“Forget not that the earth delights to feel your bare feet and the winds long to play with your hair.”
— Khalil Gibran
Have you noticed that, for all its vast benefits, technology feels draining at times? Perhaps you are better adapted to it than me. I admittedly have a limited capacity for digital distractions.
Then I begin longing to roam sun-speckled trails, especially those decorated with carpets of spongy moss and fungi-rimmed logs felled to earth by lightning. For me, an elemental elixir of sun, wind and dew must occasionally pour into my pores. Otherwise, without this primal nutrition, my modern existence insidiously fades to robotic routine.
It is easy to forget that we are humanimals possessed of powerful intellects that nonetheless often distance us from our biological selves. Our minds can virtually abstract us from the animal immediacy of our senses and surroundings. This creature instinct starves if it is not unleashed to range freely once in a while. In fact, left confined too long in the claustrophobic boxes of civilization we have built ourselves, this part of you may perish without you even realizing the loss. A sort of inner mass extinction parallels the worldwide decline in ecosystem biodiversity.
Yet we need not permanently renounce society nor its conveniences. Even a mild taste of the wild allows us to savor another side of ourselves because this ancient thread spirals in our DNA, courses in our bloodstream, seeps in our marrow. You just must realize the vitality ransomed by an overly domesticated lifestyle and then consciously invest in ways to melt yourself back into the greater reality.
Here are three simple things you can do once a day:
- Ground your self. Take off your shoes and bear your barefoot weight on the grass or soil. Notice how much your soles inform you through gravitational contact. Receive the electron coolness of this planet into your cells.
- Surf your self. Notice but refrain from rolling in your physiological waves. Your lungs inhaling and exhaling, your heart filling and emptying, your thoughts coming and going, your emotions rising and falling. Become a neutral witness to them all.
- Silence your self. For 20 minutes, forget who you think you are and be who you really are. Go beneath your identification to age, gender, persona, ethnicity, nationality, occupation, income, status, family, etc. This may be the most challenging of the three.
Of course, you can practice these without much formal instruction. There are also more codified and comprehensive paths of embodiment like Yoga, Qigong, Dance and WingChun, every one of which I have enjoyed.
However, what I personally appreciate most about WingChun is the ferocity of total presence we have to invoke for active (rather than passive) aggression. It is forceful and natural like thunder or even childbirth. More quickly and directly than anything else I know, WingChun invokes and expresses the primordial spirit within you.
In Self-Defense, you instill everything you are as a hum animal into the moment. Such totality of training awakens your will, which is your love of life as its most basic expression. This deliberate ignition of essential energy is a healing antidote to the daily grind.
And thus I am looking forward to spending this weekend with some of you along the breathtaking coast of the Marin Headlands. Honestly, I haven’t been back since Spring Camp last year, so I’m more than ready to return for some soul stimulation there. I just got goosebumps!
Soon I will pick up our IAW Grandmaster (Dai Sifu Klaus Brand) to join us at the US Headquarters in Berkeley as we kick off the 2015 Spring Event Series. He is excited to see us and have two full days to share his latest insights into the Art of WingChun Self-Defense. With 30 years of uncompromising refinement in the martial arts, Grandmaster has a rare gift generously given.
Hence, without any hestitation, I trust you will have a profoundly satisfying weekend bonding with one another, communing with the gorgeous environment and deepening your personal practice. I really want you to share this valuable experience with us but several of you have mentioned difficulties, mainly financial. If so, please reply to this email and we can arrange a personalized payment plan for you.
For more details and to register for a last-minute discount (until 12 am tonight PST), please click here.
Please note: There will no regular Kids, Basic or Advanced Classes at the Berkeley Headquarters this Saturday, April 18 due to Spring Camp.
Sifu Paul Wang