Thursday, August 21, 2008

Pain in the Back

I’m the first to admit, I’m of a melodramatic nature. The refrain of my childhood was my mother saying, “Stop being so dramatic.” So when I reach some physical or mental barrier in kung fu I really do try to reign in the grimaces and groans and involuntary gesticulations of frustration, pain and exhaustion. Everyone is tired. Everyone has pain. Everyone makes mistakes.

This is what my intellect is telling me. But my emotional reactions are, as I said, involuntary, and so controlling them can be difficult. Half of the time I don’t even realize that I am doing X melodramatic thing. Still, I don’t want to look like I am trying to prove something or enlist sympathy through my expostulating, so I am trying to learn to identify and control it. I don’t want to be making excuses even if they are subconscious scowls of pain.

That being said, where’s the line from mind over matter, and when is it ok to say, “I’m hurt.”? Saturday and then last night, Xu and the Sifu both asked me if I was all right. Going to show that however much I might try, my lower back pain has reached the un-hide-able point. I don’t want to be macho and deny that I am in pain. But I don’t want to be a pansy about making excuses. My penchant for melodrama can easily lead into whining and self-indulgence. My back hurts. But it isn’t so severe I shouldn’t be able to train. And if I make the choice to train then I should train. I shouldn’t be half-assing it.

There’s always going to be something bothering me; that’s part of the cycle of building muscles and flexibility. If I’m soreness and pain free I probably haven’t been training very hard. If I am unable to push through my aches without drawing attention to myself, then I need to acknowledge the weakness in my mind or body.

Sometimes I expect too much of myself. But I can’t stand knowing that I could have trained harder but I was being lazy or scared or weak-willed. Or melodramatic. Last night, the pain was not hindering me so much as a mental incapability of pushing through. I got really frustrated and trained worse than my two week back saga warranted. And that got me more frustrated and I was really struggling just to focus on the task at hand. And when a clock is mental and not physical, that makes me feel even more frustrated because the only thing tripping me up is me. Notice the recurrence of “frustration.” It took all my energy to control the melodramatic outburst that was violently bubbling under the surface. I don’t WANT to be irrational. And I recognize when I’m doing it and still can’t seem to flatten my heart.

Tonight I am skipping training to go get acupuncture which I am hoping will benefit both my physical pain and my mental build up. Because more than pain, I am tired of psychoanalyzing myself; I just want to train.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Everybody Sign In?

We have all been through those days when somebody forgot to sign in. Shifu would ask who didn't sign in. And I would have all these thoughts going through my head:
  1. I signed in. No problem. It's not me.

  2. Did I really sign in? Did I forget today?

  3. So I walked in. Said Amituofo. And then did I sign before changing or did I change before signing?

  4. Oh phew.... Somebody else. Not me. Yay!
Have you ever wondered why Shifu is so militant about signing in? My theory is that this is just one of the rules that he likes to enforce (other than no shoes in the temple, no talking during class, etc.).

Livia offered an interesting theory today. She said the sign in sheets are on the stool facing the main altar. Whenever we sign in, we bow to the altar unknowingly paying respect to the place. That's why when we forget, Shifu makes us do it.

I guess this is one of the things at the temple that you can make it into what you want. I see it as just one of the rules. Livia sees it a little deeper.

And here are words from Livia:


Today after class Sucheela, Cheng, Natalie, and I were talking about Bowing to Sifu. As a matter of fact today was the first time I did the whole bowing thing. I just felt it was right. Also I'm planning in becoming a disciple if Sifu accepts me. We were talking about how if you want to bow you do but if you don't you don't have to. But then I mentioned something that I noticed a long time ago which is that Sifu makes sure that you sign every class and when you sign you Bow. The way the sign in sheet is facing the altar and you have to bend to sign in therefore you bow. And I think is cool even if you don't know you are bowing because regardless you are.