I discovered your web page on Eight Section Brocade—what an amazing resource! Thank you for putting it together.
I'm a beginning/intermediate qi gong student, mostly practicing at home. I've learned this form from various teachers and as a result, I've gotten rather confused. So the information here is helpful. One sticking point I've had is regarding the breathing on the first exercise, since some teachers have told me to inhale up and others have told me to exhale up. Can you explain what the difference is? I noticed as I was scanning your page that you mention something about one being the Buddhist method and the other being the Daoist method. What's the difference to the one practicing?
Also, is there one resource you'd recommend for the Eight Section Brocade? (like one book or one dvd or one teacher...)
The first movement in this set is "Pressing the Heavens with Two Hands." Arms press upward and forward. When I practice this movement I spread my feet a bit wider, toes out 45 degrees. As my arms come down in semi-circular arc on either side, I exhale. As my arms come down to my legs I squat within my training zone, then my hands come together between my legs, I turn my palms up, and as I inhale I slowly draw my hands up close to my body up to my forehead. Turning my palms out, press both arms upward into the Heavens. At the end of the press relax, begin to exhale as your arms circle back down to your legs. Inhale moving up, exhale moving down. If you are doing deeper squats with longer holds, probably better to exhale as you push up from a squat. Sometimes, I like to inhale until my hands turn at my forehead, then exhale as I press the arms up and out, inhale at the peak of the upward stretch, exhale going down. I prefer relaxing my abdomen on the inhale, and gently tightening the abdomen on the exhale. Eight repetitions for each movement is recommended. Some players like to come up on their toes as they press up and out. There are many breathing methods in Chinese Qigong and Indian Yoga, and some methods are used by Buddhists and Taoists in spiritual practices including chanting. Breathe (inhaling/exhaling) in any way comfortable to you to allow you to complete eight repetitions of "Pressing the Heavens with Two Hands." Yin, Exhale, Lowering, Emptying, Downward, Squatting, Tightening Abdomen Yang, Inhale, Rising, Filling, Upward, Standing, Relaxing Abdomen
Unfortunately, I can't suggest the best resource because I cannot afford to purchase them and spend time comparing them.
Transformations of the Tao, Reason's Modifications, Avoid Violence, Unnatural Death, One Produces Many, 道化
"The Dao produced One; One produced Two;
Two produced Three; Three produced All things.
All things leave behind them the Obscurity (out of which they have come), and go forward to embrace the Brightness (into which they have emerged), while they are harmonised by the Breath of Vacancy.
What men dislike is to be orphans, to have little virtue, to be as carriages without naves; and yet these are the designations which kings and princes use for themselves.
So it is that some things are increased by being diminished, and others are diminished by being increased.
What other men (thus) teach, I also teach.
The violent and strong do not die their natural death.
I will make this the basis of my teaching."
- Translated by James Legge, 1891, Chapter 42
"The Way gave birth to unity,
Unity gave birth to duality,
Duality gave birth to trinity,
Trinity gave birth to the myriad creatures.
The myriad creatures bear yin on their backs and embrace yang in their bosoms.
They neutralize these vapors
and thereby achieve harmony.
That which all under heaven hate most
Is to be orphaned, destitute, and hapless.
Yet kings and dukes call themselves thus.
Things may be diminished by being increased, increased by being diminished.
That which people teach,
After deliberation, I also teach people.
"The tyrant does not die a natural death."
I take this as my mentor."
- Translated by Victor Mair, Chapter 42
"Dao sprouted as one.
One sprouted into two.
Two sprouted into three.
Three sprouted into all the living things in the universe.
All living things suffer through darkness and embrace the light.
In the middle, life's energy finds a way to act from the harmony of both.
A person's stance might be to really hate being "alone, isolated and One Without Grain".
Yet the nobility choose to call themselves by that title.
A living thing may be damaged by increase; or may profit by decrease.
Therefore, if a person realizes that their attitude can teach others,
In the evening they will consider and discuss things, teaching each other.
Therefore those who are aggressive and violent will die incomplete.
I'll take these lessons as though they came from my father."
- Translated by Nina Correa, 2005, Chapter 42
"The way begets the one
The one begets the two
The two beget the three
The three beget the myriad beings
The myriad beings carry the shadow and embrace the light
Mixing the breaths with harmonious action
People have their reasons to truly dislike being
“Orphaned & friendless, without worth”
Yet sovereign & duke take (these) as titles
Since beings may sometimes lose something, and yet benefit
May sometimes gain something, and yet be diminished
What someone else has taught
I too come to teach:
Those who are forceful & hostile
do not meet their (natural) ends
I will regard (this) as a premise of the teaching."
- Translated by Bradford Hatcher, 2005, Chapter 42
"The Tao gives birth to the One.
The One gives birth to two.
Two gives birth to three.
And three gives birth to the ten thousand things.
The ten thousand things have their backs in the shadow
while they embrace the light.
Harmony is achieved by blending
the breaths of these two forces.
People dislike the words "alone," "helpless," "worthless,"
yet this is how Princes describe them selves.
So it is that sometimes a thing is increased
by being diminished and
diminished by being increased.
What others teach I also teach:
"A violent person will not die a natural death."
I shall make this the basis of my teaching."
- Translated by Tolbert McCarroll, 1982, Chapter 42
"The principle is not a thing. Call it zero.
The principle in action is the unity of creation. This unity is a single whole. Call it one.
Creation consists of pairs of opposites or polarities. Call these polarities two.
These polarities become creative when they interact. Their interaction is the third element. Call it three.
For example, a man and a woman are two. Their interaction, or intercourse, the third element makes babies. That is creative. That is how all creativity occurs.
The wise leader knows about pairs of opposites and their interactions. The leader knows how to be creative.
In order to lead, the leader learns to follow. In order to prosper, the leader learns to live simply. In both cases, it is the interaction that is creative.
Leading without following is sterile. Trying to become rich by accumulating more and more is a full-time career and not free at all.
Being one-sided always produces unexpected and paradoxical results. Being well-defended will not protect you; it will diminish your life and eventually kill you.
Exceptions to these examples of traditional wisdom are very hard to find."
- Translated by John Heider, 1985, Chapter 42
"Tao gives birth to One,
One gives birth to Two,
The Two gives birth to Three,
The Three gives birth to all universal things.
All universal things shoulder the Yin and embrace the Yang.
The Yin and Yang mingle and mix with each other to beget the harmony.
People distain the orphaned, widowed and worthless,
Yet they are the name by which rulers called themselves.
Therefore all things may increase when diminished,
And they may diminish when increased.
What people teach is "get rid of weakness and become strong,"
But what I teach is "get rid of the strong to become weak.
The violent and forceful do not die a natural death,"
I will begin my teaching just from this saying."
- Translated by He Xuezhi, Chapter 42
"When the Principle has emitted its virtue, the latter begins to evolve according to two alternating modalities.
This evolution produces (or condenses) the median air (tenuous matter).
From tenuous matter, under the influence of the two modalities yin and yang, all sentient beings are produced.
Coming out from the yin (from strength) they pass to the yang (to the act), through the influence of the two modalities on matter.
What men dislike is being alone, unique, incapable, (in obscurity and abasement), and yet emperors and princes are designated by these terms, (which imply humility without debasement).
Beings diminish themselves by wanting to augment themselves, and they are augmented through diminishing themselves."
- Translated by Derek Bryce, 1999, Chapter 42
"Nature first begets one thing.
The one thing begets another.
The two produce a third.
In this way, all things are begotten.
Why? Because all things are impregnated by two alternating tendencies, the tendency towards completion and the tendency towards initiation, which acting together, complement each other.
Most men dislike to be considered of no account, lowly, unworthy.
Yet intelligent leaders call themselves thus.
For people are admired for their humility and despised for their pride.
There are many other ways of illustrating what I am teaching: "Extremists reach untimely ends."
This saying may be taken as a good example."
- Translated by Archie J. Bahm, Chapter 42
"Whereas a form-instruction video is no substitute for a qualified teacher, those who live far from any teacher are still better off learning from a video than if they had no instruction at all. For those who have a teacher, a video can augment and accelerate the learning process. Finally, those who have had prior instruction in internal arts should be able to attain a substantial benefit from a video.
One method of learning a form from a video is to repeatedly do the entire form or blocks of the form along with the video. However, this method is not efficient because there is insufficient opportunity to reinforce each movement. A better way is to refrain from doing movement while watching the video. Rather, it is good to choose a small block of material, watch it a few times. Then, without any major physical action, visualize the sequence of movements as clearly as possible. Next, go back to the beginning of that block of material, and view and visualize it again a few times. Only after clear and complete visualization is achieved should the movements be attempted physically.
At first it will seem extremely difficult to work this way. With persistence, however, it is possible to achieve a level of visualization so intense that the imagined movements are almost as vivid as those seen on a TV screen. The dividends of the process of visualization are twofold: (1) By subduing the physical aspects of movement (e.g., balance, coordination, kinetic sense, timing), you can completely focus the mind on the details of the movement. (2) By cultivating the ability to visualize and mentally encompass complex details, you become increasingly able to observe and learn new movements quickly, especially in situations where it is not feasible to move while observing (e.g., dreams, teacher showing movements while the class watches). Referring to the dimension of self-defense, the more you can observe and mentally encompass the movements of the opponent, the greater the advantage achieved."
- Robert Chuckrow, The Tai Chi Book, YMAA Publication Center, Boston, MA, 1998, pp. 119–120
I own a digital video camcorder. It is the Canon Vixia HF R21 model.
I need to choose a good video editor. I purchased Adobe Premiere Elements 10, but could not get it to install on my computer. I purchased Corel Video Pro Studio 4, but it has not arrived yet. Time will tell.
"How wonderful it would be if we could help our children and grandchildren to learn thanksgiving at an early age. Thanksgiving opens the doors. It changes a child's personality. A child is resentful, negative—or thankful. Thankful children want to give, they radiate happiness, they draw people."
- Sir John Templeton
T hanks for time to be together, turkey, talk, and tangy weather.
H for harvest stored away, home, and hearth, and holiday.
A for autumn's frosty art, and abundance in the heart.
N for neighbors, and November, nice things, new things to remember.
K for kitchen, kettles' croon, kith and kin expected soon.
S for sizzles, sights, and sounds, and something special that about. That spells THANKS for joy in living and a jolly good Thanksgiving.
- Aileen Fisher, All in a Word
"To educate yourself for the feeling of gratitude means to take nothing for granted, but to always seek out and value the kind that will stand behind the action. Nothing that is done for you is a matter of course. Everything originates in a will for the good, which is directed at you. Train yourself never to put off the word or action for the expression of gratitude."
- Albert Schweitzer
Jui-yen asked Yen-t'ou, "What is the fundamental constant principle?"
Yen-t'ou said, "Moving."
Jui-yen said, "When moving, what then?"
Yen-t'ou said, "You don't see the fundamental constant principle?"
Jui-yen stood there thinking.
Yen-t'ou said, "If you agree, you are not yet free of sense and matter; if you don't agree, you'll be forever sunk in birth-and-death."
The round pearl has no hollows,
The great raw gem isn't polished.
What is esteemed by people of the Way is having no edges.
Removing the road of agreement, sense and matter are empty:
The free body, resting on nothing, stands out unique and alive."
- Jui-yen (Zuigan, Song Am) was a Chinese Zen Master who lived from 800-900 CE.
Found in The Roaring Stream: A New Zen Reader, Edited by Nelson Foster and Jack Shoemaker, p. 182
A few of the webpages of mine are served to over 20,000 readers a month during some months of the year. The Cloud Hands blog is currently served to less that 2,500 readers each month. Therefore, I focus more on developing and improving webpages, and put far less effort into writing for this blog. Nearly everything you read in this blog is found in one or more of my webpages.
I try to post something to the Cloud Hands Blog every day. When pressed for time, I sometimes repeat a previous post and just change the title of the post. Most of the posts function as pointers to my more detailed webpages on the same or related subjects.
My wife, Karen, and I no longer make any posts to the Our Paths in the Valley blog. This change will help us reduce expenses for Typepad and save time. Maintaining just one blog is sufficient for our purposes in 2012.
Nearly all individual bloggers and web publishers that I know earn no significant income from their web publishing. The same is true for us, therefore more of our time and effort is spent as employees at our regular part-time jobs.
This is the week for Thanksgiving Celebrations in America.
The only martial arts weapon that I practice with is a cane. I practice all the Taijiquan sword and broadsword forms that I know with a cane.
Every time I take a walk I carry my cane with me. Using various cane strikes and stretches while walking is an excellent way to exercise the upper torso.
I use an Instructor's Walking Cane, 40" (103 cm) long and 1" (2.54 cm) in diameter, from Cane Masters. This cane weights 1lb, 2 oz (510 gm). This beautiful martial arts combat cane is made of pure hickory heartwood, has multiple notches at three key gripping points, has a rounded hooked horn, and has a rubber covered tip. I also own the same Instructor's Walking Cane made of oak - a gift from my children.
Cane Research Project at Valley Spirit Taijiquan
Self-Defense Arts and Fitness Exercises Using a Cane, Walking Stick, or Short Wooden Staff
All documents were created by Michael P. Garofalo, M.S.
Published by Green Way Research, Valley Spirit Taijiquan, Red Bluff, California, 2009-2011
Way of the Short Staff. Comprehensive bibliography of books, media, links, and resources. Includes research on cane, short staff, walking stick, jo, etc..
These documents normally include a list of the movement names in the specific cane or short staff form, and the final direction to face for each named movement sequence. Some documents provide detailed descriptions for each of the movement sequences. All documents include some commentary, notes, and a bibliography of books, media, and links. Many of these documents are in Adobe PDF read/print only format. The documentation of this research is an ongoing project of mine in 2009-2012; consequently, many documents are still incomplete. Over time, I intend to provide for each movement: 1) the martial technique used, 2) direction of technique application, and 3) the final leg stance. All of these forms can be practiced with a cane or walking staff under 40" long.
Bodhidharma's Shaolin Cane (Damo Cane, Shaolin Damo Kung Fu Cane). As taught by Master Shi Deyang. 21 movements in 3 sections. List of names and directions.
We sometimes feel the need for dramatic changes in our lifestyle for a a variety of good reasons including a dissatisfaction with the results of previous actions and habits. We want to change our character, behaviors, habits, thinking, or values so as to effect a "Transformation."
I recently reread a book by Baron Baptiste, a influential and popular yoga master, titled "40 Days to Personal Revolution: A Breakthrough Program to Radically Change Your Body and Awaken the Sacred Within Your Soul' (Fireside, Simon and Schuster, 2004). Yogi Baptiste gives an explanation of a plan for personal transformation, and includes his views on the guiding principles (Laws) for such significant changes:
"The Twelve Laws of Transformation
1. Seek the Truth
2. Be Willing to Come Apart
3. Step Out of Your Comfort Zone
4. Commit to Growth
5. Shift Your Vision
6. Drop What You Know
7. Relax with What Is
8. Remove the Rocks
9. Don't Rush the Process
10. Be True to Yourself
11. Be Still and Know
12. Understand that the Whole is the Goal"
- Baron Baptist, 40 Days to Personal Revolution, 2004, pp. 5-45.
Over the years, I have also collected many quotations regarding the power of the will in human action. Willpower is a key component of successful personal transformation. The will is very much like a muscle: with exercise it gets stronger, it needs time for rest and recuperation, it needs to be feed properly with behavioral and mental nutrients, it needs some stretching and flexibility work, and needs to be cross-trained to develop full and responsive power.
I think some of the guiding techniques for personal change include:
1. A realistic and truthful assessment of our physical, mental, emotional, and social
self-potential and possibilities.
(Baptiste: 11, 10, 1, 5)
2. A clearly articulated vision and goals for the future.
3. A detailed action plan, objectives and timetable needed to accomplish the goals.
(Baptiste: 12, 5, 1)
4. A wholehearted commitment to and belief in the action plan.
(Baptitste: 4, 2)
5. Direct efforts on a daily basis to fulfill the action plan.
(Baptiste: 4, 11, 10)
6. Having patience, steadfastness, determination, courage, and flexibility.
(Baptiste: 7, 9)
7. Acknowledging and breaking through one's inner resistance to change, abandoning
or tearing away from one's past actions.
(Baptiste: 2, 3, 6, 8)
8. The regular review, evaluation, and realistic assessment of progress on a weekly
and monthly basis.
(Baptiste: 1, 3, 8)
We also need to take advantage of techniques to manage the unconscious and well as conscious forces that comprise our inner life. Try exploring techniques such as visualization, repeated affirmations, guided meditations, rituals, art, hypnosis, neuro-linguistic programming, music, etc.
In our area, this is the time of the year for planting bulbs, corms, and tubers for late winter and spring blossoms.
We plant a lot of onions and garlic. We also have a large garden with many iris and narcissus plants.
“Since Iris is the Greek goddess for the Messenger of Love, her sacred
flower is considered the symbol of communication and messages.
Greek men would often plant an iris on the graves of their beloved
women as a tribute to the goddess Iris, whose duty it was to
take the souls of women to the Elysian fields."
- Hana No Monogatari: The Stories of Flowers
“The Iris flower is the flower of wisdom. Iris flowers are the emblem of France. Iris Flowers are associated with twenty fifth wedding anniversary. These Iris Flowers grow in the temperate, sub-arctic and warm climatic zones. They are poetry by themselves. There is numerous folk loree on Iris Flowers. It is believed to this day that “pothos” or passion is the son of “Iris” and “Zephyros”. The story unfolds that when the west wind passed through alluring “Iris”, it symbolized the vividness of passion. In Greek, “Iris” meant both a flower and rainbow. Iris Flowers are often termed as eyes of heaven.”
- Iris Flowers
Returning to the Source, Great Mother, Soft and Small, Avoiding Misfortune, Study Origins, Humility, Listening, Seeds, Undying Nature, Examine Relationships, 歸元
"All under Heaven has a generatrix, which we regard as the mother of all under Heaven.
Once one has access to the mother, through it he can know the child.
Once one knows the child, if he again holds on to the mother, as long as he lives, no danger shall befall him.
Block up your apertures; close your door,
And to the end of your life you will never be exhausted.
But if you open your apertures and deal consciously with things, to the end of your life you will never have relief.
To see the small is called "perspicacious."
To hold on to softness is called "strength."
Make use of its brightness,
But always let its brightness revert.
Never let one's person be exposed to disaster: this is a matter of practicing constancy."
- Translation by Richard Lynn, Chapter 52
"The world (t'ien hsia) has an origin (shih),
Which is the world's (t'ien hsia) mother (mu).
Having reached the mother,
(We) know her child.
Having known the child,
Return and abide by its mother.
(In this way) one loses the body without becoming exhausted.
Stop the apertures (tui),
Close the doors,
(In this way) one's whole life (shen) is without toil (ch'in).
Open the apertures,
Going about the affairs,
(In this way) one's whole life (shen) cannot be saved.
To see the small is called illumination (ming).
To abide by the soft is called strength.
Use the bright light (kuang),
But return to the dim light (ming),
Do not expose your life (shen) to perils,
Such is to follow (hsi) the everlasting (ch'ang)."
- Translated by Ellen M. Chen, Chapter 52
"If you trace problems in your relationship
back to the beginning
you will find their seeds
were sown and then ignored.
They grew unnoticed until their fruit
ripened and surprised you.
But if you can find
where the seeds were sown,
there you will find the roots as well.
And if you remove the roots
your problems will wither."
- Translated by William Martin, Chapter 52
"When creation began, Tao became the world's mother.
When one knows one's mother he will m turn know that he is her son.
When he recognizes his sonship, he will in turn keep to his mother and to the end of life will be free from danger.
He who closes his mouth and shuts his sense gates will be free from trouble to the end of life.
He who opens his mouth and meddles with affairs cannot be free from trouble even to the end of life.
To recognize one's insignificance is called enlightenment.
To keep one's sympathy is called strength.
He who uses Tao's light returns to Tao's enlightenment and does not surrender his person to perdition.
This is called practicing the eternal."
- Translation by Dwight Goddard, Chapter 52
"The beginning of the universe, when materialized, is considered to be a mother.
When a man finds the mother, he will know the children, accordingly.
Even though he knows the children, he still clings to the mother:
Therefore, although his body wanes, he never perishes.
The person who shuts his mouth and closes his doors
Will never perish.
If he opens his mouth and increases his affairs,
He will never be saved.
The person who sees the tiniest thing possesses clear vision,
The person who adheres to the weak possesses strength.
Use your light, but dim your brightness,
In this way you will not do yourself any harm.
This is called following the eternal Tao."
- Translated by Chou-Wing Chohan, Chapter 52
"Everything begins with the Tao and ends with the Tao.
To know it retrace the steps of your life.
When you reach back to the beginning, the Tao lies herein.
Then you will realise there is no death.
Without desire your heart is at peace.
Without judgment your mind is clear.
See who it is that sees.
Witness thoughts come and go.
Turn the light around and find its source.
Practicing this leads to enlightenment."
- Translated by David Bullen, Chapter 52
"This world must have begun in certain way;
We may thenceforth consider it the origin (mother) of our world;
Once we manage to ascertain the origin, we could [apply it] to study its offsprings;
After we learn more about the offsprings, we may reciprocally eke out our knowledge about the mother (the origin);
This is my never-ending life-long quest.
If paths and openings of one's connections [to the outside world] are blocked, he will never be aroused to do anything in life;
If paths and openings of one's connections [to the outside world] are unlocked and he is properly motivated, he will never cease [from the quest described above].
One who perceives subtleties is brilliant;
One who maintains humility is strong.
One who would use [the light of Tao] to illuminate his [potential] brilliance will thus leave behind nothing that could cause misfortune to later generations.
A person, who achieves all of the above described fulfillment, is what I called the person with embodiment of the perpetual [Te]."
- Translated by Lee Org, Chapter 52
"The world had a beginning
And this beginning could be the mother of the world.
When you know the mother
Go on to know the child.
After you have known the child
Go back to holding fast to the mother,
And to the end of your days you will not meet with danger.
Block the openings,
Shut the doors,
And all your life you will not run dry.
Unblock the openings,
Add to your troubles,
And to the end of your days you will be beyond salvation.
To see the small is called discernment;
To hold fast to the submissive is called strength.
Use the light
But give up the discernment.
Bring not misfortune upon yourself.
This is known as following the constant."
- Translation by D. C. Lau, Chapter 52
“Realizing the interplay of the Tao way of life
and the virtue of nuturing all things under heaven
will introduce you to the primal mother
The mother of the world
resting peacefully with the mother
will introduce you to her sons and daughters
The sons and daughters of the world
these children can be exhausting
and though they mean no harm
trying to follow or control them
will only bring great danger to you
To be safe
rest peacefully with the mother
gently close your eyes
and look inward
softly direct your eyes
to listen within
lightly close your mouth
raise your tongue to its roof
and quietly savor the interior
gently lift your crown
sit firm with a relaxed hold
on your bodymind
and let her love
fill you up
you will never be empty
or grasp them
the whole universe is in the palm
of your hand
you cannot see it
the real world is not open
to the rational mind
the ancient child asks
when you have rested sufficiently
in the arms of the primal mother
and you vision begins to clear
it is an unexpected sense of making
that first arises within the bodymind
then you are engulfed in a benevolent flame
that outlines rather than burns
and I do not know if I am
the source or the witness
the senses play
leaping to and fro
mischievously acting against their nature
emotions of comfort and satisfaction swell
so that even the harshest rain
feels like a lover’s kiss
you fell as if an unseen enemy
has been vanquished
and life courses through you limbs
as the warrior’s belt collects you
the connection to the Tao source and way of life
becomes punctuated and definite
possessed of a wholly benevolent clarity
language leaves you
and a light and sensitive energy collects at your
visions cascade upon you so rapidly
that it becomes impossible
to divide or discern
what we normally regard as real
death becomes impossible
fire and force penetrate deeply
within you bodymind
and a new truth shapes you
into someone altogether different
you begin to breathe
the Tao way of life
as true respiration
within a quickening
that shines out
for all to see
spinning out of the quickening
you understand the mother’s children
you sing and dance
you paint and play
you look at the palm of your hand and
you can still make mistakes
you can still be confused
you can still misstep
but you will always have the eyes of the Tao however
should you ever see yourself as separate from it
you will cease
- Translation and Interpretation by the Reverend Venerable John Bright-Fey, Chapter 52
“All the universal things have a common origin. We regard it as the “Mother” of all things.
Gaining the mother, we can know its children,
Knowing how the children come into being, we can return to hold onto the mother.
Thus ensuring nor danger to life.
Closing the eyes and shutting up the mouth,
One can keep from sickness forever.
Opening the eyes to chase after desires and passions,
One can be helpless forever.
Watching less and less can be enlightened.
Holding onto the weak can be mighty.
Using the outgoing eyesight,
To turn to illuminate the inward,
Thus, there can be no disaster to the body.
This is called practicing enduring Tao.”
- Translated by Hu Huezhi, Chapter 52
I have practiced various versions of the Five Animal Frolics Qigong for a number of years. There are many different versions of the Animal Frolics. In the winter months I practice the Bear Frolic a bit more often.
The exercise set is considered to be Daoyin, or what is now called Qigong (Chi Kung). In this context, the word "Dao" means to guide, lead, show the way, slowly, inch by inch. The word "Yin" means to pull out, draw out, or stretch. So Daoyin are mind-body exercises that show us how to draw out the potential for diseases and restore an integrated or balanced state of well-being in body and mind.
Many people credit the famous Chinese physician, Hua Tuo (110-207 CE), with developing a popular Daoyin animal frolics set which consists of exercises based on the deer, crane, monkey, tiger, and bear. Hua Tuo's best student, Wu Pu, lived to be over 100, and wrote that Hua Tuo told him:
"Man's body must have exercise, but it should never be done to the point of exhaustion. By moving about briskly, digestion is improved, the blood vessels are opened, and illnesses are prevented. It is like a used doorstep which never rots. As far as Tao Yin (bending and stretching exercises) is concerned, we have the bear's neck, the crane's twist, and swaying the waist and moving the joints to promote long life. Now I have created the art called the Frolics of the Five Animals: the Tiger, the Deer, the Bear, the Monkey, and the Crane. It eliminates sickness, benefits the legs, and is also a form of Tao Yin. If you feel out of sorts, just practice one of my Frolics. A gentle sweat will exude, the complexion will become rosy; the body will feel light and you will want to eat."
"In addition to the key points of Qigong exercise, the Frolics of the Five Animals require attention to the following points:
1. Integration of Form and Mind
2. Flexible and Circular Movement
3. Slow and Fast Movement [The Bear's movement is slow and steady.]
4. Heaviness, Stability and Subtlety
5. Softness and Toughness
6. Order of the Frolics [The Bear movement is done first in the series: bear, deer, tiger, monkey, and crane.]
7. Coordination of Movements with Respiration
8. Three-way Stability
11. Perseverance in Practice
- Jiao Guorui, Qigong Essentials for Health Promotion, 1988, pp. 193-195. This is one of the earliest good English language texts on Qigong practices.
Be sure to take a look at:
Bear Frolic. UTube Video, 2:08 Min. Performed by Anson Rathbone, 2007. As taught by Deguang at NESA's Medical Qigong Class.
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
Photo by Karen Garofalo taken in downtown Red Bluff, CA, November 2008.
“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
"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."
- Taoist Canon
"I was the world in which I walked."
- Wallace Stevens, Tea at the Palaz of Hoon
"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 and 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
"When you walking along naturally, you're walking in the harmony of the Unborn."
- Bankei (1622-1693)
"Above all do not lose your desire to walk. Everyday I walk myself into a state of well being and walk away from every illness. I have walked myself into my best thoughts and I know of no thought so burdensome that one cannot walk away from it. But by sitting still, and the more one sits still, the closer one comes to feeling ill...if one keeps on walking everything will be alright."
- Soren Kierkegaard
T'ai Chi Ch'uan is for me, among other things, a way of playing. Playing to lift my spirits, playing to meet a challenge, playing for delight, playing to show off, playing for exercise, playing for no reason at all.
"We are never more fully alive, more completely ourselves, or more deeply engrossed in anything than when we are playing."
- Charles Schaefer
"The true object of all human life is play.
Earth is a task garden; heaven is a playground."
- G. K. Chesterton
"It is a happy talent to know how to play."
- Ralph Waldo Emerson
"The first level of stillness is about being with yourself in order to know yourself. This is accomplished by being wide awake and aware as you deliberately relax into yourself. The idea is to consciously enter into a state wherein you temporarily suspend everything you think you know about who you are, including anything you have ever been taught, and simply be attentive to what's going on right there where you are. You practice being quiet, both physically and mentally, as you pay attention to the sensations in your body, the various thoughts in your mind, and your current experience of being conscious and alive. You practice simple body-mind awareness, being conscious of the moment you are now in, and thereby experience with clarity the energy of you. You consciously experience yourself as you actually are. In this way you open yourself to a new, truer, less distorted experience of you and the world."
- Erich Schiffmann, Yoga: The Spirit and Practice of Moving Into Stillness, 1996, p. 7.
focus and forget
rest with the great achievement.
The ancient child asks
"what is the great achievement?"
It is beyond description in any language
it can only be felt intuitively
it can only be expressed intuitively.
Engage a loose, alert, and aware
body, mind, and sound
then look into the formless
and perceive no thing.
See yourself as a sphere
small at first
growing to encompass
the vastness of infinite space.
focus and forget then
in a state of ease and rest
secure the truth of the great achievement.
Employing the truth will not exhaust its power
when it seems exhausted it is really abundant
and while human art will die at the hands of utility
the great achievement is beyond being useful.
Great straightness is curved and crooked
great intelligence is raw and silly
great words are simple and naturally awkward.
Engaged movement drives out the frozen cold
mindful stillness subdues the frenzied heart.
summon order from the void
that guides the ordering of the universe."
- Tao Te Ching, Chapter 45, Translated by John Bright-Fey, 2006
"There are many matters and many circumstances in which consciousness is undesirable and silence is golden, so that secrecy can be used as a marker to tell us that we are approaching the holy." - Gregory Bateson, Angels Fear
"You are sitting on the earth and you realize that this earth deserves you and you deserve this earth. You are there - fully, personally, genuinely."
- Chogyam Trungpa
"Teach us to care and not to care.
Teach us to sit still."
- T.S. Eliot
"Perfection cannot be attained,
but it can be noticed.
If you pay full attention
to what seems flawed and ordinary
you will notice the perfection
hiding beneath appearances.
If you pay full attention to each other
you will notice how perfectly
you are each becoming who you really are.
By seeing the perfection in what is
you allow the creation
of what is not."
- Translated by William Martin, 1999, Chapter 45
"What is most perfect seems imperfect,
But using it doesn't use it up.
What is most full seems empty,
But using it doesn't wear it down.
Great straightness seems crooked;
Great skill seems clumsy;
Great eloquence seems hesitant.
Movement conquers cold,
But stillness conquers heat.
Clearness and serenity
Are beneath-heaven's norm."
- Translated by Herrymon Maurer, 1985, Chapter 45
"Esteem lightly your greatest accomplishment, your patience will not fail.
Reckon your great fullness to be emptiness, your strength will not become exhausted.
Count your rectitude as foolishness,
Know your cleverness to be stupidity,
Recognize your eloquence to be stammering words,
And you will find that
As movement overcomes cold, and as stillness overcomes heat, even so, he who knows the true secret of tranquility
Will become a pattern for all mankind."
- Translated by Isabella Mears, 1916, Chapter 45
"True perfection seems flawed
Yet its usefulness is never exhausted.
True fulfillment seems empty
Yet its usefulness is infinite.
True straightness seems crooked,
Great skill appears easy,
Great eloquence sounds awkward.
Cold overcomes heat.
Tranquility conquers agitation.
Purity and stillness is the universal ideal."
- Translated by John R. Mabry, Chapter 45
"Great perfection appears defective,
but its usefulness is not diminished.
Great fullness appears empty,
but its usefulness is not impaired.
Great straightness seems crooked,
Great cleverness seems clumsy,
Great triumph seems awkward.
Bustling about vanquishes cold,
Standing still vanquishes heat.
Pure and still, one can put things right everywhere under heaven."
- Translated by Victor Mair, Chapter 45
"The greatest accomplishments seem imperfect,
yet their usefulness is not diminished.
The greatest fullness seems empty,
yet it will be inexhaustible.
The greatest straightness seems crooked.
The most valued skill seems like clumsiness.
The greatest speech seems full of stammers.
Movement overcomes the cold,
and stillness overcomes the heat.
That which is pure and still is the universal ideal."
- Translated by John H. McDonald, Chapter 45
"The greatest attainment is as though incomplete, but its utility remains unimpaired.
The greatest fullness is as a void; but its utility is inexhaustible.
The greatest uprightness is as crookedness; the greatest cleverness as clumsiness; the greatest eloquence as reticence.
Motion overcomes cold; stillness conquers heat.
Purity and stillness are the world’s standards."
- Translated by C. Spurgeon Medhurst, 1905, Chapter 45
As I played with the Yang Long Form, each of my steps crunched leaves under my feet. As I reached down to pick up the needle from the bottom of the sea, I picked up a few leaves from the graying autumn grass. As I crossed hands in the horse stance, a fig leaf fell on my fingers.
do not be concerned
that form is emptiness
and emptiness is form
It is All
a brown falling leaf
- Michael McClure
"Last day of October,
dead leaves dropping--
form is emptiness.
First day of November,
ditch completely dry--
emptiness is form.
- Michael Garofalo, Above the Fog