Inertia is the resistance of any physical object to any change in its state of motion (this includes changes to its speed, direction or state of rest). It is the tendency of objects to keep moving in a straight line at constant velocity.- Wikipedia
The amount of friction or suffering people experience is directly related to the ability to move from a held position._ Sifu Fey
We have all heard about chi. It takes on some pretty mystical properties for something that is so very ubiquitous to existence. It seems foriegn, not a daily experience. However it is as common as dirt. In one way of thinking it could be described as the force of change and as you know everything is changing. You have never been here before. We have never been here before.
One of the double-edged swords of being alive is that we have this amazing body-mind. One of the jobs of the central nervous system is to take shortcuts and label experience. This is a good thing. You don’t have to put your hand on a hot stove to know that it will burn you. You don’t have to experience stepping in front of a bus because we have labeled it ”this will kill you.” No experience necessary, we have had smaller experiences in our lives of someone running into us, or accidentally walking into a tree to know that if forces meet something happens. However, this labeling is going on under the surface of our awareness all of the time, and though that double bacon cheeseburger tasted so good and felt so good when on vacation at sunset on the beach, it might not be good to eat it for every meal.
One of the reasons that I practice the Internal Arts of Chi Gung, Tai Chi, Pa Kua, Hsing I, Li Ho Pa Fa, Da Chang and the external arts of Northern Shaolin Kung Fu is because it sensitizes you to the movement of Chi. This has been made so very esoteric, with stories of great feats of strength and concentration that the mundane movement of chi which is all around us gets lost. The same way a traffic jam behaves with too many cars, the thoughts in your head can clog up too. If you drop a boulder into a river of water the moving water reacts to the obstacle causing waves, eddies, and ripples that stretch downstream. If you hold in your mind an image that your grown adult is still a child, it creates ripples and waves in the same way inside of you affecting your thoughts and actions. Living life is about managing the forces of living. You are engaging chi whether you label it chi or not.
Think about all of the schools of thought that could in many ways be studies of how we interact with Chi. Psychology, health, diet, relationships, money, the environment, medicine, physics, chemistry, and many others. The terms of each study are labels of paramount important in each discipline a precise study requires a precise language. These languages used are descriptive to their fields, but then we have to go out and live a life where language and borders of thought become a little more ambiguous. The scientist has to watch and feel the seasons change and watch the passing of themselves and loved ones from birth to death without measurement; the physicist has to deal with a child having a tantrum for no reason, the psychologist has to deal with balancing their checkbooks and the math of being mindful of the flow of money and time. It is all a flux and flow of changing situations that we call life. It is endless all of the situations that occur in life. Once again what I am saying is common as dirt, it is the universal experience of people living their lives that elude disciplines of language.
From the standpoint of a practitioner of Internal and External arts, it is all Chi moving, everything inside and out. The question becomes how do I live my life harmoniously within the stream of this inexhaustible change while at the same time know that my Body/Mind, is always creating shortcuts that dictate my experience and how I interact with that experience. Sometimes that shortcut is helpful, and sometimes that shortcut does not save me but only creates friction and suffering. The goal of any practitioner of the Internal Arts of Ancient China should be the unencumbered flow of chi through the body/mind. In reality, this also becomes the study of inertia. Learning how to sense and bring awareness to the body/mind so that you can better sense where you are not changing or flowing.
I had a great example of this in my life last week. My son graduated High School . Soon he will be moving away, to start a new chapter in life. It is a great change for him. I am happy for him. However, for a few days, I started to notice that I didn’t want to get up and play or to meditate, and I spent an entire day laying in bed and didn’t seem to get rested. Hmmm, I thought to myself “What is wrong with me”? Something is up. So after a couple of days of this behavior, I had the idea, I might be depressed, I was certainly acting depressed. Ok, so I have tools! I jumped into a very strenuous Norther Shaolin Playtime, got my pulse up, sweated, challenged my mind, played some Chi Gung and then sat down for an hour of meditation. That’s when the image hit me. I could see the part of me that was stuck. ( or at least this one part of me stuck, there are many more I assure you) My son, was not a child anymore, This is not a new thought, but I can remember when I graduated and all of the ensuing changes that happened after that moment. They became about me negotiating my life. In other words, “My work as Dad is done in one way.” He will be heading out and living his life; he will have success and failure that will be his own. Part of my mood was, in fact, accepting the new reality of my son. That was the boulder in a stream of change creating ripples that were, in fact, affecting how I was engaging life. Was he the problem. No way, it is his perfect place now to go out and live life. The tension was from my resistance to change My position. That awareness came about because of my having first noticed I was not flowing, then getting myself moving and flowing and then being able to see where the friction was occurring. I had to blend with the changing of life instead of fighting it. I had to Surrender.
When I think back to many heated experiences of kids and their parents when kids were about to leave home, I can see where the problems arise. Parents don’t want to surrender.
Life and change happen in so many ways all of the time; spouses change, people at work change, kids change, parents change, we change, the world changes. The problem arises when the Body/Mind creates a shortcut that no longer works and the friction and suffering occur when we hold fast to an old position. The art of living a harmonious life is to notice it and surrender. I can think of no better way to sensitize yourself to the flux and flow of change than playing arts designed to look at Chi and how it behaves.