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.