mandag 28. november 2011

Dealing with exhaustion

Hi guys,
I’ve been here in Wudang for five weeks now, and I’m slowly starting to settle in and find my place in the family (which means I’m at the bottom of the hierarchy symbolized by serving rice and doing the dishes after dinner). I’m making progress with my training, and I’m adjusting to life under what feels like constant supervision by my master. 

Here's a video of my practice for those of you who are not on my facebook.

The first month here was more than anything hard on my psyche. The training was unrelenting, and by the end of the first month I felt like I was running on fumes. My mood was unpredictable, and thoughts of leaving and going back to a more comfortable life started appearing in my mind with increasing frequency. I started questioning if this really was what I wanted to do. What I think was the prime contributor to my feeling down, is that I was told I wouldn’t be allowed a day off. I had three months of nonstop training to look forward to before the spring-festival, and I felt trapped. I was questioning the physical soundness of training that intensively without any time to recover.
Close to the end of my first month back on the mountain, Hallgrim Hansegård, who founded the dance company Frikar, arrived in Wudang to continue working on his collaborative dance project involving a group of Chinese Wudang Kungfu students. We decided to meet up and have a chat while he was here on the mountain. I worked up my nerve and asked my master if I could have the day off to climb to the top, the Golden Summit, together with Hallgrim, and lo and behold he answered “yes” (albeit I would have to do early morning and evening practice). Now climbing a few thousand stairs might not fit your definition of a day off when you’ve been kicking, running, and standing in horse stance for the better part of a month, but I was ecstatic about the prospect of no kicks for an entire day! Master Zhong left the day after to go to his home town for three days to take care of some business, leaving his wife, the friendly Daoist, my master’s three-month-old baby, and me to take care of the house. The next day I met Hallgrim and brought him to the house of Master Zhong. He was invited to stay for lunch and when I during our meal told Master Zhong’s wife, Xia Lingfan that he was a professional “laus” dancer, she immediately asked to see a performance. After dinner her wish was granted when Hallgrim put on some traditional Norwegian mouth harp music and gave them a performance they won’t soon forget, spinning, yipping, doing acrobatics and topping off the act by kicking a hat off a bamboo staff I was holding up high. It was truly a surreal sight to see such an amazing display of traditional Norwegian culture, in the middle of the setting I had been kicking and sweating, to the sound of my master commanding me to speed my lazy ass up.

Speaking of Norwegian culture: this is Master Zhong's daughter
wearing a Norwegian hat knitted by my friend Hilde Barstad
The day after our walk up to the top I felt reinvigorated. I had enjoyed good conversation and speaking Norwegian again. My energy was replenished, and I was enthusiastic about going back to my practice. I told Dong the friendly Daoist what an amazing effect that single day off had had on me, and he agreed that it is wise to have a day off at least once a week. "Otherwise the pressure becomes too great." “If only Master Zhong felt the same,” I said. “Hmmm, I’ll have a word with him,” he said and winked. If it wouldn’t have been hugely inappropriate I would have hugged him and professed my ever lasting love to the man right then and there. 
On the one month anniversary of my arrival in Wudang I got my first whole day off. It was a misty day, so I decided to use it for catching up on old e-mails I hadn’t replied to, and reading a book. At lunch time Master Zhong told me I had to leave the house and do something, or he wouldn’t give me a day off again. So, not wanting to tempt fate, I promptly left the house and went for walk up to the temple, muttering to myself about how unfair it was that I couldn’t even decide what to do with my own time on my day off.

I think most of my master's behaviour results from him wanting me to develop my "yi", which means my mind/will. I'm realising how much of this is just based on that. Without pushing myself and developing my yi, my Kungfu won't be going anywhere.
Ultimately, I realize how blessed I am to be in this situation, and I’m often reminded of that when I’m down by my friends. I know there will be ups and downs during my time here, and my discipline and willpower will be put to the ultimate test, but when I'm down and feel like I've just been thrown out of a vehicle moving full speed, I take comfort in the fact that the only constant here in life is change. 
Love and miss you guys,
Bjarte Ling Yuan Hiley

3 kommentarer:

  1. Nice blog post! (-: I like what you write about the "yi". Being patient with the observation of it is like waiting on the fall. It never arrives before the circle is completed. Still have a nice day Bjarte. ;-)

  2. Nathalie D. Hansen1. desember 2011 kl. 14:16

    Came across your blog Bjarte and feel very impressed and fascinated over what you describes here: great mysteries of shifu, temples and martial art. Pain and self insight.Building up and breaking down.Motivation and willpower.
    It is an amazing journey you have started. Tai ku le!Danshi ni you tai shao de xiuxi le..Feng le..Wo xiwang ni keyi you gengduode xiuxi he he hen duo de cha:)(dui bu qu,wo de putonghua shi bu ji le hen duo:P)
    Hope you will find peace in heart: The five spirits - shen, Yi, Zhi, Po, Hun
    The everlasting balance of yin he yang
    take care
    Many greetings from Nathalie

  3. Hi Bjarte. Got the invitation to read your blog today. I am very impressed, and now when I read about yi I am reminded of some articles in Aftenposten on the importance of willpower in every aspect of life. It has been neglected in Western psychology, but several recent books stress the importance of discipline everywhere.

    Thank you for sharing! Interesting and funny! That is a marvelous combination.

    Erik Kyvik Hauge