minutes, and then I decided to stand and let the Qi movements become more active. I found myself mostly bouncing on the spot with some hand shaking, particular of my fingers. The movements were quite gentle and relaxed. I feel that my energy channels must be getting more opened up as the movements are not particularly dramatic.
After 10 minute of this, I felt the movements wanted to lead me into doing spinal twists and other types of arm movements. However, I decided to bring my practice to an end as I have a busy day planned and I want to conserve my energy a little. It is also very hot this week.
Overall it is a very gentle spontaneous qigong day’s session, but I am fine with that.
I suppose this log is a bit anti-climatic after my long bit of prose in the first half of this blog post.
In the next post, I will discuss another well known Qigong practitioner – Hui Xian Chen. I have finished reading her book and found it very enlightening. She healed herself of breast cancer with Qigong, became a teacher and then helped bring Qigong to the USA in the 1990s.
Click here for Day 6.
The Gentle Art of Wellbeing: Katsugen (page 20), by Richard S. Omura
Bruce Lee – The Lost Interview (YouTube Video)
Japanese playground – Silvia Lüthi. akupunkturplus.ch
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