Wednesday, February 28, 2007

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

Monday, February 26, 2007

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

Sunday, February 25, 2007

Fade into Emptiness: Shikantaza

"Even though your practice is not good enough, you can do it. Your breathing will gradually vanish. You will gradually vanish, fading into emptiness. Inhaling without effort you naturally come back to yourself with some color or form. Exhaling, you gradually fade into emptiness -- empty, white paper. That is shikantaza. The important point is your exhalation. Instead of trying to feel yourself as you inhale, fade into emptiness as you exhale.

When you practice this in your last moment, you will have nothing to be afraid of. You are actually aiming at emptiness. You become one with everything after you completely exhale with this feeling. If you are still alive, naturally you will inhale again. 'Oh, I'm still alive! Fortunately or unfortunately!' Then you start to exhale and fade into emptiness. Maybe you don't know what kind of feeling it is. But some of you know it. By some chance you must have felt this kind of feeling."
- Suzuki Roshi, Not Always So

Saturday, February 24, 2007

Will Power

"A callused palm and dirty fingernails precede a Green Thumb"
- Michael Garofalo

No one is wise by birth. Wisdom results from one's own efforts."
- Krishnamacharya

"Criticism, like rain, should be gentle enough to nourish a man's growth without destroying his roots."
- Frank A. Clark

"There is not great talent without great will power."
- Honore de Balzac

"Excellence is not an act, it is a habit."
- Aristotle

Green Way Wisdom - Will Power

Friday, February 23, 2007

Eight Branches of Yoga

Eight Limbs of Yoga (Astanga)

The Eight Branches of Classical Raja Yoga

1. Yamas: The Guidelines for Conscious Living, the Moral Codes, the Ethical Principles, The Five Principles of Behavior Towards Others and Oneself

2. Niyamas: The Guidelines for Personal Living, Five Rules for a Healthy Mind-Body

3. Asanas: Postures, Exercises, Sequence of Physical Exercises

4. Pranayama: Breathing Exercises, Energy Movement Training

5. Pratyahara: Control of the Senses, Self-Observation, Looking Within

6. Dharana: Concentration, Mindfulness

7. Dhyana: Meditation

8. Samadhi: Self-Realization, Enlightement, Bliss, Joyfulness

Thursday, February 22, 2007

Nevada Travel Adventure

Karen and I enjoyed a trip to Nevada. We were celebrating our 40th wedding anniversary.

We first visited with Betty Yarber, Karen's sister, and her family in Las Vegas. We then drove north from Las Vegas up Highway 93 to Ely, Nevada. The only small towns on this route were Caliente and Pinoche. We then we drove west from Ely to Reno, Nevada, via Highway 50, the Lincoln Highway. The only small towns on this portion of Highway 50 are Ely, Eureka, Austin, and Fallon. This 700 mile adventure took us through eastern and central Nevada in the high desert, Great Basin area. A number of passes took us up to 6,000 to 7,500 feet through pinyon pine and juniper forests. Most of central eastern Nevada was covered with 5 inches of snow. At Robinson Summit, 7,600 feet, west of Ely, the temperature dropped to 3 degrees F.

Karen Garofalo enjoying the desert sunshine near Caliente,
Nevada, along Highway 93 in south eastern Nevada.

Mike Garofalo standing along Highway 93, southeast of Ely, Nevada.
Mt. Wheeler, 13,000 feet, is in the background.

West of Ely, Nevada, along Highway 50, the Lincoln Highway.
It was extremely cold during this portion of the trip.

West of Ely, Nevada, along Highway 50, the Lincoln Highway.

West of Eureka, Nevada, along Highway 50, the Lincoln Highway.

Austin, Nevada, along Highway 50, the Lincoln Highway.
Austin is in the center of Nevada.

The Lincoln Highway, Highway 50, was the first transcontinental highway, from New York to San Francisco, constructed in 1913. As Highway 50 crosses central Nevada, it is dubbed "The Loneliest Road in America."

Thursday, February 15, 2007

Morning Walks

"Happy is the man who has acquired
the love of walking for its own sake!"
- W.J. Holland

"There is this to be said for walking:
It's the one mode
of human locomotion by which
a man proceeds on his own two feet,
upright, erect,
as a man should be,
not squatting on his rear haunches
like a frog."
- Edward Abbey

"Zen Dance is beyond religion, it manifests all of reality. It is an embodiment of meditation in motion, or movement creation, as well as spiritual practice and physical conditioning. But, like life, it is also ephemeral: Dancing is painting on air."
Lee Sun Ock, Creatrix-Choreographer of Zen Dance

On my days off work, usually four days a week, I walk in the morning and practice Taijiquan. For me, these two practices are a wonderful period of uplifting, engaging, and profound meditation.

Green Way Widsom - Walking

I won't be posting to the Cloud Hands Blog for a few days as I work on a few of my 11 Things to Do in 1001 Days.

Tuesday, February 13, 2007

Spirit of Gardening

The Spirit of Gardening website offers:
Over 3,300 quotations, poems, sayings, and quips about gardening, agriculture, the Green Way, and nature. The quotations are arranged by over 140 topics. There is over 6.5 MB of text on this website. The website has served over 10 million webpages to readers around the world. It has won numerous awards since 1999. The Spirit of Gardening website was created and is maintained by Mike Garofalo.

Yang Style Tai Chi Chuan

Yang Style Taijiquan Long 108 Form

Yang Style Taijiquan Short 24 Form

Sun Style Taijiquan 73 Form

I teach the Yang and Sun styles of T'ai Chi Ch'uan.

Monday, February 12, 2007

Qigong in the Rain

It was raining steadily Saturday afternoon. Maybe that was why nine people attended the Saturday morning Yang style Tai Chi Chuan class in Red Bluff. One lady, a Ms. Peak, said she had learned some of the Yang 108 form from Karen Mitsueda in Redding.

A major storm found its way from the Pacific to Northern California last week. It dropped over 4" inches at our home in Red Bluff. We still need much more rain and snow in February, since it did not rain during our bitter cold month in January.

"Millions long for immortality who do not know what to do with themselves on a rainy Sunday afternoon."
- Susan Ertz

Green Way Wisdom - Rain

"I am sure it is a great mistake always to know enough to go in when it rains. One may keep snug and dry by such knowledge, but one misses a world of loveliness."
- Adeline Knapp

Sunday, February 11, 2007

Tehama Family Fitness, Red Bluff, CA

Lately, I've been working on a new website project for the Tehama Family Fitness Center (TFFC) in Red Bluff, California. They now have a Tehama Family Fitness Center Website, and a TFFC Blog. There is also a webpage for the Physical Therapy and Wellness Center at TFFC. I am the webmaster for this project.

I teach Hatha Yoga, Tai Chi Chuan, Qigong, spin cycling, and other fitness classes at the Tehama Family Fitness Center. I am a personal fitness trainer, AFAA certified.

I am also the webmaster for the Corning Union Elementary School District in Corning, California; The Spirit of Gardening website; and Green Way Research.

Saturday, February 10, 2007

Global Warming and Growing Trees

A number of articles have appeared lately that make the case against planting trees in northern latitudes because they increase rather than decrease general warming trends. There is some debate about this thesis.

Here is my thinking on this subject. The main means of reducing global warming is for everyone to use less energy, waste less energy, reduce the use of fossil fuels, consume less, travel less, drive less, fly less, use energy more efficiently, find alternative sources of energy, etc.. People who enjoy gardening tend to stay home more. They might stay at home and sit or play in the shade of their trees more, thus using less gasoline to wander around shopping or seeking travel adventures. In the summer, they might use less electricity or other energy sources on cooling because the shade from the trees makes their homes cooler. They might enjoy sitting in the shade of the beautiful trees in their yards and talking with family members or reading, and thus use less energy on other activities. They might benefit from doing some Qigong while standing in the shade of their trees.

We are busy during the winter months planting bare root trees and shrubs. Maybe this is an act which "causes" another iceberg to melt, like a butterfly flapping its wings in the Amazon "causes" a tsunami in Thailand .... our endless intersecting streams of "causes and effects", bad karma running wild. I prefer to think that planting and growing trees might encourage the kind of Green thoughts that "causes" others to drive less, to stop flying in airplanes, or to turn off their air conditioners.

Planting a million trees would cause far far less heating of the earth than the thoughts of revenge in the minds of Osama bin Laden or George W. Bush ... and their poor decision making skills and destructive actions.

"What kind of times are they, when
A talk about trees is almost a crime
Because it implies silence about so many horrors?"
- Bertolt Brecht, To Those Born Later

Becoming a gardener, a tree tender, and following the Green Way might inspire you to live simply, use sun energy more, walk more, and learn more about environmental conservation. In the few years I have left on this earth, I intend to plant a few more trees and sit or do Qigong in the shade of those trees I planted nine years ago.

Planting Bare Root Trees in Red Bluff, California

I am the Lorax, I speak for the trees,
for the trees have no tongues.
- Dr. Suess

Friday, February 09, 2007

Sacred Circles

"The four-quartered Circle of Magick is a central element in most Western magickal rituals. It is called the "portal between the worlds," a means of connecting with the Deities, Spirits, and Elemental Powers of a realm beyond the material universe. It is envisioned as a vortex with which we focus on our own innate psychic powers, called forth by ritual actions from the subliminal depths of the mind and soul. It is a "sacred space," a sanctuary for communion with the old ones, the deities of our faith.
Many levels of symbolism are intrinsic to the Magick Circle. Among these metaphors are metaphysical and mystical concepts that describe the greater reality within which our lives are experienced. The four "corners" of the Circle of Magick correspond with the compass directions and their associated Elements (Earth, Air, Fire or Water). A fifth Element, Spirit, is often associated with the center of the Circle or with the Circle as a whole."
- Bran the Blessed, Circle Symbolism

Valley Spirit Sacred Circle

Karen stands near in the center of the Valley Spirit Sacred Circle. Behind Karen is the yellow post which marks the Eastern direction, and the Element of Air, Mind, Consciousness, or Intellect; and the Eastern Quadrant is planted with five olive trees, the sacred plant of Athena, the Goddess of Wisdom. Further behind Karen, 26 feet from the center, are some of the seventeen posts marking the boundary of the outer fifth circle. This photo was taken on February 4, 2007.

Sacred Circles
Bibliography, Resources, Links, Quotations, Notes
Researched by Mike Garofalo
112Kb, 2/5/2007

Walking Meditation

Thursday, February 08, 2007

Flow Without a Break

"More clearly than the teacher could express it in words, they tell the pupil that the right frame of mind for the artist is only reached when the preparing and the creating, the technical and the artistic, the material and the spiritual, the project and the object, flow together without a break."
Eugen Herrigal, Zen and the Art of Archery

"The ancient masters understood mystery.
The depths of their wisdom were unfathomable,
so all we have are descriptions of how they looked ...
Careful, as if crossing a frozen river.
Alert, as if aware of danger.
Respectful, like a guest.
Yielding, like melting ice.
Simple, like a valley."
- Lao Tzu, Tao Te Ching

Wednesday, February 07, 2007

Strike Like a Snake

"Different snake styles imitate different movements of snakes. Some, for example, imitate the Cobra, while others imitate the python, while some schools imitate both for different applications. There are two unrelated, Northern and Southern snake styles.

Snake is one of the archetypal Five Animals of Chinese martial arts; the other four being Crane, Tiger, Leopard, and Dragon. These five animals originally represented the five classical Chinese elements before developing into their own styles. Snake is usually Earth, Tiger is Fire, Crane is Metal, Dragon is Water, and Leopard is Wood. Since they were derived from the Five Elements, they are kept in this pattern. At this point many styles delve into more advanced animal training or actual element training. The Taoist temples of the Wudang Mountains were known to have produced many snake stylists.

Snake style is based on whipping power which travels up the spine to the fingers. The ability to sinuously move, essentially by compressing one's stomach/abdominal muscles, is very important. Footing is quite grounded. The stance work is fluid in order to maximize the whipping potential of any movement. This necessitates building a strong spine to contain the power and strong fingers to convey the strike. Since breath is important to any movement of the spine and ribs, snake style is considered one of the main styles which eventually led to internal training. Snake style is also known as an approach to weapons training, the Chinese straight sword and spear in particular. There are even specialty varieties of sword blades and spear points that curve back and forth down the length of the blade in imitation of the snake's body known as snake sword and snake spear."

Snake Style Kung Fu
History of the Martial Arts Blog

Five Animal Frolics

Tuesday, February 06, 2007

Winter Planting

Karen and I planted two Autumn Fantasy Maples (Acer freemanii) on Sunday, 2/4/07. These trees are a new hybrid of red maple and silver maple. They provide bright red fall color, even in warm climates. They are reputed to be fast-growing, strong-limbed, and can tolerate alkaline soils and drought. For Sunset zones 1-9, 14-24. Karen purchased both of the trees at Kathy Goodin's Nursery in Proberta. Kathy got the trees from Dave Wilson's Nursery in Reedley, CA.

Planting Bare Root Maples

Here I test out the size of the hole. Looks like enough room for all the roots to spread comfortably and for the proper planting height.

Planting Bare Root Maples

Karen admires some nice roots on this maple specimen.

Planting Bare Root Maples

We now have three maples planted in a triangle. It was a lovely cool day for this kind of digging and watering.

How to plant a bare root tree in your garden.

Green Way Wisdom - Trees

Growing Trees and Global Warming

Monday, February 05, 2007

Qigong Reflections

"The Three Intentful Corrections

Adjust and regulate the body posture or movements.
Adjust and regulate the breath.
Adjust and requlate consciousness.

The First Promise of Qigong

Qi is free. It is everywhere, and everyone has direct access to it through simple methods that are easy to learn and practice. Qi can be cultivated purposely to resolve any challenge or enhance any function.

The Second Promise of Qigong

Every person who uses Qi Cultivation methods consistently experiences some form of health improvement and personal access to greater energy and power."

- Roger Jahnke, O.M.D., "The Healing Promise of Qi: Creating Extraordinary Wellness Through Qigong and Tai Chi." Contemporary Books, 2002.

Sunday, February 04, 2007

Walking Meditation

Walking Meditation
Bibliography, Resources, Links, Quotations, Notes
Researched by Mike Garofalo
2/4/2007, 195KB

"Now raise your hands up up
And hear the tones go higher
Now drop your hands down down
And hear the tones go lower
Then listen to your body most carefully
It’s a natural little scale
Which your striding gait can play
Where the legs will mark the meter
And the arms will play the tune
It’s a changing moving music
Which will make the body sway
It’s the Dao Re Mi
That sets you on the way
On the way on the way on the way."
- The Dao Re Mi, by Dennis Roth

Bagua Circle Walking

Saturday, February 03, 2007

Relaxation in Tai Chi Chuan

Relaxation: (Soong, Sung)
Loose, Relaxed, Open, Yielding, Free, Responsive
A Defining Characteristic of Taijiquan

Bibliography, Resources, Links, Quotations, Notes
Researched by Mike Garofalo
2/3/2007, 128Kb

"Sung [Relax] the waist. The waist is the commander of the whole body. If you can sung the waist, then the two legs will have power and the lower part will be firm and stable. Substantial and insubstantial change, and this is based on the turning of the waist. It is said "the source of the postures lies in the waist. If you cannot get power, seek the defect in the legs and waist."
- Yang Cheng-fu (1883-1936), Yang's Ten Important Points

Thursday, February 01, 2007

Qigong - Cultivation

"For optimal health, we need body and spirit, exercise (ming) 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."
- Ken Cohen, Essential Qigong, 2005, p. 2

"At the higher stages of energy continuation, one will find his movements are now being governed by the movement of his internal energy. This is the Qi of energy, not breath, to which I refer. There are essentially three basic ingredients for higher accomplishment: 1. Mental tranquility and physical relaxation. 2. Application of the integrated supple strength of the whole body. 3. Continuity of the internal energy without interruption from movement to movement and moment to moment throughout the entire form."
- Wu, Ta-yeh, 1989

Qigong: Bibliography, Links, Quotations, Resources, Lessons, Quotes
By Mike Garofalo
1MB, 1/24/07