Saturday, July 28, 2007

Great White Moon Heard

Taking some time at night to rest from summer labors.

"All through the deep blue night
The fountain sang alone;
It sang to the drowsy heart
of the satyr carved in stone.

The fountain sang and sang
But the satyr never stirred--
Only the great white moon
In the empty heaven heard."
- Sara Teasdale, The Fountain

I've been quite busy lately with projects at home and at work. We were preparing in both body and mind for the First Harvest Feast, Lughnasadh, Lammas, on August 1st. See my comments and notes on the topic in my Green Way Blog.

Preparing for Lughnasadh

Full moon at dusk tonight.
Full Moon at Dusk

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Music for Taijiquan or Qigong

"Scientific research shows that these primordial rhythmic sound vibrations do have a direct effect on brain activity. Steady beats at 4-7 cycles per second generate theta brain wave states associated with ecstatic trance. In the theta state, beta (or waking) mind activity is lowered, inducing heightened awareness. We become spirit sensitive; receptive, intuitive, present and centered in our heart's intelligence. The trance state can be likened to a waking dream. Inner visions may reveal themselves. Self-realizations and deep insights may surface. Or, we may simply feel a renewed lightness of spirit, clarity, and joy."
- Liquid Bloom, The Shaman's Eye

When I practice taijiquan, one my favorite audio recordings to listen to is:

The Shaman's Eye: Healing Rhythms for Trance Meditation. By Liquid Bloom. 67:19 minutes. Boulder, Colorado, White Swan Records, WS007. ISBN: 1714700702.

Do you have some music you would like to recommend?

Saturday, July 21, 2007

Mike Garofalo's T'ai Chi Ch'uan Classes

T'ai Chi Ch'uan Class Schedule
Instructor: Mike Garofalo
Summer and Autumn of 2007

Wednesday: 6:30 p.m. – 7:30 p.m.
Saturday: 9:30 a.m. – 11:00 a.m.
Tehama Family Fitness Center, Red Bluff
2498 South Main Street, Red Bluff, CA 96080
Cost: Free for TFFC Members, $5.00 for Nonmembers

Yang Style of T’ai Chi Ch’uan

Standard 24 Movement Yang Hand Form

Yang Family 108 Movement Hand Form

Standard 32 Movement Yang Sword (Jian) Form

Qigong (Chi Kung, Chinese Yoga) Exercise Sets

For Information Online:

Class Schedule: http://www.egreenway/tcc.htm

General T’ai Chi Ch’uan Information at the Cloud Hands Website:

Thursday, July 19, 2007

Gushen Moon

Michael P. Garofalo AKA The Green Wizard or Gushen Moon

"I first met Chang San-Feng above the forest,
near the clear spring,
when gathering clouds darkened the day,
and Mt. Shasta was silent.

His long beard was black as emptiness,
ear lobes to his shoulders,
holding obsidian in his hand,
pointing to the sun,
eyes staring into infinity,
his long body clothed in silence.

We exchanged "hellos"
smiled and bowed,
a barbarian and an Immortal,
both panting from the climb,
ten-thousand echoes
between our rocky minds.

After billions upon billions of heartbeats past
(for he must have been 888 years old),
I was so bold
as to ask the ancient one
for the sacred mantra of yore.
He lifted his whisk,
and brushed my face,
I could not speak,
my lips were stone,
ideas stopped -
I was alone."
- Michael P. Garofalo, Meetings with Master Chang San-Feng

Mike Garofalo sometimes writes under the pen names of "The Green Wizard" or "Gushen Moon"

Is Mike really a wizard? Hah! Come, come, my dear friends. He, like like his lanky and legendary mentor, Grand Master Chang San Feng, just likes to keep on walking, gardening, dancing at dawn, playing taijiquan, creating, enjoying scholarly pursuits, Internetting, encouraging peaceful productivity, standing under the Gushen Moon, and letting others bang his brass wizard's hat.

"Standing at the Mysterious Pass
Centered in the Eternal Now,
Balanced in Body and Open in Mind,
Rooted into the Sacred Space,
Motionless as the Golden Mountain,
Fingers around the Primeval Sphere.
Dragons and Tigers are still dreaming -
Ready for Rebirth.

I breathe in, the World Breathes Out.
The Gate of Space opens;
Heaven moves and Yang is born.
The hands move out, embracing the One.
The mind settles and is clear.
The Dragon Howls,
Ravens fill the Vast Cauldron,
Mind forms melt like mercury,
Spirit rises in the Clouds of Eternity.
Yin appears like the moon at dusk.

I breathe out, the World Breathes In.
The Doors of Emptiness close;
Earth quiets and Yin is born.
The hands move in, entering the One.
The body settles and becomes whole.
The Tiger Roars,
The Great Ox is nourished by the Valley Spirit,
Substances spark from flaming furnaces,
Essence roots in the Watery Flesh.
Yang appears like the sun at dawn.

Dragons and Tigers
Transformed within the Mysterious Pass -
Chanting and Purring.

- Michael P. Garofalo, Opening at the Mysterious Pass

Dearly respect the lifestyle of ladybugs.

Blog Search Terms: , , , , .

The Spirit of Gardening

Cloud Hands: Taijiquan and Qigong

The Green Wizard Opens the Door

One Taoist Druid's Journey - The Green Wizard's Notebooks

Sunday, July 15, 2007

Rattlesnakes Rising

Snakes in Oklahoma
Two rattlesnakes in Oklahoma rise to greet the walker.

"America is the Great Satan, the wounded snake."
- Ayatollah Khomeini
Beware of wounded snakes, Ayatollah Whomever.

Yang style Taijiquan has a movement called
"Snake Creeps Down"
followed by
"Golden Rooster Stands on One Leg"
(actually a knee kick to the face or chest,
sort of Muay Thai style).

That big rattlesnake creeping down can rise,
rise quickly,
rise powerfully,
despite its wounds,
and bite the head off the Ayatollah's chicken.

Was it not the Gadsden flag that features the rattlesnake
poised to strike, and says,
"Don't tread on me."

"A snake came to my water-trough
On a hot, hot day, and I in pyjamas for the heat
To drink there."
- D. H. Lawrence

Everything thirsts!
Some thrist for vengenace.

Saturday, July 14, 2007

Stance Keeping: Zhan Zhuang

"Body is the bow,
asana is the arrow,
and soul is the target."
- B.K.S. Iyengar, Yoga Grandmaster

In yoga, Asana means posture, bodily position, or form. For example, Tadasana is the Mountain Posture, Standing Like the Mountain; similiar to standing in "Wu Ji" before you begin a Taijiquan form.

"The foundation of the internal martial arts (and many external martial arts as well) is the practice of "stance keeping" or Zhan Zhuang. In the Xing Yi Quan system, stance keeping is the very core of training and develops many of the qualities essential to the development of martial ability. ... The root of efficient movement is stillness. Therefore, a logical place to begin training is simply standing still. Standing still, one may reduce the number of variables to be dealt with to the bare minimum. The mind may naturally quiet and focus itself on the felling of correct posture and true balance. The first goal of standing is to return to the state of "not-doing" anything, thereby inhibiting previously acquired bad habits and allowing the neuromuscular system to register the feeling of natural balance until it once again becomes the predominant state. Any movement initiated from this state of true balance will naturally have power."
- Tim Cartmell, p. 58, Xing Yi Nei Gong

Xing Yi Quan: Bibliography, Links, Quotes, Notes

Standing, taking a posture, remaining quite still, holding the posture, settling the mind, breathing steadily, and finding center is a common practice among taijiquan, qigong and yoga practitioners. This kind of "standing meditation" is called Zhan Zhuang (Stance Keeping, Post Standing), Embracing the One, Tadasana, San Ti Shi, Wuji, Standing Like a Tree, Holding the One, Yiquan, etc..

I have prepared a webpage on this subject:

Standing Meditation: Zhan Zhuang, Post Standing, San Ti Shi
Bibliography, Links, Resources, Quotations, Notes, Instructions
By Michael P. Garofalo

"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.

Thursday, July 12, 2007

Druids Walking

"Many of the Anglican meditation manuals used by Druids in the early years of the Revival gave special instructions for meditating while walking in a garden or some other quiet area. To meditate while walking, choose a route over level ground where you won't have to bend, climb stairs, duck around trees, or do anything else that will interrupt your thoughts. A paved or gravel path in a garden is ideal. It should lead in a circle, so that you can keep walking as long as necessary. Walk slowly and smoothly, taking relatively small steps at a steady rhythm. As with the seated posture, you spine should be straight without being stiff, the crown of your head level, and your eyes lowered. Let your arms move easily and naturally at your sides."

- John Michael Greer. "The Gruidry Handbook: Spiritual Practice Rooted in the Living Earth."

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

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

News Items: Qigong and Staff

Dear Mike,

As suggested on your Northwestern US Instructors, Schools, Workshops page, I'm letting you know of my Eight Pieces of Brocade (Baduanjin) classes which will be at the Bend Martial Arts Club in Bend, Oregon. Interested persons may contact me at



I like your website! I am also interested in martial arts with the stick and staff. You may have my book, with Don Zier, on Aikijo (Jo: The Japanese Short Staff), which we wrote in the 1980s when we both living in Chico, just down the road from you.

Recently, I published The Stick and Cane in Close Combat. (See the link at for my article that introduces the book. Scroll down and look under "2007 Articles"). From the promo literature:

"The result of a 7-year intensive study of grappling techniques with the stick and cane, the book presents more than 120 jointlocks, takedowns, chokes, holds, disarms, surprise attacks, rolls, strikes, and exercises with the stick and cane in 750 photographs. These techniques were collected and refined from those described in more than 120 books and videos on the topic as practiced in several traditions, as well as from my 35+ years of experience in the martial arts. It is the largest collection of these techniques yet published."

For what it's worth.

I am looking for named traditions of 3-foot stick or cane arts from China; you allude to some on your website. They seem to be part of larger arts, but are there any with their own identity?

In any event, I enjoyed your website and will continue to follow its links.

Tom Lang

Sunday, July 08, 2007

More Gardening, Less Taijiquan

Karen Garofalo

Karen Garofalo picks an heirloom tomato. Mary Craig gave us the starts for 6 different tomato plants.

"It's difficult to think anything but pleasant thoughts while eating a homegrown tomato."
- Lewis Grizzard

Mike Garofalo

Note the many peaches starting to ripen to the left of Mike.

"I used to visit and revisit it a dozen times a day, and stand in deep
contemplation over my vegetable progeny with a love that nobody
could share or conceive of who had never taken part in the process
of creation. It was one of the most bewitching sights in the world to
observe a hill of beans thrusting aside the soil, or a rose of early
peas just peeping forth sufficiently to trace a line of delicate green."
- Nathaniel Hawthorne, Mosses from and Old Manse

Green Way Wisdom: Vegetables

Mike Garofalo pulling onions in May, 2007.

"A Theos who is understood is really misunderstood ... actually no Theos at all.

The little choices, day after day, are the biggest issue.

Stop looking for the Greenman and He will appear.

To always follow the hard, tough and rough way is foolishness.

The gardener is a priestess, the garden her temple and followers, gardening her liturgy.

Before you swear at the overgrown ivy, beware of Dionysus.

If you plant it, they will come.

The gardener fights against Chaos, wins a few battles, but always looses the war.

A gardener seeks direct experiences, seldom concepts.

Things always go downhill, fall apart, wear out ... the arrow of Time pierces everything.

Standing naked in my garden, I laughed."

- Michael P. Garofalo, Pulling Onions 615 aphorisms for gardeners and lovers of the Green Way.

Mostly resting during the hot afternoon hours in Red Bluff and reading or writing. Created a new webpage on The Green Man

Friday, July 06, 2007

Soft and Supple

Relaxation in Taijiquan: Bibliography, Links, Resources, Quotations, and Notes. By Mike Garofalo. 127Kb.

Song or Sung: Loose, Relaxed, Open, Yielding, Free, Responsive. A Defining Characteristic of Taijiquan.

"First, last, and always the student must relax. Various calisthenics aid him in
achieving this. All rigidity and strength must be emptied from the upper torso and must sink to the very soles of the feet, one of which is always firmly rooted to the ground. Without proper relaxation the student can never hope to achieve the trueness of the T'ai-chi postures. The student relaxes completely and breathes as a child - naturally through the nose, the diaphragm being aided by the abdominal rather than the intercostal muscles. Man's intrinsic energy, the ch'i, should be stored just below the navel. The mind directs this energy throughout the body according to need. But the ch'i cannot circulated in an unrelaxed body."
- Robert W. Smith, Chinese Boxing: Masters and Methods, 1974, p. 26.

"Human beings are
soft and supple when alive,
stiff and straight when dead.

The myriad creatures, the grasses and trees are
soft and fragile when alive
dry and withered when dead.

Therefore, it is said:
The rigid person is a disciple of death;
The soft, supple, and delicate are lovers of life.

An army that is inflexible will not conquer;
A tree that is inflexible will snap.

The unyielding and mighty shall be brought low;
The soft, supple, and delicate will be set above."
- Lao Tzu, Tao Te Ching, Section 41 (76)
Translated by Victor H. Mair, 1990

Wednesday, July 04, 2007

Touch the Root of Heaven

Breathing Out -
Touching the Root of Heaven,
One's heart opens;
The Dragon slips into the water..
Breathing In -
Standing on the Root of Earth,
One's heart is still and deep;
The Tiger's claw cannot be moved.

"As you go on breathing in this frame of mind, with these associations, alternating between movement and stillness, it is important that the focus of your mind does not shift. Let the true breath come and go, a subtle continuum on the brink of existence. Tune the breathing until you get breath without breathing; become one with it, and then the spirit can be solidified and the elixir can be made."
- Chang San-Feng
Commentary on Ancestor Lu's Hundred-Character Tablet
Translated by Thomas Cleary
Vitality, Energy, Spirit: A Taoist Sourcebook, 1991, p. 187.

Poetic interpretation by Mike Garofalo of expository text of Grandmaster Taoist Chang San-Feng.

Monday, July 02, 2007

Blur the Line

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

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

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

"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

“That man is successful who has lived well, laughed often, and loved much, who has gained the respect of the intelligent men and the love of children; who has filled his niche and accomplished his task; who leaves the world better than he found it, whether by an improved poppy, a perfect poem, or a rescued soul; who never lacked appreciation of earth’s beauty or failed to express it; who looked for the best in others and gave the best he had.”
- Robert Louis Stevenson