Saturday, April 29, 2006

Practice at Dawn

"When you arise in the morning, think of what a precious privilege
it is to be alive - to breathe, to think, to enjoy, to love."
- Marcus Aurelius

"Waking up in the morning, I vow with all beings
to be ready for sparks of the Dharma
from flowers or children or birds."
- Robert Aitken

Friday, April 28, 2006

Feedback from Readers - April 2006

"Your website is comprehensive and informative. Very nice, Michael! Have we met? I took a few minutes on this special day in the history of certain spiritual ideals to cruise Qigong and Tai Chi. Your website was instrumental in that. It is an amazing jump station."
- Dr. Roger Jahnke, OMD, 16 April 2006, Healing Promise of Qi,
Feel the Qi,

"Cool, Michael! The amount of information you have websited boggles (not to be confused with blogging) my mind. What a resource you are."
- Jack Gescheidt, 27 April 2006, TreeSpirit Project,

"Hi Mike! I am a junior undergraduate English major at the University of Maryland, College Park, 10 miles from Washington, DC. I just wanted to let you know how much I appreciate your website. It is the most inspiring and worthwhile website on the web, and every time I visit it I come away a more optimistic and grateful person. I practice Zen, Yoga, and am an aspiring gardener. Your website has inspired me to join my mother in gardening, something I always felt was a chore in my youth but now, thanks to your website, I view my mother's passion as a blessing rather than a burden. Especially on the east coast, where it is so hard to find someone who connects with our earthly home, I find your website a welcome relief from a fast paced, materialistic environs. I recommend your site to all of my friends who are interested, and they all appreciate it as I do. Thank you again and namaste, David."
- David Schultz, 4/1/06

"I started with this blog, reading about mind/body work and just cascaded through the rest of the site. Very cool! Mike, I found your sites to be interesting and in alignment with my own interests and personal journey."
- Michael Casko, Healing Partners, 4/4/06,

"The website I visited was Garden Digest, and I was impressed with all the resources! Mike, I hope the sun's shining for you!"
- Linda Gray, Flower and Garden Tips, 4/5/06,

"Your choice of quotations seems to be carefully entered. As I read the quotations, I could feel my emotions pulled and manipulated. Just as I was about to stand and cry out "Workers of the World Unite!" I would read a humbling quote that forced me to re-examine my emotions and current laments about work. This is what I like about your webpage."
Tammy Troupe, 4/8/06

"The layout, the wide range of quotes - it's all fabulous. I sincerely appreciate your website every time I visit it, and share the quotes with our little gardening community here in Portland, OR. I spend many times just scrolling through them and reading. Food for the soul. Heartfelt thanks."
- Terese, 4/10/06

"Your site is just amazingly large and wonderful. I will send you a copy of my new book "Meditatives Gärtnern." It is published in German, but maybe I will find a English editor - we will see. Good luck to you. Sincerely Reto."
- Reto Locher,

"I have enjoyed all of your guides and articles. I know that if I have a question I just need to go to your Cloud Hands website and I usually always find an answer. Thanks!"
- John, from Phoenix, 4/25/06

Blogs that Linked to Cloud Hands:

The Walk of Ten Thousand Steps
Taoism, Tai Chi, Qigong, Poetry

The Way of Long Life and Long Vision

Martial Views

Total Karate: Training, Kata, and Martial Arts Articles

Getting to Know Myself

Repulsive Monkey

Thursday, April 27, 2006

Valley Spirit (Gu Shen)

"Departing from the Mysterious, entering the Female.
It appears to have perished, yet appears to exist.
Unmovable, its origin is mysterious."
- The Jade Emperor's Mind Seal Classic

"In the Recorded Sayings of Master Ta Ma it is said, "The Mysterious [hsuan] represents heaven, ching [essence], and the nose. The Female [p'in] represents earth, blood [qi], and the abdomen. Hsuan is the father of ching [jing], and p'in is the mother of qi. So that which departs from the father is ching, and that which enters the female is qi. Within each person there is the Mysterious Female. Everyone can create a spiritual embryo. The Valley Spirit refers to yang shen [pure spirit]; with just one drop of yang shen uniting with the ching and qi, the Spirit Embryo is born."

- The Jade Emperor's Mind Seal Classic. The Taoist Guide to Health, Longevity, and Immortality. Translated with commentary by Stuart Alve Olson. Rochester, Vermont, 2003. Index, bibliography, 216 pages. ISBN: 0892811358. Reference, p. 139.

Notes on the Idea of the Valley Spirit (Gu Shen)

Wednesday, April 26, 2006

Bone Marrow Washing Qigong

John wrote to me asking,

"Hello, Mike. I have enjoyed all of your guides and articles, and know if I have a guestion I just need to go to your website and I usually always find an answer.

I have been researching Xi Sui Jing or Bone Marrow Washing. I have had no success, and wonder if you may be able to guide me in the right direction to either find a teacher, literature or video on this system. I am told there are 18 forms or exercises. Is this true? I have non-Hodgkins lymphoma cancer and thought this may help with my chemotherapy treatments, although the doctor thinks it's a waste of time and money. Thank you."


Take your oncologist's "advice" about treating cancer in terms of complementary exercises.

As for general well-being, an increased sense of vitality, feeling good, psycho-spiritual progress, positive visualization, and relaxation, qigong has helped many people. People who regularly practice qigong generally have positive comments to make about their experiences.

I've practiced Bone Marrow Washing Shaloin Qigong with a couple of Qigong teachers. I've not seen any consistency in the exercises between these teachers. The sets I learned had around 8 exercises.

Yang Jwing-Ming and Mantak Chia have written books on this qigong form, and, as I recall, give instructions on a version of the set. Yang Jwing-Ming's books are usually very informative and useful for learning forms, and have excellent, detailed background theory.

There are both harder and easier verions of the Xi Sui Jing exercise as with Shaolin White Crane Qigong. 18 Lohan Qigong, another Shaolin Qigong form, is also popular.

I'd recommend The Eight Section Brocade Qigong for a general introductory form, and you don't need to spend any extra money learning it (I explain it for free on a webpage); and, don't spend more than 20 mintues a day, at first, doing the form in the early morning. Also, enjoy some walking if you feel up to it!

Best wishes for a long remission, improved well-being, and a peaceful soul.

Mike Garofalo

Tuesday, April 25, 2006

Making of a Butterfly

Philip Starr wrote to me:

"I’d like to announce the release of my new martial arts book, “The Making Of A Butterfly”, which has been published by North Atlantic Books and is now available at bookstores as well as through This is not a “how-to” book nor is it “style-specific.” Rather, it is a collection of anecdotes involving my teacher, my classmates, and me. These stories are intended to present certain lessons and concepts that can be applied to any martial art. I hope that you’ll enjoy this new book and perhaps be able to utilize and expand upon some of the lessons presented therein. Some of these lessons involve subjects such as: Commitment to Regular Practice, The Spirit of Bowing, The Link Between Forms and Fighting, Courage, Courtesy, and so on. I hope that you will also make your students aware of the book. If I can ever be of service, please don’t hesitate to let me know! "
Very Truly Yours, Phillip “Pete” Starr

Monday, April 24, 2006

Ancient Qigong Artifacts

"The earliest records of qigong being practised were found on archaeological artifacts excavated in Qinghai province, China, dated approximately 5,000 years ago. These were in the form of drawings on gallipots. Descriptions of qigong were also found in relics from the Western Han Dynasty (206-24 BC), excavated in Hunan province; and actual written records were found in the ancient Chinese classic Shanshu, of the same period."

By Dr. Amir Farid Isahak, Qigong Revival - The Art of Qi

Has anyone else heard of these Dao-Yin drawings on the "gallipots" referred to by Dr. Isahak??

Shaolin Monks

Sunday, April 23, 2006

Mawangdui Manuscript

In 1973, archeologists in China excavated the tomb of king Ma who lived in the Western Han Dynasty (206 BC - 24 AD). In this tomb at Mawangdui, on the outskirts of the city of Changsha in Hunan Province, they discovered medical manuals, compilations, and a silk scroll on which were drawn 44 humans in various poses or postures. Under each pose, or Dao-yin diagram, was a caption with the name of an animal or the name of the disease that the posture might help cure. A number of the postures in the Dao-yin Tu closely resemble some in the Eight Section Brocade

Fair Lady Works the Shuttles

Saturday, April 22, 2006

Weeds of the Mind

"What is essential to practice the Tao is to get rid of cravings and vexations. If these afflictions are not removed, it is impossible to attain stability. This is like the case of the fertile field, which cannot produce good crops as long as the weeds are not cleared away. Cravings and ruminations are the weeds of the mind; if you do not clear them away, concentration and wisdom do not develop."
- Chang San-feng, legendary founder of T'ai Chi Ch'uan, circa 1300 A.D.

The Yoga Sutra by Pantajali speaks of the purpose of yoga being the calming and settling the disturbances of the mind. The ability to concentrate is one of the Eight Limbs of Classical (Raja) Yoga.

Concentrating fully while practicing Taijiquan or Qigong leaves little room for the mind to wander.

Friday, April 21, 2006

Valley Spirit Center

Valley Spirit Center
Michael Garofalo and Karen Garofalo
23005 Kilkenny Lane
Red Bluff, California


Private Instruction and Services in:

T'ai Chi Ch'uan



Reiki and Massage

The Concept of the Valley Spirit (Gu Shen)

Directions to the Valley Spirit Center, Red Bluff, California;

The Valley Spirit Center is located 7 miles south of downtown Red Bluff. From Main Street (Highway 99 West) and Antelope Blvd. (Highway 99 East), in downtown Red Bluff, drive south on South Main Street (Highway 99 West) for seven miles until you reach Kilkenny Lane, turn right, and drive .3 miles to 23005 Kilkenny Lane. Kilkenny Lane is 1.7 miles south of the Wal-Mart Distribution Center, and .3 miles north of the Proberta Post Office at the corner of Highway 99 West and Flores Avenue. The Valley Spirit Center is 5.4 miles south of the Tehama Family Fitness Center. There is an Interstate 5 Freeway off ramp at both Flores Avenue and at South Main Street (Highway 99 West).

Accomodations and Attractions in Red Bluff, California

Thursday, April 20, 2006

Fair Lady Works the Shuttles

"The standard Yang set today is Yang Chengfu's final revision of 85 postures, which he demonstrated in his book published in 1936. Most of the other books published since then, including many Western ones, are either variations or reflections of the author's own personal expression of the set. ... One should note that right from its creation, Yang Taijiquan has always been combat-oriented. Yang Chengfu always emphasized that the set should be practiced with its martial applications in mind. These applications may be taught through the fast set, individual posture explanations, tui shou (push hands), san shou (fixed-step sparring) and san da (free sparring)."
- Alex Yeo, "The Complete Yang Taijiquan System, Part 4.", Tai Chi, June 2003, p.45

In the Yang long form, Section III, Part 1, Fair Lady Works the Shuttles is done four times in a sequence to each of four corners. I really feel the martial roots of this movement.

I use this movement on a heavy 100 pound bag, and really blast away at times - no Tai Chi, all Shaolin Kung Fu external muscle and bone power. It feels so good!! Pure attack and smash.

Fair Lady Works the Shuttles

Wednesday, April 19, 2006

Portland Trip

Karen and I visited our children in Portland, Oregon, during the past five days. We chatted, dined out, went sightseeing in Portland area, and watched a few DVDs at night. In Portland, I enjoyed visiting the Portland Art Museum, the Portland Zoo, riding the MAX electric train, browsing at Powell's bookstore, and seeing the thousands of very beautiful shrubs, flowers, and trees in their Spring blooming phase. The long winter and spring rainy season has made the whole northwest along Interstate 5 a deep green color everywhere.

Thursday, April 13, 2006

Chen Pan-Ling Taijiquan Seminar

Hal Mosher sent me the following announcement:

Chen Yun ching seminar In September 6th - 10th at Fort Mason SF son of Chen pan ling. The Chen Pan-ling T’ai Chi Ch’uan Form is a synthesis of the pre-World War II era styles of Yang, Wu, and Chen, as well as influences from the miscellaneous family styles existing at the time. The unique beauty and practicality of the Chen Pan-ling T'ai Chi Ch'uan Form makes it stand out in the field of synthetic or combination Forms created in the last century.

If Tai Chi Ch'uan is one of China's Treasures, then the Chen Pan-ling Form is one of T'ai Chi Ch’uan's treasures. As Robert W. Smith said (in his foreword to the 1998 English version of Chen Pan-ling’s T’ai Chi Ch’uan Textbook) ”though eclectic, it is grounded in the traditional forms and brimming with the ancient spirit.”

The Form was based on the knowledge Chen Pan-ling gained from being chairman of a committee, formed in 1941 in Chungking by the Chinese Nationalist government’s Departments of Education and Military Training, and his extensive training in the Chinese martial arts of his time. The team of Martial Artists that contributed to the eventual creation of this rare but increasingly more well known form, was headed by probably one of the most knowledgeable kuo shu practitioners of 20th century China. The committee was composed of many distinguished martial artists and specialists formed to develop curriculum for kuo shu texts and to standardize martial arts. Three years later more than 50 different kinds of standardized textbooks were written, along with 40 wall posters and illustrations. The material they collected was lost during the eventual Communist takeover of the mainland. Master Chen Pan-ling certainly had some of the best credentials one could have, learning from some of the most well known Masters of the time, with his reputation following him from the mainland to Taiwan.

Chen Pan-ling, born in 1891, was trained by his father, in the Shaolin arts, when he was young. Later some of the best martial artists of the day trained him in T’ai Chi Ch’uan, Pakua, and Hsing-i. His T’ai Chi Ch’uan teachers were Yang Shao-hou, Wu Chien-chuan, Hsu Yu-sheng, and Chi Tzu-hsiu. He also traveled to the Chen family village to study the Chen style in 1927- 28. He was vice-president (founder of Henan Province school) of the famous Central Martial Arts Academy of Nanking, and later Chung King. Master Chen was also one of the main coaches of the Chinese demonstration team at the 1936 Olympic games in Berlin. On Taiwan he was head of the Chinese Boxing Association from 1959 until his death in 1967. During those years he taught and published books on the Chinese martial arts, including Shaolin,T’ai Chi Ch’uan, Pakua, and Hsing-i. He published his T’ai Chi Ch’uan Textbook in 1963 in the Chinese language and asked his senior student, Y. W. Chang to translate it into English. This was accomplished in 1998 with his co-translator Ann Carruthers and help from many others, as noted in the Introduction to the Translation. A quote from that introduction the essence lies in the journey, not at the destination defines the spirit of the T’ai Chi Ch’uan Form presented in the textbook.

The Form itself follows the large frame sequence of the Old Yang style, before any of the changes that eventually came about when it became much more widespread in the rest of the world. The performance of the postures looks to be more obviously martial than some of the modified forms that have been created in recent years for health purposes. They are detailed with many possible applications and techniques that include parrying, punching, kicking, striking, and throwing, as well as chin na grasps and releases, close quarters grappling, and twisting. The strikes and kicks may be performed with vigorous execution compared to the soft movements, but not to the degree as those from the original Chen style. The old Wu style is represented well in this form, using modified versions of the postures "lift hand", "turn around and cast down with fist and palm", "left and right striking tiger", "dodge and kick", "turn around and kick", "press face with palm", "brush knee and punch at underbelly", "left and right separate instep kicks", "turn around and press face with palm", "bend bow to shoot tiger", "step back and repulse monkey", and "step back and ride tiger". Many of these postures are shared by the Old Yang style, showing how closely linked the old styles of Yang and Wu really were in the early 20th century. Some postures also use a slight forward incline with a rounded back, not always a plumb erect stance. The old Chen style's influence is evident throughout the form in the characteristic low twisting postures, and use of "corkscrew" strength and "silk reeling" energy. Power is issued by twisting of the waist and sinking of weight into legs, coordinating with the rest of the body. The open palm formation of the hand, or "tile palm", is also adapted from the Chen system as well as the direction of the "press" being in a downward vector.

There seems to be influences from Hsing-i and Bagua in some of the footwork, as in "step circularly" near the end of the form and also in the "3-legged" stance of the posture "step forward and deflecting shove". One interesting feature of the Chen Pan-ling Form is the pivoting of the rear foot, done on the ball of the foot rather than the heel, as in the Yang style. This adjusts the weight distribution to a 60%/40% in the legs and therefore gives more stability to the forward stances, and is also easier on the knees. The breathing is done in the "natural" way with breathing out on the execution of a technique, contracting the tan tien. When preparing to strike or withdrawing from one, the tan tien expands with the breath sinking down.

The Form can be performed in the slow manner in which many Yang styles are, and also with some speed, maybe double time, and can be performed as fast as you can, while maintaining proper T'ai Chi Principles and execution of the forms. This gives your practice versatility, keeps it interesting, and adds to your training capability. When one performs the Chen Pan-ling Form with the proper spirit, it takes on a unique flavor all its own.

Wednesday, April 12, 2006

Reiki with Karen Garofalo

Reiki is a method of healing using touch, energy (Ki, Qi), intention, symbols, and visualization. It was developed in Japan by Dr. Mikao Usui, 1865-1926.

My wife, Karen Garofalo, is studying Reiki with Susanna Luebcke, MD.

Persons living in the North Sacramento Valley who are interested in Reiki should write or call Karen.

Karen's website: Reiki Practitioner, Karen Garofalo, Red Bluff, California

Tuesday, April 11, 2006

John Loupos Tai Chi Workshop

"Mike, Thank you for your kind words.

FYI... Dear Fellow Tai Chi’er, How would you like a chance to kick (sink) back for a week of very focused, very intensive training with fellow Tai Chi students and teachers who, like yourself, are committed to getting the very most from their practice... an opportunity to immerse yourself in Tai Chi and explore what-all its implications are for truly enhancing your life on all levels? The idea of offering a Tai Chi full immersion retreat has simmered on my back burner over the last several years as my particular understandings of Tai Chi and my teaching methodologies have disseminated far and wide via the three books and numerous magazine articles I have written. Now I’m ready to offer just such an event in an awe-inspiring location. Finding the right venue, some perfect setting for Tai Chi with great weather and strong but mellow environmental energy (feng shui), plus good earth ethics presented a bit of a challenge. I’ll tell you more about the venue I’ve chosen shortly. Right now, I am in preparation stages of a retreat that will take place next August. At this writing, I have confirmed both the dates for this retreat and its location (details below). First though, join me back at my drawing board. I’m planning a well structured curriculum designed to help you get more, lots more, out of whatever Tai Chi you practice. Each day of our retreat will start with early morning body-opening and Chi Kung practice, followed by time off for breakfast and settling in. During the day we’ll meet for two 2-hour training sessions, morning and late afternoon. In between training sessions you’ll have ample free time to rest, reflect on and practice all you’ve learned, explore/ hike, or engage in lively Tai Chi discussions with fellow attendees from around the country. Our basis for training will be a traditional Yang form, but we will approach it in a way that emphasizes Tai Chi’s deepest and most natural connections... no matter if you already practice a different form or style, this study will enrich your understanding of Tai Chi at its core. Throughout the week there will be lots of opportunity for personalized attention. My promise to those who attend is that you will emerge from your week of training with a better understanding of Tai Chi’s nuances and a fresh perspective on how Tai Chi can help you to optimize your own human potential. You’ll finish up your Tai Chi retreat week light years beyond of where you started. Evenings will see time for other structured activities, including discussions about Tai Chi principles, Pushing Hands, how to live your Tai Chi in a manner that is congruent with the values intrinsic to Tai Chi, and more. I’ll also introduce instruction in Hanna Somatics bodywork exercises. These unique exercises, developed by a modern pioneer of therapeutic/educational movement, will provide you a means by which you will find relief and release from habituated and amnesiac muscle patterns wherever they might be hiding in your body. It is exactly the patterns of stuckness addressed by these exercises which prevent most people from advancing beyond a certain level of skill with their own Tai Chi. Now for our venue. We’ll be holding our retreat at an expansive ranch setting in beautiful Sand Creek Canyon in the Northern Black Hills of eastern Wyoming. That’s Big Sky country. The ranch is situated on 600 acres of pristine land, which includes a blue-ribbon trout stream - and is in proximity to Deadwood, Devil’s Tower National Monument, Spearfish Canyon, and the Vore Buffalo Jump. The main ranch house, built during the 1930’s, was constructed of massive pine timbers by the finest woodworkers and artisans of the day. It has comfortable accommodations for 75+ people and a large indoor common room. Excepting the caretakers and our chef, we’ll have the place all to ourselves. The grounds outside the ranch house include 5 acres of mowed lawns, perfect for our daily Tai Chi practice. Our retreat will be held from Aug 27 thru Sept 3, 2006. The cost for retreat attendees is $950 pp, with savings up to $150 for those who register early. (details to follow). The fee includes all training and accommodations, plus 3 healthy gourmet meals/day. Not included are airfare, transportation to and from the airport (though we’ll be offering scheduled pick-ups/drop-offs for folks flying in/out), local travel, & meals off site. What to do now... Your skill level or experience at Tai Chi is less important than your enthusiasm and a desire to learn. Part of my teaching philosophy is that people move at their own pace and learn what they’re ready to learn when they’re ready to learn it. Our training will be serious (fun serious, not stern serious), but open to different levels of experience. I am now accepting registrations. And, by all means free to pass this along to other Tai Chi enthusiasts who may be interested. Best Tai Chi regards, John Loupos Your host and teacher for this event... John Loupos is the owner/ founder of Jade Forest Kung Fu/ Tai Chi/ Internal Arts, HQ’ed in Cohasset Ma, with two authorized branch facilities. John has been teaching martial arts since 1968 and practicing Tai Chi since 1975. His internal arts experience covers a wide spectrum. He is also trained in Classical Homeopathy and Hanna Somatics. He is the author of “Inside Tai Chi...”, “Exploring Tai Chi...” and “Tai Chi Connections...”, with a companion instructional DVD due for release in 2006. His articles have appeared in Taijiquan Journal, Inside Kung Fu magazine, and the Journal of Asian Martial Arts. John was also featured as a presenter at the 2005 Zhang San Feng Festival and has been invited back for 2006. John is guided in his role as a Tai Chi teacher by his beliefs that: 1/ Tai Chi Chuan can be more than something we do, rather it can become an indelible part of who we are,... 2/ the essential principles of Tai Chi are universal, regardless of the style,... 3/ Tai Chi is a mind/body discipline that can help us optimize our human potential as ‘self-masters’,... and 4/ Tai Chi should be as much fun as it is work. Hope you’ll be able to join us. === Big Sky Tai Chi Retreat 06 Additional event information Greetings Fellow Tai Chi’ers, Our dates are confirmed for Sun, Aug 27 - Sun Sept 3. I’ve included information below on registration procedures and will provide an even more detailed follow-up letter for participants once confirmation payment has been received. To help you plan well ahead, attendees should arrange travel plans to arrive at the Ranch A Education Center lodge (details to follow on registration) between noon - 6 pm on Sun, 8/27. You may care to note that the airlines serving Rapid City are American, Skywest/Delta, Frontier, Great Lakes, Northwest/KLM, and United. Joel Bielstein, who operates my satellite Jade Forest branch in Rapid City, and his mom Karel, will be our local contacts. Joel and Karel will be offering a courtesy shuttle from the Rapid City airport to the ranch. There will be two shuttle trips (at least), one leaving RC early/mid-afternoon and a second one departing later in the afternoon. Once registrants have provided me with their flight info we’ll do our best to plan shuttles around arrival and departure times. Cars can be rented at the airport. Or, if you prefer to pool on a rented car with other attendees let me know and I will try to put like-minded people together. Once you are confirmed registered, or for anyone arriving late or preferring to make their own transportation arrangements, driving directions/maps will be made available, as well local cell ph #’s for our shuttle drivers. Please let me know your preference on this no later than 5/1/06. Our first evening together at the ranch has dinner being served at 6 pm and then some free time for settling in prior to an intro/orientation gathering at 8 pm. Please try to make orientation if at all possible so everybody can get started on the same root. Training will begin the following morning. A chart of the week-long daily training schedule will follow with maps, etc. Departure will be the following Sun morning after early workout and breakfast. Shuttles will taxi back to RC airport, again taking into account flight departure times. Checkout is by noon. I am now accepting reservations for the Big Sky Tai Chi Retreat. Fees are as follows: Payment in full before: 12/1/05 @ $800 after 12/1 but before: 1/1/06 @ $850 after 1/1 but before: 2/15/06 @ $900 Payment rec. after 2/15/06 @ $950 Cancellations/refunds by - 4/15/06 100% less $50 before: 8/1/06 50% Cancellations after: 8/1/06 no refund Instructor’s note: In response to several inquiries, if you are an Instructor wanting to bring students of your own to this retreat you are eligible for an additional discount. For each of your students who prepays by 6/1/06 (space permitting) you will receive a rebate in the amount of $50, to be administered at the retreat. To register you may send payment in full at this time or a deposit to hold your space. Applicable discounts apply according to discount deadlines. Checks may be made out to Jade Forest. Mail to: Jade Forest, 130 King St, Cohasset, Ma, 02025. Once you are registered I will notify you to confirm your space. Further information will be sent out during Feb to help you prepare for a successful event. Again, I’m extremely pleased with the enthusiastic interest the Tai Chi community has shown in this retreat. It’s already shaping up to be a memorable and unique experience for all the Tai Chi enthusiasts who are planning to attend.

Best regards, John Loupos"

Monday, April 10, 2006

Five Animal Frolics: The Bear

"Qigong is as old as Chinese civilization. The Spring and Autumn Annals, written in 240 B.C. describes a legend that is linked to the history of qigong. All of China was once covered by flood waters. Stagnant waters produced disease and plague, and the people called upon their gods for help. The God-Emperor Yu used his mystical power to cause the rain to subside. He danced on the land with a bear-like gait and used a magic pole to etch deep into the earth's surface a pattern that looked like the Big Dipper constellation. The waters flowed into the newly formed river beds; the constellation of sacred rivers delineated the ancient provinces of China. Emperor Yu moved like a bear becasue he knew that animals and natural forces can inspire people to move with grace and power."
- Kenneth Cohen, The Essential Qigong Training Guide

Karen and I both decided that we needed to learn more about Ken Cohen's Qigong system before we started Day 1 of the 100 Day program. We will be studying the DVD, reading his book, and listening to the audio CDs until 4/18/06 when we will begin Day 1 of the Essential Qigong Training Program.

Sifu Cohen recommends 20-25 minutes of practice for Days 1-10.
His recommended practice for Days 1-10 includes:
Meditation: Posture and Focus 10 minutes
Warm Up: Whole Body Breathing 3 minutes
Purifying the Qi: Bone Marrow Cleansing 10 minutes
Gathering and Circulating Qi: Standing Meditation 4 minutes

Today, I listened to the second audio CD in Cohen's program as I took my regular long morning walk. I also practiced my Taiji and Qigong forms in the morning.

Sunday, April 09, 2006

Eight Trigrams and Five Elements

Updated the Eight Trigrams Charts to include a new one with attibutions to the Five Elements or Five Phases Theory used in Chinese cosmology and medicine.

Eight Trigrams

Saturday, April 08, 2006

Just for Today

Just for today, here and now, I will strive to:
Give thanks for my many blessings.
Seek and speak the truth.
Let go of my worries.
Stop being angry.
Do my work honestly.
Be kind to my neighbors and every living thing.
Honor my parents, teachers and elders.


Usui Reiki Ryoho

Day 3, Saturday, 4/8/06: Essential Qigong Training Program. I listened to the second audio CD in the program as I took my regular long morning walk. My qigong practice included the Wild Goose Qigong, Standing Meditation, the Sun style Taiji (30 & 73) forms, and seated meditation. I studied the plan for Days 1-10 (p.33 of the Taining Guide). I watched DVD 1, Chapter 3, 4, 7, and 11.

Friday, April 07, 2006

The Essential Qigong Training Program

My wife, Karen Garofalo, and I have decided to start the Essential Qigong Training Program developed by Kenneth Cohen. This is a comprehensive 100 day qigong training program.

This program by Sifu Kenneth Cohen is available to everyone via the following resources.

The Essential Qigong Training Course. 100 Days to increase Energy, Physical Health, and Spiritual Well-Being. By Kenneth Cohen. Boulder, Colorado, Sounds True, 2005. Includes a 59 page weekly workbook, a Qigong DVD, 5 audio CDs, and one Qi Healing DVD. ISBN: 1591790905.

The Way of Qigong: The Art and Science of Chinese Energy Healing. By Kenneth S. Cohen. Foreword by Larry Dossey. New York Ballantine Books, 1997. Index, notes, appendices, 427 pages. ISBN: 0345421094. One of my favorite books: comprehensive, informative, practical, and scientific.

Healing Ways: The Teachings of Kenneth Cohen

Day 1, Essential Qigong Training Program, 4/6/06: I listened to the first audio CD in the program as I took my regular long morning walk. My qigong practice included the Wild Goose Qigong, and Sun style Taiji (30 & 73) forms, and seated meditation. I felt very energetic. I learned some new information from the audio recording. His voice is nicely modulated, and the recording clear and crisp; and his presention is very informative.

Day 2, Essential Qigong Training Program, 4/7/06: I listed to the second audio CD in the program as I walking this cool and overcast morning. My qigong practice included the Eight Section Brocade, Bear Frolics, and Sun style Taiji. I also practiced Yang Taiji (24 and 108). My mood was energetic, positive, and expansive.

I plan to post notes about my daily practice of The Essential Qigong Training Course in the Cloud Hands Weblog.

"For optimal health, we need body and spirit, exercise and meditation, awareness of the inner world and the outer. In other words, health requires balance and moderation. The goal of qigong may be summarized as xing ming shuang xiu, "spirit and body equally refined and cultivated." Cultivate your whole being, as you would cultivate a garden - with attention, care, and even love."
- Kenneth Cohen, Essential Qigong, 2005, p. 2

Thursday, April 06, 2006

Feedback From Readers

"I started with quotes, and went from there ... besides the technical "ease" of the website- ie. easy to navigate, appealing, and content-rich, it speaks to me as coming from someone passionate about their subject. Thank you! Your work displayed here, is inspirational."
- Lisa M. Deschamps, 3/3/06

"I was impressed with the depth of the information presented at your website. I really appreciate and admire the research you have put into the arts we both so enjoy. I would like to ask if I can use some of the information from your Eight Section Brocade Qigong webpage for a college course I am teaching on the set. Thank you!"
- Neil Ripski, Eight Shadows Fist, 3/5/06

"Mike, I like what you write in the Green Way Blog. I've recently taken a big turn in my life. And well... I find being awake is particularily good. The the more you awake, the more you see people who awoke before you; and, all of these people are willing to help or see you through that awakening. It is a very good feeling. I really appreciate your websites and thoughts. Keep it up!. I smile a bit more everyday because of them. Have a good day, Mike."
- Mathieu Valotaire, 3/15/06, Chito-ryu Karate

"Thank you so much Mike for publishing the 53 movements of the sword form online. I have searched long and hard for this information. Thank you for sharing and for your hard work! Aloha.
- James, 3/27/06

Wednesday, April 05, 2006

Ken Cohen on Qigong

I really enjoy and greatly benefit from the high quality books, audio CDs and DVDs by Qigong Master Ken Cohen. Here are three of my favorites by Ken Cohen:

"The Way of Qigong: The Art and Science of Chinese Energy Healing." By Kenneth S. Cohen. Foreword by Larry Dossey. New York Ballantine Books, 1997. Index, notes, appendices, 427 pages. ISBN: 0345421094. One of the best books on Qigong: comprehensive, informative, practical, and scientific in spirit.

"The Essential Qigong Training Course." 100 Days to increase Energy, Physical Health, and Spiritual Well-Being. By Ken Cohen. Boulder, Colorado, Sounds True, 2005. Includes a 59 page weekly workbook, a Qigong DVD, 5 audio CDs, and one Qi Healing DVD. ISBN: 1591790905. An outstanding audio-visual study resource.

"The Way of Qigong." By Ken Cohen. 5 audiocassettes, 6 hours. Boulder, Colorado, Sounds True, 1993. ISBN: 1564552578.

Tuesday, April 04, 2006

Sun Style of Tai Chi Chuan

I spend some time each day learning and practicing the Sun style of Taijiquan - the standard 73 competition form. My webpage on Sun Taijiquan includes links to resources on the subject: books, videotapes, DVDs, webpages, and articles. I have purchased a number of videotapes on the Sun 73 form. My favorites are:

Sun Style Tai Chi 73 Forms by Dr. Paul Lam

Tai Chi Sun Style Competition Form 73 by Master Jesse Tsao.

Sun Style Tai Chi Competition Form By Shifu Jiang Jian-ye.

Monday, April 03, 2006

Pulling Onions

Impatience may be justified, but err on the side of patience.
Springtime flows in our veins.
Making a living is different from making a life.
A poverty of vision is not the only limitation.
Better to lend a helping hand than just to point a finger.
Gardening provides a mutually beneficial nurturing of both garden and gardener.
Minding the mind, massaging the muscles, grokking the garden.
It is already together because we can't think any other way.

Green Way Wisdom - Pulling Onions

Sunday, April 02, 2006

Tai Chi for Arthritis Workshop

I attended the Tai Chi for Arthritis Level I and II weekend workshop in Pleasant Hill, California. The workshop leader was Master Trainer Troyce Thome. She was assisted by Robin Malby.

The workshop was from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Saturday and Sunday. This workshop presented the Tai Chi for Arthritis program created by Dr. Paul Lam and supported by the Arthritis Foundation of Australia, Arthritis Care of UK, and adopted by the Arthritis Foundation of the U.S.A..

Our lively group included physical therapists, nurses, a doctor, a lawyer, related health care professionals, professionals, fitness instructors, and tai chi enthusiasts. There was lots of positive energy, smiling faces, good efforts, and enthusiasm.

I worked with a group of seven persons studying the Part 2 Course. We learned a 30 movement Sun style Tai Chi form, and did a good coordinated demonstration of the Sun style form before the whole group at the end of the workshop.

Our master teacher, Troyce Thome, was poised, patient, articulate, and experienced. She is a college teacher, a tai chi-yoga-pilates teacher, an organizer of East-West educational programs, and an expert in Tai Chi for Arthritis per Dr. Paul Lam, MD. She has trained with many other tai chi masters. She will soon return to China for another visit to Taoist Temples and Tai Chi studies on Wudang Mountain in China. She lives in San Diego, and travels widely presenting workshops. She will be presenting a workshop in Bend, Oregon, titled "Exploring the Depth of Tai Chi" from August 18-21, 2006. Ms. Thome can be reached at:

Robin Malby helped teach and organized the workshop amenities. She was an elementary school teacher, and now teaches tai chi. She has received numerous certifications from Dr. Paul Lam, MD. She is a recent graduate of the IIQTC school of Integral Qi Gong developed by Roger Jahnke, OMD.

The Community Center in Pleasant Hill was an excellent location. The weather in Pleasant Hill was cool and overcast - perfect for tai chi practice. Many beautiful shrubs were in bloom.

I enjoyed speaking with Bob Lau, an outstanding Chen and Yang style Tai Chi Chuan teacher and practitioner from Portland, Oregon. I hope to attend a few of his classes while I'm visiting my children in Portland. Visit Bob's website for his School of Internal Martial Arts.

I completed the Tai Chi for Arthritis, Part 2 Course, and received a certificate. The certification to teach this program is good from 2/2/06-2/2/08.

For more information go to the website: Tai Chi for Arthritis.

Saturday, April 01, 2006

Tai Chi and Qigong for Arthritis

I will be updating my Arthritis Therapy - Exercise: Tai Chi and Qigong webpage during the upcoming week. This webpage has a variety of links, a bibliography, article citations, and resources for persons seeking information on complementing their arthritis health program with gentle, useful, and proven exercises.