The world is complex, more complex than we can really understand. It is tempting to try and make sense when sense is not necessarily there.
This applies to movement and martial arts.
I want to tell you my story, it may save you some time.
I first discovered the miraculous when I was fifteen and started Taiji. The sense of peace and lightness and flow and the feeling of being on the edge of an even greater mystery.
You’re reading this so you’ve probably felt something like it too.
I became quite attached to this, and to me the feeling was a kind of evidence that my teacher was full of truth.
I felt disturbed when I found similar sensations in other practices, and even more disturbed when for one reason or another I did feel it in my original practice.
What do they say? ‘None so eager as a recent convert’
These miracles happen all over the place. I can attempt to distill the ingredients. I’ll be curious if you can add to them.
The main ingredient is a change in the experience of the body. The greater the change, the more revelatory the miracle can seem. It’s not that I discovered the miraculous in Taiji when I was fifteen. It’s more that I’d forgotten it for years, caught in typical adolescent turmoil.
It happens through moving or paying attention to the body in a new way. Relax. Move from the centre. Feel the floor. Swimming in Air. Support of the ground. Breath to the dan-tien. Slow down.
These are all typical entry points from internal martial arts. Of course there are others.
They change perception, the changes are real, valuable, often life changing, sometimes life saving.
The context is important too. A key ingredient is that there is a method, guidance. It could be a form, a prayer, a posture a mantra, a six step process, scriptural guidance, a way to breath.
The sense of the miraculous can also happen walking in nature, making love, during massage, on a beach or surfing. But in these contexts the miracle is not attributed to a method it happens because the environment requires a change in perception.
The trap is getting attached to the stories we tell about the miracles, the methods, the tribe where we learned it and the leaders of that tribe. Especially the leaders who use the ‘proof’ as a way to keep their followers or students under control, uncritical and obedient. Do not stray from the lineage.
I think we need tribes and a sense of belonging. I have my family family, Bagua family, my Crossfit family, my movement family and plenty of others including my human tribe, and the family of life.
The trap is when one tribal loyalty get in the way of what is deeper, more important, and more broadly encompassing. When a dear tribe is questioned it’s so easy to leap into emotion, defend and deny, or deny and offend. Especially when the leaders encourage that behaviour.
A miracle is not any final proof. It’s a starting point.
Many teachers really do have skills and information that make a difference beyond that starting point, they have methods and details. Do learn from these teachers. Commitment to a practice is not necessarily commitment to narrow thinking.
Watch your emotions too. Burning loyalty, anger, sense of insult, defensiveness, feelings of superiority are all good information that tribal loyalty is getting in the way of perception and learning.
Where do you want to put your energy?