Maybe Sifu would also offer his thoughts on if or when letting go is inappropriate in our practice and daily lives.
How can one learn to let go better in various situations?
Sifu Andrew Barrett
Letting go is a very important requirement in chi kung training. In other words, if a person cannot let go, he cannot train chi kung; he only uses chi kung techniques to perform gentle physical exercise, like many people use Taijiquan techniques to perform Taiji dance.
Letting go may be carried out in degrees. For convenience, we may classify the extent of letting go into three levels:
- Letting go a little.
- Letting go a lot.
- Letting go completely.
Someone may argue that if a practitioner lets go for 8 minutes, and in the other two minutes he is tensed, he has not let go completely. Or, if a practitioner has let go for 5 minutes, and the other 5 minutes he is tensed, he is only average, and has not let go a lot. This is true, but we are not going to split hairs. We just use the above categories for convenience bearing in mind that chi kung terms are loose, unlike scientific terms which are definitive. We may classify the same categories as little letting go, intermediate letting go, and advanced letting go.
Basically, although this is not exact as other factors may be involved, when a practitioner lets go for 2 minutes out of his training of 10 minutes, he gets 20% benefit of his potential benefit for that training. If he lets go for 8 minutes, he gets 80% benefit.
This is the background, but understanding the background is necessary to understand the answer clearly.
If a person has over-trained, letting go completely is inappropriate in his training. If he wants to train, probably because he enjoys his training or he does not want to break his good habit of daily training, he should let go for only 20%. If he has over-trained just a little, he should let go for about 60%
How does a practitioner not let go? Or how does he let go for only 20%?
He intellectualizes. If he continuously intellectualizes, he has not let go at all. If he intellectualizes 60%, he has let go 40%.
If a person asks how he knows he intellectualizes 40%, and not 38% or 43%, he is being dogmatic. Letting go 40% is an approximation. We also have left out details like letting go lightly and letting go a lot. A practitioner who lets go a lot at 40% may let go more than another who lets go lightly at 50%.
Letting go completely may be inappropriate for some people in daily life. If all other things were equal, one who lets go more will produce better result than another who lets go less. However, other things are not equal. Some people work best under some stress. For them, letting go completely may make them lazy and produce no result.
Do these people produce better result if they do not let go at all? Generally not, but there may be exceptions. But they should not be heavily stressful; they should only be slightly tensed.
Letting go is natural. We are born with the natural ability to let go, and this natural ability is well seen in small children. But for most people, because of their ways of living and other factors, they become tensed as they grow into adulthood. So, most people have to re-learn how to let go.
It is simple to let go, though it may not be easy for many people. Just don’t do anything, especially don’t tense muscles and don’t think of anything. Practicing chi kung, genuine chi kung where there is chi flow, is an excellent way to learn letting go. If a person has practiced chi kung successfully for 6 months, he has learned how to let go for 6 months. If he has practiced chi kung for 3 years, letting go has become natural again for him.
Many people outside our school may say that it is easier said than done. It is easier to say not to tense muscles and not to think of anything, than to actually do it. Actually what they mean is that they are too lazy to do it.
We do not say it is easy for them to let go if they have been tensed and stressful habitually. But if they put in some effort and time to do it, they can eventually succeed. If they cannot let go a lot, they can at least let go a little. In my courses, virtually everyone succeeds in the first half hour.
When a person can let go in one situation, he can usually let go in any situation. However, there may be some special occasions when people are tensed or stressful, like when they practice Boxing, write a company report, or in a frightful condition.
If they have practiced chi kung from us, when they practice Boxing or write a company report, they become tensed or stressful because, usually unconsciously, they allow themselves to be so. If they have trained with us for some time, they can let go while practicing Boxing or writing a report. In Boxing or any other physical activity, they use their internal force, in writing a report or any intellectual activity, they let their mind flow, and they can, unless those who are abnormal, maintain their good health and produce better results.
When a person is in a frightful condition, despite his ability to let go at normal time, negative energy of fright is produced and results in him being frightful. If he can let go, his natural energy flow at normal time will flush out the negative energy and he will be emotionally clam again.
But if he cannot let go, or if the negative energy is very powerful, it may be locked in his body and manifested as fright for no apparent reason in the later part of his life or in later lives when he has long forgotten the condition that caused it. The same applies to other negative emotions. Practicing chi kung in our school can flush out these negative emotions, even when they were formed in previous lives.
The coming UK Summer Camp, irrespective of whether participants take chi kung courses or kungfu courses or both, is an excellent opportunity to learn or revise letting go so as to enjoy good health, vitality, longevity, mental clarity, peak performance, and spiritual joys irrespective of religion.
The above article is reproduced from the thread Applying and Deepening the Fundamental Skills of Chi Kung in the Shaolin Wahnam Discussion Forum.
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