Sunday, February 27, 2011

How Men Can Increase Their Lifespan by Five Years

Most men will be very pleased to learn that researchers in Germany discovered that men can increase their lifespan by looking more at women's breasts each day. 
   
Read the Article titled: Stare at Boobs for Longer Life
   
The article states: "According to Dr. Karen Weatherby, a gerontologist and author of the study, gawking at women’s breasts is a healthy practice, almost at par with an intense exercise regime, that prolongs the lifespan of a man by five years.  She added, "Just 10 minutes of staring at the charms of a well-endowed female, is roughly equivalent to a 30-minute aerobics work-out."  Apparently, the practice helps with blood circulation ...  "hot blooded" therapy.
   
How did they get the guys for the control group - the "non-lookers"?  They were either liars, gay gentlemen, or just sick and dying already.
   
So old men who lust after shapely ladies can now add another justification, along with the five they already have, for enjoying the simple erotic pleasures of life. I wonder if staring at pornography counts as an aerobic workout, or are the benefits reaped only with live action??  ;-))

Monday, February 21, 2011

Classical Skills

SKILLS

"Zither, chess, book, painting, sword.
These symbolize classical skill.

There was once a wanderer who cared nothing for fame. Although he
had many chances for position, he continued to search for teachers who
could help him master five things : zither, chess, book, painting, and
sword.

The zither gave him music, which expressed the soul. Chess
cultivated strategy and a response to the actions of another. Books gave
him academic education. Painting was the exercise of beauty and
sensitivity. Sword was a means for health and defense.

One day a little boy asked the wanderer what he would do if he lost
his five things. At first the wanderer was frightened, but he soon
realized that his zither could not play itself, the chess board was
nothing without players, a book needed a reader, brush and ink could not
move on their own accord, and a sword could not be unsheathed without a
hand. He realized that his cultivation was not merely for the
acquisition of skills. It was a path to the innermost part of his being."

-  Deng Ming-Dao, 365 Tao: Daily Meditations  

Standard 32 Sword Form: Black Dragon Whips His Tail


Sunday, February 20, 2011

Taoist and Chan Buddhist Precepts: The Song of Chan Tao Chia

The Song of Ch'an Tao Chia
The Twenty Seven Precepts of Taoism


Stan Rosenthal (Shi-tien Roshi) of the British School of Zen Taoism


"Have compassion for all sentient beings causing them no unnecessary hurt nor needless harm. 

Refrain from needless competitiveness, from contriving for self-advantage and from subjugating others. 


When accepting authority over others know also that you accept responsibility for their wellbeing. 


Value true friendship and fulfill your obligations rather than striving with egotistical motive.


Seek liberation from the negative passions of hatred, envy, greed and rage, and especially from delusion, deceit and sensory desire. 


Learn to let go of that which cannot be owned or which is destroyed by grasping. 


Seek the courage to be; defend yourself and your convictions. 


Accept transience, the inevitable and the irrevocable. 


Know that change exists in everything. 


Negate the barriers to your awakening. Discover the positive in the negative and seek a meaningful purpose in what you do. 


Be just and honorable. Take pride in what you do rather than being proud of what you have accomplished. 


Having humility and respect, give thanks to those from whom you learn or who have otherwise helped you. 


Act in harmony with your fellow beings, with nature and with inanimate objects.  


Know that a thing or an action which may seem of little value to oneself may be a priceless treasure to another.  


Help those who are suffering or disadvantaged and as you yourself become awakened help those who seek to make real their own potential.


Know that there is no shame in questioning.


Be diligent in your practice and on hearing the music of the absolute do not be so foolish as to try to sing its song.


Remember to renew the source in order to retain good health. 


Seek neither brilliance nor the void; just think deeply and work hard. 


When still, be as the mountain. When in movement be as the dragon riding the wind. Be aware at all times like the tiger, which only seems to sleep and at all times let the mind be like running water.


When you are required to act remember that right motive is essential to right action, just as right thought is essential to right words.


Beware of creating burdens for yourself or others to carry.


Act with necessary distinction being both creative and receptive and transcending subject/object dichotomy.


Know that you are not the center of the universe but learn to put the universe at your center by accepting the instant of your being. 


Seek security within yourself rather than in others. 


Know that even great worldly wealth and the accumulation of material things are of little worth compared with the priceless treasures: love, peace and the freedom to grow. 


Allow yourself to be so that your life may become a time of blossoming."


Translation of the Tao Te Ching by Stan Rosenthal

Tao Te Ching:  Selected Translations

Ripening Peaches:  Taoist Studies and Practices

Lifestyle Advice for Wise Persons   
   
   

Friday, February 18, 2011

Steps of Yu

The Steps of Yü the Great

"Yü the Great has power over the hundred spirits.  This was because he knew how to dance the steps of the celestial year.  If you dance the steps of the celestial year, you will be able to escape these three destructive forces: thunder in the sky and lightening striking the earth; evil spirits inhabiting the mountains and rivers; and poisonous snakes and insects.  Those who cultivate the Tao must be able to overcome these dangers.  If you know the pattern of the celestial steps, you can climb to the clouds and wander in the three realms.  No matter where you go, the immortals will protect you.  Use the steps of Yü when you ascend the altar to make sky offerings.  Dance the steps before you enter deep into the mountains.  First, tap the teeth together to produce a series of clicking sounds.  Next close your eyes and visualize the sun and moon.  Now you can begin the dance.  Extend the right arm along the north-south axis.  Make a fist with the left hand leaving the second finger extended.  Walk toward the east.  When you step with the right foot, the finger should be pointing to the southeast, and you should be facing the east.  Next, make a fist with the right hand, again leaving the second finger extended.  Now, take a step with the left foot.  The finger should be pointing to the northeast, and again you should be facing and walking toward the east.  Make sure the guardians of the three realms are present before you begin to dance the steps."
T'ai-hsüan pao-tien (The Sacred Treatise on the Great Mystery), late Sung Dynasty, Taoist Canon, Southern Branch of Complete Reality Taoism
    Translated by Eva Wong, Nourishing the Essence of Life: The Outer, Inner and Secret Teachings of Taoism, 2004, p. 102. 
  

Anyone know anything more about the Steps of Yu?? 


     Ways of Walking 

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Kai Men: Plum Publications

Kai Men:  Plum Publications

This is an excellent resource for DVDs and VCDs on the Chinese martial arts - both internal and external. 
I have purchased numerous items from Plum Publications and am very satisfied with the prompt and courteous service. 

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Wild Goose Qigong

"Dayan Qigong is from the Taoist Kunlun systems and was originally developed in the Jin Dynasty (1115 - 1234), but for many years remained a closely guarded secret. Legend has it that before one was allowed to teach this system they had to study for many years and could not teach it until they reached the age of 70 years. ... Dayan Qigong is a Chinese internal system of two sets of 64 movements which are designed to boost the Qi energy system, clear negative energy, increase mental clarity and thereby and leave the practitioner feeling revitalised, refreshed and both mentally and physically stimulated. Regular practice helps to stimulate the health Qi flow through the meridians whilst helping to clear negative or stagnant Qi. It contains a number of beautiful bird-like movements which are easy to learn and delightful to perform."
-  Ronnie Robinson, Persistence and Grace of the Wild Goose.

Wild Goose Qigong: Bibliography, Links, Quotations, Resources, Notes.
By Mike Garofalo. 

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Follow the Natural Course

"The natural course of things is always followed. This prevents one from harming their post-heaven strength. Focus is on beneficial cultivation of one's natural life force as the core of training.  All people - men, women, the old, and the young - may practice in order to replace temerity with bravery; and stiffness with pliability. Those of you who are weak, who suffer from fatigue and injury or illness, or who have weakened your qi from the practice of other martial arts to the point that you no longer have the strength to train, all of you may practice Tai Ji Quan. With practice, the qi will quickly return to a balanced state and will become strong, while the spirit naturally returns to a state of wholeness. Disease will be eliminated and the length of life increased."
- Sun Lu-Tang, A Study of Taijiquan, 1924. Translated by Tim Cartmell, p. 60.
Sun Style Tai Ji Quan

Friday, February 11, 2011

Purifying the Lungs

Since the days of the great Chinese healer, Sun Simiao (581-682 CE), there has been extensive use of six sounds to energize, purify, strengthen, and heal the body. 

One sound is used to energize, purify, strengthen, and heal the lungs.  This sound is variously translated into English as "ssss" or "tzzz" or "shhhh."

Here is one version of the method used:

Lie on your back on a comfortable and flat surface.  [Others recommend doing the exercise while seated or standing, but try it lying on the ground in this version.]
Close your eyes. 
Relax the entire body.  Be comfortable and warm. 
The room should be quiet and you should be undisturbed. 
The room should be clean, dust free, incense free, and pollution free. 
Healthy plants in the room contribute to better air. 

Keep your tongue down on the bottom of your mouth. 
Extend your lower jaw somewhat. 
Either let your arms relax on the floor at your sides, or rest your hands on your upper chest. 
Inhale slowly and deeply through the nose.  Relax your abdomen and let it rise as you inhale.
As you exhale make the "ssss" or "tzzz" or "shhhh" sound. 
You should be able to hear and feel this healing sound as you make it. 
Vibrate the sound in the throat.
Imagine the buzzing sound descending, vibrating, and buzzing in your chest and lungs. 
Imagine your lungs being energized, purified, strengthened, rejuvenated, healed. 
The abdomen falls down as you exhale. 

1. Audibly repeat the inhalation and exhalation pattern eight times. Take your time, go slowly, concentrate, and focus on energizing the lungs. 
2. Silently, inaudibly, with your imagination, repeat the inhalation and exhalation pattern eight times.  Take your time, go slowly, concentrate, and focus on energizing the lungs. 
3. Audibly repeat the inhalation and exhalation pattern eight times.  This time, as you exhale, imagine and mentally concentrate on and try to feel the Qi (bodily energy) moving from both big toes (Liver 1 point Dadun) upward, up through the inside of the legs (Liver Channel), up into the abdomen, up into the chest and lungs, then down the inner arms (Lung Channels) moving to the tips of the middle fingers (Lung 11 point Shaoshang).  [Accupressure and medical qigong books explain these inner energy systems in more detail). 
4. Silently, inaudibly, with your imagination, repeat the inhalation and exhalation pattern eight times.  Take your time, go slowly, concentrate, focus on energizing the lungs. 

Relax quietly for a few minutes. 
Imagine your lungs being energized, purified, strengthened, rejuvenated, healthier and healed. 
Return to normal, relaxed, and natural breathing.  Rest for awhile. 
Place your hands gently on you abdomen (right hand over left hand for men, women the opposite) and move your hands in a circular manner around your abdomen for 36 circles clockwise, then 36 circles counterclockwise.  Enjoy this self-massage
 Remain quiet, relaxed, and calm.  Meditate. 
 
 

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Spirit of Gardening Blog Started

Karen and I have started the Spirit of Gardening Blog. It is intended to support our Spirit of Gardening Website.

We discontinued posting to the Pathways in the Green Valley Blog.  In the past, this blog was called the Green Way Blog or Valley Spirit Blog
    

Tuesday, February 08, 2011

Seven Keys to Health and Happiness

"Practice Silence - Wisdom is a state of emptiness, listening, and attentiveness. 

Learn from Nature - Every tree, every animal, every stone has a lesson to teach. 

Find and Honor Your Life Purpose -  Your purpose is a gift from the Great Spirit. 

Respect Your Ancestors and Ancestry - All people have indigenous roots, and no culture has a monopoly on wisdom.

Maintain Emotional Balance - Keep your emotions calm and cultivate humor 

Eat According to Your Genes  - Follow the diet of our hunter-gatherer ancestors. 

Get Plenty of Exercise - Stand and move with dignity, and breathe slowly. 

-  Ken Cohen, Native Wisdom: Seven Keys to Health and Happiness, 2003.

Lifestyle Advice for Wise Persons

I have purchased and have used a number of audio-recordings by Ken Cohen.  I think he has a very pleasant speaking voice, the Sounds True recordings are excellent, and his presentations are informative and insightful.  Mr. Cohen is very knowledgeable about Taoism, Qigong, and Native American arts and culture.   


Monday, February 07, 2011

Shaman's Staff

"In Chinese shamanism, a staff represents the power of the universe. With a staff, a shaman had the power to pass on the universal knowledge to others. Later, when teachers took over part of the shaman's job, they always taught with a small staff in their hands like a shaman."
- Master Zhongxian Wu, Vital Breath of the Dao, p. 106

"Professional and patient centered organizations (in fact most medical associations around the world including the World Health Organization) use the "correct" and traditional symbol of medicine, the staff of Asclepius with a single serpent encircling a staff, classically a rough-hewn knotty tree limb. Asclepius (an ancient Greek physician deified as the God of Medicine) is traditionally depicted as a bearded man wearing a robe that leaves his chest uncovered and holding a staff with his sacred single serpent coiled around it, symbolizing renewal of youth as the serpent casts off its skin. The single serpent staff also appears on a Sumerian vase (circa 2000 BCE) representing the Healing God Ningishita, a prototype of the Greek Asklepios."
-   The Caduceus vs the Staff of Asclepius (Asklepian)  
 

Way of the Staff

Shifu Miao Zhang Points the Way
Teacher with the Magical (Wondrous, Amazing, Powerful) Staff, Shifu Miao Zhang, 师傅妙杖


Sunday, February 06, 2011

Magic Pearl Qigong

Magic Pearl Qigong: A Tai Chi Medicine Ball Exercise Routine and Meditation Technique.
By Michael P. Garofalo, M.S.
   
Part I, Movements 1-8
Part II, Movements 9-16


The Magic Pearl Qigong is a body/mind movement art practice that was developed in 2009 by Mike Garofalo.  He studied the Chen style Taijiquan medicine ball (Tai Chi Ball) exercises, the Yang Style Taijiquan medicine ball exercises, qigong forms, and general gym styles of medicine ball exercise routines.  He has practiced Qigong and Taijiquan since 1985. 

The psychological, symbolic, magical, esoteric, and meditative aspects of the Magic Pearl Qigong involve Taoist, Buddhist, and mythological lore from China and worldwide.  Followers of Dragon motifs and lore will enjoy the associations found in this form.  Suggestions for related meditations on the concept of the Cosmic Sphere, World Egg, Magic Pearl, Casting a Magick Circle, and Sacred Circles are also provided. 

For more information on general training with a medicine ball take a look at the Medicine Ball Exercises webpage. 

The Magic Pearl Qigong exercise routine was designed for use with a medicine ball while holding the ball in two hands, so as to allow for the use of heavier medicine balls.  This exercise routine can be done indoors and does not require much space for the practice. Use a medicine ball weighing from 2 to 6 pounds to begin practice of this qigong form. 


A brief list of names of the first 8 exercises in the Magic Pearl Qigong has been provided (1 page, .pdf format).  A brief set of instructions for doing the first 8 exercises of the Magic Pearl Qigong has been provided to facilitate learning and encourage daily practice (2 pages, .pdf format).


Valley Spirit Qigong Website

Saturday, February 05, 2011

You Cannot Call It Lofty

"The Way has its reality and its signs
but is without action or form.
You can hand it down but you cannot receive it,
you can ignore it but you cannot see it.
It is its own source, its own root.
Before heaven and earth existed it was there,
from the ancient times.
It gave spirituality to the spirits and to God,
it gave birth to heaven and to earth.
It exists beyond the highest point,
and yet you cannot call it lofty;
it exists beneath the limit of the six directions,
and yet you cannot call it deep.
It was born before heaven and earth,
and yet you cannot say it has been there for long,
it is earlier than the earliest time,
and yet you cannot call it old."
- The Crookbacked Woman and the Sage
Chuang Tzu, Translated by Burton Watson, 1964
Crone Taoism

Ripening Peaches: Taoist Studies and Practices

Tao Te Ching by Lao Tzu 

  

Friday, February 04, 2011

Eyebrow Raised

"All humans have a species of mite that lives in the follicles of the eyebrows on our faces.  I'll bet you didn't want to hear that bit of news!  But wait, there's more: another species of mite lives off the glands that branch from the follicles of these same eyebrows.  That's right, we have two species of mites living on our faces, and there is nothing you or I can do about it.  So, when I warn that it is better to be a laissez-faire gardener and to turn the other cheek (or eyebrow), you had better listen to me or else I'll have to tell you something that might really get your attention.  I don't want to have to be forced to do that." 
-  Eric Grissel, Ph.D., professional entomologist and amateur gardener.  Insects and Gardens, Timber Press, 2001, p. 32.  I've enjoyed reading this book, obtained from the Tehama County Library in Red Bluff, California.

One book on our home library shelves that Karen and I have enjoyed using for five years is:
Garden Insects of North America, The Ultimate Guide to Backyard Bugs.  By Whitney Cranshaw.  Princeton University Press, 2004.  Index, appendix, 656 pages.  It includes hundreds of color photographs.  This book is "the most comprehensive and user-friendly guide to the common insects and mites affecting yard and garden plants in the continental United States and Canada." 

We are both always looking around in the garden for life on the move.  A microscope or magnifying glass helps with seeing our wonderful world a bit closer. 

Lately, we have been harvesting plenty of Swiss Chard for our lunches and dinners. Delicious! 

Insects and Other Little Critters

Quotes for Gardeners

Hey, Shifu Miao Zhang, "Do the bees have Buddha nature?"  
  


Thursday, February 03, 2011

A Balanced Wholeness

Noble Eightfold Path of the Buddha
"I will attempt to live my life moving toward:
1.  A balanced wholeness of perspective that centers around the idea of achieving a complete experience of life.   [Right Views]
2.  A balanced wholeness of resolve in which I deliberately move away from what is toxic and move toward that which is nourishing.   [Right Intentions]
3.  A balanced wholeness of the manner, content, and intent of my speech.   [Right Speech] 
4.  A balanced wholeness of life-affirming moral conduct.   [Right Action]    
5.  A balanced wholeness of a profession that affirms life and does not obstruct or negate it.   [Right Livelihood]  
6.  A balanced wholeness of life-affirming spiritual activity.   [Right Efforts] 
7.  A balanced wholeness of mindful awareness and alertness as tools for profound living.   [Right Mindfulness] 
8.  A balanced wholeness of concentrated bodymind skills as tools for fully awakening my Buddha Nature.   [Right Concentration]  

-  The "balanced wholeness" version is from the Venerable Reverend John Bright-Fey, The Whole Heart of Zen: The Complete Teachings from the Oral Tradition of Ta-Mo, p. 254.  The [short version] is a rather standard formulation of Siddhartha Buddha's Noble Eightfold Path


Wednesday, February 02, 2011

Taoist Circle Walking Meditation

"Tung Hai-Chuan (1813-1882) became a member of the Chuan Chen (Complete Truth) sect of Taoism. This sect was part of the Lung Men (Dragon Gate) school of Taoism which was originated by Chou Chang-Ch'uan. Interestingly enough, Chou also invented a method of meditation whereby the practitioner would walk in a circle and, wouldn't you know, this method was practiced by the Chuan Chen sect. Delving further into this Taoist connection, Professor K'ang Kuo Wu was able to find a section in the Taoist Canon which reads:

'A person's heart and mind are in chaos.
Concentration on one thing makes the mind pure.
If one aspires to reach the Tao, one should practice walking in a circle.'

This bit of evidence inspired Professor K'ang Kuo Wu of Beijing to try and find out more about the circle walk meditation method practiced by the Chuan Chen Taoists. What he discovered was that this practice, which the Taoists called Chuan T'ien Tsun (Rotating in Worship of Heaven) is very similar in principle to the circle walk practice of Pa Kua Chang.

Researching Wang Chun-Pao's book, 'Taoist Method of Walking the Circle,' Professor K'ang found that while walking, the Taoists repeated one of two mantras. The first of these mantras was used in the morning practice and translates to mean 'When Rotating in Worship of Heaven, the sound of thunder is everywhere and transforms everything.' The second mantra was used in the evening practice and translates to mean 'When Rotating in Worship of Heaven, the great void saves us from the hardship of existence.' It was said that the practitioner should repeat the mantra with each movement in the circle walk practice so that 'one replaces one's myriad thoughts with a single thought in order to calm and ease one's mind.' The Taoists said that in walking the circle the body's movements should be unified and the practitioner strives for stillness in motion. This practice was described as a method of training the body while harnessing the spirit."
- Jiang Hao-Quan Chinese Martial Arts Institute

Walking Meditation

Ways of Walking

Bagua Zhang (Pa Kua Chang)
  

Tuesday, February 01, 2011

The Practice of Walking

"Gongfu is an ancient Chinese term describing work, devotion, and 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 often rendered as Kung Fu), it is equally applicable to calligraphy, painting, music, or other areas of endeavor."
- Andy James

There is a difference between "a practice" and "to practice." Those of us who played competitive sports sometimes were not enthused about a going "to a practice." Practice meant repeating fitness and skills drills, listening to yelling coaches, pushing ourselves to new physical limits, competing with others, doing extra pushups for inattention, etc. Having a practice, a long-term fitness avocation, a mind-body engagement, a spiritual gong-fu, a ritual for well-being, an engaging and enriching pastime, a self-determined commitment to good healthy activites, a non-competitive and non-judgmental path to inner and outward growth ... now this kind of practice enriches both body, mind and spirit for a lifetime.





"Allow walking to occupy a place of stature equal with all the other important activities in your life. As difficult as that might seem, here's how to do it. Make it a practice. That's right. Turn your walking into a vehicle for personal growth as well as for fitness. This will add a higher level of integrity and intention to your approach because you will find that it is a way to deepen and upgrade your relationship to your body. Instead of merely giving your legs a good workout, you'll be practicing to relax more, to breathe better, to expand your vision, to open up your range of motion, to increase your energy, to feel and sense your body. The list is exciting - and endless. With all of this to look forward to, your walking program will take its place alongside everything in your life you value most, and you'll be amazed at how easy it is to schedule time for something you really love to do."
- Katherine Dreyer, Chi Walking, p. 56
Chi Walking: The Find Mindful Steps for Lifelong Health and Energy. By Danny Dreyer and Katherine Dreyer. New York, Simon and Shuster, Fireside Books, 2006. Index, 258 pages. ISBN: 0743267206.