Friday, October 20, 2017

The Heart of the Matter

On Wednesday of this week, Dr. Gungor, my cardiologist, did the angiogram test.  He decided to have a stent inserted one of my heart arteries.   The coronary angioplasty was performed by another expert surgeon.  

I'm feeling pretty good now, and seem to have recovered properly from the procedure.  Taking it easy and resting for a few days.  No shortness of breath, lightheartedness, or chest discomfort.  

I will need to take a blood thinner medicine twice a day for a year. 

Hopefully, the quality of my life with improve in the coming months.  

Wednesday, October 18, 2017

My Health Problems

I continue to have some heart problems.  Today, Dr. Gungor will perform an angiogram test at 11 am.  He will give me the good or bad news afterwards.  Yes, I am a bit nervous.  After 71 years of good health, circumstances have changed. 

The challenges of aging!  Deal with them!!

Aging Well

Tuesday, October 17, 2017

Autumn in Southwest Washington

The autumn colors in Southwest Washington are much more dramatic than in Red Bluff, California.  We are greatly enjoying the colorful display in Vancouver.
Today, we are taking a drive in the country.

Monday, October 16, 2017

Just Rest

"You've probably experienced something similar after finishing a long and difficult job, whether it involved physical labor or the type of mental effort involved in writing a report or completing some sort of financial analysis.  When you finish the job, your mind and body naturally come to rest in a state of happy exhaustion.  This perfectly effortless state of relaxation is what is meant by natural peace." ...

"First, assume a position in which your spine is straight, and you body is relaxed.  Once your body is positioned comfortably, allow your mind to simply rest for three minutes or so. Just let your mind go, as though you just have finished ad long and difficult task.
Whatever happens, whether thoughts or emotions occur, whether you notice some physical discomfort, whether you are aware of sounds or smells around you, or you mind is a total blank, don't worry.  Anything that happens or ─doesn't happen─ is simply part of the experience of allowing you mind to rest.
So now, just ret inn the awareness of whatever is passing through you mind ...
Just rest ...
Just rest ..."

"Let me confide in you a big secret.  Whatever you experience when you simply rest your attention on whatever's going on in your mind at any moment is meditation.  Simply resting in this way is the experience of natural mind." ...

"In fact, experiencing natural peace is easier than drinking water.  In order to drink, you have to expend effort.  You have to reach for the glass, tip the glass so that the water pours into your mouth, swallow the water, and then put the glass down.  No such effort is required to experience natural peace.  All you have to do is rest your mind in its natural openness.  No special focus, no special effort is required."
-  Yongey Mingyur Rinpoche, "The Joy of Living," 2007, pp. 55-58

So, I relax, breathe gently and easily, stand up straight, unloosen myself from thinking and judging, settle down into ease, rest the mind, and begin a slow and easy Taiji form ... one path to "natural peace."

Relaxation, Sung, Fang Song, Rest, Ease

Tai Chi Chuan


Sunday, October 15, 2017

October Morning Mild

“The Wheel rolls more, and Autumn returns.
Cooler the rain; the Sun lower burns.
The coloring leaves presage the Year:
All things move into harvest’s sphere.
I vow to savor fruits first picked;
nor into grief shall I be tricked.
I vow to offer what once I spurned,
and face the Turning reassured.
- Asleen O’Gaea, Celebrating the Seasons of Life: Beltane to Mabon, p. 116.

Samhain, Halloween Celebrations

"O hushed October morning mild,
Thy leaves have ripened to the fall;
Tomorrow's wind, if it be wild,
Should waste them all.
The crows above the forest call;
Tomorrow they may form and go.
O hushed October morning mild,
Begin the hours of this day slow.
Make the day seem to us less brief.
Hearts not averse to being beguiled,
Beguile us in the way you know.
Release one leaf at break of day;
At noon release another leaf;
One from our trees, one far away."
-   Robert Frost, October

The entrance to our front driveway in Red Bluff featured a seasonal display that Karen prepared.  Karen is petting our cat, King Tut, in the early morning hours. 
We now live in Vancouver, Washington.  

Saturday, October 14, 2017

Centering in Taijiquan

"1.  Develop your ability to maintain your vertical centerline as an axis from the Bai Hui downwards through the perineum.
2.  Develop your ability to always move fluidly from your center.
3.  Maintain your root so that you do not bounce up.
4.  Allow  your spirit and intention to manifest within each movement.
5.  Develop your Ting Jing skill in order to listen and perceive what needs to be perceived.
6.  Always strive to integrate the different parts of your body, as well as the different parts of your self.
7.  Always attend to stregthening the weakest part.
8.  Breath naturally.
9.  Like water, seek the most natural path.  Employ the least amount of force necessary for any given action.
10.  When issuing force forward, root down to the back and draw in the front.  When receiving for from the front, root to the front and ground down to the back.
11.  Remember that both life and T'ai Chi are temporary gifts.  Celebrate them accordingly."
-   John Loupos, Inside Tai Chi, p. 181

Here are three very good Taijiquan books by Sifu John Loupos that I have studied for a many years.  Sifu Loupos has been studying and teaching external and internal martial arts since 1966.  He has a B.S. degree in psychology.  His writing is clear, informative, insightful, and very useful for Taijiquan practitioners at all levels. 

Inside Tai Chi: Hints, Tips, Training, and Process for Students and Teachers.  By John Loupos.  Boston, Massachusetts, YMAA Publications, 2002.  Glossary, resources, index, 209 pages.  ISBN: 1886969108.  
Exploring Tai Chi: Contemporary Views on an Ancient Art.  By John Loupos.  Boston, Massachusetts,  YMAA Publications, 2003.  135 illustrations.  Glossary, index, 206 pages.  ISBN: 0940871424. 

Tai Chi Connections: Advancing Your Tai Chi Experience.  By John Loupos.  Boston, MA, YMAA Publication Center, 2005.  Index, 194 pages.  ISBN: 1594390320.       

太 極 拳

Friday, October 13, 2017

Taijiquan Cane Exercises

I enjoy practicing the following cane exercise form:

Taiji Yangsheng Zhang: Taiji Stick Qigong (Chinese Health Qigong)  By the Chinese Health Qigong Association.  Singing Dragon, 2014.  96 pages.  1 instructional DVD.  ISBN: 978-1848191945.  Brief history, warmup and cane handling, ten movement form.  VSCL.  

"A set of exciting and unusual Taiji Stick qigong exercises is presented in this accessible introduction. Embodying the concepts of taiji, the movements emphasize the harmony of yin and yang, man and nature. Appropriate for all levels of experience and for all age groups, this new set of easy-to-learn exercises distils the essence of traditional stick practice, guides body movements and the movement of the stick, and coordinates directed breathing and imagination. The book provides step-by-step, fully-illustrated instruction, and includes an account of the origins of the movements and guidance for practice. An accompanying DVD features a video demonstrating the form and additional information on its history and origins, and a CD provides options for verbal instructions to lead the practitioner through the exercises, or music to accompany them. The book is an authoritative resource that will help students and practitioners of taiji, qigong, martial arts and Chinese medicine perfect and deepen their practice. It is also an excellent practical introduction for anyone with an interest in the ancient health and martial practices of China. 

The Chinese Health Qigong Association is dedicated to the popularization of and research into Health Qigong, and is a group member of the All-China Sports Federation. Its aim is to promote and carry forward the Chinese traditional culture of health promotion and facilitate the communication between Western and Eastern Cultures."

The movements of the Taiji Yangsheng Zhang form are as follows:
Initial Stance and Opening
1.  Boatman Rows with an Oar  (Shao Gong Yao Lu)  
2.  Boat Rows Slowly  (Qing Zhou Huan Xing
3.  Wind Kisses the Lotus Leaves  (Feng Bai He Ye
4.  Boatman Tows a Boat  (Chuan Fu Bei Qian
5.  Iron Stick Calms the Sea  (Shen Zhen Ding Hai
6.  Golden Dragon Wags Its Tai  (Jin Long Jiao Wei
7.  Search for Treasure in the Sea  (Tan Hai Xun Bao
8.  Qi Returns to the Dantian  (Qi Gui Dan Tian
Closing and Ending Stance

"The Taiji Stick Health Preservation exercises embodies the concept of harmony between yin and yang, man and nature.  All the movements involved are soft and slow, and easy to practice.  This is not a "martial art," per se, and the stick is not wielded like a weapon. 
In practicing with the Taiji Stick, we should twist, turn, bend, and stretch around the waist as a center, and move our spine accordingly.
In practicing with the Taiji Stick, we need to relax our waist and hips, and keep the body upright and comfortable, adjusting the movement of the waist in harmony with the use of the stick.  If we lift the stick, we need to sink the waist and lower the qi down to the Dantian (lower belly); and if we lower the stick, we need to straighten the waist and pull up the qi to the Baihui acupoint [top of the head].  If we rotate the stick in a circle, our waist becomes the anchor, moving our body and arms.  All this illustrates the pivotal role of the waist." p. 6.  

Tai Chi Chuan Cane

Way of the Short Staff

Staff Weapons

Taijiquan Practices

Thursday, October 12, 2017

Hobbies and Enjoyment

“Mike, an old proverb says idle hands are the devil’s work. While I don’t necessarily agree with that sentiment, I do believe that hobbies are crucial for everyone. Not only do hobbies give you a chance to focus on something besides work or school, but they also give you a way to decompress.

A lifelong lover of hobbies, I’m a quilter before anything else, but I have an appreciation for hobbies in all forms. Quilting has given me the outlet I need when it’s time to recharge, and I love that I can create works of art and useful gifts for friends and family.

Because I think hobbies are great for everyone, I’ve included some excellent resources that might interest your readers. I hope you’ll find them useful. Maybe you can share them on one of your webpages.

Why Kids Need Hobbies

The Benefits Of Having A Hobby When You're In Recovery

Find Your Passion: Making Room for Hobbies

How to Start Your Own Urban Garden

11 Healthy Hobbies for Seniors

10 Hobbies That Can Pay Off

If you already enjoy a hobby in your spare time, then you know where I’m coming from. If you don’t have a hobby, I’m hopeful these ideas can spark an interest! Of course, if this information isn’t helpful to you at all, please let me know, and I won’t contact you again.”

Thank you in advance,

Martha Geoffries

My own hobbies include: reading, gardening, writing, walking, Taijiquan, Yoga/Qigong, weightlifting, and sightseeing in the Pacific Northwest.

Wednesday, October 11, 2017

Walking and Thinking

"What is it about walking, in particular, that makes it so amenable to thinking and writing? The answer begins with changes to our chemistry. When we go for a walk, the heart pumps faster, circulating more blood and oxygen not just to the muscles but to all the organs—including the brain. Many experiments have shown that after or during exercise, even very mild exertion, people perform better on tests of memory and attention. Walking on a regular basis also promotes new connections between brain cells, staves off the usual withering of brain tissue that comes with age, increases the volume of the hippocampus (a brain region crucial for memory), and elevates levels of molecules that both stimulate the growth of new neurons and transmit messages between them.

The way we move our bodies further changes the nature of our thoughts, and vice versa. Psychologists who specialize in exercise music have quantified what many of us already know: listening to songs with high tempos motivates us to run faster, and the swifter we move, the quicker we prefer our music. Likewise, when drivers hear loud, fast music, they unconsciously step a bit harder on the gas pedal. Walking at our own pace creates an unadulterated feedback loop between the rhythm of our bodies and our mental state that we cannot experience as easily when we’re jogging at the gym, steering a car, biking, or during any other kind of locomotion. When we stroll, the pace of our feet naturally vacillates with our moods and the cadence of our inner speech; at the same time, we can actively change the pace of our thoughts by deliberately walking more briskly or by slowing down."
-  Ferris Jabr, Why Walking Helps Us Think

Walking - Quotations, Sayings, Comments

Tuesday, October 10, 2017

Tao Te Ching, Chapter 35

Daodejing, Laozi
Chapter 35   

"One who holds fast to the Great Symbol
Gains the whole world
Bestows purest peace
Serenity and bliss.
Yet the hasty wayfarer
Attracted only by outer characteristics
Tastes Tao and is not aware of it
Sees Tao and does not perceive it
Listens to Tao and does not hear it.
But whoever
Grasps and holds it
Amid impermanence
Is grasped by the permanent
And attains duration."
-  Translated by K. O. Schmidt, 1975, Chapter 35

"Reside in the center
where understanding does not require words or images,
and folk will come to you to be taught
how to be serene.
Where there is good music and food
people stop to rest and regain their energy.
But though the Tao seems unmelodious or even bland
it is an inexhaustible source of refreshment."
-  Translated by Crispin Starwell, Chapter 35

"To him who holds to the Great Form all the world go.
It will go and see no danger, but tranquility, equality and community.
Music and dainties will make the passing stranger stop.
But Tao when uttered in words is so pure and void of flavor
When one looks at it, one cannot see it;
When one listens to it, one cannot hear it.
However, when one uses it, it is inexhaustible."
-  Translated by Ch'u Ta-Kao, 1904, Chapter 35 

"The owner of the biggest image attracts the whole world.
When all who come have been safely settled,
The world will then be peaceful.
Melodious music and delicious food
Can only attract passers-by.
But the Way is, when put into one's mouth, tasteless,
When looked at, colorless,
When listened to, uninteresting,
And, when used, limitlessly bountiful."

-  Translated by Liu Qixuan, Chapter 35 

執大象, 天下往.
往而不害, 安平大.
樂與餌, 過客止.
道之出口, 淡乎其無味.

-  Chinese characters, Tao Te Ching, Chapter 35

zhi da xiang, tian xia wang.
wang er bu hai, an ping tai.
le yu er, guo ke zhi.
dao zhi chu kou, dan hu qi wu wei.
shi zhi bu zu jian.
ting zhi bu zu wen.
yong zhi bu zu ji.

-  Pinyin Romanization, Daodejing, Chapter 35 

"Hold the Great Symbol
and all the world follows,
Follows without meeting harm,
And lives in health, peace, commonwealth.
Offer good things to eat
And the wayfarer stays.
But Tao is mild to the taste.
Looked at, it cannot be seen;
Listened to, it cannot be heard;
Applied, its supply never fails."
-  Translated by Lin Yutang, 1955, Chapter 35 

"Apprehend the inimitable conception, you attract the world;
coming it receives no harm, but it tranquil, peaceful, satisfied.
Like transient guests, music and dainties pass away.
The Tao entering the mouth is insipid and without flavour;
when looked at it evades sight;
when listened for it escapes the ear.
Yet, its operations are interminable."
-  Translated by C. Spurgeon Medhurst, 1905, Chapter 35 

"The owner of the biggest image attracts the whole world.
When all who come have been safely settled,
The world will then be peaceful.
Melodious music and delicious food
Can only attract passers-by.
But the Way is, when put into one's mouth, tasteless,
When looked at, colorless,
When listened to, uninteresting,
And, when used, limitlessly bountiful."

-  Translated by Liu Qixuan, Chapter 35 

"El Tao carece de forma y aroma;
No puede ser visto ni oido,
Y su aplicación no puede ser agotada.
Si ofreces música y comida
Los extraños se detienen a tu lado;
Pero si estás de acuerdo con el Tao
La gente del Mundo te mantendrá
En seguridad, salud, compañía y paz."
-  Translated by Antonio Rivas Gonzálvez, 1998, Capítulo 35 

"If you offer music and food
Strangers may stop with you;
But if you accord with the Way
All the people of the world will keep you
In safety, health, community and peace.
The Way lacks art and flavor;
It can neither be seen or heard,
But its benefits cannot be exhausted."

-  Translated by Peter Merel, 1992, Chapter 35

"Hold fast the idea of "The Great,"
Then all men will be drawn to you.  
They will come to you and receive no hurt,
But rest, peace and great calm.
When you provide music and exquisite food
The traveller will stay with you gladly.
When the Tao flows out from you to him
By his palate he does not detect its savour,
By his eye he cannot perceive it,
By his ears he cannot hear it,
But in using it he finds it to be inexhaustible." 
- Translated by Isabella Mears, 1916, Chapter 35 

Chapter 35Tao Te Ching by Lao Tzu
A Philosopher's Notebooks 

Monday, October 09, 2017

The Wonderful Hands of Tai Chi

Tai Chi's "Wonderful Hand."
Chang Cheung-hsing's "Message of His Discovery of the General Theory of Tai Chi Ch'uan."

"Totally Yin with Yang is "Soft Hand".
Totally Yang without Yin is "Hard Hand".
10% Yin with 90% Yang is "Hard Rod Hand".
20% Yin with 80% Yang is "Combat Hand".
30% Yin with 70% Yang is "Rigid Hand".
40% Yin with 60% Yang may be classified as "Good Hand".
Only 50% Yang beautifully matched with 50% Yin, without being partial to either Yin or Yang, is regarded as "Wonderful Hand".
The execution of "Wonderful Hand: is an expression of Tai Chi.
When all images and forms are completely neutralized, things once again return to their original state of "nothingness." "
- Cloud Hands, Inc. Tai Chi Chuan: The Technique of Power, p 75. By Cloud Hands Inc., 2003. 290 pages. ISBN: 0974201308. VSCL.

My teacher, Sifu Knack, once spoke of "Blood Hand." It is when you punch so hard that the blood of your opponent is on your fist.

Hands, Touching, Grasping

Push Hands in Tai Chi Chuan

Sunday, October 08, 2017

Internal Cultivation: Bai Zi Bei

Bai Zi Bei
The Hundred Character Tablet

By Lu Dongbin

Translated by Jill Gonet, MFA
Qi Magazine, 2017, Volume 27, No. 3, p.44-51

"Guidance and Instruction on Internal Cultivation by Lu Donbin"

"To nourish the vital breath, keep watch in silence;
In order to subdue the mind, act with non-action.
Of movement and stillness, be aware of their origin;
There is no work to do, much less someone to seek.
The true and consistent must respond to phenomena;
Responding to phenomenon, you must be unconfused.
When unconfused, the nature will stabilize by itself;
When the nature stabilizes, energy returns by itself.

When energy returns, the elixir crystallizes by itself;
Within the pot, the trigrams of water and fire are joined.
Yin and yang arise, alternating over and over again;
Every transformation comes like a clap of thunder.
White clouds form and com to assemble at the peak;
Sweet nectar sprinkles down Mount Sumeru.
Swallowing for yourself this wine of immortality,
You wander so freely - who is able to know you?
Sit and listen to the tune played without strings,
Clearly understanding the mechanism of creation.
It comes entirely from these twenty lines;
A true ladder going straight to Heaven!"

"Nurturing energy, forget words and guard it.
Conquer the mind, do non-doing.
In activity and quietude, know the source progenitor.
There is no thing; whom else do you seek?
Real constancy should respond to people;
In responding to people, it is essential not to get confused.
When you don't get confused, your nature is naturally stable;
When your nature is stable, energy naturally returns.
When energy returns, Elixir spontaneously crystallizes,
In the pot pairing water and fire.
Yin and yang arise, alternating over and over again,
Everywhere producing the sound of thunder.
White clouds assemble on the summit,
Sweet dew bathes the polar mountain.
Having drunk the wine of longevity,
You wander free; who can know you?
You sit and listen to the stringless tune,
You clearly understand the mechanism of creation.
The whole of these twenty verses
is a ladder straight to heaven."
Master Chang San-Feng
  100 Character Tablet, Translated by Thomas Cleary

Saturday, October 07, 2017

Tai Chi Chuan - Yang Long Form

Yang Family Style Tai Chi Chuan Traditional Long Form
By Michael P. Garofalo.
This webpage provides a list and brief descriptions of the 108 movements of the Yang Style Taijiquan Long Form divided into five sections for teaching (.html and .pdf versions available). The webpage includes an extensive bibliography on the subject, scores of Internet links, historical notes, and quotations. 

The Yang Long Form discussed on this webpage conforms to the form developed by Yang Cheng-Fu (1883-1936) and documented in books by Bu Fu Zongwen (1903-1994) and Yang Zhenduo. The numbering of the movements varies from author to author, but the essential sequence and moves remains the same.

Mastering Yang Style Taijiquan.  Bu Fu Zongwen (1903-1994).  Translated by Louis Swaim.  Berkeley, California, North Atlantic Books, 1999.  Glossary, bibliography, 226 pages.  Translations of many Tai Chi classics are included.  A list of the 85 movement long form and detailed notes and descriptions of each movement are provided.  251 movement analysis illustrations.  Over 76 of the illustrations are traced and drawn from photographs of Yang Cheng-Fu.  Detailed descriptions of the long form, pp. 26-162.  Push hands information.  Yang Tai Chi essentials.  ISBN: 1556433182.  I have found this to be an excellent book!  This book was first published in 1963 in China as "Yang Shi Taijiquan".  An informative introduction and good translation by Louis Swaim.  VSCL.    

Friday, October 06, 2017

A Positive Path in Old Age

Seven Strategies for Positive Aging

1. You can find meaning in old age.
2. You're never to old to learn.
3. You can use the past to cultivate wisdom.
4. You can strengthen life-span relationships.
5. You can promote growth through giving and receiving help.
6. You can forgive yourself and others.
7. You can possess a grateful attitude.

- Robert T. Hill, Ph.D., Seven Strategies for Positive Aging, 2008

"Do, Don't Stew." -  Dr. Albert Ellis

Smile while you are still around.

Thursday, October 05, 2017

Knowing Things Through Touching

One has eyes everywhere and knows things through touching.

"Even if one becomes blind one can still use the hands to touch the nose.
One has eyes everywhere and knows things through touching.
This is the spirit of one's heart, containing the heaven's and earth.
One can see without eyes and listen without ears.
If one is able to calm down and not be agitated by desires,
one can know that one can return to the place where one comes from."
-  Saints and Sinners Reach the Same Goal Chapter, Verses 13-18

   "Translating the Xi Sui Jing" by Kevin Siddons and Hongyan Chen
   Qi - The Journal of Traditional Health and Fitness
   Autumn 2017, Volume 27, No. 3, p. 34

Hands On: Touching, Feeling, Grasping

"Touch has a memory"
-  John Keats

Push Hands, Sensing Hands

Cloud Hands: Taijiquan