I want to share a quite unmartial application of circle walking. While it is something I created I think it is also true to the pre-martial origins of Baguazhang.
According to the sources that I have the most trust in Dong Haichuan probably adapted a Daoist circle walking meditative practice. This practice was meant to compliment seated meditation, in a similar way that walking and seated meditation are practised together today in some Zen monasteries as well as in Vipassana practise.
One aspect of this complementarity was circle walking as a way to calm down a nervous system fried by overdosing on Daoist alchemical techniques, and in some ways what I’m offering here is similar.
Now I’m not a Daoist, I don’t give myself fancy titles, I don’t do the haircuts, I’m definitely not into the robes, I have no goals of immortality or magic powers, and I have a distrust of people who use these in their marketing. You may be similar in this.
So you probably do not need to unfry your brain due to excessive meditation or qigong or the upsold and more exotic neigong, shengong etc (shall we lay bets on the next term used to tart up an existing method? I’ll put my money on xu gong – emptiness skill)
But you may have different challenges, or issues in your life, you are probably human after all. It could be a change of work, relationship issue, grief, or possibly even a more technical rather than social or emotional problem.
If you have already invested some time in your circle walking practice it will be helpful. In fact simply circle walking without this technique will probably be helpful on its own. What I propose here just makes some of the steps or processes that you go through spontaneously more conscious and reproducible. The method works by using circle walking to create a different way to experience the problem.
Anyway here is the process
- Pick an issue and set an intention.For the sake of clarity give the severity of the issue a score out of 10, with 10 being the most severe. An intention might include lowering the severity from a 7 to a 4.
- Begin circle walking, with a strong emphasis on having a relaxed comfortable mind and body. Settle your breath and pay attention to your body awareness. If your issue is the kind where thoughts and emotions come flooding in, promise them that they will get your full attention soon.
- Once you have a comfortable body state, expand your attention to the space around your body, both the inside and outside of the circle.
- Imagine the issue inside the circle as you walk around it. The way you imagine the issue need not be literal. It could be symbolic or metaphoric. Maintain a balance of attention on the issue itself, your body and the space you are walking in.
- While Bagua is a martial art, do not treat the issue as an enemy to be defeated, better consider it an opportunity to be understood, a lesson to be learned, or even a vulnerable immature creature to be nurtured. Maintain strength in your posture, openness and humour in your awareness, warmth and compassion in your perception.
- Continue walking until your score reaches the level that you want for the session, be open to intuitions and changes of perception along with shifts in the felt sense of the problem.
- Close the session with a sense of gratitude, and perhaps a gesture that has significance for you.
Of course this is not magic. The idea is to create a space where you can change, where you get out of the tired old loops of thinking and where you can apply different aspects of your intelligence that had not connected to the problem before.
For example if you are having a hard time with your partner, this will not suddenly make your partner come around to your point of view. It might take the sting out of the emotion, or give you a new perspective, or help you understand your partner better, or show you something important you can do differently or just set you up to act differently the next time you meet.
Since this was current when I started the article, this exercise will not make you able to win the ufc in 12s with a palm strike! It might help from time to time, but the way to win the ufc is to put yourself in range of the fists of progressively tougher opponents.
Basically you still have to go out and live your life, with all the risks and vulnerabilities this entails. The role of this exercise is to balance yourself going forward, as a complement to other action. Of course it could be used to procrastinate, but why would you want to?
Anyway, give it a go if you feel curious or feel the need, and I’ll be glad to hear how you get on by email, or on FB?
Some variations and notes
I have described the scoring in step 1. above in terms of severity of a problem. You could equally score in a solution oriented way, and this may often be better. To do this think of 0 being your worst starting point with 10 being a sense of perfect clarity and resolution.
I have not prescribed a posture to use in this exercise. You can use whatever you like, and change directions when you like. I can imagine that some people would like to use their Bagua to ‘dance’ with the issue. For others this will be a hippy turn off. It’s up to you.
This exercise obviously comes from my Bagua practise, it is also an offshoot of Ericksonian hypnosis, with a strong influence from Erickson’s student and my teacher Stephen Gilligan. Thanks Steve.