This morning a person in class asked about how doing NDBM fits in with Sussokan. He had heard a talk about Sussokan and felt confused about how NDBM could work with it. So here is a note about Sussokan and how, in my process, it relates to Qigong, Zhan Zhuang, Zazen, and Non-Directed Body Movement.
As we become familiar with Qigong, Zhan Zhuang, Zazen, and NDBM, gradually there is an energetic momentum which begins to move through the body. This momentum, or energetic fullness, is always trying to happen. It has always been there, but we were not aware of it. As we focus on it more and more, it feels like an expansion which never ends. It is the universe harmonizing through us. Doing these practices, we get in touch with this momentum, this Second breath moving through us. We may still have our normal breathing, in and out, etc etc., but there is a second breath, this expansion we get a sense of through Zazen, ZZ, Qigong, ZZ, and NDBM.
Sussokan is defined as counting the breaths and extending the breaths to the last point with our total concentration. This is what is learned in the Rinzai school of Zen as the foundation for zazen and body use for people of training. Generally when people begin Sussokan practice there is a lot of struggle and force. Breathing out to the last breath and then pushing a little bit more. Breathing into the Tanden. This is confusing at first. It takes a while to get into the process, and each person creatively discovers it in their unique way.
I am writing this post in hopes to inspire people to creatively explore their zazen and Sussokan practice. Hoping to give a slightly different view than is normally presented.
When I was at Sogenji for several months, a walking ki pressure cooker, in my overly intense way I stopped the Roshi in the hallway and asked, “What do you want from me?!” He told me he wanted me to “Get into my body right now”. So that became my practice, diving in to these body practices. Over time, what I found from getting more into my body and feeling the energy moving through me, was that this ever expanding energy and my Sussokan became the same thing. So focusing on this expansion moving through me is the same thing as extending my breaths to the last point.
As I got more and more in touch with this process, my faith grew that the universe is always guiding me, always trying to open me up. My practice greatly shifted after I discovered that. Life became about melding this process rather than trying to create my zazen. Whew! What a relief!
Gradually this process of going deeper in zazen and Sussokan becomes something we are always doing. It is not really even something we are doing, but allowing it to happen, like listening and allowing the universe to move through us. We find our breath extending as we focus on anything we are doing. Focusing our attention and breathing become the same thing. Doing Qigong, our arms moving is our breath extending. Doing Zhan Zhuang, we wake up the kinked places in our system to allow this momentum through us. In NDBM, we let go of all ideas and open up in inconceivible ways. And in Zazen those all gel into oneness.
Hopefully this little description is helpful to a few people out there on this path. I hope that you fall in love with these practices, or find your own way to bring this to fruition, and get a sense of the universe breathing through you. It shapes us, guides us, heals us, transforms us. It is so much bigger than what we can imagine. And as we become vessels for this, that momentum brings light to the world.
Take good care! Thanks for reading! Questions welcome. Please share this with anyone who might benefit.