Mental Images in the Form

Mental Images in the Form

Postby LarryC » Fri Apr 27, 2001 3:34 am

I have been using a method of mental imaging that has been enormously helpful to me in maintaining balance in the form, particularly in the separation of right and left foot, and the sole kicks, and the lotus kick.

I imagine a heavy ball (my first image was of a bowling ball) positioned in the dantian area. This ball has a vertical axis about which it rotates. When I weight my left foot, the ball begins to rotate left. When I shift to a right foot weighting, the ball immediately begins to rotate right.

I carry this imaging throughout the form. During Grasp the Bird’s Tail, for example, the heavy ball attains little rotational velocity, but I do imagine it to be spinning alternately right and left as I weight those sides of my body.

Later in the form, as I ‘rise up’ for the separation of right foot, I imagine the leftward turning heavy ball to ‘disengage from the drive’, so to speak, and then spin freely about the vertical axis at a rather rapid rate. This becomes, for me, an internal gyroscope which makes the kick more stable and comfortable.

I am amazed how much this mental imaging has helped me throughout the entire form. I see the following advantages:

1. The mental process forces one to concentrate on and distinguish not only which side is weighted, but also to ‘allow’ the ball to spin with a momentum according to the degree of ‘weightedness’.

2. Although the gyroscope effect is most noticeable during the time when one foot is lifted off the ground and is in transition to be placed in another spot, it has been helpful to also imagine this effect when both feet are on the ground, (for example during the transition of lu through ji, etc.).

3. One can also imagine that the ball becomes heavier with every breath, facilitating a ‘heavy’ lower body. I initially imagined a small bowling ball in order to easily image the weight I wanted to feel. In the future I intend to play with imagining the ball to become heavier and smaller (a lead grapefruit?), and eventually by degrees ever smaller and heavier. (A black hole in the dantian? Image)

I would like to know if anyone else has successfully used mental images of this type.
(By the way, I do not pretend that any of this has anything to do with dantian rotation, which I have heard referred to in relation to the Chen style. I know nothing about the topic.)
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Postby Jaime Marx » Wed May 02, 2001 9:10 pm

I have sometimes used the rotating dantien ball visualization and at one point I found that the most useful image. Lately I have been focusing on a different mental picture, which I discovered at a time when I was focusing my practice on the elevation of the head coupled with the relaxation of the waist. When I first began doing both correctly, the energy of the entire spine-torso united and I could "feel-see" a glowing bar of energy running straight up my back to the top of my head. This would correspond to where the chong-mei meridian is supposed to run. Shortly after that discovery I began to visualize or sense another path of glowing energy running from the sole of each foot (yongquan), up the leg, through the waist, up the torso, down the arm on that same side and out the palm (laogong). With the energy path of the torso, and the two others running the length of either side, it gave me an image of a "big butterfly" of energy. With the spine united in this way, all the balancing suddenly dropped into place, and the movement became more tranquil, continuous and unified.

Jaime
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Postby Audi » Sun May 20, 2001 8:14 pm

Hi Larry and Jaime,

When you describe "leftward rotation," do you mean "clockwise"? Also, if either of you does push hands, do you maintain this visualization then as well, and is it helpful?

I have never used the visualization you all describe, but I have used others from time to time. I have found that they help me address temporary blockages in my development, but something else usually comes along to claim my attention. As a general rule, I find that focusing on such things as Yang Cheng Fu's Ten Essentials claim enough mental space that I cannot stick with other images very long.

I intend to experiment with this visualization at an appropriate time, expecially since I am curious as to whether it could connect with proper waist movement. Thanks for the interesting ideas.

Audi
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Postby LarryC » Mon May 21, 2001 4:05 am

Audi,

When my left foot is weighted, the ball turns counter-clockwise. When I weight my right foot, it turns clockwise.

Audi wrote:
>>I have found that they help me address temporary blockages in my development, but something else usually comes along to claim my attention. As a general rule, I find that focusing on such things as Yang Cheng Fu's Ten Essentials claim enough mental space that I cannot stick with other images very long.<<

I have the same experience, and find that the mental focus of my practice varies over time. Of course, one would hope to keep all the Ten Essentials in one's attention concurrently. But I personally find that impossible. I can only hope to 'internalize' them (in the learning sense) eventually by repeatedly coming back to them in practice one at a time.

Larry
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Postby Audi » Sun Jun 03, 2001 8:18 pm

Hi Larry,

I tried out your spinning ball visualization. Although I found it helpful for certain postures or during parts of certain postures (like the kicks), I found it a little hard to mesh it with my image of waist turns, which do not necessarily correspond to weight shifts and the direction I felt the spinning ball. I presume this is something, however, that could be worked out over time.

As for my own visualizations, one that has stayed with me longer than others helps me to work on loosening and extending the joints, developing a better sense of what I understand to be ward off energy, and to link up the joints structurally to favor what I understand to be the force vectors (or "jin" paths) in the various postures and transitions.

Basically, what I do is to feel as if I am inside an underinflated transparent balloon. My task is to maximize the amount of space inside the balloon by keeping constant pressure on every point on by body that is in contact with it and trying to push out in all directions.

Because of the changing applications of the postures and our body shapes, I must vary the pressure constantly and cannot stiffen up anywhere. An important aspect of this is to maintain the visualization through every moment of the movement and not to allow the "balloon" to let up the pressure anywhere or become rigid. I feel that in order to stretch forward, I have to have equal pressure and extension backwards. Up, down, left, and right require similar attention.

Sometimes, the body shape favors maximizing a banana curve and a straight line (such as the Single Whip arms). Other times, I feel as if I am maximizing a sphere (such as in Cloud Hands).

Often, I add a sense of rubber band pressure from the palm heel of one hand to the bottom of the corresponding foot, which forces me to concentrate on maintaining a sense of ward off energy through posture transitions. Doing the same from the top of my head to the bottom of my spine forces me to pay attention to being suspended from above. Other points I visualize at various points are my elbows, mid back, or the entire curve of my ward off arms.

I even carry this visualization during the kicks, where I find any attempt to focus on balance alone robs me of any feeling of ward off energy or results in my neglecting my arms and back.

All in all the visualization also helps me to give life to aspects of the Ten Essentials such as, being suspended from above, plucking up the back, extending the elbows, coordinating upper and lower, maintaining continuity, and matching internal and external.

Let me know if you find any of this helpful.

Happy and fruitful practice,
Audi
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