Tuesday, January 31, 2006

Year of the Dog

The Chinese New Year began on Sunday, January 29, 2006.
We are now in the Year of the Dog.
It is year 4703 in the Chinese Calendar.

The previous year, The Year of the Rooster, ran from
February 9, 2005 until Saturday, January 28, 2006.
It was year 4702 in the Chine Calendar.

The previous year, The Year of the Monkey, ran from
January 22, 2004 until February 8, 2005.
It was year 4701 in the Chinese Calendar.

I was born, in 1946, between the Year of the Rooster
and the Year of the Dog.

“People born in the Year of the Dog possess the best traits of human nature. They have a deep sense of loyalty, are honest, and inspire other people’s confidence because they know how to keep secrets. But Dog People are somewhat selfish, terribly stubborn, and eccentric. They care little for wealth, yet somehow always seem to have money. They can be cold emotionally and sometimes distant at parties. They can find fault with many things and are noted for their sharp tongues. Dog people make good leaders. They are compatible with those born in the Years of the Horse, Tiger, and Rabbit.”

Here are a couple of interesting websites to visit:

Martial Views
Essays by John Vesia on the philosophy, psychology, history,
and transformitive powers of the martial arts.

Native Wisdom - Warrior Quotes

Wind Fire Yoga
Dynamic Yoga of Godfrey Devereux

Monday, January 30, 2006

Being Completely Attentive

"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

Sunday, January 29, 2006

Man's Immortal Dream

“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!

Saturday, January 28, 2006

Pulling Onions

Pulling Onions: Quips and Quotes from a Taoist-Chan Gardener.
590 aphorisms by Michael P. Garofalo.

Pulled in January 2006:

Beauty serves many masters.
Truth deals with the past; Hope deals with the future.
Persons who cannot love trees lack something in their soul.
We live in a multiverse rather than a universe.
In the canvas of Winter we can still find a spot of Summer.

Friday, January 27, 2006

Staff Weapons

"In the ancient records of Chinese martial arts, the bo is discussed as the first weapon taught to the Zen Buddhist disciples who studied at the Shaolin Temple. There are literary and pictorial references to Bodhidharma carrying a bo on his journeys as he taught Zen Buddhism in the regions near the Shaolin Temple. One account from a
biography on Bodhidharma tells of his death in 528 AD from the poison of a jealous monk. It is told that three years later his body was exhumed due to rumors he had been seen traveling in the mountains of Central Asia. Bodhidharma was said to carry a staff from which hung a single sandal. He had stated he was on his way back to India. When the curious monks opened his tomb, all they found inside was a single sandal. Ever since then Bodhidharma has been pictured carrying a staff from which hangs the missing sandal."
- Sa Kwon

Thursday, January 26, 2006

Chang San-Feng

A person calling himself "Sifu" and writing from "not@happy.com" sent
me the following email message regarding my webpage on the famous Taoist Master named "Chang San-Feng":

"Chang San-Feng was real It's very disrespectful to "portray" Chang San-Feng as a "imagery” figure. Please don't have false infomation on your Web Page... He did exist, the so called common years that he lived (1247-1447AD) is just a “estimated range”.Chang San-Feng (also known by different spellings ex. Zhang Sanfeng) was the “original creator” of the 13 original movements of Tai Chi Chuan. One just has to look, at the old book of “The Tai Chi Classics”, to see his teachings. It not only, insults the original master, of all forms Tai Chi Chuan, but it also shows lack of knowledge, history, and understanding of the art. I hope you remove all false references about him, from your website. I am from direct Yang family lineage Thank You for reading the above. Sifu"

I wrote back to "Sifu," whomever he or she is, but the email bounced back.

Some scholars do not believe that Master Chang San-Feng invented the 13 core moves of Taijiquan, and that these claims were invented in the late 19th century by people trying to ground their taijiquan in ancient heroes.

I believe that I do a pretty fair, reasonable and respectful job of explaining the lore and scholarshop about Master Chang San-Feng on my webpage.

Personally, I find it rather hard to believe in Taoist Masters that supposedly live to be over 300 years of age, can walk 70 miles in a day at age 150, are masters of ten fine and applied arts, and can work other miracles in their spare time. But I love legends and lore about these great Masters anyway. Truth is sometimes less important than the hope for greater human achievement.

Wednesday, January 25, 2006

Five Animal Frolics Qigong

"The Bear is a great winter exercise. Slow, ponderous, but very strong, it warms the body, strengthens the spleen, and builds vitality. The Bear's twisting waist movements massage and invigorate the kidneys. The Bear is an excellent preventive against osteoporosis, as it is known to fortify the bones."
- John Du Cane, Power Qigong

Sunday, January 22, 2006

SURPRISE - Happy 60th Birthday

Saturday afternoon, I came home to a BIG SURPRISE Birthday Party for me.

In attendance were 15 people:

Karen Garofalo, my wife of 39 years
Alicia Flinn, my daughter, and her husband Sean Flinn from Portland
Michael Garofalo, my son, and his wife April Garofalo from Portland
Paul Garofalo, my brother, and his wife Janet Garofalo from Los Angeles
Philip Garofalo, my brother, and his daughter Marcella from San Diego.
Debbie Anderson, our next door neighbor and good friend
Jordan Knickerbocker, our next door neighbor and friend
Jim Scott, April's Dad, and his girlfriend Torrie and her son Jesse
Christie Scott, April's sister

Mick and April prepared and served a fantastic Japanese meal with many delicious foods and special drinks. The house was decorated with Japanese lanterns and artwork. It was beautiful. Alicia said the theme was
"Zen and the Art of Turning 60."

Everyone seemed to enjoy themselves. I CERTAINLY DID!!

How kind and generous of these fine people to come to my home, some from great distances, to celebrate my 60th birthday.

Some photographs of the party are online.

"Smile at each other, smile at your wife, smile at your husband,
smile at your children, smile at each other -- it doesn't matter
who it is -- and that will help you to grow up
in greater love for each other."
- Mother Teresa

Saturday, January 21, 2006

Valley Spirit Yoga Website

I began my 2006 update of my Valley Spirit Hatha Yoga website.

I teach three hatha yoga classes each week at the Tehama Family Fitness Center in Red Bluff, California.

I have only one more YogaFit class, Level III reintegration, to complete in March, 2006. After completing this class, I will be eligible to apply for the Registered Yoga Teacher, 200 hour certification, from the National Yoga Alliance.

Friday, January 20, 2006

The World is Not Only Mind Stuff

Oftentimes one hears or reads assertions that the mind or consciousness or spirit is the true reality and the physical or material world is an illusion, transitory, a fiction, a projection, an abstraction. This kind of thinking is common among many yogis, Buddhists, and New Agers in the mind-body arts. For example,

"The entire outside world is based on your thoughts and mental attitude. The entire world is your own projection." - Sri Swami Satchidananda, The Yoga Sutras of Pantanjali.

I fail to see the truth in these assertions. The world is much more complex, deeper, richer, fuller, and more enduring than me or my thoughts. Some parts of my "world" are indeed largely part of my own thoughts and attitudes. But, thinking that the "entire world" is my own "projection" is a pure fantasy. The world will go along just fine without me, my projections, my illusions, my dreams. The big, wide world is something that proceeds the birth and survives beyond the death of a single individual. Without the world (e.g., atoms, molecules, cells, organs, things ...) and my body, I fail to see how my thoughts, dreams, fantasies, or beliefs are even possible.

In my taiji, qigong, and yoga practice, I have found that my body and the greater world provide opportunities for many new and unexpected experiences that go beyond what I ever thought or imagined might happen. The world is real enough to stumble over, dance upon, fall down on, walk around, and breath in. These facts are proof enough for me that reality is bigger than my belly or my brain's games.

Thursday, January 19, 2006

Tai Chi Chuan Direction of Movement

"As a long time student of T'ai Chi, it came to my attention that the direction you do T'ai Chi is important, but I can't find anyone with the same answers or reasons. In the morning, you should start in the eastern direction; during the day, south; and, in the evening west because of the energy. As it was described to me, if you put a tomato plant in each window (north-east-south-west) of your home, the tomato grow less in the north window and best in the south window. Does any of it matter what direction? My next question is, what if you live on the other side of the equator ? Is this just the opposite ? I hope you can help."
- John, email, December 18, 2005


The direction is important if you are trying to teach, learn or describe the movements for another person. It simplifies the description if the teacher or writer can use compass or clock directions. I talk about this on one of my webpages.

When learning, I recommend you always start facing in the same direction. The location of your regualar practice will likely dictate the direction from which you start and move in a particualar location. After you have learned a form, you can can start in any direction and do the form correctly.

Feng Shui, qigong and taoist alchemy make a great deal about directions both literally and metaphorically. These arts might give you some ideas about the correct direction. North is yin, cool, dark, shady, and feminine; South is yang, warm, sunny, bright, and masculine.

Indeed, plants thrive on sunlight, water, and warmth, part of the day, and so do we. But, I'm not sure how this helps answer your question.

I live where the skies can be very clear and the sun quite bright and hot. This fact dictates my direction of outdoor practice depending upon the time of day - more than anything else. (I go where the glare is less and the shade more.) So, in the southern hemisphere my starting direction would be different on a bright sunny day.

What is the right direction to face when we begin the form? Answers vary widely. In my opinion, it is not really all than important ... just practice daily.

Best wishes,
Mike Garofalo

Wednesday, January 18, 2006

In and Out of Your 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. We all have a place!

Monday, January 16, 2006

Ftiness Trends

American Council on Exercise predictions for 2006:

1. Teenagers and kids are utilizing personal trainers for sport-specific training.
2. Clubs and trainers offer more flexible workout sessions.
3. In-home training grows in popularity.
4. An increase in specialized fitness programming for older adults.
5. Simple exercise habits, such as a walk-a-day, remain popular.
6. Balance training continues to be a strong trend.
7. Employers are encouraging fitness and weight loss.
8. More and more restaurants are offering healthier nutrition options.
9. A growing tendency to blend popular mind-body programs such as yoga and Pilates with more traditional forms of exercise.
10. Functional fitness continues its strong presence in personal training sessions and group fitness classes.

Sunday, January 15, 2006

Bubbling Up

"Spiritual life is like living water that springs up from the very depths of our own experience. In spiritual life, everyone has to drink from his or her own well."
- St. Bernard of Clairvaux

I have been reading "Light on Life" by B.K.S. Iyengar (Rodale, 2005). A deeper well for satisfying one's spiritual thirsts.

Friday, January 13, 2006

Stronger Hips

Researchers at McMaster University near Toronto, Canada, have found that the best predictor of cardiovascular disease is not Body Mass Index (BMI), the commonly used ratio of weight to height; but, instead, the waist-to-hip ratio - simply your waist measurement divided by your hip measurement. The researchers analyzed data from the Interheart study of people in 52 Countries; comparing 12,461 people who had suffered a heart attack with 14,637 people free of heart disease.

A person, for example, with 36" Waist and a 40" hip measurement would have a waist -to-hip ratio of 0.9.

Having a waist-to-hip ratio of over 0.85 for women and over 0.9 for men indicates greater risk for heart disease.

The risk increases continuously with higher waist-to-hip ratios. Those in the highest fifth of people studied were 2.52 times more likely to have a heart attack than those in the lowest fifth.

Thursday, January 12, 2006

Aging and Exercise

"The number of over-55 health and fitness club members has increased nearly sixfold since 1993, to 10.2 million, according to a recent study by the International Health, Racquet and Sportsclub Association. They now account for a quarter of all memberships."
- AARP Bulletin, January 2006, "Pumping Platinum", p. 3

Wednesday, January 11, 2006

Fitness in Your Fifties

"As age increases, body wisdom increases, but basal metabolism and hormones related to muscle building decrease. There is an abundance of wisdom gained from experience but the body is not a responsive to exercise nor does it recover as fast from vigorous workouts. Still, one can live fully and train regularly during the later years by structuring the environment so that goal enhancing behaviors are rewarded."

- Frank Zane, Fabulously Fit Forever Expanded. Zananda, 1993. p. 30

Tuesday, January 10, 2006

Growing Younger

I recommend reading the following book:

Grow Younger, Live Longer: Ten Steps to Reverse Aging. By Deepak Chopra, M.D., and David Simon, M.D.. New York, Harmony Books, 2001. Index, references, p. 64. ISBN: 0609600796.

“You can reverse your biological age by:

1. Changing your preceptions.
2. Enjoying deep rest, restful awareness, and restful sleep.
3. Lovingly nurturing you body through healthy food.
4. Using nutritional complements wisely.
5. Enhancing mind/body integration: breathing exercises, yoga, tai chi.
6. Exercising regularly: both strength and aerobic conditioning.
7. Eliminating toxins from you life.
8. Cultivating flexibility and creativity in consciousness.
9. Maintaing loving relationships, and cultivating love towards others.
10. Maintaining a youthful mind.”

Monday, January 09, 2006

Staff Weapons

Links, Bibliography, Quotes, Notes

Martial Staff Blog

I attended the YogaFit Level II Workshop on Saturday and Sunday in Sacramento. 18 hours of Yoga! I'm a bit tired.

Friday, January 06, 2006

Confucian Wisdom

K'ung Fu-tzu
551 - 479 B.C.E.
Links, Quotes, Bibliography, Sayings, Notes

Some thoughts from Confucius on self-improvement:

"The perfecting of one's self is the fundamental base of all progress and all moral development

He who conquers himself is the mightiest warrior.

A gentleman considers what is right; the vulgar consider what will pay.

To be able under all circumstances to practice five things constitutes perfect virtue; these five things are gravity, generosity of soul, sincerity, earnestness and kindness.

Our greatest glory is not in never falling, but in rising every time we fall

The superior man is firm in the right way, and not merely firm.

The man of virtue makes the difficulty to be overcome his first business, and success only a subsequent consideration.

If one's character is rectified, then things will get done without orders. If one cannot rectify one's own character, what has one to do with rectifying others?

Better a diamond with a flaw than a pebble without."

Thursday, January 05, 2006

Rose Bowl - College Football Classic

Who could ask for more? Texas 41, USC 38! A real thriller!!

This outstanding football game at the Rose Bowl in Pasadena, California, will be remembered and talked about for a long long time.

Having watched all the USC football games this year, and having followed USC sports since I was 8 years old, naturally I was a little disappointed that USC could not win and be the first team to win the national championship three years in a row. But, it was a terrific season (11-1) with many memorable games: Oregon, Notre Dame, Fresno State, UCLA, and Texas.

Football is a fine "team" game, but Vince Young from Texas was so outstanding in his play yesterday as a fine running and sharp passing quarterback that he stood head and shoulders above everyone.

Wednesday, January 04, 2006

A Tasty Fact

"This cabbage, these carrots, these potatoes, these onions ...
will soon become me.
Such a tasty fact!"
- Mike Garofalo

"Tell me what you eat, and I will tell you what you are."
- Anthelme Brillat-Savarin

"Your body is a field of energy, transformation and intelligence made out of the food you eat. A sugar molecule in the apple you ate at lunch yesterday may be a part of you stomach lining today. An amino acid from the side order of cottage cheese you ate may be a fiber in your bicep muscle. An iron molecule from you spinach salad may already be part of the hemoglobin in one of you red blood cells. You become what you eat.

One of the four things happens to every molecule you ingest: (1) it is transformed into a structural part of you body; (2) it is used for energy; (3) it is stored for possible future use; or (4) it is eliminated."
- Deepak Chopra and David Simon. Grow Younger, Live Longer. 2001, p. 64.

Tuesday, January 03, 2006

Thoughts Return From Winter Skies


"There is a privacy about winter which no other season gives you .....
In spring, summer and fall people sort of have an open season on each other; only in the winter, in the country, can you have longer, quiet stretches when you can savor belonging to yourself."
- Ruth Stout

"Antisthenes says that in a certain faraway land the cold is so intense that words freeze as soon as they are uttered, and after some time then thaw and become audible, so that words spoken in winter go unheard until the next summer."
- Plutarch, Moralia

Some words spoken in the summer quickly evaporated and
fled into into the heavens. These thoughts were dispersed to
the far corners of the earth. Ripening in the skies they waited.
Joining the great northern flow they came home and with the
long winter rains they were heard again on their mother soil.
They spoke gently of rebirth, renewal, and revitalization.


Green Way Wisdom - Winter

Monday, January 02, 2006

Daoist Medical Qigong Center

Michael Rinaldini is the director of the Daoist Medical Qigong Center in Sebastopol, California. It is an affliate branch of BaGua XunDao Gong Qigong Center, Beijing, China. Mr. Rinaldini is also a Certified Teacher of Master Wan Sujian's Bagua Xundao gong qigong system. He is an acupressure and Tuina therapist (CMT). His trainings in qigong include three study trips to China, and in August 2003, Michael was ordained a 22nd generation Daoist Priest (novice) in the (Longmen) Dragon Gate sect. He was given the name "Dao Li-Chang."

Northern California Taijiquan and Qigong Directory

Qigong: Bibliography, Links, Guides, Resources

Sunday, January 01, 2006

Happy New Year

Best Wishes for a Healthy, Happy, and Productive 2006
May Your T'ai Chi Ch'uan, Qigong and Yoga Practices Flourish


"I prefer winter and fall, when you feel the bone structure in the
landscape - the loneliness of it - the dead feeling of winter.
Something waits beneath it - the whole story doesn't show."
- Andrew Wyeth


Best Wishes

A Plum Orchard near Red Bluff, California

Winter brings us cool temperatures and steady rain.
This causes the grasses to grow again.
All our fields are a vibrant bright green.
Such Beauty!
A suberb place for Taijiquan.

Green Way Wisdom - Trees and Orchards


Happy New Year

May each of you have a healthy, happy and prosperous New Year.
May 2007 bring more Good Will in the world, and good harvests in the fields.
May Peace and Blessings Come to You and Your Family this New Year.
May each of us do something practical to help the Earth Heal.

"The Art of Peace begins with you. Work on yourself and your appointed task in the Art of Peace.
Everyone has a spirit that can be refined, a body that can be trained in some manner, a suitable path to follow.
You are here for no other purpose than to realize your inner divinity and manifest your innate enlightenment.
Foster peace in your own life and then apply the Art to all that you encounter.
One does not need buildings, money, power, or status to practice the Art of Peace.
Heaven is right where you are standing, and that is the place to train.
To truly implement the Art of Peace, you must be able to sport freely in
the manifest, hidden, and divine realms."
- Morihei Ueshiba, Aikido O'Sensei, 1883-1969, The Art of Peace

Aikido Founder Morihei Ueshiba watering his garden.

Aikido Founder Morihei Ueshiba watering his garden.


May each of you accomplish all of your New Year's Resolutions.

I usually do make a few "New Year's Resolutions." This year I called them:

11 Things Mike Garofalo Will Accomplish in 1,0001 Days

I played a bit with developing another list called:

101 Things to Do in 1,0001 Days

If you are curious, you can read some of the lists of "101 Things to Do in 1,001 Days" created by other people.