Sunday, December 31, 2006

Farewell 2006

"Should auld acquaintance be forgot
and never brought to mind?
Should auld acquaintance be forgot
and days of auld lang syne?
For auld lang syne, my dear,
for auld lang syne,
we'll take a cup of kindness yet,
for auld lang syne."
- Robert Burns

For me, 2006 was a taste of a cup of kindness.

Karen and I had no serious health setbacks this past year. We could work, play and exercise fully. We were both active with work, activities, projects, and friends. We became grandparents for the first time. We were able to make improvements on our home and garden. We were able to visit often with family, friends, and colleagues. California was a peaceful and progressive place to live during this time.

I finished and was certified in all phases of the YogaFit 200 hour training program. I attended numerous Tai Chi Workshops. I discovered the practice of the short staff. I started the Sacred Circle and finished the Bagua Zhang circle. I was able to benefit in body and mind from walking meditation.

I was able to work for 120 days for the Corning Union Elementary School District. I was able to teach 6 to 7 classes each week at the Tehama Family Fitness Center. Green Way Research was able to bring in some revenue. My LACERA retirement income and benefits remained steady. Karen's job with the Tehama County Department of Education was also a steady income source. We both look to new opportunities to increase revenues, cut costs, and diversity income sources.

I have a New Year's Resolutions list for the New Year, 2007: 11 Things to Do in 1,001 Days.

Saturday, December 30, 2006

Saying and Singing "I Can"

"A certain day became a presence
to me; there it was, confronting me -- a sky, air, light:
a being. And before it started to descend
from the height of noon, it leaned over
and struck my shoulder as if with
the flat of a sword, granting me
honor and a task. The day's blow
rang out, metallic -- or it was I, a bell awakened,
and what I heard was my whole self
saying and singing what it knew: I can."

Denise Levertov, Variation on a Theme by Rilke
(The Book of Hours, Book I, Poem 1, Stanza 1)

Friday, December 29, 2006

Qigong Lesson #55

Qigong Lesson #55
By Mike Garofalo

Two Thoughts, Reminders, and Ques for My Qigong Practice Today:
Heads Up and Seeing the Meaning.

1. Keep your head up. Your head in line with your spine. Enjoy having a lifted and relaxed head. Find exercises to help you make your head, neck, and upper back muscles stronger, coordinated and flexible. Listen up, and perk up the head and ears. Lift the top of the head to the heavens, square the head over the neck and back, allow the shoulders to relax and fall, allow the chin to gently tuck, look forward, try to stay fully present here and now, be alert, show a soft smile, keep your head up, stay focused, concentrate as needed, hold the asana of The Dignified Head of the Buddha, and do your Qigong practices.

2. Keep your eyes active and integrated in your work, games, and Qigong practices. At times, your eyes will require careful supervison and specific exercises. Your eyes will lead your thoughts, your thoughts will build your mind. The eyes can lead the mind, and the mind can lead the eyes, and the Watcher watches. Cultivate the Third Eye, and cultivate your two eyes. Discover the 1001 Eyes of All the Sensory Gates of your own body, spoken mind, senses, experiences, and the Tao. See into your true selves, the Light and darkness. See into your reasons for doing Qigong practices. Close your eyes sometimes while doing your Qigong practices.

Thursday, December 28, 2006

Tai Chi Ruler: Taiji Chih

You can check my research on the subject of the Tai Chi Ruler.
I've found a few books, teachers, Internet resources, etc.

The Tai Chi Ruler is a wooden stick about 12 inches long used in
Qigong exercises. There is some theory involved which is related
to Hand Reflexology and Hand Qigong.

Wednesday, December 27, 2006

Technique is a Whisper

Some Thoughts from John Kells:

"Put everything into the initial connexion.
The posture thereafter must spring from that connexion.
The initial connexion has to be whole-hearted.
What happens thereafter must not be a distraction.
In other words, the heart keeps pumping out that connexion.
The technique is a whisper.
What is completed between you has the feeling of an entirety – of a being.
The responsibility is to be open.

The working of the mind is too slow to deal with real life.
To be sincere in this matter is not a question of thinking about it.
Sufficient practice must be undertaken so that basic body usage is not a grinding problem.
It is impossible to describe how thorough going your dedication needs to be.
What bit of you has the wisdom to know what is unknowable?
There is no mind to deliberate or be backwards.
If there isn't a feeling of coming home and finding a lively peace within then you are missing the point.

If there is a way of life or living it has to be joining from the heart.
The eyes are so quick to translate your heart feelings.
The ground is a heart platform.
Although important the eyes have to take second place to the heart.
Be open to the connecting of your heart with the other person's heart.
If the other person wants information about you let them open their heart.
Connecting is not a personal matter.
In any real interchange it is the Third Heart that counts.
Light and embracing, but embracing as a giving from the heart rather than capturing.
And the inspiration of the Third Heart is nutrition for your becoming.
The spirit must be allowed freedom to dart about and tempt the heart at the right moment.
To be a believer is to be a positive being – a believer is someone who is becoming.
Becoming leaves no imprint.
Becoming swallows what is commonly known as destiny.
Spirit is the effervescence of real interest in something other than yourself.

The essence of true destiny is yielding.
The essence of yielding is softness.
The essence of softness is entering.
The essence of entering is welcoming openness.
The essence of openness is heart."

Grandmaster John Kells

Steven Moore and John Kells

British Tai Chi Chuan Association and John Kells

Words of John Kells

Tuesday, December 26, 2006

Right Virtue

"Liu Huayang in his Hui Ming Ching or Book of Consciousness and life which depicted a Buddhist meditation method to cultivate essence has this to say about the right person:

I sacrifice myself and serve man, because I have presented fully this picture which reveals the heavenly seed completely, so that every layman and man of the world can reach it and so bring it to completion. He who lacks the right virtue may well find something in it, but heaven will not grant him his Tao. Why not?

The right virtue belongs to Tao as does one wing of a bird to the other: if one is lacking, the other is of no use. Therefore there is needed loyalty and reverence, humaneness and justice and strict adherence to the five commandments; then only does one have the prospect of attaining something.

While Daoist immortal Lu Dongbin did not mention the importance of the cultivation of virtues in both his Secret of the Golden Flower and the Hundred Characters stele, he did later inform through his temple in Hong Kong that the cultivation of virtues is required and equally important to that of meditation.

Therefore if readers are currently concentrating on a singular cultivation – either meditation or virtues - it would be time to cultivate both if they ever want to be a right person for Tao.

"Right Person for the Tao" from A Touch of Ancients

Monday, December 25, 2006

Form Work

"The difference between Western martial arts and Chinese martial arts is that Chinese martial arts also consider internal training, breath training, not only fighting. In Western styles, the concentration is most important on fighting and that is why forms are not necessary in these types of martial art. Traditional Chinese martial arts must be with forms.

Forms training is very important in martial arts. Firstly, it links all the skill together in one continuous movement, i.e. a form as it helps train the fighting skill. Forms also develop the balance between the internal and external body and the principles of that particular style. For instance, in say Crane style, Monkey style, Tiger style, they all have different principles. They also train the breathing and co-ordination.

Forms also help the body to release any injuries that may have occurred during fighting. Of course, if the form is done incorrectly, then you are likely to injure yourself more! If a form is good, then the more healthy you will become and more skilful as well. Bad forms, the more you practise, the more injury you will get. Traditionally, forms helped prepare the student for weapons training. So after two to three year’s practice of bare hand forms, then they would begin training with a weapon."
- Michael Tse, Shaolin - Spirit of the Sword, Qi Magazine

"The catechisms of the kata are not unique to the bugei. Every Japanese art employs preset patterns given to initiates to emulate and master. The practitioner of tea performs a kata of tea preparation with precisely the same gestures and ritual as were used two centuries ago. He has learned it exactly from his teacher, who learned it in his time the same way. So it is with the kata of the bugei. Devised by warriors and refined by their successors, martial kata gradually assumed a fixed form. The modern bugeisha who assimilates and exercises them is thus tapping into a deep source of knowledge, a pedagogy that has proven itself in the firestorm of battle.
Those lacking a firsthand acquaintance with them are unlikely to take such a respectful view of the classical combative kata. They will interpret them to be a sterile, mindlessly repetitive imitation with little relevance to real fighting. For those not involved intimately with them, the appearance of kata is one of a highly choreographed ballet, with rigidly set patterns devoid of any creativity or spontaneity."
- Dave Lowry, Sword and Brush, 1995, p. 28

Sunday, December 24, 2006

Chang San-Feng's Treatise on Tai Chi Chuan, Part 1

Master Chang San-Feng’s Treatise on T’ai Chi Ch’uan, Part 1
A Taijiquan Classic by Zhang San-feng, circa 1200 CE:

“With every movement string all the parts together, keeping the entire body light and nimble. ”
- Stuart Olson

“In any action, the whole body should be light and agile, or Ching and Lin. One should feel that all of the body’s joints are connected with full linkage. ”
-Jou, Tsung Hwa

“Once in motion, every part of the body is light and agile and must bethreaded together. ”
- Yang, Jwing-Ming

“Whenever one moves, the entire body must be light and lively, and must above all be connected throughout. ”
- Barbara Davis

“Once you begin to move, the entire body must be light and limber. Each part of your body should be connected to every other part.”
- Liao, Waysun

“Move in an agile, balanced, and coordinated manner.
Once you decide to move,
The parts of the body should act together:
Feeling connected and coordinated,
As balanced as two feathers on a scale,
Strung together like pearls in a necklace,
Agile like a cat,
Lighter than moonbeams,
Mobile as a young monkey.”
- Michael Garofalo

- Master Chang San-Feng’s Principles of T’ai Chi Ch’uan.

“While making a stride, it is as quietly as a cat walks, and while putting forth strength the exertion is so mild, that it looks like reeling off raw silk from a cocoon. The movements, like clouds floating in the sky, are spry and light, but well-balanced and steady. Motion is even and fluid, the muscles neither stiff nor rigid. Breathing should be deep and even … the mind is tranquil but alert, with consciousness commanding thebody. In practicing T’ai Chi Chuan it is essential that movements be guided by consciousness and that there be stillness in movement - a unity of stillness and motion.”
- Official Chinese Instruction Manual for the “24 Movement Yang Short Form,”quoted by Howard Reid in his book The Way of Harmony, p. 90.

Friday, December 22, 2006

Happy Holidays

Garofalo and Flinn Family in 2006.

From Our Family (Karen, Alicia, April, Katie, Sean, Mick and Mike) to Yours:

Have a happy and safe winter holdiay season.
Peace on Earth and Good Will Towards All!
Merry Christmas!
Happy New Year!
Happy Kwanza or Saturnalia ...
Blessed Be.
Yuletime Greetings and Best Wishes!
Embrace the Tao!

"While snow the window-panes bedim,
The fire curls up a sunny charm,
Where, creaming o'er the pitcher's rim,
The flowering ale is set to warm;
Mirth, full of joy as summer bees,
Sits there, its pleasures to impart,
And children, 'tween their parent's knees,
Sing scraps of carols o'er by heart."
- John Clare, December

"Yule, is when the dark half of the year relinquishes to the light half. Starting the next morning at sunrise, the sun climbs just a little higher and stays a little longer in the sky each day. Known as Solstice Night, or the longest night of the year, much celebration was to be had as the ancestors awaited the rebirth of the Oak King, the Sun King, the Giver of Life that warmed the frozen Earth and made her to bear forth from seeds protected through the fall and winter in her womb. Bonfires were lit in the fields, and crops and trees were "wassailed" with toasts of spiced cider."
- Yule Lore

Green Way Wisdom - December

May we all connect in heart/mind and spirit with the Valley Spirit.

Thursday, December 21, 2006

Sword Practice in Tai Chi Chuan

"When you begin your study of jian, you should first learn each movement of the from in great detail. The ability to perform the movements correctly is basic to all other skills. It is usually best to study the form several times through from beginning to end at increasing levels of detail. After you have learned the basic movements, you should focus your attention on your footwork and stances and then become adept at controlling the range, direction, and level of your movements.
Next, you should perfect the ways you hold the sword and practice changing grips quickly and comfortably so that you can correctly execute the different movements. Jian must be held very flexibly so that the angle and thrust of the sword, especially at the edges, can be adeptly changed. An understanding of the application of the different movements can be very helpful at this point in your training.
Once your movements are correct and can be smoothly performed, you should turn your attention to the training of the internal components, shen, yi, and qi. Let your movements reflect your inner feelings. The inclusion of fighting skills in your practice at this point can help you become more aware of your feelings.
This part of your training will require a lot of time and discipline. Do not rush or become impatient. Practice regularly and with devotion and take one step at a time. It is counterproductive and dangerous to seek shortcuts. There are none to be found and the futile search for them will distract you and will make it less likely that you will ever achieve a high level of expertise.
Finally, do not forget to study Tai Chi principles. They are the essential foundation of the form and if you do not understand them, it will be impossible to attain high-level mastery."
- Zhang Yun, The Art of Chinese Swordsmanship, 1998, p.34.

Tai Chi Sword: Bibliography, Links, Quotes, Resources, Notes

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

Guidelines for Integral Practices

"Some Guiding Principles for Integral Practices and Institutions That Support Them:

They promote a simultaneous development of our various faculties.

They generally require mentors, rather than a single guru.

They require a strong and developing autonomy.

They are facilitated by personal traits that promote creativity in general.

Though they encourage individual autonomy, they require surrender at times to transformative agencies beyond ordinary functioning.

They require patience and the love of practice for its own sake.

They utilize inherited all-at-once responses, or psychosomatic compliance for high-level change.

They utilize the manifold changes catalyzed by images and altered states.

They enlist more that one mediation to achieve particular outcomes.

They surpass limits by negotiation rather than force.

They depend upon improvisation.

They utilized images of unity.

They require and facilitate conscious transitions between different states of consciousness.

They depend on a developing awareness that transcends psychological and somatic functioning.

They orient all our capacities and somatic processes toward the extraordinary live arising in us."

- Michael Murphy, "The Future of the Body: Explorations Into the Further Evolution of Human Nature," 1992, pp. 579-586.

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Spirit of Gardening Website

The Cloud Hands: Mind/Body Movement Arts Blog includes gardening in its mix of Mind/Body Arts. My wife, Karen, and I are avid gardeners, and our home in Red Bluff, California, is on five acres of land. I have many comments and suggestions about the mind/body art of gardening and most of these are posted to the Green Way Blog, the Spirit of Gardening website, and the Valley Spirit Journal rather than to the Cloud Hands Blog.

The Spirit of Gardening Website

Spirit of Gardening Wins Another Award.

"This is Cindy from Garden Site Awards. You probably didn't know, but one of your website visitors nominated your website for our "Best Garden Website Award" last week. We get over 150 nominations each week but only a couple websites are given our award. After reviewing your site, The Spirit of Gardening, we've decided you deserve this month's Best Garden Website Award. Congratulations!! Keep up the great work on your website! You have some excellent content already on it and I'm sure it will only get better."
- Cindy Meadows, 12/6/06

Other reviews and awards for the Spirit of Gardening Website.

Spirit of Gardening Gardening History Timeline Wins Another Award.

Spirit of Gardening Award

Quotes for Gardeners - Index

History of Gardening Timeline

Green Way Blog by Mike Garofalo

Word Press has a module, ShortStat, which provides daily usage information. Currently, the Green Way Blog is requested, on the average, by 560 persons each day. Since the Green Way Blog started in August, 2005, there have been 202,400 requests for this blog.

Monday, December 18, 2006

Rooting Deeply with the Legs

"The most basic method of training is zhan zhuang. Zhan zhuang is an exercise common to many Chinese martial arts, including Taijiquan. Usually, the practitioner stands with the arms held as if holding a large ball. However, the zhan zhuang exercise can be practiced using any of the end postures of the Taiji form. During "standing" practice a static posture is maintained for a period of time while using just enough strength to maintain the posture. ... Benefits of zhan zhuang include deep relaxation, strengthening of the legs, and increased internal qi. The first requirement is to have a calm mind. This can be achieved in a number of ways - for instance, concentrating on the Dantian, paying attention to one's breath, or silently counting. Through standing practice, emphasis is place upon developing awareness of maintaining the most efficient and relaxed structural alignment necessary to hold the position. Prolonged practice, along with enhancing postural awareness and tranquility of mind, greatly develops the strength of the legs. When the legs are strong and can bear weight firmly, then the upper body can relax and sink down into them, making the top more flexible. ... Taijiquan requires lightness and sensitivity in the upper body. At the same time, the lower body should have a feeling of extreme heaviness and connection to the ground. This feeling is often compared to a large tree with deep roots. While the branches move and sway in the wind, the trunk is solidly anchored by its roots."
- Davidine Siaw-Voon Sim and David Gaffney, Chen Style Taijiquan, 2002, p. 106.

Zhan Zhuang: Standing Like a Tree. Bibliography, Links, Quotes, Notes. By Mike Garofalo. 136Kb.

Sunday, December 17, 2006

In and Out of My Shadow

"I measure myself
Against a tall tree
I find that I am much taller,
For I reach right up to the sun
With my eye;
And I reach to the shore of the sea
With my ear.
Nevertheless, I dislike
The way the ants crawl
In and out of my shadow."
- Wallace Stevens

My tabby cat, Tut, walks in and out between my feet as I practice taijiquan and qigong outside of my home. He enjoys playing with me as I move. Sometimes his antics can cause me to stumble a bit, mentally and physically, but mostly our playful dance makes me smile.

As for the ants, I'm sorry that I step on a few of them as I move about. I mean them no harm as they go about their work to make a living on the earth and clean up the dead. We all have a place, in and out of the shadows.

Saturday, December 16, 2006

Walking With Soft Vision

"Start out walking a little faster than normal, and gradually slow down to a normal walking speed, and then continue to slow down until you start to feel artificial or off balance. Speed up just enough to feel comfortable, physically and psychologically. At first you may need to walk fairly fast to feel smooth in your gait, but with practice, as your balance improves, you should be able to walk more slowly. Be mindful of your breathing, without trying to control it. Allow the breath to become diaphragmatic if possible, but always make sure your breathing feels natural, not artificial. Allow the breath to become circular, and fluid.

Walk with 'soft vision' allowing the eyes to relax and focus upon nothing, while aware of everything. Smile softly with your eyes. Gradually allow the smile to spread from your eyes to your face and throughout your body. This is called an "organic smile" or a "thalamus smile". Imagine every cell of your body smiling softly. Let all worry and sadness fall away from you as you walk.

Walk in silence, both internal and external. Be mindful of your walking, make each step a gesture, so that you move in a state of grace, and each footprint is an impression of the peace and love you feel for the universe. Walk with slow, small, deliberate, balanced, graceful foot steps."
- Charles MacInerney, Walking Meditation

Walking Meditation: Links, Bibliography, Quotes, Resources, Notes

Friday, December 15, 2006

Je Ne Sais Quoi

"Flinging open the front door I strode purposefully down the walk stopping every few steps to perform a little Tai Chi. Tiger Crane paper fetching. I have found that this sort of behavior keeps the neighbors at bay. I’m trying to cultivate a little je ne sais quoi and I think I’m succeeding."
- Bill, Sugar Land, Texas

HooYa! Way to go Bill.

je ne sais quoi: 'I do not know what'; indescribable attractive attribute or quality; 'a certain something'.

We've got that "certain something" ... unique, playful, delightful, expressive. Play on T'ai Chi Ch'uan players ... play on!

Thursday, December 14, 2006

Paths of the Everyday

“We men of Earth have here the stuff
Of Paradise - we have enough!
We need no other stones to build
The Temple of the Unfulfilled -
No other ivory for the doors -
No other marble for the floors -
No other cedar for the beam
And dome of man’s immortal dream.

Here on the paths of every-day -
Here on the common human way
Is all the stuff the gods would take
To build a Heaven, to mold and make
New Edens. Ours is the stuff sublime
To build Eternity in time!”
- Edwin Markham, Earth is Enough

Green Way Wisdom - Religion

Walking, dancing, taijiquan, qigong, gardening or yoga
at daybreak are all a taste of paradise for me.
"We men of Earth have here the stuff of paradise..."
Peace to everyone.
Blessed Be!

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Tai Chi Chuan Cat Walk

Grandmaster Yang Cheng Fu described in his book, “The Practice of Taijiquan”, that “the two legs be differentiated into yin and yang, and should raise and lower as if walking like a cat”.

"The Taiji Classics state that “if the hands advance three percent, then the legs advance seven percent”. This demonstrates the importance of stance work and stepping in Taijiquan. There is also a saying which says that if one can perform a proper “Taiji Cat Walk”, it does not necessarily mean one’s Taijiquan is good, but in order to be very good at Taijiquan, one must have a proper “Taiji Cat Walk”. The legs move slowly and evenly under the control of the waist and spine while performing the “Taiji Cat Walk”. Close to half of the largest muscles groups found within the body are below the waist and abdomen. The “Taiji Cat Walk” will allow all the muscles, ligaments, joints, etc. to obtain maximum range of exercise with the least amount of resistance. The action which occurs in the legs is similar to the motion of twisting (draining) a wet towel. All of the fibers within the towel (legs) will receive varying degrees of twisting and pressure."

Tai Chi Chuan Journal, Volume 4, Number 3, Summer 2003, "Walk Like a Cat" by Greta Hill.

Walking and Tai Chi Chuan

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

Tai Chi Chuan 24 Standard Form

Standard Simplified Chinese National Version, 24 Form Taijiquan, 1956. The 24 Form is based on the Yang Style of T'ai Chi Ch'uan.

Links, Bibliography, Quotes, Notes, List of Movements

By Mike Garofalo

I recently added some links to online video resources and a couple of books and articles.

Monday, December 11, 2006

Tai Chi Chuan 32 Sword Form

If you are studying the standard 32 T'ai Chi Ch'uan sword form, you might find my webpage on the subject to be of value. If you have additional references to books, videos, DVD, articles, notes, and information about the standard 32 Taijiquan Sword (Jian, Gim) form, adapted from the Yang style of swordsmanship, please send me an email.

"The Attack Doesn't Come From Oneself:
In accordance with the principles of T'ai Chi Ch'uan, you first move after the opponent moves. It is elementary that the initiative to fight doesn't come from oneself. This shows that the T'ai Chi sword is a true method of self-defense."
- Petra and Toyo Kobayashi, Classical T'ai Chi Sword

Sword Weapons: T'ai Chi Ch'uan: Bibliography, Links, Quotes, Notes. By Mike Garofalo. 218Kb.

Sunday, December 10, 2006

Yang-Dong Tai Chi Fast Form

Catherine from Sonoma County, California, wants to know if
anyone has a list of the sequence of movements of the Yang-Dong
style Fast Set. She has not had success in searching around
to find a list.

Does anyone know where this might be found? A book? A
magazine article? A webpage? If you have a list, please
email to me.

Down But Not Out

Problems getting online all week via Wild Blue satellite ISP and my LinkySys router.
A frustrating hassle for me!

Monday, December 04, 2006

Tai Chi Chuan - Philosophical Foundations

"Tai chi existing without its philosophical foundation would become a hollow form of adult exercise, lacking not only the profundity of the art but its great health and martial arts benefits as well."
- Wolfe Lowenthal

"If you do not know how to manifest this internal understanding into martial actions, then you have only reached a low level. Similarly, if you practice tai chi chuan only focussing on the martial aspects, without pondering and understanding the theories, then the martial manifestation will be shallow."
- Yang Jwing-Ming

Taoism: Some Key Terms

Definitons provided by Roger T. Ames and David L. Hall in Daodejing "Making Life Significant": A Philosophical Translation (2003), p. 67:

wuming: Naming without fixed reference.

wushi: To be non-interfering in going about your business.

wuwei: Noncoercive action that is in accordance with the de of things.

wuyu: Objectless desire.

wuzheng: Striving without contentiousness.

wuzhi: Unprincipled knowing.

Chapter 63, Dao De Jing

"Do that which consists in taking no action;
Pursue that which is not meddlesome;
Savor that which has no flavor.

Make the small big and the few many;
Do good to him who has done you an injury.

Lay plans for the accomplishment of the difficult before it becomes difficult;
Make something big by starting with it when small.

Difficult things in the world must needs have their beginnings in the easy;
Big things must needs have their beginnings in the small.

Therefore it is because the sage never attempts to be great that he succeeds in becoming great.

One who makes promises rashly rarely keeps good faith;
One who is in the habit of considering things easy meets with frequent difficulties.

Therefore even the sage treats some things as difficult.
That is why in the end no difficulties can get the better of him."

Translated by D. C. Lau

Sunday, December 03, 2006

Meditation Benefits

Physical and Psychological Benefits of Meditation

"Deep rest-as measured by decreased metabolic rate, lower heart rate, and reduced work load of the heart.
Lowered levels of cortisol and lactate-two chemicals associated with stress.
Reduction of free radicals.
Decreased high blood pressure.
Higher skin resistance. Low skin resistance is correlated with higher stress and anxiety levels.
Drop in cholesterol levels. High cholesterol is associated with cardiovascular disease.
Improved flow of air to the lungs resulting in easier breathing.
Higher levels of DHEAS in the elderly.
Increased brain wave coherence. Harmony of brain wave activity in different parts of the brain is associated with greater creativity, improved moral reasoning, and higher IQ.
Decreased anxiety.
Decreased depression.
Decreased irritability and moodiness.
Improved learning ability and memory.
Increased self-actualization.
Increased feelings of vitality and rejuvenation.
Increased happiness.
Increased emotional stability."

Saturday, December 02, 2006

Wearing Yourself Out in Vain

"As for walking around stupas, the stupa is your body and mind. When your awareness circles your body and mind without stopping, this is called walking around a stupa. The sages of long ago followed this path to nirvana. But people today don't understand what this means. Instead of looking inside they insist on looking outside. They use their material bodies to walk around material stupas. And they keep at it day and night, wearing themselves out in vain and coming no closer to their real self."
- Bodhidharma, 515 CE

The Zen Teaching of Bodhidharma, p. 101. Translated and with an Introduction by Red Pine.

One of many stories told about Bodhidharma, the first Zen Patriarch in China and the legendary founder of Shaolin qigong and gungfu, is that he spent seven years in seated meditation while facing a stone wall. Talk about wearing yourself out in vain!

The only thing that would "wear out" while walking around a stupa, or a mountain, or a bagua circle, or a lake, or a soccer field would be one's shoes. Thankfully, the Bodhidharma finally Woke Up after his seven years of staring at a blank wall, and resolved that all Shaolin monks thereafter would be required to exercise, garden, and move about much more.

Walking the Circle: Ba Gua Zhan

Walking Meditation: Links, Bibliography, Quotes, Resources

Friday, December 01, 2006

Water Boxing

Water Boxing
Muhammad Ali by Flip Schulke

When we learned the long and beautiful Liu Ho Ba Fa style of Taijiquan from Master Robert Moore in 1988, he taught us that we should imagine ourselves moving through water as we practiced the form. He often called this Taijiquan form "Water Boxing."

One of the most frequently used metaphors for Qi is Water: Qi flows. Qi is stored in the Dan Tien reservoir. Qi flows in meridian channels. Qi moves. Qi can be blocked. Qi can be stagnant. Qi can be sensed as hot or cold. Qi is nourishing. Qi revitalizes us. Qi is fluid and powerful.

Thursday, November 30, 2006

Meditation in Action

"Simply speaking, drushti is sensitive awareness to that which you are doing. This has two aspects that are vital to every aspect of our practice. First it means bringing your mind to bear exactly on what you are doing. Not doing one thing while thinking another. This actually means learning not even to be thinking about what you are doing. Rather, just be doing it, feeling it. In the beginning we must think before we act. Then we act. Then think again. But we must learn to separate these two processes so that we can act with precision and clarity, without the distraction of thought. Eventually we will learn to trust the intelligence of the body and will be able to dispense with the thinking process more and more. Then our practice becomes meditation in action."

"The second aspect is to feel the effect of what we are doing. Not only at the point of the action itself, but throughout the whole structure of the body and the quality of the mind. We must feel its impact on the functioning of the body, breath and mind. We use this feedback to go deeper into the poses by making adjustments according to the four secondary techniques of asana, vinyasa, bandha and pranayama. Then through the dynamic created between our intention and our actions, a meditative awareness emerges."

- Godfrey Devereux, Dynamic Yoga, 1998, p. 24

A Momentary Retreat

"Everything about Tai Chi is relaxed, deliberate and focused in the moment. The simple truth is, when you engage in Tai Chi you're temporarily disconnecting your awareness from your present life situations - be it family, work, friends etc. Think of it as a momentary retreat from life to regroup your energies. If properly learned and practiced, the resulting benefits of bringing your life energy into a balanced, harmonized and integrated state can serve to increase your vitality, reduce stress, better control your emotions, modify your habits and much, and much more!"
- Si Gung Tiru Sadasivam, Tai Chi Chuan

When moving in Taijiquan forms, remain open, alert, untensed, free, and fluid. This state of being is called Sung.

Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Valley Spirit

“The dragon and tiger are none other than yin and yang, the female and male. They are the cauldron and furnace of alchemical literature, the medicinal substance required to compound the golden pill. The cauldron, cool and limitless as the element Water, fills herself and nourishes the Fire that would not die. You have read in the Great One of the miraculous pass, the portal into all knowledge. I will tell you what this pass is. It is none other that the inexhaustible female. Must I be blunt? Can you grasp the concept of the dragon and the tiger, water and fire, cauldron and furnace, pestle and mortar? The mysterious female is the key to the firing process. This talk of base metals into gold and drinking an elixir of mercury is not the real alchemy. Enter into her and take it into yourself, again and again. Lao Tzu said, “The valley spirit is the mysterious female. Her door is the root of heaven and earth.” It replenishes itself continuously. There is no coercion, but it is freely given. Opening up, you will enter the cinnabar chamber where all knowledge is stored. Conserving your essence, you will draw her into yourself, up through the lower and middle tan tien into the seat of ecstasy. Her you will find madness and death … or the knowledge that will give you eternal life.”
- Simon Marnier, White Tiger, Green Dragon, p. 23

White Tiger, Green Dragon: A Tale of the Taoist Inner Alchemy.
By Simone Marnier. San Jose, California, Authors Choice Press,
2000. Bibliography, 143 pages. ISBN: 0595125751.

Valley Spirit (Gu Shen): Bibliography, Links, Quotes, Notes. By Mike Garofalo. 90Kb

Valley Spirit
Gu Shen, Ku Shen
The Dark and Empty Ground of All Beings
The Ever Giving Mysterious Mother of Life

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Tai Chi Chuan Creativity

"Even in literature and art, no man who bothers about originality will ever be original: whereas if you simply try to tell the truth (without caring twopence how often it has been told before) you will, nine times out of ten, become original without ever having noticed it."
- C. S. Lewis

"“The secret to creativity is knowing how to hide your sources."
- Albert Einstein

Just the act of doing Taijiquan, Qigong and/or Yoga in America puts you on the creative edge of mind-body fitness. You are in the avant-garde of the internal martial arts. Hold your head high, practice diligently, spread the practices, be open-minded, and cultivate enlightenment amongst others. You are helping to create the foundations for a new mind-body arts Renaissance in America. You are very creative!!

Monday, November 27, 2006

Rooting Down Like a Tree

"The most basic method of training is zhan zhuang. Zhan zhuang is an exercise common to many Chinese martial arts, including Taijiquan. Usually, the practitioner stands with the arms held as if holding a large ball. However, the zhan zhuang exercise can be practiced using any of the end postures of the Taiji form. During "standing" practice a static posture is maintained for a period of time while using just enough strength to maintain the posture. ... Benefits of zhan zhuang include deep relaxation, strengthening of the legs, and increased internal qi. The first requirement is to have a calm mind. This can be achieved in a number of ways - for instance, concentrating on the Dantian, paying attention to one's breath, or silently counting. Through standing practice, emphasis is place upon developing awareness of maintaining the most efficient and relaxed structural alignment necessary to hold the position. Prolonged practice, along with enhancing postural awareness and tranquility of mind, greatly develops the strength of the legs. When the legs are strong and can bear weight firmly, then the upper body can relax and sink down into them, making the top more flexible. ... Taijiquan requires lightness and sensitivity in the upper body. At the same time, the lower body should have a feeling of extreme heaviness and connection to the ground. This feeling is often compared to a large tree with deep roots. While the branches move and sway in the wind, the trunk is solidly anchored by its roots."
- Davidine Siaw-Voon Sim and David Gaffney, Chen Style Taijiquan, 2002, p. 106.

Sunday, November 26, 2006

Family in Portland

Karen and I were in Portland, Oregon, from last Wednesday until Sunday evening. We enjoyed visiting with our children and their families. We all celebrated Thanksgiving together in Portland. Great fun, delicious food, good company, and fun activities for everyone.

It rained most days, and snowed in the higher elevations, during our trip north and back.

On Saturday evening, USC defeated Notre Dame in football, 44-24. YES!!!

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

Choiceless Awareness

"Because self-actualizing people ordinarily do not have to abstract need-gratifying qualities nor see the person as a tool, it is much more possible for them to take a non-valuing, non-judging, non-interfering, non-condemning attitude towards others, a desirelessness, a 'choiceless awareness.' " ... This kind of detached, Taoist, passive, non-interfering awareness of all the simultaneous existing aspects of the concrete, has much in common with some descriptions of the aesthetic experience and of the mystic experience."
- Abraham Maslow, Toward a Psychology of Being, 1962, p. 38

Both Taijiquan and Qigong emphasize cultivating this type of neutral, clear, open, aware, and engaged state of consciousness while practicing mind-body arts.

Taoism: Links, Bibliography, Resources

Monday, November 20, 2006

Stepping Round the Circle

"Hidden in a remote corner of Beijing's Ditan ("Temple of the Earth") Park is a small area with gongfu enthusiasts practicing their eight directions exercises. The men (and all visitors to this area seem to be men) balance precariously on a series of bricks and stones, carefully stepping from one to the next, the best proponents able to make many rounds."
- Xiaming, Flickr Photos and Notes

Walking the Circle.

Ba Gua Zhang is an internal martial arts style that involves dodging attacks and attacking while moving in complex circular patterns. A few practice Bagua Zhang while walking in a circle and stepping from post to post which are set in the ground in a circular pattern; or, walking on the ground between large posts sent in the ground in a circular or figure eight pattern.

Walking in circles for meditative focus is also part of the labyrinth traditions.

The symbolism of the eight trigrams also has relevance in this context.

Sunday, November 19, 2006

Currently Reading

Mike Garofalo in Red Bluff, California

The books that I am currently reading and studying include:

Essential Yoga: An Illustrated Guide to Over 100 Yoga Poses and
Meditation. By Olivia H. Miller. San Francisco, Chronicle Books,
Ohm Works, 2003. Index, 239 pages. ISBN: 0811841154.
Includes most stanards poses and some good sequences.

Tibetan Relaxation: Kum Nye Massage and Movement. A Yoga for
Healing and Energy from the Tibetan Tradition. By Tarthang Tulku.
London, Duncan Baird Publishers, 2003. Index, 144 pages.
ISBN: 1904292674. The self-massage techniques are extensive
and excellent.

Zen Body-Being: An Enlightened Approach to Physical Skill, Grace,
and Power. By Peter Ralston with Laura Ralston. Berkeley, California,
Frog, Ltd.. 183 pages. ISBN: 1583941592. Like Ralston's other books,
the layers of philosophy make for a slow read.

The Serpent and the Wave: A Guide to Movement Meditation.
By Jalaja Bonheim. Berkeley, California, Celestial Arts, 1992.
Index, 258 pages. ISBN: 0890876576. A very satisfying
presentation on movement arts with considerable mythical
and spiritual insight.

The Complete Book of Zen. By Wong Kiew Kit. Boston, Tuttle
Publishing, 2002. Index, 324 pages. ISBN: 0804834415.

The Sword Polisher's Record: The Way of Kung Fu. By Adam
Hsu. Boston, Massachusetts, Tutle, 1998. 204 pages.
ISBN: 0804831386.

My Tai Chi Chuan and Qigong reading lists are located at the Cloud Hands website.

Saturday, November 18, 2006

Mostly Standing Still

"My work is loving the world.
Here the sunflowers, there the hummingbird —
equal seekers of sweetness.
Here the quickening yeast; there the blue plums.
Here the clam deep in the speckled sand.

Are my boots old? Is my coat torn?
Am I no longer young, and still not half-perfect? Let me
keep my mind on what matters,
which is my work,

which is mostly standing still and learning to be

The phoebe, the delphinium.
The sheep in the pasture, and the pasture.
Which is mostly rejoicing, since all ingredients are here,

which is gratitude, to be given a mind and a heart
and these body-clothes,
a mouth with which to give shouts of joy
to the moth and the wren, to the sleepy dug-up clam,
telling them all, over and over, how it is
that we live forever.

Mary Oliver, Messenger

Green Way Wisdom - Spirituality

Friday, November 17, 2006

Standing Meditation: Trinity Stance

"Let me keep my mind on what matters,
which is my work,
which is mostly standing still,
learning to be astonished."
- Mary Oliver, Messenger


"Standing still in the circle of trees, in the sacred space,
one wet and chilly morn,
feet rooted, toes clawing the earth, sunk deeply down;
twisted like a dragon, alert, poised, ready to fly;
settled like a bear, strong, full of power, gathering;
looking through the tiger's eye, mind-intent, penetrating;
embracing the Trinity of Body, Mind, and Spirit,
as ancient as Now, the Three Bodies, all still, all one.

From the edge, the cosmic circle opened,
Chang San-Feng slipped inside, smiling,
he stroked his long beard and spoke softly,
"Ah, another old man standing so still in San Ti Shi.
Continue, my friend, stand in peace, touch the mind.
The subtle winds of understanding blow down the centuries.
When still, fly like the Eagle; when moving, walk like the Mountain.
Tame the Tiger within, ride the Tiger to the temple, and roar in silence.
Awaken like the Bear from the winter of the soul, and rise like a Man.
Feel the vital energies from bone to brain,
Sense the Great Tao before you Now,
Drop delusions, break through the Gate of Mystery,
Embrace the Center, Empty, unattached, ready to be filled
With boundless beauty, everything There, marvelous beyond words."

The cottonwood leaves spoke with the wind,
the sun rose over the shadows,
my legs shook a little;
the cosmic circle trembled,
the Master had gone."
By Michael P. Garofalo, Poetic Reflections on Chang San-Feng.


Mike Garofalo in San Ti Shi posture.


A commonoly used standing posture in internal martial arts is the San Ti Shi. This is the "Trinity Posture, Three Bodies Posture, or the Three Legged Posture...." For a description of the posture, photographs of the posture, and the purpose of standing postures visit my notes on the webpage San Ti Shi, Three Body (Heaven, Man, Earth) Standing Posture

Zhan Zhuang (Standing Like A Tree)
Rooting Deeply Into Tranquility, Power and Vitality
A Chinese Meditation and Qigong Discipline
By Mike Garofalo, 137 Kb.

Chang San Feng, Taoist Master, Circa 1300 CE

Sacred Circle

Meetings with Chang San-Feng. Poetic reflections by Mike Garofalo.

Thursday, November 16, 2006

Circles in Tai Chi Chuan

"The basic unit of Tai Chi is the circle. Circle, circles, everywhere. The first stage in Tai Chi is relaxing to the point where the upper body is so floppy that strong turns of the waist from a sunk, rooted, bent-legged stance, will fling the arms into either complete or partial circles. Strong, powerful, loaded legs and a fluid waist directing a loose and relaxed upper body. The difficulty with the postures of Tai Chi, stylized as they are – to the point of being highly compromised in many cases, is to connect our main circle to the incoming energy and to get both arms involved in that circle. The circle can be on the horizontal or vertical plane so can connect with the incoming energy from the left, from the right, from underneath or from above. Returning the energy is simply completing the circle.

Relaxation is the key and we initially encourage a flat detachment to cultivate this relaxation. Philosophically this fits with Buddhist/Taoist concepts of non-action and emotional detachment – we may be doing something but it is minimal and devoid of the tensions associated with striving or desire. This is only the first stage, but it is absolutely vital. Without it the student may succeed quite well in the later stages but they won't fully understand or feel or connect to the energy as energy. It should be realized that a student doesn't need to master the first stage before she can proceed onto the next. She just needs to have become so thoroughly infected with interest, and with the need to practice, that success is a foregone conclusion – is just a matter of time."

From the Blog called Tai Chi Heartwork

Ba Gua Zhang (Pa Qua Chang): Walking the Circle

Walking Meditation

Sacred Circle

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Cloud Hands Website Usage in 2006

The statistics for October 2006 usage at shows that readers around the world requested 180,243 webpages excluding graphics files (.jpg and .gif).

For the 2006 year, based on statistical analysis, sent out the following number of webpages:

Mind-Body Arts
Cloud Hands: Tai Chi Chuan and Qigong Website;
Yoga, Meditation, and Fitness Websites
1,123,900 webpages in 2006

Months Website and Green Way Blog
749,300 webpages in 2006
Of this total, the Green Way Blog is served to an average of
438 persons each day or 160,000 each year.
The Cloud Hands Blog is hosted by Blogger and usage statistics are not available.

Total for in webpages served:
1,873,200 webpages in 2006

I estimate that the Cloud Hands: Taijiquan and Qigong Website will have served 2,263,900 webpages to people around the world from January 1, 2003 until December 31, 2006.

2005 Statistical Report

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

Staff Weapons Video Clips

Staff Weapons: Bibliography, Links, Quotes, Resources, Notes.
By Mike Garofalo. 146Kb.

Video Clips Online of Staff Weapons Demonstrations

Eight Immortals Staff, Ba Xian Gun, Chinese Kungfu Weapons, 1 minute and 32 seconds

Eight Immortals Staff, Ba Xian Gun, Chinese Kungfu Weapons, 1 minute and 34 seconds

Karate Bo Staff, Clint Leung, 1 minute and 33 seconds

Shaolin Staff (Gun), Performer: Dennis Navikov, 2 minutes and 6 seconds

Wu Shu Three Section Staff, 1 minutes and 46 seconds

Aikido Staff Kata #2, Richard Polichetti, 25 seconds

Aikido Jo Kata, 13 Moves, 16 seconds, Wałbrzyski Klub Aikido

Aikido Jo Kata, 31 Moves, 33 seconds, Wałbrzyski Klub Aikido

Okinawa Kobudo, Bo Kata: Cho Un No Kon, Theo Theloesen, 1 minute and 15 seconds

Explore and Flow, 2-Shinai Sword and Staff Flows, Max Andranov, 16 minutes and 45 seconds

Max Andranov's Shinai Wars

Monday, November 13, 2006

Walking Meditation

"In Bodh Gaya, India, there is an old Bodhi tree that shades the very spot where the Buddha is believed to have sat in meditation on the night of his enlightenment. Close by is a raised walking path about 17 steps in length, where the Buddha mindfully paced up and down in walking meditation after becoming enlightened, experiencing the joy of a liberated heart.

In his teachings, the Buddha stressed the importance of developing mindfulness in all postures, including standing, sitting, lying down, and even walking. When reading accounts about the lives of monks and nuns in the time of the Buddha, you find that many attained various stages of enlightenment while doing walking meditation.

In walking meditation, the primary object of attention is the process of walking itself. In other words, to sharpen awareness and train the mind to concentrate, you pay close attention to the physical act of walking, the way you take one step after another. Thus the object is more obvious and tangible than in the more refined meditation techniques, such as focusing on the breath or a mantra, which are often used in traditional sitting meditation. Focusing the mind on this more obvious object helps to avoid sleepiness (or restlessness) that meditators sometimes experience during their sitting meditation.

The guidelines for walking meditation are similar to that of sitting meditation: Choose an appropriate time and decide how long to meditate; for beginners 15 to 30 minutes may be suitable. The walking path can be either inside or outside, depending upon your preference and the area available. Also, whenever possible, it is better to practice in bare feet, although this is not essential.

Stand at one end of the path and hold your hands gently together in front of your body. The eyes remain open, gazing down along the path about two yards ahead. The intention is not to be looking at anything in particular but simply to see that you remain on the path and know when to turn around.

You should now try to center yourself by putting aside all concern for the past and future. In order to calm the mind and establish awareness in the present, abandon any preoccupation with work, home, and relationships, and bring the attention to the body. The meditation exercise is simply to walk at a slow, relaxed pace, being fully aware of each step until you reach the end of the path. When you arrive at the end of the path, stop for a moment and check to see what the mind is doing. Is it being attentive? If necessary, reestablish awareness. Then turn and walk back to the other end in a similar fashion, remaining mindful and alert. Continue to pace up and down for the duration of the meditation period, gently making an effort to sustain awareness and focus attention on the process of walking."
- John Cianciosi, Yoga Journal

Green Way Wisdom - Walking Meditation

Sunday, November 12, 2006

Bagua Zhang - Eight Trigrams Boxing

"Baguazhang (Emei Baguazhang): Theory and Applications."
By Liang, Master Shou-Yu, and Wu, Wen-Ching, and Yang, Jwing-Ming.
YMAA Publication Center, 1994. 364 pages. ISBN: 0940871300.

Instructional videotape also available.
Chinese Internal Martial Arts.

Excellent introduction to the subject. Includes many translations of seminal Baguazhang texts and sayings. Index, glossary, appendices, lists of movements. Another excellent YMAA publication. This text includes many detailed charts of Baguazhang lineages.

One reader is of the opinion that the "8 palms Master Liang presents comprises the basic Baguazhang set that seems to have been taught at the Central Kuoshu Institute at Nanking. The lineage is Fu Chen-Sung's, and the form is also known by the name of 'Old Eight Palms.' ... The "Swimming Dragon" form presented seems to have come from Sun Lu Tang's lineage."

Bagua Zhang: Links, Bibliography, Resources, Quotes, Notes. By Mike Garofalo.

Saturday, November 11, 2006

Qigong: Wild Goose

“Breathing in and out in various manners, spitting out the old and taking in the new, walking like a bear and stretching their neck like a bird to achieve longevity - this is what such practitioners of Dao-yin, cultivators of the body and all those searching for long life like Ancestor Peng, enjoy.”
- Chuang-Tzu, Chapter 15, circa 300 BCE.

The Wild Goose Qigong webpage includes references to books, websites, videos, DVDs and instructional resources on this popular Chinese exercise system. A list of the 64 movements of the form is included. Information on all of the masters of the form are included. Lore and Taoist legends about geese and mythical birds are included.

Video, Wild Goose Qigong, 35 seconds, 2nd 64 movements, Performed by Jing Shang-Tang. However, I cannot recommend doing Qigong in a silk kungfu outfit on a snowy day.

Friday, November 10, 2006

Relaxation (Sung) in Tai Chi Chuan

"I have been practicing Tai-Chi Chuan for over fifty years. Only two years ago that I started to understand the word “relax”. I remember my Tai-Chi Chuan teacher Yang Cheng-Fu who did not like to talk much and he used to sit all day without saying a word if no one asked him questions. However, in our T’ai-chi class he would tell us to “relax” repeatedly. Sometimes it seemed like he would say the word hundreds of times during the practice so that the word could fill up my ears. Strangely enough he also said that if he did not tell me of this word that I would not be able to learn T’ai-chi in three life-times (meaning never). I doubted his words then. Now that I think back, I truly believe that if he did not keep reminding me of the word “relax”, I doubt if I could have learned T’ai-chi Chuan in six life-times.

What is the meaning of “relax” in T’ai-chi? Here is an example to help you understand the word. When we go visit a Buddhist temple we usually see a statue of Me-Lo Buddha. The one who has a big rounded stomach with a big smile on his face. He carries a large bag on his shoulder. On top of this statue we see a motto: “Sit with a bag. Walk with a bag. It would be such a relief to drop the bag.” What does all this mean? To me, a person himself or herself is a bag. Everything he or she owns is baggage, including one’s children, family, position and wealth. It is difficult to drop any of one’s baggage, especially the “self” bag.

T’ai-chi Chuan is difficult to learn. To relax in practicing T’ai-chi Chuan is the most difficult phase to go through. To relax a person’s mind is the most significant obstacle to overcome in practicing T’ai-Chi. It takes a great effort to train and exercise one’s mind to relax (or drop one’s “self” bag)."
- Cheng Man-Ch'ing

Cheng Man-ch'ing: Bibliography, Links, Quotes, Resources, Notes. By Mike Garofalo.

Cheng Man Ching Video 7 minutes. Some Yang form, push hands, and sword form.

Relax (Sung) in Tai Chi Chuan: Bibliography, Links, Quotes, Notes, Instructions. By Mike Garofalo.

Thursday, November 09, 2006

Qigong: Eight Section Brocade

“Chinese medical chi-gung emphasizes soft, slow, rhythmic movements of the body synchronized with deep diaphragmatic breathing. The purpose of these exercises is to stretch the tendons, loosen the joints, and tone the muscles, to promote circulation of blood, and to regulate all the vital functions of the body. The medical school adapted many forms of ‘moving meditation” exercise for therapeutic use, including the ancient Dao-Yin and ‘Play of the Five Beasts’ forms based on animal movements, martial forms such as ‘Eight Pieces of Brocade’ and Tai Chi Chuan, and special exercises developed specifically to treat various internal organs.”- Daniel Reid, A Complete Guide to Chi Kung, p. 52.

The Eight Section Brocade Qigong, Ba Duan Jin Qigong, includes a detailed description of the movements, information on the benefits of each movement, a historical introduction to the form, references to books and links, quotes, and other resources. The webpage is quite large - over 330 Kb. Written and researched by Michael P. Garofalo, and published by Green Way Research, Red Bluff, California.

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

Qigong: Five Animal Frolics

Five Animal Frolics Qigong: Links, bibliography, resources, quotes, and notes by Mike Garofalo.

"Hua Tuo's Five Animal Frolics," Zhou Lishang. T'ai Chi: The International Magazine of T'ai Chi Ch'uan: Vol. 29, No. 4, August, 2005, pp. 42-49. Translation by Yan Shufan. Part 1. A detailed article on how to do the Frolics. This version of the Frolics set was developed by the Shanghai University of Sports and approved by the State Physical Culture and Sports Bureau. This article includes set by set photos, instructions, and some very interesting illustrations from the Ma Wang Dui Tomb No. 3 findings.

"Hua Tuo's Five Animal Frolics," by Zhou Lishang. T'ai Chi: The International Magazine of T'ai Chi Ch'uan: Vol. 29, No. 5, October, 2005, pp. 42-49. Translation by Yan Shufan. Part 2. This second article includes detailed instructions and photographs of the form. Includes information on the internal benefits of this form and TCM meridian theory related to the movements.

These two articles are the most detailed printed description of a version of the Five Animal Frolics that I have ever seen. Approval by the Chinese State Physical Culture and Sports Bureau will greatly contribute to the dissemination of this version of the Frolics, the production of DVDs, VCDs, and videotapes on the form, and more widespread teaching of this ancient popular qigong form.

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

Practice as Ritual

"There are two ways of looking at rituals. On the one hand, rituals are an external expression of our inner state. And on the other hand, we strengthen and reinforce our inner state by these external actions. Of course, in reality there are not two things, but rather a unified whole. As we practice together sincerely, we become increasingly aware that such notions as internal and external cannot be separated. This awareness is actually the growing realization of the real harmony that underlies everything."
- Taizan Maezumi, On Zen Practice

Monday, November 06, 2006

Polishing the Spirit

"The sword is known as the "soul of the Samurai", and in Japanese mythology it was one of the three sacred gifts given to the emperor by the Sun Goddess. A Samurai's sword was believed to be imbued with certain spiritual qualities of its owner. The forging of the blade itself was considered a religious ceremony, swathed in ritual, passed down in secret from father to son for generations. The ceremony was consistent, precise, unvaried, and beautiful -- in action, dress, and color. Forging was often done at night and temperatures were set by holding the blade to the color of the morning sun. The exact hue was transmitted from master to apprentice down through centuries.

The sword forging process itself became a metaphor for character development and many of the metallurgical processes parallel the tasks required for shaping the spirit. The concept of “tanren” is central to this theme.

Tanren means to forge in the same way that a sword blade is forged, with hard work, and sweat, and many hours of dedication, folding together the hard and soft elements in the body, mind, and movement just as the sword gains its strength out of hard and soft steel.

This is followed by “Renshu”. Ren means to polish, to perfect by continued practice. It also means to polish the spirit and character through the requirements of detail and interpretation. To demonstrate a compassionate nature that can pass on knowledge without egotistical pride and arrogance.

Miyamoto Musashi, the legendary 16th century Japanese sword master, states in his “Book of Five Rings” that it takes 1,000 days to forge the spirit and 10,000 to polish it."

Budo Blues
By Yonjuhachi Ronin

Tai Chi Sword and Saber

Sunday, November 05, 2006

Qigong Power

"Inwardly alert, open, calm.
Outwardly upright, extended, filled with spirit.
This is the foundation of stillness.
Add the hard and the soft, the powerful and the relaxed,
Motion and stillness, contraction and extension:
In the instant these converge, there is power."
- Wang Xiang Zhai

From, The Way of Power, Lam Kam Chuen

Saturday, November 04, 2006

Eight Pieces of Brocade Chi Kung

The DVD "Shaolin: Wheel of Life" includes numerous movements from the Eight Section Brocade Qigong.

8 Pieces Brocade Qigong. By Master Jesse Tsao. Video clip: 5 minutes.

Eight Section Brocade Qigong (BaDuanJin): Bibliography, Links, Quotes, Resources, Notes. By Mike Garofalo. 300Kb

5 Animal Frolics, Healing Qigong Chi Kung. By Master Jesse Tsao. Video clip: 7 minutes.

Friday, November 03, 2006

Shaolin: Wheel of LIfe

The DVD release of "Shaolin: Wheel of Life" will give everyone the opportunity to see the stage performance featuring the martial arts and acrobatic skills of the troupe. The music and songs are dramatic, and stage and lighting impressive. The performers are 40 ordained Buddhist monks from the Shaolin Temple in China.

The 84 minute performance (2000) will keep Shaolin martial arts fans enthralled. Be sure to view the trailers on the video.

A couple of books I have enjoyed reading lately about the Shaolin arts have been:

The Shaolin Workout: 28 Days to Transforming Your Body and Soul the Warrior's Way.
By Sifu Shi Yan Ming. Rodale Press, 2006. Index, 293 pages. ISBN: 1594864004.

The Art of Shaolin Kung Fu: The Secrets of Kung Fu for Self-Defense, Health and Enlightenment. By Wong, Kiew Kit. Charles E. Tuttle, 2002. 215 pages. ISBN: 0804834393.

Thursday, November 02, 2006

Wholehearted Attention

"The secret of beginning a life of deep awareness and sensitivity lies in our willingness to pay attention. Our growth as conscious, awake human beings is marked not so much by grand gestures and visible renunciations as by extending loving attention to the minutest particulars of our lives. Every relationship, every thought, every gesture is blessed with meaning through the wholehearted attention we bring to it. In the complexities of our minds and lives we easily forget the power of attention, yet without attention we live only on the surface of existence. It is just simple attention that allows us truly to listen to the song of a bird, to see deeply the glory of an autumn leaf, to touch the heart of another and be touched. We need to be fully present in order to love a single thing wholeheartedly. We need to be fully awake in this moment if we are to receive and respond to the learning inherent in it."

~ Christina Feldman and Jack Kornfield, Stories of the Spirit, Stories of the Heart

Green Way Wisdom - Seeing

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

Stilling the Mind

Let the Void be your cauldron.
Let Nature be your furnace.
For your primary ingredient, take stillness.
For your reagent; use quietude.
For Mercury, take your vital essence.
For Lead, use your vital energy.
For Water, use restraint.
For Fire, take meditation.

When the Mind is Stilled,
Spirit Brightens.
Great Mysteries are Illuminated.
- Chao Pi Chen

"The Triple Equation of Essence, Energy and Spirit unites to form the Golden Elixir of Immortality during deep meditation. According to Master Chao Pi Chen, the generative force changes into vitality when the body is still; vitality changes into spirit when the heart is unstirred; and spirit returns to nothingness because of immutable thought. The Elixir Field (Dantien) under the navel is where the generative force [essence] is sublimated into vitality [energy]; the middle Elixir Field in the solar plexus (Middle Dantien) is where vitality is sublimated into spirit; and the upper Elixir Field in the brain (Upper Dantien) is where spirit is sublimated for its flight into space."
Daniel P. Reid, The Tao of Health, Sex & Longevity

Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Halloween Party Time

Party for Infants

My grand-daughter's first Halloween party.

"October gave a party;
The leaves by hundreds came-
The Chestnuts, Oaks, and Maples,
And leaves of every name.
The Sunshine spread a carpet,
And everything was grand,
Miss Weather led the dancing,
Professor Wind the band."
- George Cooper, October's Party

"Radiant joy is everywhere.
Spirits in tune to the spicy air,
Thrill in the glory of each day.
Life's worth living when we say, October!"
- Joseph Pullman Porter

October: Poems, Sayings, Lore, Links, Quotations

Monday, October 30, 2006

Positive Mindset

"What are the qualities that make one's mindset positive?
They include being able to:

Think in a calm, pacified, and reflective manner instead of being disturbed, agitated, and impulsive in one's reactions.

Put ideas together rationally and arrive at the right judgment even in the absence of obvious evidence or proof.

Decide, plan, and execute a course of action in a patient, persistent, and disciplined manner.

Recognize the changes and be flexible in adapting to them.

Observe and perceive things with a sense of humor instead of outrage, indignation, and anger.

Let go of useless and counterproductive thoughts, desires, and ambitions instead of being preoccupied with them.

Relax and meditate or rest.

Resist temptation and coercion."

- Michael Fekete, Strength Training for Seniors, Hunter House, 2006, p. 36

Strength and Muscle Building Search Portal

Sunday, October 29, 2006

Feather River - North Fork

Karen and I enjoyed a day trip in Northern California. We explored Highway 70 from Oroville up to Quincy. This road follows the North Fork of the Feather River. The dramatic rock canyons and the varied autumn colors were a special highlight of the trip.

Saturday, October 28, 2006

Walking the Sacred Circle

Sacred Circle
Originally uploaded by Karen and Mike Garofalo.

Mike Garofalo standing in the center of the Sacred Circle at the Valley Spirit Center in Red Bluff, California. Looking East.

This new addition of a "Sacred Circle" or "Cosmos Circle" is part of the the emphasis I have placed upon the mind/body movement arts of Walking Meditation.

Friday, October 27, 2006

Thursday, October 26, 2006

Work and/or Play

"The supreme accomplishment is to
blur the line between work and play."
- Arnold Toynbee

"In Hindu philosophy the whole creation is regarded as the Vishnu Lila,
the play of Vishnu. Lila means dance or play. Also in Hindu philosophy,
they call the world illusion; and in Latin the root of the word
illusion is ludere, to play."
- Alan Watts, Work as Play

"We may play with and pass on a garden, possessing one is an illusion.
Gardeners must dance with feedback, play with results, turn as they learn.
Some gardeners don't grow old and stop playing; they stop playing and grow old.
Nature's playfulness is a gardener's delight.
A garden is a sporting field, an area for play."

- Michael P. Garofalo, Pulling Onions: The Maxims of Gardening

Wednesday, October 25, 2006

Internet Librarians Conference

I enjoyed my recent trip to Monterey, California, to attend the Internet Librarian Conference 2006. I benefitted from the presentations about library fundrasing, wikis, social software, Flickr, RSS, and gaming.

I walked during lunch hours and after the conference presentations, used the hotel exercise room, and attended a local yoga class. We all enjoyed the beautiful weather in Monterey.

Friday, October 20, 2006

Salutations to the Sun

Greeting the Sun

"Keep your face to the sunshine and you cannot see the shadow."
- Helen Keller

"I believe in the cosmos. All of us are linked to the cosmos. Look at
the sun: If there is no sun, then we cannot exist. So nature is my god.
To me, nature is sacred; trees are my temples and forests are
my cathedrals."
- Mikhail Gorbachev

Green Way Wisdom - Sun

I often take a long walk, and practice tai chi chuan and qigong/yoga, at daybreak. I find that the early morning is the best time for mind/body practices. This helps me reflect on The Way (Tao).

The Way

Thursday, October 19, 2006

Sun Style Taijiquan

Lately, I have been studying and practicing the Sun Style Tai Chi Chuan 73 Competition Form. I have been using instructional videotapes by Paul Lam, Liang Shou-Yu, Jesse Tsao, Men Hui-Feng, Li Cheng-Xiang, and Jiang Jian-Ye to learn the form.

Sun Style Taijiquan is done at a "lively step" pace. The average time for the performance of the form is around 6 minutes for 73 movements.

Complete Performance of Sun Taijiquan International Competition 73 Form

Time Performer Source

5:31 Liang, Shou-Yu Sun Style Taijiquan with Applications, VHS, 1996
5:17 Tsao, Jesse Tai Chi Sun Style Competition Form 73, VHS, 2002
9:22 Jiang, Jian-Ye Sun Sytle Tai Chi Competition Form 73, VHS, 1997
7:30 Lam, Paul Sun Style Tai Chi - 73 Forms, The Competition Form, VHS, 2000
5:42 Men, Hui-Feng Sun Style Tai Chi - 73 Forms, The Competition Form, VHS, 2000
3:52 Li, Cheng-Xiang Sun Style Long Competition Form 73, VCD

My favorite instructional videotape is Sun Style Tai Chi - 73 Forms. The Competition Forms. An instructional videotape by Dr. Paul Lam. Narwee, Australia, East Action Video, 2000. A competition form created by Professor Men Hui Feng of Beijing University based on the Sun style. "This detailed instructional video includes a demonstration of the set by its creator, Professor Men Hui-Feng. Sun style is characterised by its powerful qigong elements, agile steps and flowing movements." VHS, 103 minutes. Contents: Introduction to Tai Chi and the Sun style. Comprehensive instructions. Demonstrations of the complete set by Dr. Paul Lam from front and back views. A demonstration by the creator of the set, Professor Men Hu--Feng. ASIN: B000066G1T."

My webpage on the subject of Sun Style Tai Chi Chuan provides a list of the movements in the Sun Style 73 competition form.

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

Strength Training for Seniors

I enjoy and benefit from strength training activities four to
five days every week.

Persons over 60 will need to develop a program of strength training
appropriate to their physical condition, time available, equipment
available, knowledge, goals, and age.

Persons beginning a strength training program might find the
following book to be useful to them:

Strength Training for Seniors: How to Rewind Your Biological Clock.
By Michael Fekete, CSCS, ACE.
Alamedia, California, Hunter House, 2006. Index, 134 pages.
ISBN: 0897934784.

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

Chang San Feng

"The legends of “Zhang Sanfeng’s creation of taiji quan” continued in some of the most important modern taiji quan books, such as Xu Yusheng’s 許禹生 Taijiquan Tushi Jie 太极拳势图解, or a Elucidation of Taijiquan Postures in 1921, Sun Loutang’s 孫祿堂 Taiji Quanxue 太極拳學, or the Learning of Taiji Quan in 1924, Ceng Weiming’s 陳微明 Taiji Quan Shu 太極拳術, or the Art of Taiji Quan in 1925, and Yang Chengfu’s 揚澄甫 Tiaji Quan Tiyong Quanshu 太極拳體用全書, or the Essence and Applications of Taiji Quan in 1934, and in the oral traditions as well. According to Xu Zhen 許震 (1898-1967), the source of Zhang Sanfeng’s association with Taiji quan must have been the Yang family partisans no earlier than Guangxu 光緒 reign (1875-1904) of the Qing dynasty. (Xu Zhen, 112) The attribution of “Zhang Sanfeng’s creation of taiji quan” was seriously taken as a creed, and this creed has been concretized via lineage records, ceremonies, altars, and iconography to the majority of taiji quan enthusiasts."

Literati Tradition: The Origins of Taiji. The Origins of Tai Chi - The Chang San Feng Camp. By Bing YeYoung. A well researched article. Includes bibliographical references. 36Kb.

Chang San-Feng, Taoist Master. Brief biography, links, bibliography, quotations, and a study of the "Treatise on Tai Chi Chuan". Compiled by Michael P. Garofalo. Includes poems and commentary by Mike Garofalo. Red Bluff, California, Green Way Research, 2005. 75Kb.

Monday, October 16, 2006

Sun Style Tai Chi Chuan

Sun Style Taijiquan: Bibliography, Links, Quotations, Resources, List of Movements of 73 competition form, information on Sun Lu Tang, and Notes.
By Mike Garofalo. 142 Kb.

Sun Style Bagua Zhang

Sun Style Sword

Sun Style Hsing Yi Chuan

Sunday, October 15, 2006

Walking Meditation

"You may also want to bring the practice of wogging into your life.
Half slow walking (going uphill) and freely surrendered, speedy
jogging (going downhill), it may become your preferred meditation
posture or form of dance. The goal of the practice is not to condition
the body aerobically; that happens as a natural byproduct. The goal
of the practice is to open to and merge with the breath, letting your
natural, surrendered breath determine how fast or slow your body
moves, to stay as loose and relaxed as possible, to let every part of
the body move as fluidly as possible, to surrender to the sensation
and energies of the body as you keep playing with balance, to keep
emptying the mind and staying in clear perception of vision and sound.
Full-bodied breath comes easier during a wog than during any other
activity. Sensations can be felt through the entire body. Vision can
become very clear, and the mind can stay very empty."
- Will Johnson, Yoga of the Mahamudra, 2005, p. 134

"The rhythm of walking generates a kind of rhythm of thinking, and
the passage through a landscape echoes or stimulates the passage
through a series of thoughts. The creates an odd consonance between
internal and external passage, one that suggests that the mind is
also a landscape of sorts and that walking is one way to traverse it.
A new thought often seems like a feature of the landscape that was
there all along, as though thinking were traveling rather than making."
- Rebecca Solnit, Wanderlust: A History of Walking, p. 5.

Saturday, October 14, 2006

Walking: Links, Bibliography, Quotations

Walking: Bibliography, Links, Resources, Quotations, Notes.
By Michael P. Garofalo. 120Kb.

Walking Meditation

"A person's heart and mind are in chaos.
Concentration on one thing makes the mind pure.
If one aspires to reach the Tao,
one should practice walking in a circle."
- Taoist Canon

"Above all do not lose your desire to walk. Everyday I walk myself into
a state of well being and walk away from every illness. I have walked
myself into my best thoughts and I know of no thought so burdensome
that one cannot walk away from it. But by sitting still, and the more
one sits still, the closer one comes to feeling ill...if one keeps on
walking everything will be alright."
- Soren Kierkegaard

Walking Quotations

Friday, October 13, 2006

Sun Lu Tang 1861-1933

Chronology of Granmaster Sun Lu Tang's Life:

1861 Born. His given name was Sun Fu Quan. He was born in a simple home,
near the city of Bao Ding, in Wan County, in Hebei Province.

His father was a poor farmer in Dingxian County in Hebei Province
His father died when he was a child and the family lost their farm.
Worked as a servant for a rich man.
Learned Shaolin Hung Boxing from Master Wu.
Lived with and worked for his uncle, and studied calligraphy.
Started learning Hsing I Quan martial arts from Li Kui Yuan.
Sun Lu-Tang became a formal discipline of Li Kui Yuan

1882 Started learning Hsing I Quan from Guo Yun Shen.

1891 Started learning Dragon style Pa Kua Chuan from the famous
Pa Kua master Cheng T'ing Hua.(1848-1900)
Master Cheng's nickname for Sun was "More Clever Than an Active Monkey."

1891 Married Zhang Zhou Xien (1863-1934)
First son, Sun Xing Yi (1891-1929)
Second son, Sun Cun Zhou (1893-1963)
Daughter, Sun Jian Yun (1913-2003)
Third son, Sun Huan Min (1897-1922)

1894 Started using the name 'Sun Lu Tang' given to him by Cheng T'ing Hua

1894 Studied Yi Jing theory and Emei Qigong in mountains of Sichuan

1895 Studied Taoism in the Wu Dang Mountains

1896 Established the Pu Yang Boxing Association in Bao Ding

1899 Moved to Xing Tang, 80 miles from Beijing, and taught martial arts

1907 Taught in Northern China for the General Governor, Xu Shi Chang

1910 Established three marital arts schools in Beijing and Tianjin
He lived in eastern Beijing from 1910-1932.
Sun Lu-Tang possessed extraordinary abilities and knowledge of the martial
arts, including legendary fast footwork, leaping, climbing, and endurance skills.
He had many talented and devoted students. He was a successful businessman.
He was know by numerous nicknames: "Tiger Head Hero, First Hand Under
the Sky, and Smarter than an Active Monkey." Sun weighted 140 pounds.

1911 Learned Wu Yu-xiang style of Taijiquan from Hao Wei Chen (1849-1920)
Sun was 50 years of age when he learned Wu Yu-xiang style Taiji.

1913 Sun Jian Yun, daughter is born. She died on 10/2/2003. She was a Sun Grandmaster.

1914 Sun began creating Sun style Taijiquan. He was 52 years of age.

1915 Xing Yi Quan Xue: The Study of Form-Mind Boxing by Sun Lu Tang is published.
Sun Lu-Tang taught in Beijing, Nanjing, Shanghai, Suzhou and Hangzhou between

1916 The Study of Ba Gua Boxing is published.

1919 Sun was a Lieutenant in the Army in Beijing, teaching martial arts from 1919-1924

1921 The Study of Tai Ji Quan is published.

1921 During his 60th birthday party his personal notebooks and diaries were stolen.

1924 The True Essence of Boxing is published.

1927 The Study of Ba Gua Sword is published.

1929 Wrote The Study of the Xing Yi Spear; but, the work was not published.

1931 He was the first noted teacher to offer martial arts courses for women at
Zhe Jiang Martial Arts School.

1933 Sun Lu-Tang died on December 16, 1933. He was 72 years old.
He became ill and then fasted and meditated until he died peacefully.
Sun Lu Tang's gravestone shows his life-span to be: 1862-1933.
Some documents say he was born in 1861 and died in 1932.
Sun Lu Tang returned to the house he was born in the last few months of
his life, and died in the room where he was born.

The Sun Style Taijiquan webpage includes a detailed bibliography, links, resources, quotations, a list of movements in the 73 Sun competition form, photos, and notes. 145Kb. By Michael P. Garofalo.

Thursday, October 12, 2006

Green Way Gallery

I decided to create a webspace for posting photographs I take with my Samsung cell phone. I use T-Mobile to email the pictures to Blogger. The webspace is called the Green way Gallery.

Wednesday, October 11, 2006

Time Will Be ...

"The best thing about the future is that it only comes one day at a time."
Abraham Lincoln

"The past is solid, the future is liquid."
- J. L. Aubert

"I have seen the future and it's like the present, only longer."
- Dan Quisenberry

"The past is a quidepost, not a hitching post."
- Thomas Holcroft

Green Way Wisdom - Time

Tuesday, October 10, 2006

Qigong: Bibliography, Links, Resources

A fairly comprehensive bibliography of works in English.

Monday, October 09, 2006

Clearing the Mind or Not

"I gazed into the quiet waters of the pond, still thinking about what Grandfather had meant by the pure mind. The water was so still that there was a crystal-clear reflection of the sky and all that surrounded the pond. The reflection was so perfect that it looked as if I were looking into a mirror. Then a light breeze stirred the surface of the pond, and the once clear image shattered into a thousand pieces, then suddenly was gone. No reflection remained, just the troubled surface of the water. Then suddenly the word thoughts hammered into my head, and I jumped up in utter surprise and triumph. I finally understood what Grandfather had meant by pure mind. I was so amazed, so overwhelmed, that tears of joy filled my eyes.

The lesson of pure mind was shown to me by the clear water. The pure mind was like the surface of a quiet pond, where all things were reflected purely. Once the logical mind sends in thoughts, analysis, definitions, qualifiers, and distractions, the image of the pond's quiet surface is disrupted, and the clear image of nature's reflection is destroyed. I understood then that in order to see into the worlds of nature, and ultimately spirit, as Grandfather did, I had to posses that pure mind. All the distraction of the logical thinking mind would only produce an obscurity or destroy that pure image altogether."

—Tom Brown, Jr., Awakening Spirits

Green Way Wisdom - Zen Literature

Logical thinking, reasoning, creativity, imagination, visualization, memory, reflection, and the exercise of the powers of consciousness can each also be pure, clear, open, joyful, enlightening, beneficial, and good. It is not only either/or, but also and/plus. Often, just a little clear thinking is a hundred times better than the dull obscurity of thoughtlessness. As with most aspects of life - it all depends.

Sunday, October 08, 2006

Squinting at the New You

When I woke up this morning, for some unknown reason, it took me a long time to gain clear focus with my eyes. I washed them, rubbed them, exercised them, drank a cup of coffee ... finally, I could see clearly again.

"It has been said that if you could become another person for even a few moments you would probably become Enlightened. So strong is our attachment to the idea of who we are that even the smallest jolt out of it can have an immense effect."
- Manjusvara

What would be your reaction be if the "new you" was blind or deaf? Our "idea of who we are" is grounded in our body, and the limitations and possibilities of what our bodies can do.

"Gertrude Jekyll, like Monet, was a painter with poor eyesight, and their gardens - his at Giverny in the Seine valley, hers in Surrey - had resemblance's that may have sprung from this condition. Both loved plants that foamed and frothed over walls and pergolas, spread in tides beneath trees; both saw flowers in islands of colored light - an image the normal eye captures only by squinting."
- Eleanor Perenyi, Green Thoughts, 1981

Green Way Wisdom - Seeing