Friday, February 26, 2010

First Signs of Spring

“A little group of thatched cottages in the middle of the village had an
orchard attached; and I remember well the peculiar purity of the blue
sky seen through the white clusters of apple blossom in spring. I
remember being moonstruck looking at it one morning early on my
way to school. It meant something for me; what, I couldn’t say. It
gave me such an unease at heart, some reaching out towards
perfection such as impels men into religion, some sense of the
transcendence of things, of the fragility of our hold on life.”
- A. L. Rowse

The thousands of acres of almond orchards in the North Sacramento Valley are all in bloom these days. A spectacular sight!

Heavy rain today and Saturday will keep us indoors most of the time.

Time for indoor chores and reading.

I will start working on the Deer Frolic Qigong this weekend.

olive branches droop—
ground fogs rise

Daily rain—
from the deep well
this glass of water.
- Above the Fog

For some Green Way Wisdom, please visit The Spirit of Gardening.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Taoist Body

"The whole cosmic body turns and changes, conforming to the process of the Tao. The third law of Chinese physics (which one could also call the first law of its metaphysics) states that every body that goes through a prolonged and repeated cyclical action is transmuted and purified. This is true even of the most humble and inert organisms and objects; trees, stones, and long-lived animals like the tortoise or the stork can become spontaneously spiritual by the simple action of the cycle of the seasons and the years. All creatures of exceptionally advanced age can manifest their power and thus influence their environment. ... For the human being, a normal, peaceful, regulated life is a major factor in his accumulation of spiritual power. Living according to the calendrical cycles, the ever-renewed passing of the seasons, and participating in these through everyday religion, leads one naturally to that marvelous old age which is the greatest happiness on earth before one joins the ranks of the ancestors. ... The virtue which confers divine power is obtained by cultivating oneself through hsiu-yang, a practice which enables us to acquire, on the basis of our natural dispositions, exceptional qualities. Hsiu-yang means to arrange, to smooth down any roughness or irregularities by repeating an action many times in harmony with the cosmic order, until perfection is achieved. The perfect and complete body is thereby nurtured, its energies strengthened; it thus becomes totally integrated into the natural and cosmic environment. From there, the way is led, by repeated, cyclical movements, to spontaneity, which is the essence of the Tao. ... It takes daily practice and endless repetition of the same gesture, the same discipline and ritual procedure, to achieve the mastery that finally allows one to create perfect forms without any apparent effort. It is nature retrieved, spontaneous creation, the secret stolen from the Tao."
- The Taoist Body. By Kristofer Schipper. Translated by Karen C. Duval. Foreword by Norman Girardot. Berkeley, California, University of California Press, 1993, p. 41.

Monday, February 22, 2010

Dancing to the Tune of Solids

"Water is its mater and matrix, mother and medium.
Water is the most extraordinary substance!
Practically all its properties are anomolous, which enabled life
to use it as building material for its machinery.
Life is water dancing to the tune of solids."
- Albert Szent-Gyorgyi

It has been steadily raining and snowing in Northern California for the last two days. We have recorded 11 inches of rain in the last month.

So, more time for indoor activities: reading, writing, research, and listening to recorded lectures.

I continue to learn and practice the Chen Style Taijiquan 18 Movement Form of Grandmaster Chen Zhenglei.

Most of the time, I have been doing research on the practices of Neo-Pagan Druids.

Introduction to Mindfulness Workshop

I will be attending the two day workshop titled "Introduction to Mindfulness" at the Spirit Rock Center on March 20th and March 21st, 2010. The Spirit Rock Center is in Woodacre, California, north of San Francisco.

Day 1 will feature the speaker Mark Coleman. I am currently reading Mark's book "Awake in the Wild: Mindfulness in Nature as a Path of Self-Discovery." Day 2 will feature the speaker Howard Kohn.

I am already somewhat familiar with Mindfulness (Vipassana) meditation and awareness methods, and I look forward to learning more and also visiting the Spirit Rock Center and surrounding areas.

I hope to camp at Samuel P. Taylor State Park. In the early morning on Saturday, 3/20, I plan to light a campfire and celebrate the Spring Equinox (Ostara) with a simple Druidic (ADF - Hellenic) ritual. Also, I might drive west to Pt. Reyes Station and then out to the Pacific Ocean at Point Reyes National Seashore.

Spring Months: Poems, Quotes, Sayings

Saturday, February 20, 2010

Back on the Home Ground

Karen and I enjoyed a delightful trip to Portland from 2/13 through 2/18. We visited our two children and their families. We enjoyed sightseeing and fine dining along with family fun.

Katelyn enjoyed the tire swing at her local park. Grandpa "Pacos" Mike did the pushing.

Enjoying a glass of wine at the Four Graces winery in McMinville, Oregon. Cheers!!

More photos of our trip.

Friday, February 12, 2010

Look Down

New Ways of Seeing

Reflections in puddles along Kilkenny Way.

Take some time to look at the ground while you walk, stand or sit.

Eighty Eight Ways of Walking

Mushrooms under the pine and cypress trees in my front yard.

Ways of Walking

Walking Meditation

Wudang Qigong

"The Eight Verses of Wudang Mountain Badunjin :

1. Lift the ground and hold the sky to take care of the three internal cavities
2. Draw a bow to the left and right, just like shooting a vulture
3. Lift the hand up singly to tone and caress the spleen and the stomach
4. Look backwards to cure the five strains and seven injuries
5. Reach down the leg by both hands to strengthen the kidney and the reproductive organ
6. Swivel the head and rock the bottom to calm down
7. Rotate fists and stare to add stamina
8. Vibrate the back seven times to expel illness

The first segment takes care of the three chiaos (internal organs), the second segment strengthens the heart and the lung, the third regulates the spleen and the stomach, the fourth cures strains and injuries, the fifth toughens the kidney and reproductive organ, the sixth calms the nervous system, the seventh increases stamina, the eighth gets rid of illnesses. It has materialised the merging of the theory and movements of Badunjin with clinical sports, as well as specified the importance of life-nourishment and health-preservation. Badunjin Qigong, uplifted by the modern medical confirmation from Chinese and western professionals and scholars, continues to be revitalised and made to perfection. Thus it has been made even more suitable and practical to serve the needs of the modern era, and advances with time.

The theory and movements of Wudang Badunjin is thorough; it is safe and easy to learn, and has a wide application on medical cure. Externally, it exercises the skin, muscles, tendons and bones; internally, it strengthens the organs, improves the circulatory system, and consolidates the spirit of well being. Its movements involve breathing naturally, and are smart & light, continuous and lively, elegant and beautiful, stretchy and graceful, alternating relaxing with tightening, synchronising harmoniously, can be fast or slow but with distinct rhythm, can be complicated or simple, active or quiet, and cohere the opening with the closing. It stresses on the mutual use of toughness and gentleness, the training of the internal and external body parts, the merging of activity and quietness, the balancing of the left and the right, the top and the bottom, alternating the real and the virtual, and nourishing both the body and the spirit. The amount of exercise and the length of the practice session can be adjusted anytime, and it can be practised alongside with other exercises. Age, sex, body nature, location, equipment, time, season, etc do not restrict the practice. It can be practised individually, with the whole family, or with a group. The all-encompassing effect and value of its body-strengthening and medical aspects is evergreen."

Wudang Mountain Badunjin Qigong 20Kb. Original (in Chinese) written in Hong Kong by Woo Kwong Fat, the 28th Generation Master of Dragon Gate Branch, Wudang Mountain.

Wudang Qigong

Eight Section Brocade Qigong (Baduanjin)

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

A Long Walk - A Time for Reflection

I enjoy walking in the morning on my days off work. I walk 4 miles on a country road that has little or no traffic.

Insight Meditation and visualization practices (e.g., Inner Smile) are very useful to use while walking alone.

Ways of Walking

Walking Meditation

A foggy morning this past Sunday.

Here I am practicing the Chen Taijiquan Broadsword Form.
This movement is #4, "The Wind Blows the Withered Flowers."
The only weapon I practice with anymore is the cane.

Monday, February 08, 2010

Wudang Sanfeng Pai Taijiquan 13 Postures Pattern

The setting and scenery of this performance are very beautiful. Michael Voller's performance of this lovely form is inspiring .

"Although it's called "13 Postures" generally, I believe "13 Principles" could be a more appropriate translation. The form is about the same length as the Wudang Sanfeng Pai Taijiquan 28 Postures, which is a short version of the 108 Movement long form. This form is thought to be a more modern creation, but dedicates a segment to each of the 13 principles of Taijiquan, and contains a unique energy and feeling from any other Taijiquan form I've come across. This is demonstrated is performed at Wudangshan's Ba Xian Guan (Eight Immortals Temple) by Michael A. Vollero. Filmed by Teake Chen & Georg Nagy."
- UTube Notes

Sunday, February 07, 2010

Taoist Scripture of Purity and Tranquility

Daoist Scripture of Purity and Tranquility

- Translated by Livia Kohn, "The Taoist Experience: An Anthology." Albany, State University of New York Press, 1993; Qingjing Jing, Scripture of Purity and Tranquility, pp.24-29.

"In purity and tranquility,
Gradually enter the true Tao.
When the true Tao is entered,
It is realized.

Though we speak of "realized,"
Actually there is nothing to attain.
Rather, we speak of realization
When someone begins to transform the myriad beings.

Only who has properly understood this
Is worthy to transmit the sages' Tao.

The highest gentleman does not fight;
The lesser gentleman loves to fight.
Highest Virtue is free from Virtue;
Lesser Virtue clings to Virtue.

All clinging and attachments
Have nothing to do with the Tao or the Virtue.

Saturday, February 06, 2010

Zuowang Meditation

I will be sharing some of my research into Chinese Taoist Meditation, and practices in the Dragon Gate Daoist Lineage of Quanzhen Daoism.

Zuowang = Sitting and Forgetting, Sitting in Oblivion

Thursday, February 04, 2010

Doing It Daily

“Any significant long-term change requires long-term practice, whether that change has to do with playing the violin or learning to be a more open, loving person. We all know people who say that they have been permanently changed by experiences of a moment or a day or a weekend. But when you check it out you’ll generally discover that those who ended up permanently changed had spent considerable time preparing for their life-changing experience or had continued diligently practicing the new behavior afterward.”
- Michael Murphy and George Leonard

“Without continual growth and progress, such words as improvement, achievement,
and success have no meaning.”
- Benjamin Franklin

“The cyclone derives its powers from a calm center. So does a person.”
- Norman Vincent Peale

“I hear and I forget.
I see and I remember.
I do and I understand.”
- Confucius

“A will finds a way.”
- Orison Swett Marden

“If you focus on results, you will never change.
If you focus on change, you will get results.”
- Jack Dixon

“Gongfu is an ancient Chinese term describing work/devotion/effort that has been successfully applied over a substantial period of time, resulting in a degree of mastery in a specific field. Although the term is synonymous in the West with martial arts (though it is most over rendered Kung Fu), it is equally applicable to calligraphy, painting, music, or other areas of endeavor.”
- Andy James

“An element of abstention, of restraint, must enter into all finer joys.”
- Vida D. Scudder

Will Power: Quotes, Sayings, Aphorisms

“A callused palm and dirty fingernails precede a Green Thumb.
Wishes are like seeds - few ever develop into something.
Willpower is the art of replacing one habit for another.”
- Michael Garofalo, Pulling Onions

Wednesday, February 03, 2010

Students of the Way

Taoist Master Danyang once said,

"Students of the Way should have their minds on the Way at all times,
no matter what they are doing.
When they walk, they set foot on the path of evenness.
When they stand still, they freeze their feelings in cosmic space.
When they sit, they tune the breathing in the nose.
When they recline, they embrace the jewel below the navel.
Eventually the tune of the breathing is unbroken,
And you are like a quiet fool all day long.
This is the correct practice - it has nothing to do with contrived observances."

Found in "Taoist Meditation," translated by Thomas Cleary, Shambhala, 2002, p. 110.

Qigong: Bibliography, Links, Resources, Guides, Lessons

Meditation Resources

Tuesday, February 02, 2010

Current Plans for Cloud Hands Blog

My Blog Posting Schedule in 2010:

Green Paths in the Valley Blog

Mike Garofalo writes about gardening, seasons, nature, rural living, lore, Daoism, wisdom and the Eight Ways.

Posting on Tuesday, Thursday, Saturday and Sunday

Cloud Hands Blog

Mike Garofalo writes about Taijiquan, Qigong, Taoism, Walking, Gardening, and the Eight Ways.

Posting on Monday, Wednesday, Friday

Green Way Research

My current studies and practices include:

Ripening Peaches: Taoist Studies and Practices

Chen Taijiquan Short 18 Movements Hand Form of Chen Zhenglei

Chen Taijiquan 23 Movements Broadsword (Dan Dao) Form

Bear Frolic

Self-Massage and Acupressure

Taking cuttings (figs, roses, grapes), planting shrubs, planting bare root trees

Monday, February 01, 2010

Vitality, Energy, Spirit (Jing, Qi, Shen)

The kindly old man, Shou, a Taoist Saint, holds the Sacred Peach, a dragon staff, and a gourd filled with the Longevity Elixir. The flying bats and crane are frequently used symbols of longevity.

All Taijiquan and Qigong players will hear and/or read at some time about self-cultivation of vitality (Jing), energy (Qi), and Spirit (Shen).

Members of Quanzhen (Complete Perfection) Taoism, Northern or Southern Branches, emphasize various health practices, inner alchemy (Neidan), internal arts, rituals, recitations, and meditation techniques to transform oneself when on the spiritual path.

Ripening Peaches: Daoist Studies and Practices

The Peaches of Immortality

My Daoist Reading List I recommend books by Livia Kohn and Yang Jwing-Ming, and translations by Thomas Cleary.