At first practice was a hard taskmaster. A tyrant is how I referred to practice. Practice was something I disliked or something I had to do. Practice always showed me all the things I did not know and all the things I could not do. I could not lie to myself when I felt uncoordinated or weak in exercise and this often made me feel small and belittled. This was pushing on my ego and arrogance. I did not like being shown how little I understood of this much larger world. I could not will this away. The only way out I was to apply myself and become engaged. Need and necessity were pushing me.
Then I entered college following a path that every man in my family followed and that was engineering. There was no divine inspiration of what to do for a living so I figured I could at least get a good job as an engineer. Thus began my real world experience. Life was suddenly tuff and I quickly found I couldn’t blame anyone. In spite of my partying and trying to escape I was too ashamed to fail so I was motivated to bring myself to study. Pushed once again. My second disciple was hitting the books and I managed to keep trying to work out. Now I felt push into practice out of fear of being seen as weak or less then. I felt I had to compete to live or be alive. It was still all about self. I wanted to look good and be smart so people would recognize me. I wanted it all now with out applying myself. Practice was something I disliked and something I had to do.
The second stage of my relationship with practice I call being pulled. In the beginning I practiced exercise to stay healthy. It worked as long as I stayed with it. I stayed with this out of necessity and willful application and I had a lot of will. Real learning had not come in yet, I was merely doing. It wasn’t until I was 25 years old, unhappy with my work, relationships were unfulfilling and painful and I felt unfulfilled. Nobody in my life knew I was having a problem. I wasn’t talking to anyone. There was no exchange of Qi going between others and me. I was dying. This was the catalyst that pulled me to practice searching to find clarity. What to practice now became the question? Need and necessity were leaving and questions with some curiosity or at least puzzlement were showing up.
I had been studying martial arts for 4 years by now and I had the foundation of focus and discipline. It was at this time my first Internal arts teacher showed up in my life to teach me taiqi, qigong, baqua and xingi. The universe providing me with what I need at the right time. This stage was the beginning of going inward, the beginning of meeting my inner conflicts and finding the truth of who I am.
I had to look at what I was avoiding and the ways I avoided myself. I avoided practice by telling myself I was too busy with work, phone calls, social engagements and daily chores. Often I would tell myself I am okay, I do not need this, nobody else does this, and I need to rest, have a beer and watch a movie. Once again, the beginning something new discomfort came back up. Discomfort showed up in slowing down and being mindful. I felt stiff awkward in my movements when I thought I was in shape and comfortable in my body. My mind would get lost and forget the moves and even forget what I was doing this for. Feeling foolish showed up because it looked so foreign to the world I grew up in.