Friday, May 29, 2009

Chang San-Feng's Treatise

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 be threaded 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.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Being Completely Attentive

"Simply speaking, drushti is sensitive awareness to that which you are doing. This has two aspects that are vital to every aspect of our practice. First it means bringing your mind to bear exactly on what you are doing. Not doing one thing while thinking another. This actually means learning not even to be thinking about what you are doing. Rather, just be doing it, feeling it. In the beginning we must think before we act. Then we act. Then think again. But we must learn to separate these two processes so that we can act with precision and clarity, without the distraction of thought. Eventually we will learn to trust the intelligence of the body and will be able to dispense with the thinking process more and more. Then our practice becomes meditation in action."

"The second aspect is to feel the effect of what we are doing. Not only at the point of the action itself, but throughout the whole structure of the body and the quality of the mind. We must feel its impact on the functioning of the body, breath and mind. We use this feedback to go deeper into the poses by making adjustments according to the four secondary techniques of asana, vinyasa, bandha and pranayama. Then through the dynamic created between our intention and our actions, a meditative awareness emerges."

- Godfrey Devereux, Dynamic Yoga, 1998, p. 24

Monday, May 25, 2009

Realization in the Body

"But there is a new wilderness, a new trackless waste, a new unknown and limitless territory, a new terrain of chaos, that calls us. It is a territory that has not been, and cannot be, colonized and domesticated by human ambition and greed, that in its true extent cannot be mapped by human logic at all. This is the "forest" of the human body. The body is now our forest, our jungle, our "outlandish" expanse in which we are invited to let go of everything we think, allow ourselves to be stripped down to our most irreducible person, to die in every experiential sense possible and see what, if anything, remains. In this, I am speaking not of the body we think we have, the body we conceptualize as part of our "me" or my self-image. Rather, I am talking about the body that we meet when we are willing to descend into it, to surrender into its darkness and its mysteries, and to explore it with our awareness."
- Reginald Ray, Touching Enlightenment: Finding Realization in the Body, p. 12

"Touching Enlightenment: Finding Realization in the Body."
By Reginald A. Ray, Ph.D..
Boulder, Colorado, Sounds True, 2008. Index, 393 pages. ISBN: 978-1-59179-618-3. VSCL.

Valley Spirit Qigong

Friday, May 22, 2009

The One That Is Not

A Mr. Michal G. wrote to me and asked: "Your work is very impressive. I have one question: Do you feel the love from the One that is?"

I wrote back,

I feel deep and abiding gratitude for the love, goodness, beauty, knowledge, and successes in our lives.
I feel great sadness about the illnesses, tragedy, ugliness, ignorance, evil and failures in the world.
I try to act wisely on all of these kinds of feelings.

I feel love from the One That Is, and from the One That Is Not.
The One I am certain about is Many.

The Many Create and Elevate The One

"Simplifying our relations to things sometimes allows us to live
more complex intellectual and emotional lives.

Repetition and diversification are Nature's formulas.

Simplifying and simplicity are never simple matters.

The empty garden is already full.

The simplest garden is never simple.

It takes four seasons to know one year.

Complexity is closer to the Truth.

Diversity, multiplicity, relations, combinations, mixtures, complexity - rarely just one process or one thing.

Never just One: fruit, a hoe, the moving Sun."

- Michael P. Garofalo, Pulling Onions

"An agricultural adage says the tiny animals that live below the
surface of a healthy pasture weigh more than the cows grazing
above it. In a catalogue selling composting equipment I read
that two handfuls of healthy soil contain more living organisms
than there are people on the earth. What these beings are and
what they can be doing is difficult to even begin to comprehend,
but it helps to realize that even thought they are many,
they work as one."
- Carol Williams, Bringing a Garden to Life, 1998

Green Way Wisdom - Complexity

Complexity is closer to the Truth.

Green Way Blog Homepage
Blog Search Terms: , , , .

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Taijiquan Classes in Red Bluff, California

Taijiquan and Qigong Class and Practice Schedule

Red Bluff, California
Mike Garofalo, M.S., Instructor

Starting May 20, 2009

Indoor Classes:

Indoors, Mondays, 5:30 - 7:00 pm, Tehama Family Fitness Center

Indoors, Saturdays, 9:30 - 11 am, Tehama Family Fitness Center

Class Cancelled On: Memorial Day Weekend, Saturday, May 23rd and Monday, May 25th.

Tehama Family Fitness Center
2498 South Main Street, Red Bluff, California
Adjacent to St. Elizabeth's Hospital and Medical Complex

Outdoor Practice and Lessons:

Outdoor Late Spring and Summer Practice Schedule in 2009

Daily (Monday-Sunday), 5:00 - 7:00 am, Valley Spirit Taijiquan Center
(I practice early in the morning because of the high summertime temperatures in the North Sacramento Valley. My practices include walking, qigong, taijiquan, and weapons work.)

Valley Spirit Taijiquan Center
23005 Kilkenny Lane
Red Bluff, CA 96080
Phone: 530-200-3546

Instruction Offered:

We practice the Yang Style of Taijiquan (24 Form and 108 Form), 32 Sword Form and Eight Immortals 36 Cane Form; Taiji Kung Fu 52 Fan Form; and the Sun Style Taijiquan 73 Competition Form.

Currently I am studying the Shaolin Kung Fu Cane form as taught by Shifu Ted Mancuso, the Taiji Kung Fu Fan form as taught by Li Deyin, reviewing the Sun Taijiquan 73 Form, and learning the Swimming Dragon Qigong form as taught by T.K. Shih. I began my studies of Taijiquan and Qigong in 1986, and have been teaching Taijiquan and Qigong since 2000.

Instructor: Michael P. Garofalo, M.S.

Taijiquan Class Indoors Information

Taijiquan Class Flyer

Taijiquan Outdoors Practice and Class Information

Cloud Hands Blog

Green Way Blog

Cloud Hands Website

Class Schedule Changes

Valley Spirit Taijiquan Curriculum, Instructors, Class Schedule

General Information

Call Mike for more information at: 530-200-3546

Monday, May 18, 2009

Meditation - Standing

"I call the ancient, natural way of standing "the Paleolithic Posture." In the Paleolithic Posture, the knees are slightly bent, the spine is straight, and long, the breath is deep and quiet, and the eyes are open and alert. The body feels like a tree with deep roots for balance and tall branches for grace. Although we usually think of a "posture" as a static pose, it includes our carriage in movement as well. Since a straight and tall stance confers the greatest balance, sensitivity,
awareness, and alertness, we see it in a scout standing still on a mountain lookout or walking through camp to a council meeting."
- Ken Cohen, Honoring the Medicine, p. 240

"To review, the basic elements of the Paleolithic Posture are: Feet under the shoulders. Slightly bent knees. Receiving and feeling the ground. Long, straight spine. Relaxed as possible. Eyes open with a wide, level gaze. Slow, quiet belly breathing. Awareness. Whole body alive."
- Kenneth Cohen, Honoring the Medicine, p.246

Honoring the Medicine: The Essential Guide to Native American Healing. By Kenneth "Bear Hawk" Cohen. New York, Ballantine Books, 2003. Bibliography, notes, index, resources, 429 pages. ISBN: 0345435133. "The Paleolithic Posture," pp. 240-251.

Zhan Zhuang: Standing Meditation. Bibliography, Links, Quotes, Notes. By Michael P. Garofalo.

Friday, May 15, 2009

Eight Section Brocade Qigong

"Other theories suggest that the Eight Brocades are a collection of various Taoist breath exercises with influences coming from the Buddhist patriarch Bodhidharma's works, the I chin ching and Hsi sui ching (Muscles Changing Classic and Marrow Cleansing Classic); or, that the Sung dynasty military leader General Yueh Fei invented the exercises. These two highly improbably founders serve more to validate the practice of the Eight Brocades within the Buddhist and martial arts schools.

The development of the Eight Brocades is rather clouded. All the various schools have claimed it as their own invention, and have inserted their own ideas. It has even been presented as twelve exercises, or the Twelve Brocades (shih erh tuan chin). The exercises also appear in a more dissected manner with many additions, under the heading Internal Kung for the Four Seasons (nei kung szu ling), as twenty four exercises for specific periods of the year. In martial arts, the Eight Brocades have become a system of not only standing postures but also sword and staff forms. They are now being presented as a form of qigong, a term that did not appear until 1910 in a book entitled Shaolin Tsung fa (Shaolin Orthodox Methods). The author used the term generically to cover a wide range of ideas, including respiratory and meditative exercises directed at mobilizing the breath. Qigong is not in any sense a traditional Taoist term, but has since been adapted to many Taoist works.

Since no clear evidence exists as to when the Eight Brocades were first developed, the answer as to their origin really depends on which school or thought of Taoism, Buddhism, Confucianism, medicine, or martial art you wish to believe. Each school seems to have its own unique evidence and prejudice."
- Stuart Alve Olson, Qigong Teachings of a Taoist Immortal, p. 26

My detailed webpage on the Eight Section Brocade Qigong will give you many additional leads to the history and practice of this popular qigong form.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Zhang San Feng and Wudang

"Mount Wudang, also known as Can Shang Mountain or Tai He Mountain, is located in the Qin Ling Mountain Range of northwestern Hubei Province. Because the scenery around Mount Wudang is so majestic and beautiful, it has been given the name The Famous Mountain Under Heaven. Wudang is a major center for the sudy of Daoism and self-cultivation.

The legendary founder of Wudang wushu was Zhang San Feng. Zhang San Feng was a Daoist who lived in these mountains to cultivate the Dao during the Ming Dynasty. Zhang San Feng was born in 1247 A.D. in the area of what is known today as Liao Ning. Zhang San Feng is a very famous figure in the history of Chinese wushu. His martial abilities and healing techniques were superb and he was known to have cured many people of illnesses. This brought about great admiration from the common people. The emperor of the Ming Dynasty erected a monument on the mountain to commerate the contributions of Zhang San Feng. During Zhang's younger years he met Daoist Huo Lung (Fire Dragon) with whom he studied the Dao. After attaining the Dao, Zhang moved to Wudang Mountain and cultivated an additional nine years. Many historical documents suggest that Zhang San Feng was the person responsible for synthesizing the wushu of the common people with the internal methodology and philosphical principles of Daoism. Wudang wushu is primarily known for its internal styles.

Zhang San Feng created Wudang wushu by researching the basic theory of Yin and Yang, the Five Elements, and the Eight Diagrams (Ba Gua). Wudang wushu has a very close relationship with the theories of Taiji, Yin and Yang, the Five Elements, the Eight Diagrams, and the Nine Palaces. Zhang San Feng was able to incorporate the Daoist practice of changing the Essence into Internal Energy , Internal Energy into Spirit , and Spirit into Emptiness to form the theory of Wudang wushu."
- Introduction to Wudang Martial Arts

Chang San-Feng

Grandmaster Zhang San Feng: Bibliography, Resources, Links, Quotes, Notes

Wudang Qigong

Monday, May 11, 2009

Water Your Garden

In the subtitle of this Cloud Hands blog, I include the extremely popular mind-body movement art of gardening. Many people who practice internal martial arts and yoga are also avid walkers and gardeners.

Over 90% of the internal martial arts practice I do is is at home, alone, in my yard. Many millions of people also practice Taijiquan and Qigong in their gardens, in parks and in fields.

I do post a great deal on the subject of gardening. However, these contributions are made to the Green Paths in the Valley Blog and The Spirit of Gardening Website.

Gardening also provides one with valuable physical exercise, as well as the pleasures of sights, sounds, smells and and tastes one gets from a garden.

This past weekend, we spent the day at home. We did quite a bit of gardening (mowing, weeding, pruning, removing dead trees, cleanup, watering, etc.), played, read, learned about some new software, and took some photographs.

Karen Garofalo, Red Bluff, California

Karen standing at the entrance to the old vegetable garden area.

Mike Garofalo, Red Bluff, California

Mike standing at the entrance to the front yard.

Karen Garofalo, Red Bluff, California

Karen's calendulas and Spanish lavender are really colorful in the Springtime.

Mike Garofalo, Red Bluff, California

The pond by the teahouse is now quite full. The teahouse is hidden by two massive Golden Willows.

To see how our gardens, yard, and home have changed since 1998, take a look at one of our photographic studies.

"The Art of Peace begins with you. Work on yourself and your appointed task in the Art of Peace.

Everyone has a spirit that can be refined, a body that can be trained in some manner, a suitable path to follow.

You are here for no other purpose than to realize your inner divinity and manifest your innate enlightenment.

Foster peace in your own life and then apply the Art to all that you encounter.

One does not need buildings, money, power, or status to practice the Art of Peace.

Heaven is right where you are standing, and that is the place to train.

To truly implement the Art of Peace, yu must be able to sport freely
in the manifest, hidden, and divine realms."

- Morihei Ueshiba, 1883-1969, The Art of Peace

Aikido Founder Morihei Ueshiba watering his garden.

Aikido Founder Morihei Ueshiba watering his garden.

Friday, May 08, 2009

Moving Meditation: Tai Chi Chuan

There are many techniques, methods and styles of "Meditation." Taijiquan is often called "Moving Meditation." If you practice Taijiquan on a regular basis, you can expect some of the following results or improvements that many people believe are beneficial:

Calmness and poise under a variety of circumstances.
Increased sensory awareness of external conditions and circumstances.
Improved skills in deflecting or avoiding opposing or stressful forces.
Ability to concentrate on immediate tasks.
Being more present and accepting.
Mastery of a traditional art.
Completion of self-assigned tasks and self-discipline.
Enjoyment of "Peak Experiences."
Encouraging spontaneity, flexibility, playfulnes, and openness.
Patience in learning new skills.

Wednesday, May 06, 2009

Loosen Up with a Smile

"What allows the energy you work with, gather and create a life of its own is humour. Humour is a lightness that admits of other possibilities. Combine that admission with hearty connectedness and those possibilities become incorporated into a body teeming and seething with life. If humour is maintained then those incorporated possibilities – each one a thread of energy if you like – remain in some way distinct – do not agglutinate into one amorphous mass – and there quickly comes a point where the combined intensity and complexity of these interacting threads develops into what feels like awareness.

Humour is not taking things, especially the self, seriously. It confounds the logical, rational, linear mind, which always struggles to force your movements into some preconceived template, with an element of play which revels in the surprises inherent in the unfolding of creative and natural processes. In a way humour is the most valuable possession you have because it allows you to put up with anything, not with resignation but with a smile – a mood and energy that is always opening and searching not for comfort and ease but for those threads that can be brought into the whole to transform it into a vehicle capable of thrusting you to the next level; humour finds fuel everywhere. Humour also admits that sneaking feeling that you are getting it wrong – that your efforts to do and to make are coming from a part of you – your conditioning – foreign to your essential nature. Humour is a natural and gentle way of applying shocks to your conditioning – unsettling it and loosening its iron grip sufficiently for your essential nature to momentarily peek through. This essential nature, so used to being plastered over, pushed into the background and over-ridden by the bullying conditioned and conditional mind, has a completely different relationship with reality than that mind: soft, playful, interactive, ringing with laughter – imagine children at play – but it needs years of gentle coaxing and encouragement before it will venture forth and take the lead in your life. Scars don't heal overnight. Humour – the touch of lightness that refuses to linger for too long and never repeats itself (jokes are rarely funny second time round). Your conditioning needs repetition to survive and it uses up most of your vital energy in the process of constantly reviewing and recounting its domain – imagine the lonely miser pointlessly counting his money each evening before he can sleep. Your conditioning is telling you the same joke over and over and because you don't realise it's a joke you listen and approve. Humour is the only effective way to cut through this – because it is so gentle its blade is very keen."
- Steven Moore, 6/11/06, Tai Chi Heartwork

Monday, May 04, 2009

Doorway into the Liminal

"I suppose the simple truth of the matter is that I have always been enthralled by doorways, windows, gates, thresholds, hearths, chimneys, hidden forest trails, gaps in the hedgerow, garden hollows and portals of any kind. It isn't unusual to find me standing lost in thought in front of a newly discovered gateway or curled up in my Morris chair at home with a mug of tea and a faraway look in my eye, thinking about such places and where they go. I'm entranced by their situation, their architecture, the materials of which they are formed, and even their color, as much as I am by what lies beyond them.

Liminal spaces can be compelling, and they can exert a powerful tug on the sensibilities. Every hero's journey or heroine's journey begins with a call to adventure, with one breathtaking, serendipitous, watershed moment in which she or he recognizes a liminal space, responds to its eldritch music and steps across the threshold into another realm. No hero or a heroine here (at least in this lifetime), but the presence of a gateway, any old gateway, calls to me in a voice as lyrical and compelling as that of the mythic sirens, a mere glimpse or a casual mention of one, and off I go.

Mircea Eliade once wrote of doors and thresholds as being both symbols and passages, as places where the passage from the profane to the sacred world becomes possible. The philosopher Martin Heidegger described thresholds as joinings or spaces between two worlds, potent common or middle grounds which hold, join and separate two worlds, all at the same time. In other words, thresholds are sacred places which form a boundary between what is "here" and what is "there", but they are in themselves neither here or there.

Within the seemingly empty space of a doorway or a threshold, one sometimes senses ancient, wild and chaotic forces in motion, and thresholds have the power to open a cranny or passage between this world and the other side, allowing those tumultuous forces to blow through. Cultures from ancient times to our own knew it, and they took special measures to secure such places, carving arcane protective sigils on their door lintels, inserting sprigs of rowan and Brigid's crosses into the doors themselves, burying pins and needles beneath their hearth stones, sweeping and blessing their thresholds, and nailing horseshoes above their doorways."

- Kerrdelune, Beyond the Fields We Know III

When I begin a Taijiquan form, moving from standing still (Wuji) to raise hands and then lower hands (Yang and Yin), this is a threshold or doorway for me. Through this beginning movement I enter into a new level of being and open myself up to new experiences. I leave the realm of the ordinary and step into the realm of the spirit.

Sunday, May 03, 2009

Fully-Functioning Individual

Characteristics of the More Fully-Functioning Individual

Nonconformity and Individuality
Acceptance of Ambiguity and Uncertainty
Acceptance of Human Animality
Commitment and Intrinsic Enjoyment
Creativity and Originality
Social Interest and Ethical Trust
Enlightened Self-Interest
Flexibility and Scientific Outlook
Unconditional Self-Acceptance
Risk-Taking and Experimenting
Long-Range Hedonism
Work and Practice

- Albert Ellis, The Albert Ellis Reader, p181-194.

Lifestyle Advice for Wise Persons