In Chinese culture, the concept of “going with the flow” and not trying too hard has been highly valued, especially in the performing arts.
Jazz musician Charlie Parker advised aspiring musicians to let the saxophone play them, rather than the other way around. Similarly, in acting, being spontaneous and effortlessly responsive is crucial for a convincing performance. Simply memorising lines and attempting to act them out step by step is not enough to authentically bring a character to life. Instead, one must be able to fully inhabit the role and respond naturally to other actors in the scene.
Allowing the mind to shut off and the body to take over can be a challenge, especially when dealing with the restless “monkey brain” that keeps us awake at night. This problem also arises in more complex social situations, such as dating, where it seems that the best way to attract a potential partner is to not appear overly eager to do so. However, it can be difficult to come across as not wanting something that is desired.
In modern society, there is an excessive focus on effort and the value of working hard, which often crowds out leisure time and unstructured pleasures. We tend to overlook the importance of “body thinking,” which is fast and automatic behaviour that arises from the unconscious mind.
In areas of life where effort and striving are counterproductive, pushing harder and moving faster can lead to choking or freezing up.