I have written before about the Zen Body-Being book by Peter Ralston. Soon after completing the book, I have started the year-long The Principles of an Effortlessly Effective Body-Being e-course as a guidance in my studies of the principles introduced in the book. So how was it?
The course was valuable for me for two reasons. First, I find it easier to practice when I get regular, focused tasks. Second, it provided me with a catalogue of varied exercises for different aspects of body-being (BB) so that I can pick what suits me at a given time and based on my focus. And I can use it as a roadmap, assuming that the aspects of BB have been presented in that particular order (at least partly) because they are easier to learn that way, and with later exercises building upon previous ones.
I believe I have made a few tiny steps in developing some of the aspects of BB (and none in other ones), first steps on a very long journey. I feel my body slightly more (though it is a very, very far cry from feeling every square centimeter), I feel a better contact with the ground and the space underground and all the three dimensions, my body and especially arms can be more relaxed. But feeling all that requires that I really focus on it, while normally I am disconnected from this awareness. So I want to work on making it more an integral part of everything I do (or, for starters, at least on remembering to feel it every now and then) so that the increased awareness becomes eventually a natural part of me.
I find the “feeling awareness extension” exercise surprisingly simple (though perhaps I am just deceiving myself :)) but most of the exercise are pretty challenging to feel at least on an elementary level, and quite a few escape me completely (such as being “freely balanced”). I plan to pick a few of the simpler exercises that I can do (somewhat) and practice them for weeks or months, varying or alternating them, or some of them, as necessary to keep the mind interested. I prefer those that I can include in other activities such as walking, at it is easier to fit them into the day. But I want to be coming eventually back to all the exercises. I assume I have enough to do for the rest of my life :-)
To sum it up, the course has been a much needed kick-off on the path to the Cheng Hsin body-being and a useful tool and resource for many years to come. I hope I will have the opportunity to enrich my practice with one of Ralston’s workshops eventually.
Note: I Liq Chuan seems as a very good way to practice the body-being principles.