Wednesday, 2 May 2012

Crisis - A Lack of Fresh Ideas #3

Building up both song and "root"


he April 8, 2012 post Crisis – A Lack of Fresh Ideas resonated with a lot of people. I’m sure we all find ourselves at some time or other in a position where we're searching for a solution to a particular problem - and the solution just doesn’t come that easily.

Martial arts training encourages not just flexibility of the body but flexibility and openness of thought as well. Because training in martial arts involves self defense, those decisions have to be adaptable to all situations. And often those decisions have to be made at high speed.

BaGua Kung Fu - flexibility of thought and action


I’d like to offer a few more solutions to the 4 highly stressful reactions to a lack of fresh ideas I wrote about near the end of the first post  –

1. No matter what you try, everything comes up flat. Your ideas feel stale. They have no oomph, no pick up.

A possible solution: please look back at my posts on Tai Chi, Wing Chun, sticky hands, etc. Follow the descriptions of song, a word in Cantonese that means so much – a relaxed state of awareness; a highly adaptable, spring-loaded form of energy and resolve; courage that springs out of a relaxed state…

Now for a suggestion that may be a little odd: drink lots of water and eat water based foods like melons, salads, etc. Relax. Think playfully. Follow a line of thought playfully and allow it go wherever it wants to. Have fun. The workings of song and the way you’ve filled up with song may already have gotten rid of your sense of desperation.

This is what martial artists do when they come up against opponents and/or situations that seem formidable. We center ourselves, fill up with song and then address the problem from the center out.

Trying to uproot a Tai Chi master


2.  Now let’s go back to the “butterfly”. To prevent flightiness – and its underlying fear – please practice what Chinese martial artists call “root”. Just like the deep roots of a sequoia tree. (When nervous “butterflies” go into job interviews or business meetings, their bodies tend to “uproot”. Tension and nervousness lifts them off the floor. Knees knock together. Shoulders stiffen up and crowd around the neck. Tension tears them up by the roots. The carpet literally slides out from beneath them).
When practising push hands, an expert in Tai Chi can make a person without “root”fly backward across a room. Martial artists without “root” lack any foundation to their skills.  

I think the same applies to everyday life.  If your job involves sales and a client doesn’t buy your idea, suddenly every nut and bolt that makes up your confidence floats up from the ground as if gravity didn’t exist. Most clients will become suspicious if they find you suddenly grasping for answers and those answers are flying up past your head faster than the rest of you. Just as suddenly, you – and your company –seem to have little substance.
Try to restore your mental and physical root. Relax with gravity. Fill up with song. Play with ideas slowly. Slowness helps maintain a state of relaxation, just as we practise in Tai Chi. Play with ideas. Fresh ideas will arrive – and they’ll be supported by a strong – and energized - foundation.

Tai Chi push hand drills


3.   Running from one thing to another looking for ideas? In Chinese martial arts, that counts as far too much yang. Too much heat. Too much fire burning. The mind is so hot that any idea that does spring up will be singed right away. Use song. Restore your balance. As a strange side bar, do the water treatment plan as in #1 or eat yellow, orangey fruits and vegetables. Your approach will now be more even and temperate, a little cooler but balanced. Your ideas will be balanced too.

4.   Taciturn, cold, too reserved…have you ever sat at a meeting with someone who sits there tight lipped, supposedly with all the answers, and later you find out she doesn’t have any answers? That’s why she’s frozen in the first place. Ideas require room temperature in order to grow. Let some sunlight in. Food – greens, reds. Colours – you got it…greens, reds. Remember, that’s martial arts feng shui.

Everything we do is in a state of balance and play – walking, sitting, sleeping, playing with the kids, working, sitting on a bus, going out with someone. Ideas play an important part in that!


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