Footnote to ‘The Ecstasy of Shaking’

Perhaps it is the core of Zen that, while practicing, your attention is shifting steadily toward your center – in Japanese Hara, ‘belly’.
Your Hara is the location in the middle of your pelvis, three fingers below the navel. Internally, the center lies on the line from the pubis to the middle of the sacrum, approximately 2.5 cm from there. In Taoist energy circulation it is known as the ‘navel center’. Maarten Houtman generally refers to it as your ‘base center’, or simply ‘your base’.
So far for the technical details.

The idea is that there is a natural center of your physical experience, and therefore of your experience of the world.
The question is that in the course of our life – already quite early – we’ve lost the contact with this natural center, in our feeling the ‘center experience’ has shifted. Where that center has established itself for you at the moment, you could feel in your body yourself. Usually the perception of it has gone up, together with our breath, and in your sense therefore will be higher up. For me the ‘center experience’ had established itself just about the solar plexus – and you know there is something weird about it, you feel a little ‘sickly’ touch there.

This ‘shift in emphasis’ is undoubtedly due to our identification with our brain activity – Maarten Houtman refers to it as ‘the thinking-feeling’ – which can be so strong, we sometimes say someone is ‘in his head’.
The basic center can also be called our ‘natural balance’, in fact the balance of our gravity. Because we attribute so much ‘weight’ to all those neural processes in our cortex – our thinking-feeling – we are out of balance.
In terms of body experience, the balance increasingly comes to lie higher up. You could say that by the evolutionary development of the thinking-feeling, our auto-sensory perception – the sensory perception of yourself – is affected: we are no longer what we are, and not who we are, we are living in a delusion.

The big ‘trick’ of Zen is that it attempts to ‘reinstall’ the base center. In physical way, this takes place by moving the breath further and further down, bringing it to the base center – which in classical Zen often involves a certain degree of coercion.
In terms of mental training, there is the trick of the ‘koan’, with which the Master as it were punctures the inflated balloon of the thinking-feeling from within, by giving you a riddle that makes you speechless. It can ‘bring you into the void’, making you – for a moment – detached from your thinking-feeling.

How does this all apply to shaking?

If you shake, you try as it were to shake up the duvet and distribute evenly, as the filling has settled itself in the top.
As a child I was a ‘shaker and bonker’, I think my practice had already started there – out of dire necessity, like for all of us.

Shaken is a standing exercise. All standing exercises – including the kin-hin of Zen – have in common that they seek to shortcut the imbalance in your energy system through contacting you with the greater whole of the earth energy.
Energy = breath = energy: You can also say that when you are standing in full attention on the earth, you are breathing through your feet. That gives the breath a huge space, where it feels to be locked up in your chest most of the time, far away from your abdomen(-breathing). The permeable feet are offering you a counterpoint to that.

If you are shaking for a longer time, you can, if you do pay attention, also notice that there is a shift in your breathing, your breath is trying to reach the belly as it were. At that stage you also do notice a mental shift: your consciousness becomes more global, has more attention to the whole – you get a little detached from the carousel of the ego. It is wonderful to stand still on your feet for a moment then, to feel how you are settled on the earth, enjoying your wholeness – until something out of your daily existence calls you off again.

Hence, ‘shaking zen’ – your Zen has been shaken a bit too.

Hein Zeillemaker

Geen opmerkingen:

Een reactie posten