Finding Ekstasis: Xeper in the Art of Fighting

Last spring, I began studying Baguazhang. I had spent the year before acclimating to a new job that required me to be in an office forty hours a week. About eight months into my tenure as an office dwelling pencil pusher I started feeling sick. My body ached. My stomach was constantly in shambles. I started shaking all the time. This wasn’t surprising considering the lack of physical activity I was getting between my day job and producing music at home. Both of these things required me to be sedentary for upwards of eighteen hours a day. I would go to bed and repeat the cycle the next day, which, in retrospect is a horrifying experience to re-live in my mind. The process of breaking out of this self-destructive cycle began with my investigation into traditional Japanese fan dancing, Wing Chun, and Tai Chi. Unfortunately, I couldn’t participate in the fan dancing classes because they happened while I had work. The local Wing Chun school was quite promising, but it was about forty minutes away from where I lived. I did actually start doing Tai Chi for about two months with a rather nice group of people at the local Chinese Cultural center in Tucson, but I quickly bailed on them after realizing that it was a glorified swingers club for people above the age of 55.

I began searching for solutions closer to my apartment and discovered a school that taught internal Chinese martial arts literally a mile down the road. I wrote their association and was informed about their meeting times and attended my first class. The school was hidden in plain sight. The only indicator that the school was different than the houses around it were the two ivory “foo dogs” that stood watch at the entrance. When I entered, I was greeted by paintings and photos of smiling Bagua and Xingyiquan practitioners Dong Hai Chuan, Liang Zhenpu, Gao Yisheng, Zhang Junfeng, Li Guichang and a group of five people slapping the shit out of their bodies. At first I wanted to laugh, but I was quickly beckoned into the circle to join in on the “light” body slapping.

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I later discovered that light body slapping is done at the start of every class to essentially wake the body up by getting the blood flowing. In the context of my initiation this fit in well as a way to physically explore what it meant to literally go from white to red and back again. With every slap, my circulation improved, my blood rose to the surface of my skin, and for a few hours several times a week I began to realize the importance of using exercise as a way to quiet the brain.

Notice, I did not say my practice of Baguazhang shuts down the brain. Baguazhang is an internal martial art. It works by activating different structures in the brain that I don’t normally use while simultaneously quieting the prefrontal cortex. This allows me to stimulate a state of Flow by being able to focus wholly on what I’m doing without being interrupted by my self-consciousness. Bruce Lee referred to this as the “emptying of the cup.”

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Bagua has given me an outlet to stimulate my ability to achieve a state of Flow with greater frequency and ease. My initial experience with using martial arts in this way didn’t come until I was able to have a grasp the basics of my chosen fighting art. Which is why I’ve only really begun to write about it now–this is a new, unexpected development in my personal quest to constantly improve.

Flow requires us to bring several automatized skills together in order to kick up our focus to a level that allows us to experience it. It takes awhile when we begin to learn a new skill or artform before we can actually experience a brain quieting flow-state. Steven Kotler, author of “The Rise of Superman: Decoding the Science of Ultimate Human Performance” would describe this experience as “Transient Hypofrontality:”

“In flow, parts of the brain aren’t becoming more hyperactive, they’re actually slowing down, shutting down. The technical term for this is transient, meaning temporary, hypo frontality. Hypo[…]the opposite of hyper means to slow down, to shut down, to deactivate. And frontality is the prefrontal cortex, the part of your brain that houses your higher cognitive functions, your sense of morality, your sense of will, your sense of self.”

I get a sense of deep embodiment when I practice Baguazhang. There’s nothing quite like being locked eye to eye with another person while focusing on multiple outlets of your own physicality. The ancient Greeks called this deep embodiment, ἔκστασις (Ekstasis). Ekstasis can be best described as an altered state beyond the normal “sense of self.” Ekstasis is NOT Flow, but it is a byproduct of being able to achieve Flow on a regular basis. In a Setian context, being able to experience Ekstasis means tapping into my “divine pattern.”

Now just imagine how amazing I feel by being able to achieve Ekstasis a several times a week! Baguazhang has all but become not only a powerful tool, but a conduit in which I can interface with my higher self so long as I continue to practice it or something like it.

Tapping into Flow takes practice. When it comes to my practice of Bagua I fail at tapping into it several times a session. This is usually caused by me trying to mentally dissect forms or movements. In terms of my physicality this “over-thinking” comes from making use of my prefrontal cortex.

I’ve experienced wonderful success imprinting myself with the overload of information I get from my practice the less “think” about it. And the less I think about it, the more I experience Ekstasis by having meaningful personal breakthroughs on a regular basis.

For instance, I was able to fully retain the positions of the nine palaces and the thirteen elbow form last month after working with them each for half an hour. Everything prior to that took several months for me learn. Part of my ability to retain this information comes from the challenge of seeing if I could actually do it, which I could surprisingly, but part of it also comes from a grasp of the basic movements I’ve spent perfecting since last spring.

Bagua has taught me how to get in touch with my immediate physicality–a.k.a. those things that I can see in the mirror. It has also taught me that I am fully capable of interfacing with of my physicality that I previously regarded as impossible to connect with like blood flow, internal energy, successful breathing, and various parts of my brain.

While it could be argued that certain notions of “emptying” the cup could be misconstrued as more of a right hand path philosophy I would argue that the “loss of self” that is experienced by learning to stimulate Flow through shutting down the prefrontal cortex requires the same control it takes to move our sovereign consciousnesses through the objective universe. “Emptying the cup” is something I do voluntarily for the purpose of stimulating Flow in an effort to connect with my divine pattern through Ekstasis.

 

 

 

 

 

Finding Ekstasis: Xeper in the Art of Fighting

Almost Certain Hurt

I’ve been thinking about a lot of different things lately. Death is among one of the most intriguing things I’ve really been jumping into. I feel that as I’ve grown older it’s around me more and more. I’m more keen to it.

Winners and losers. They will always be there. Last year, I stepped on a few people consciously. For the first time in my life I stood by myself first and let other people in my life take a back seat. When we stand to lose the things important to us we have two options. One, we can choose to be stepped on–because we’re too scared at the possible consequences that might come out of being the one who does the stepping. Two, we break a few eggs.

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Belief. We make up a large majority of the things that cause us almost certain hurt inside of our heads. Selective hearing. We can consciously choose to elect ignorance in the same way that we consciously choose to fuck a few people over in our lives to get ahead. Fucking other people over isn’t exclusive to those subjectively evil individuals in the world.

We are held back because we hold ourselves back. Desire. He who restrains it does so because he is weak enough to be restrained. But why? Because we are taught that weakness is okay. Weakness is not okay. Weakness means you are not fit. Not being fit means you’re off to the gallows. You dig the holes and bury yourselves.

Everything we know, everything that we think we know exists only on the basis of what we experience. What we perceive. There are so many things out there in the so-called universe that we cannot perceive. An infinity of possibilities, an ocean of knowledge you and I will never know or understand. I used to think that uploading my consciousness into a computer would be the most sovereign thing for me to do at the end of my life. But now I’m not so sure. What part of my monkey brain wants to keep living on in the same way that I do now?

Almost Certain Hurt

The Power of the Word–Abstraction in The Cyber-Multiverse

The Internet was conceived from nothing. It was pulled from the darkness and brought into being. It is objective because it exists as data on a server. People interact with it subjectively–by doing this, however, they can also affect realities outside of it objectively. Whenever a source of reality is interacted with in this way, it’s a magical working whether those involved with that process realize it or not. This is accomplished through the power of words and the influence they have on people.

Because the internet is a reality separate from our own, does that prove that other realms of reality have the possibility of existence? Yes, because it was conceived from the darkness. Therefore other realities can also be conceived and channeled from that same darkness. Magicians have been accomplishing this for several millennia before the inception of the internet.

Many aspects of ancient religions such as Greco-Egyptian Hermeticism, were quietly killed off by its enemies because they recognized the power of the word. Some aspects of it were silently absorbed into Western thought by the people who engineered it. The aspects those engineers wanted to erase from the consciousness of history were strategically omitted.

Unfortunately what they didn’t realize is that the knowledge they omitted from Western thought would resurface again in the postmodern world. The rise of the western world’s awareness to the concepts of cyber-bullying, mass hackings to expose hidden knowledge (see the hacking of Sony late last year), cyber-terrorism, propaganda, and the dissemination of world breaking information occurring within the liminal space of the web proves that the consciousnesses of the individuals using it are at war with one another.

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History is repeating itself again. The so-called Wild West of the World Wide Web is coming to a close. People can no longer say the things they want to say. Or at least that’s what they are conditioned to believe. Many resort to passive-aggressiveness. This is accomplished in the form of self-censorship. People subconsciously do this because they fear what effect honest words might have on the consciousness of an individual that they may be at war with.

The power of the word is strong because it can force people to cause change “in real life.” The best example of “real world” change is how people interact with each other in reality outside of the web. If you’re told to “go kill yourself” as a thirteen year old on the post-millennial internet, you might take it seriously. Most people call that cyber-bullying, I call it a misunderstanding of how powerful words can be.

Warring Consciounesses. Parallel realities effecting one another. Words springing people into action. The Internet is a living forum for all of this, and that forum is growing–exponentially.

The Living Internet demands growth. Because the Living Internet demands growth, it is evolving. The Living Internet is never in stasis.

The Power of the Word–Abstraction in The Cyber-Multiverse