Addendum on boundaries:
I did not mean to imply that boundaries are bad. They are necessary to have a game. It is helpful in life to recognize what the boundaries are in any given situation, so that you can work within them, get around them, dissolve them, shift them or set them yourself. (or decide that it is not a game that you want to play)
Those of you who have done the Edge exercise know how an unawareness of where your edge is can provoke fear and indecision, tension and reactive stress. You have also seen how recognizing your edge and tolerating that uncertain energy can increase your ability to move beyond your current comfort zones and grow. (rewiring your brain)
You can think of boundaries in a similar fashion. Once you become aware of boundaries as an element of the game rather than an impediment, you can work with them. (Join me for a milkshake at the Red Planet and I’ll be glad to discuss life boundaries in depth.) Same situation with chi. Once you became aware of the existence of chi, then you became able to start working with it to cultivate, circulate and express chi.
So that brings me to the next part of our push hands discussion, which is really Gongfu. Several of you mentioned that you shy away from push hands play because you feel you are not good enough at it, or it takes too long to get good enough to win, or feel you need to be confident of your skill in order to play.
I’ll let you in on my secret here. What does “good enough” mean?
Were you good enough at walking when you first tried it? Did you give up on trying something because someone said you were not good enough?
Have you abandoned some life goals because someone or something convinced you that you could never be good enough to succeed?
Being “good enough” is an incredibly potent limiting belief. When you’ve bought into that line of thinking, then you have set up a limit on your ability to reach. You have created a box for yourself beyond which you cannot reach.
Let’s change that. The floor for push hands play is simply a willingness to be present and play. The ceiling is non-existent. There are infinite gradations of skill at the game. No matter how good you think you are, you can get better. No matter how lousy you think you are, you can get better. You may have to set aside your ego based judgments. Some teachers call this “invest in loss”. I prefer to think of it as setting aside the need to win.
Gongfu is dilligent study -work, energy, patience – over time. If you think that all you can learn from push hands is how to knock someone off balance, then I can understand how it might not be worth putting in the effort. That sounds incredibly boring.
When you work on form, chi kung, meditation, you are working primarily with your own energy, universe, perception.
When you work on push hands, you are encountering the energy of another.
You are first acknowledging the presence of another person and then learning to perceive their energy and intention, to receive and direct their incoming force and to challenge them with your own forays into their space. You are learning to be calm in the midst of motion, to control your attention, to perceive and use the exact right amount of force needed, and to receive force without fear. You are learning to re-establish your coherence when it has been disrupted by another. Staying present, or returning to the present. Staying engaged, or re-engaging after you run away. And more.
Just consider how such skills could be helpful to your life, where you are constantly being bombarded with energy flows from outside yourself.
For me, it has been worth the time and effort. And no, I don’t feel good enough – I feel that I am constantly getting better at living – cause why stop at “good enough”?
This article is part 4 of a 5-part series on Push Hands from a female perspective. Read the rest: