Wednesday, February 29, 2012

A Celebration to Last Throughout the Years

Kool and the Gang

"Celebrate good times, come on
(Let's celebrate)
Celebrate good times, come on
(Let's celebrate)
There's a party goin' on right here
A celebration to last throughout the years
So bring your good times
And your laughter too
We gonna celebrate your party with you
Come on now
Let's all celebrate and have a good time
We gonna celebrate and have a good time
It's time to come together
It's up to you
What's your pleasure
Everyone around the world
Come on
(Yahoo) It's a celebration
Celebrate good times, come on
It's a celebration
Celebrate good times, come on
Let's celebrate
We're gonna have a good time tonight
Let's celebrate, it's all right
We're gonna have a good time tonight
Let's celebrate, it's all right." 

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Feedback, Reviews, Kudos

I get lots positive feedback about my many webpages each week via email.  Occasionally, I get some nice feedback about this blog.  Thanks to everyone who took the time to write to me and provide me with encouragement and such kind thoughts.   

I collect some of this feedback and place on my webpage titled "Comments, Feedback, Kudos, and Reviews Regarding the T'ai Chi Ch'uan and Chi Kung Websites of Green Way Research."  Over the last decade, this positive feedback has inspired me to continue.  

This week I discovered that the Cloud Hands Blog had been recommended the most by the 11,000 people who nominated blogs for the 2012 Reader's Choice Awards - Top Ten Blogs of Into Mountains, Over Streams: The International Journal of Qigong and Taijiquan Culture.  What a pleasant surprise!  Thank you very much dear readers.  

There are many beautiful, original, creative and outstanding blogs on the topics I am interested in learning more about.  Check out the sidebar for many good examples.  Hopefully, I can someday really rise to their level of artistic, informative and creative excellence.  

I get the most feedback about my Spirit of Gardening website that has been online since 1999.  There are avid gardeners all around the world seeking inspiration and ideas about their avocation.  Check out the reviews and kudos for this website. 

"I happened upon your website today and felt like I had rounded the corner to find a magical garden.  Such a wealth of information, so deftly proffered.  As a student of tai chi, a practitioner of chi gung -- and an avid gardener -- I simply wanted to thank you.  Please know that your efforts are appreciated.  Peace!"
-   David Gunter, Sandpoint, Idaho, 19 August 2003

"People like you make the Internet a real blessing."
-  Stanley Atamanchuk, 20 April 2004

Again, many thanks!! 

Monday, February 27, 2012

Shaping Nature

An unusually shaped tree grown at Nob Hill Foods, Gilroy, California.  

Another unusually shaped tree grown at Nob Hill Foods, Gilroy, California. 

A dancing tree.  Location unknown.  

We shape our gardens in many ways: weeding, mowing lawns, pruning, cutting down dead trees and shrubs, clearing away the summer garden in the autumn, 
mowing and weed eating in the orchard, and even topiary. 

Likewise we sculpt our bodies with exercise, weight lifting, sports, martial arts, tai chi chuan, qigong, etc.  Sometimes the changes are not visible externally but felt internally in terms of feeling good, vitality, high energy, pride.  

Sunday, February 26, 2012

Weekly Workout Plan

A New Weekly Workout Plan

Beat around the bush
Lift myself up by the bootsraps
Make mountains out of mole hills
Get all fired up
Jump to conclusions
Climb the walls

Drag my heels

Make my point
Push my luck
Pull my own load
Hit the nail on the head

Bend over backwards

Jump on the Band Wagon
Grab all I can get
Run around in circles
Shoulder my share of responsibility

Shop till I drop
Hang loose
Grind to a halt
Rest and recuperate

Push it to the limit
Pull out all the stops
Add fuel to the fire
Pave the roadway to hell
Throw it all away

Open a can of worms
Put my foot in my mouth
Start the ball rolling
Go over the edge

Pick up the pieces.
Wade through the morning paper
Lift my spirits
Toot my own horn
Read till I go to seed. 

Saturday, February 25, 2012

Resuming Projects at Home

Busy with gardening projects for three days:
Installing and checking drip irrigation lines. 
Clearing all weeds from the "sunny garden."
Planting Fava beans, onions, leeks, and garlic. 
Putting straw down as a mulch. 
Cutting down dead cypress trees.  

I have a bigger project for this coming Sunday.  The small DC pump in the well in the south field is not pumping water.  It runs off of a solar panel.  I will need to figure out why it is not pumping water and repair the problem.  This pump keeps my two ponds full of water all year.  

About 20 wild Guineafowl visit our front yard every few days looking for food.  They are a noisy group of big birds.   

I am back to walking 3 miles each day and practicing Taijiquan, Qigong, and Yoga.  I resume teaching Yoga and Taijiquan at the Tehama Family Fitness Center on Monday, February 27, 2012.  Yes!!

"May we be planted by the waters,
A planting so deep, our roots sink down into the rich moist earth until we stand on solid rock
May our minds and hearts know the intimate touch of the wind, our faces the heat and healing power of the sun,
Until we know ourselves as one with all life."
-  Coline Fairless 

Friday, February 24, 2012

Retreat to the Sea

Karen and I enjoyed a three day trip this week to Ft. Bragg, California.  We had not been to the ocean since last June. 

It takes us 5 hours to drive to Ft. Bragg from Red Bluff.  It is an easy and interesting drive through varied terrain.  We first drive south on Interstate 5 to Williams, which takes us through the bountiful North Sacramento Valley agricultural areas.  Then we go west on California Route 20 which winds through the southern Yolly Bolly Mountain range sparsely covered with oaks.  The is cattle grazing country.  Route 20 goes along the north shore of Clear Lake.  The shores of Clear Lake, the largest natural lake entirely in California, are heavily developed with small homes and cabins.  Then Route 20 meets U.S. Highway 101 near the towns of Yukiah and Willits.  These towns are in the agricultural valley formed by the Russian River.  This valley is famous for immense vineyards all the way south to Santa Rosa.  We continue west about 30 miles on Route 20 through the final coastal mountain range, heading west to Ft. Bragg.  This area is in beautiful Mendocino County.  The mountains east of Ft. Bragg are heavily forested with many dense redwood groves.  

We both enjoyed the botanical gardens in Ft. Bragg and walking along the bluffs overlooking the rocky coastline.  There was strong winter surf roaring into the rocky shoreline all the time.  It was cool and windy.  There were mostly clear skies while we were visiting.  Since this is the off-season for Ft. Bragg, the town was uncrowded and motel rates were reduced.   

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Tao Te Ching by Lao Tzu, Chapter 73

Dao De Jing, Laozi
Chapter 73

"One who’s fearless in being brave will be killed.
One who’s fearless in being cautious remains alive.
One of these is useful, the other harmful.
Heaven disdains what it disdains
Who knows the reasons why?
Even the wise find these things difficult.
The way of heaven
Overcomes easily without contention,
Replies though it does not speak,
Invites though it does not summon,
Obeys the laws though it seems free.
The net of heaven is vast.
The mesh is wide
But nothing slips through."
-  Translated by A. S. Kline, 2003, Chapter 73  

"Courage carried to daring leads to death.
Courage restrained by caution leads to life.
These two things, courage and caution, are sometimes beneficial and sometimes harmful.
Some things are rejected by heaven, who can tell the reason?
Therefore the wise man deems all acting difficult. 
The Tao of heaven does not quarrel, yet it conquers.
It speaks not, yet its response is good.
It issues no summons but things come to it naturally because its devices are good.
Heaven's net is vast, indeed! its meshes are wide but it loses nothing."
-  Translated by Dwight Goddard, 1919, Chapter 73 

"Daring to act means death
daring not to act means life
of these two one benefits
one harms what Heaven hates who knows the reasons
the Way of Heaven wins easily without a fight
answers wisely without a word
comes quickly without a summons
plans ingeniously without a thought
the Net of Heaven is all-embracing
its mesh is wide but nothing escapes."
-   Translated by Bill Porter (Red Pine), 1996, Chapter 73 

"That courage which is manifest by bravado and foolhardiness,
Leads to disaster and death.
That which is not so manifest,
Leads to life.
Between these two,
One benefits - one does not.
Even the Sage has difficulty in knowing why one of these brings destruction from above.
It is the way of nature -
- Not to compete, yet to achieve victory.
- Not to ask, yet to obtain an answer.
- Not to summon, yet be supplied all needs.
- Not to overtly plan, yet to achieve results.
Truly - the net of nature is cast far and wide.
Tho' its mesh be coarse,
Yet nothing escapes."
-  Translated by Alan B. Taplow, 1982, Chapter 73  

"One who shows bravery by being daring will get killed one who shows bravery by not being daring will survive.
But in both these cases: "Sometimes it helps, sometimes it harms.
What Heaven picks to hate - who knows the reason?
And so the Wise Person: Treats things as difficult.
Heaven's Way: Not contending, but excels at overcoming not speaking, but excels in getting answers not summoning, but people come of themselves lax, but excels at organization.
Heaven's net is very wide - loosely woven, but it lets nothing slip by."
-  Translated by Michael LaFargue, 1992, Chapter 73 

"Reckless bravery leads to death;
careful bravery leads to life.
One leads to good, the other harm.
Heaven hates what it hates:
who knows the reason?
Not even those who are enlightened know why.
The Dao of heaven
does not contend yet overcomes with ease,
does not speak yet communicates with ease,
does not summon yet attracts things naturally,
seems unhurried yet plans with ease.
The net of Heaven is vast.
Its meshes may be wide,
but not a thing slips through."
-   Translated by Tim Chilcott, 2005, Chapter 73 

Chapter and Thematic Index to the Tao Te Ching

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Chen Style T'ai Chi Ch'uan Short Form

Chen Style Taijiquan Short Hand Form, 18 Movements
Created by Grandmaster Chen Zhenglei

Bibliography, Resources, List of Movements, Resources, Links, Instructions, Comments
Webpage by Michael Garofalo
Chen Style Taijiquan
Grandmaster Chen Zhenglei's Short 18 Movements Tai Chi Hand Form
List of 18 Movements

5.     Single Whip 

7.     Walk Diagonally  

8.     Brush Knee

14.   Cloud Hands  

18.   Closing Posture of Taiji    

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Interacting with Our Reality

"We make life real by the thoughts we project.

The panorama of the objective world is meaningless until we interact with it. For example, if there is a rock that we pass day after day but we do not notice, then that rock has no significance for us.  If we decide to make that rock a votive object and pray to it for decades, then that rock becomes quite important.  To an outsider who does not subscribe to the rock's assigned meaning, it will continue to be just a rock.  In all cases, the rock was just a rock. It was only human interaction that created its meaning.

It is a mistake to assume that the meaning we give to something is as concrete and tangible as the object itself.  We should not confuse the two.  For example, our house may be precious to us, but our sense of preciousness has nothing to do with the building -- it comes from the values and memories we associate with it.  If we lose our house, we must remember that it is the feeling we have for it, not just the building itself, that determines our loss.

If all perception of reality is subjective, some schools of thought suggest that we should therefore see everything as unreal.  By contrast, followers of Tao maintain that we must still interact with the world. If we do not take initiative and work with this phenomena of projecting meaning and receiving its echoes, we fall into a state of dormancy, and the world will not exist for us at all. As long as we remember that meanings we attribute to objects are subjective, we will avoid mistakes."

By Deng Ming-Dao
365 Tao: Daily Meditations
Day 50, February 19 

Monday, February 20, 2012

Rhythm of Thoughts

"The rhythm of walking generates a kind of rhythm of thinking, and the passage through a landscape echoes or stimulates the passage through a series of thoughts. The rhythm creates an odd consonance between internal and external passage, one that suggests that the mind is also a landscape of sorts and that walking is one way to traverse it.  A new thought often seems like a feature of the landscape that was there all along, as though thinking were traveling rather than making."
- Rebecca Solnit, Wanderlust: A History of Walking
"Thoughts come clearly while one walks."
- Thomas Mann

"If you want to know if your brain is flabby, feel your legs."
-   Bruce Barton  

"All truly great thoughts are conceived by walking."
-   Friedrich Nietzsche 

Ways of Walking

Walking Quotations

Way of the Short Staff

Mike Garofalo hiking in Death Valley, California.

Sunday, February 19, 2012

Learning Taijiquan on Your Own

The most frequent question I am asked is "Where I live there are no Taijiquan teachers of the the Taijiquan style X that I want to learn.  How do I go about learning Taijiquan Style X?"

You always need to learn Tai Chi by observing someone doing the Taijiquan form you are studying, and listening to their instruction.  Fortunately, in 2012, for most Taijiquan forms, you have from two to ten different choices of very knowledgeable instructors who teach the Taijiquan form that you are learning by means of good instructional DVDs or videos.  Also, for some popular Taijiquan forms there are excellent books or manuals available for the form you are learning, or very good online webpages on the form.  Sometimes there are VCDs that can be played on a home computer.  Finally, there are some online courses and UTube demonstrations of the form you are learning. 

My own webpages provide extensive bibliographies of these many learning resources.  I also provide many suggestions and remarks about learning specific forms using DVDs, videos, and books, e.g.,  Standard 24 Taijiquan Form.  

Instructional DVDs come in NTSC and PAL formats, with NTSC format being used on DVD players in the United States.  If you are purchasing your DVD from outside the United States it is most likely in the PAL format and will not work properly on your DVD player.  Caveat Emptor.  

I use a small desktop DVD player.  My Vzon model, playing the NTSC format, has a hand held DVD controller and controls on the machine.  I no longer use instructional VHS videos. 

You want to purchase a DVD that teaches the Taijiquan form.  You want an instructional DVD, not a demonstration DVD.  Advanced Tai Chi students can sometimes learn from a demonstration DVD, but not without much difficulty.  All Tai Chi learners can benefit from a good instructional DVD that breaks the form down into discrete sections (lessons, blocks) and provides detailed verbal instructions on how to perform the movements in each section.  Sometimes a section is called a "lesson" and might include three or four movements of the form.  The best instructional DVDs feature frequent repetition of a movement, clear voice over narration, the use of different camera angles for showing a movement sequence, sectional performance demonstrations, and complete demonstrations of the form from a front and back view.  It is essential to get the narration in the language you use, because it is very hard to read subtitles and carefully study the the movements visually at the same time.   

Study each DVD lesson carefully, make notes, memorize the names of the movements in that lesson, then immediately practice each lesson until you can perform the movement sequence in the lesson on your own.  Repeat, repeat, repeat!!  Don't move on to the next lesson until you can perform the movements in the lesson you are studying on your own.  Give yourself a little slack and accept being just "satisfactory" at performing each lesson.  Over time you will refine and perfect your performance.   

After learning the first lesson, then proceed in the same manner to learn the second lesson.  Then combine the first and second lesson and practice them together until you can perform them on your own.  Don't move on to lesson three until you can easily and smoothly perform lessons one and two combined.  To "learn" means to me to be able to remember and easily, consistently, and smoothly perform a sequence of movements on your own.  Study Lesson 1, practice and learn Lesson 1; study Lesson 2, practice and learn Lessons 1 + 2; study Lesson 3, practice and learn Lessons 1 + 2 + 3; study Lesson 4, practice and learn Lessons 1 + 2 + 3 +4, etc. 

As with all learning the keys are: daily study, careful study, paying attention, remembering, daily practice, patience, repetition, visualization, verbal cues, making notes, and confidence.  Take your time, don't rush, be patient.  The process of learning might take months. 

Here are some suggestions from Robert Chuckrow: 

"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

Saturday, February 18, 2012

Good Reads IMO

The Tao of Daily Living
By Ted Kardash, Ph.D., San Diego

Daoist Nei Gong: The Philosophical Art of Change  By Damo Mitchell.  Singing Dragon, 2011.  240 pages.  ISBN: 978-1848190658.  

Secrets of Dragon Gate: Ancient Taoist Practices for Health, Wealth, and the Art of Sexual Yoga.  By Dr. Steven Liu and Jonathan Blank.  New York, Jeremy P. Tarcher, Penguin, 2011.  214 pages.  ISBN: 9781585428434.  VSCL. 

Eight Section Brocade Chi Kung

The Bean Curd Boxer: Tai Chi and the Noble Art of Leaving Things Undone

Friday, February 17, 2012

Sex, Religion, and Politics

I have long believed that overpopulation is very detrimental to our environment and lowers the overall quality of life for everyone. 

The Catholic Church now gets over $2.5 billion dollars per year from the federal government for Catholic higher education, Catholic hospitals, and other Catholic charities.  Yet, in the past few weeks, the Catholic bishops have been angered because the federal government asked them to provide typical birth control support (contraceptives) in the medical plans they offer their employees.  They plan to violate laws for non-profit organizations and begin active political campaigns against federal policy from the pulpit.  

Catholics, Baptists, many black and white Fundamentalist Christians, and Muslims in America all believe that their religion has dogmas that require married couples to engage in sexual relations primarily for reproductive purposes.  These and other churches generally agree on many or all of the following tenets: sexual relations outside of marriage are sinful, masturbation is sinful, homosexuality is sinful, birth control measures are sinful, and that legal abortions are sinful and murder.   All these religions encourage their members to have large families.  They are all decidedly patriarchal religions.  In addition, numerous federal and state laws discriminate in their favor, e.g., unlimited tax deductions for dependent children. 

Despite the ongoing preaching by the Christian and Muslim clerics, however, over 90% of the individual members of these churches in America simply ignore their church leaders and practice reasonable family planning and use birth control.  Over 71% of California voters support legal abortions.  Billions of condoms are also widely used yearly by informed persons to prevent unwanted pregnancies and prevent the spread of sexually transmitted diseases.  The number of children per family in America has been steadily dropping over the last five decades.  Also, many people are non-religious and don't agree with the anti-sex doctrines of these churches.  I applaud and support all these efforts by adults of all religions, or none, to choose to bring only one or two children into this world and raise them well.     

I have prepared a recommendation for a Zero Population Growth Constitutional Amendment (federal or state) as a possible solution to this serious problem. It is clear to everyone that overpopulation is a critical worldwide issue that significantly impacts on available food and freshwater supplies, inadequate housing, pollution of the environment, the spread of diseases, unemployment, poverty, population migrations, violence, and war.  The problem is less pressing in America, but real, and future planning for the 21st century and beyond needs to change our 18th century thinking about governmental encouragement of large family sizes. 

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Dao De Jing, Laozi, Chapter 74

Tao Te Ching by Lao Tzu
Chapter 74

"The people do not fear death,
Why threaten them with death?
Suppose the people always fear death,
One who does strange things (ch'i),
I shall seize and kill,
Then who dares [to do strange things]?
Killing is carried out by the executioner.
To replace the executioner and kill,
Is like chopping wood in place of the master carpenter.
To chop wood in place of the master carpenter,
Rarely one does not hurt one's own hand."
-   Translation by Ellen M. Chen, Chapter 74

"If people don't love life, they won't fear death, and threatening them with it won't work.
If people have lives worth living, then the threat of death is meaningful, and they'll do what is right to avoid it.
But killing itself should be the province of the great executioner alone.
Trying to take his place and kill is like cutting wood in the place of the master carpenter:
The odds are you'll hurt your own hand."
-   Translation by Brian Walker, Chapter 74

"If people are not afraid of death,
how can they be threatened by it?
But if they always live in fear of death,
and still continue in their lawlessness,
we can arrest and kill them.
Who then would dare?
And yet there is a Lord of Death whose charge it is to kill.
To take his place and kill would be like carving wood in place of the master carpenter.
Few would escape without injuring their hands."
-   Translated by Tim Chilcott, 2005, Chapter 74

"If people are not afraid to die, how death can be used to threaten them?
If we make people afraid of death, and execute a few extreme offenders, who would dare to offend again?
It is normal to have executioners who kill.
Substituting an executioner in killing is like substituting a master lumberjack in chopping trees.
Chopping trees by non-professionals rarely results in no hand injuries."
-   Translated by Thomas Z. Zhang, Chapter 74 

"If people were content with their own deaths
You could not use force on them;  they would be immune
But this is not the way the world is
If you threaten them with death to make them behave
You must assign someone to kill them, or do it yourself
Who, then, kills:  you, or the executioner, or the state?
Someone must take the responsibility
Whoever is responsible for death has put his way above the tao
Yet though he can end a life, the tao will by its nature find a way to return
Any sane man would find in that cause for worry."
-   Translated by Ted Wrigley, Chapter 74 

"When the people are not afraid of death, wherefore frighten them with death?
Were the people always afraid of death, and were I able to arrest and put to death those who innovate, then who would dare?
There is a regular executioner whose charge it is to kill.
To kill on behalf of the executioner is what is described as chopping wood on behalf of the master carpenter.
In chopping wood on behalf of the master carpenter, there are few who escape hurting their own hands instead."
-   Translated by D. C. Lau, 1963, Chapter 74   

"If people have no fear of death
It's pointless to threaten them with it.
If people were in constant fear of death,
And if anyone acting deviously
Were to be seized and executed,
Who would dare to do so?
The Master Executioner is always there to kill.
If you attempt to play his role
It is like trying to do the work of a master lumberjack.
The one who has no skill to do this work
Seldom escapes with his hands unhurt."
-   Translated by Angieszka Solska, 2005, Chapter 74 

If there is someone who doesn't fear death, why threaten to kill them?
If people did fear death and one were to capture and kill the devious few, who would dare to be devious?:
Iff the people are always at risk of execution, there will never lack an executioner.
Now, to kill like an executioner is like-hacking at wood.
Instead of masterful carpentry, few are there who can escape cutting their own hands!"
-   Translated by Jerry C. Welch, 1998, Chapter 74

Chapter and Thematic Index to the Tao Te Ching


Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Whirling Like A Dragon

"It is easier to leave a circle than to enter it.
The emphasis is on the hip movement whether front or back.
The difficulty is to maintain the position without shifting the centre.
To analyze and understand the above situation is to do with movement and not with a stationary posture.
Advancing and retreating by turning sideways in line with the shoulders, one is capable of turning like a millstone, fast or slow, as if whirling like a dragon in the clouds or sensing the approach of a fierce tiger.
From this, one can learn the usage of the movement of the upper torso.
Through long practice, such movement will become natural."
- Yang Family Old Manual, The Coil Incense Kung

Dragon Chi Kung features exercises that involve twisting, turning, screwing, spiraling, curving, wiggling, undulating, spinning, sinking down and rising up, swimming, circling, swinging, or twining movements are often associated with snakes, serpents and dragons.  There are many Qigong sets and specific Qigong movements that have been called "Dragon" forms, sets, or exercises.  Baguazhang martial arts feature much twisting, turning and circling; and, also include many "Dragon" sets and movements.  Silk Reeling exercises in Chen Style Taijiquan include twisting, twining, circling, and screwing kinds of movements. 

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Bringing Water to the Thirsty

I worked for a number of hours yesterday on installing plastic drip lines to the new trees planted in our home orchard.  Drip irrigation is very efficient in terms of getting water down into the roots of each plant, and saves much time and effort for the gardener in watering plants. 

I fill up an old coffee mug with hot water.  Then, when I am attaching drip line fittings, I soak the 1/2" plastic tube in the hot water a few moments before setting the fittings in place.  

It rained overnight the last few days, so I did not need to do much watering on Monday.  

"If gardeners will forget a little the phrase, "watering the plants" and think of watering as a matter of "watering the earth" under the plants, keeping up its moisture content and gauging its need, the garden will get on very well."
- Henry Beston, Herbs and the Earth, 1935

"Before enlightenment - chop wood and carry water.
After enlightenment - chop wood and carry water."
-  Zen saying 

"Man - despite his artistic pretensions, his sophistication, and his many accomplishments - owes his existence to a six inch layer of topsoil and the fact that it rains."
-   Author Unknown

Monday, February 13, 2012

Chi Kung Classes in Red Bluff, California

Our Chi Kung (Qigong, Dao-yin) and T'ai Chi Ch'uan classes will resume on  Monday, February 27th, 2012,  at the Tehama Family Fitness Center in Red Bluff.  

Mondays  5:30 pm - 7 pm
Saturdays  9:30 am - 11 am 

Instructor:  Michael P. Garofalo 

Valley Spirit Chi Kung (Qigong, Chi Kung, Dao-yin, Yang Sheng Fa)  

Reverse Your Biological Age By:
"1.  Changing your perceptions.
2.  Deep rest, restful awareness, and restful sleep. 
3.  Lovingly nurturing you body through healthy food.
4.  Using nutritional complements wisely.
5.  Enhancing mind/body integration: breathing exercises, yoga, tai chi, qigong, aikido, etc..
6.  Exercise: strength and aerobic conditioning.
7.  Eliminating toxins from you life.
8.  Cultivating flexibility and creativity in consciousness.
9.  Love and loving relationships.
10.  Maintaining a youthful mind."

-   Deepak Chopra, M.D., and David Simon, M.D. 
    Grow Younger, Live Longer: Ten Steps to Reverse Aging
.  (2001) 

Ten Positive Energy Prescriptions
"1.  Awaken intuition and rejuvenate yourself.
2.  Find a nurturing spiritual path.
3.  Design an energy-aware approach to diet, fitness and health.
4.  Generate positive emotional energy to counter negativity.
5.  Develop a heart-centered sexuality.
6.  Open yourself to the flow of inspiration and creativity. 
7.  Celebrate the sacredness of laughter, pampering, and the replenishment of retreat.
8.  Attract positive people and situations.
9.  Protect yourself from energy vampires.
10.  Create abundance."

-  Judith Orloff, M.D.. 
   Positive Energy,

Lifestyle Advice from Wise Persons

"A man living is yielding and receptive.
Dying, he is rigid and inflexible.
All Things, the grass and trees:
Living, they are yielding and fragile;
Dying, they are dry and withered.
Thus those who are firm and inflexible
Are in harmony with dying.
Those who are yielding and receptive
Are in harmony with living.
Therefore an inflexible strategy will not triumph;
An inflexible tree will be attacked.
The position of the highly inflexible will descend;
The position of the yielding and receptive will ascend."
-  Translated by R. L. Wing, 1986, Tao Te Ching by Lao Tzu,
500 BCE, Chapter 76  

Sunday, February 12, 2012

Dharmapada Sutra of the Buddha

Dhammapada Sutta
Buddhist Proverbs from 100 BCE

I. Twin Verses, Mind, Anger and Hatred, Discernment, Practice, Contrary Ways, Contrasting Pairs, Yamakavagga Verses 1-20
II. Vigilance, Watchfulness, Earnestness, Diligence, Zeal, Self-Control, Joy, Nirvana, Appamadavagga Verses 21-32
III. The Mind, Thoughts, Cittavagga Verses 33-43
IV. Flowers, Blossoms, Things of the World, The Flowers of Life, The Fragrance of Good Deeds, Pupphavagga Verses 44-59

V. Fools, Evil Fruit, Ambition, The Childish Person, Balavagga Verses 60-75
VI. The Wise Man (Pandita), The Skilled Person, The Wise, Panditavagga Verses 76-89
VII. Infinite Freedom, The Venerable (Arhat), The Accomplished Person, The Arahant, Arahantavagga Verses 90-99
VIII. Better Than a Thousand, Thousands, Sahassavagga Verses 100-115

IX. Good and Evil, Avoid Evil Deeds and Do Good, Consequences of Evil, Detriment, Papavagga Verses 116-128
X. Don't Punish or Kill, Don't Inflict Pain on Others, Overcome Desires, Train Yourself,
Avoid Violence, Evil Returns Evil, Dandavagga Verses 129-145
XI. Beyond Life, Old Age, Broken Down House, Illness, Death, Jaravagga Verses 146-156
XII. Self-Possession, Self Control, Propriety, Duty, Oneself, The Self, Attavagga Verses 157-166 

XIII. The World, Illusions, Neglect, Practice, Lokavagga Verses 167-178
XIV. The Buddha, The Awakened, Restrained, Unbound, Refuge, Buddhavagga Verses 179-196
XV. Happiness, Being at Ease, Bliss, Follow the Wise, Sukhavagga Verses 197-208
XVI. Affection, Pleasing, Sorrow, Attachments, Piyavagga Verses 209-220 

XVII Guarding One's Character , Daily Efforts, Controlling Emotions, Anger, Kodhavagga Verses 221-234
XVIII Impurities, Faults, Ignorance, Envy, Malavagga Verses 235-255
XIX The Righteous , True Sages, Wise Elders, Monks, The Just, Dhammatthavagga Verses 256-272
XX The Eightfold Path, Impermanence, Meditation, Death, The Path, Maggavagga Verses 273-289 

XXI Disciples of the Buddha, Contemplations, Forest Solitude, Miscellaneous, Pakinnakavagga Verses 290-305
XXII Woeful State , Sinfulness, The Results of Evil, Hell, Nirayavagga Verses 306-319
XXIII Elephant, Self-Training, Fellowship, Nagavagga Verses 320-333
XXIV Cravings , Bondage, Uprooting Evil, Weeds, Tanhavagga Verses 334-359

XXV Refine Conduct, Bhiksu, Calm the Mind, The Five, The Monk, Bhikkhuvagga Verses 360-382
XVI A Brahmin, A Buddha, An Enlightened Person, The Holy Man, Brahmanavagga Verses 383-423 

Saturday, February 11, 2012

A Poem is a Walk

"With the first step, the number of shapes the walk might take is infinite, but then the walk begins to define itself as it goes along, though freedom remains total with each step: any tempting side road can be turned into an impulse, or any wild patch of woods can be explored.  The pattern of the walk is to come true, is to be recognized, discovered."
-  A.R. Ammons, A Poem is a Walk

"In the evening, I walked alone down to the Lake by the side of Crow Park after sunset and saw the solemn coloring of night draw on, the last gleam of sunshine fading away on the hilltops, the seep serene of the asters, and the long shadows of the mountains thrown across them, till they nearly touched the hithermost shore.  At distance hear the murmur of many waterfalls not audible in the day-time.  Wished for the moon, but she was dark to me and silent, hid in her vacant interlunar cave."
-  Thomas Gray, Journal in the Lakes  

Friday, February 10, 2012

Eight Section Brocade Chi Kung

I frequently teach the Chinese Eight Section Brocade Chi Kung exercise and fitness routine in my Taijiquan class and my Yoga class.  Naturally, I include many comments about Shaolin and Daoist fitness and healthy living concepts. 

This Eight Treasures exercise and fitness routine has a varied and long history with ancient roots back to the Animal Frolics Dao-yin exercises of 300 CE.  Some of Eight Treasures involve toughening, courage, and fighting and were used in military exercise and conditioning drills. 
Back in 2002, I created the webpage titled:  The Eight Section Brocade Chi Kung.  
The Ba Duan Jin Qigong form includes eight basic exercises to help you keep limber, become stronger, improve your balance, and increase your stamina.  There are opportunities for squatting movements and postures to strengthen the legs.  

The entire Eight Beautiful Tapestries Chi Kung form is done while standing. 

There are numerous versions of this popular Chi Kung form.  There are many good books, instructional DVDs, and UTube videos to choose from on this topic.  My webpage includes a long bibliography on the Eight Section Brocade Chi Kung with citations for resources, links, videos, books, DVDs on the subject.  

I make a number of comments about the movement variations, physical training targets, muscles worked, attitude, benefits, options, comparisons with yoga asanas, and breathing patterns.  

I offer my own version with fairly detailed comments on each of the eight movements.  Here is my one page class handout for the Eight Section Brocade Chi Kung class. 

Thursday, February 09, 2012

Tao Te Ching by Lao Tzu, Chapter 75

Dao De Jing, Laozi
Chapter 75

"The people starve because those above them eat too much tax-grain.
That is the only reason why they starve.
The people are difficult to keep in order because those above them interfere.
That is the only reason why they are so difficult to keep in order.
The people attach no importance to death,
Because those above them are too grossly absorbed in the pursuit of life.
That is why they attach no importance to death.
And indeed, in that their hearts are so little set on life
They are superior to these who set store by life."
-   Translation by Arthur Waley, Chapter 75

"People are hungry.
Because their rulers levy too much grain tax,
Therefore they are hungry.
People are hard to rule.
Because their rulers rule by action (wei),
Therefore they are hard to rule.
People take death lightly.
Because they are in thick pursuit of life,
Therefore they take death lightly.
One who has nothing to pursue in life,
Is wiser than one who values life."
-   Translated by Helen Chen, Chapter 75 

"Starvation of a people comes when an official appropriates to himself too much of the taxes.
The reason a people are difficult to govern is because the officials are too meddlesome; the people make light of death because they are so absorbed in life's interests.
The one who is not absorbed in life is more moral than he who esteems life."
-   Translated by Dwight Goddard, 1919, Chapter 75 

"If you require many concessions from children, they won’t be able to fulfill their own hearts.
Give them many rules to follow and they will rebel.
When people outwardly value life, death is taken lightly.
If death is taken lightly, life will easily be sacrificed."
-   Translated by David Bullen, Chapter 75  

Why are the people starving?
Because their rulers devour too much in taxes.
That's why they starve.
Why are the people rebellious?
Because their rulers can't stop interfering.
That's why they rebel.
Why do the people make light of death?
Because they are intent on life.
That's why they make light of death.
Yet those who do not strive to live
are wiser than those who value life.
-   Translated by Tim Chilcott, 2005, Chapter 75  

" 'The people are starving.'  It is because those high up eat too much tax grain, this is why they are starving.
'The people are hard to govern.' It is because there is Working among those high up, this is why they are hard to govern.
'The people take death lightly.' It is because they pursue a lavish life, this is why they take death lightly.
Simply: Those who do not Work at 'living' - these are better men than those who 'love life.' "
-   Translated by Michael LaFargue, 1992, Chapter 75 

"The people suffer from famine because of the multitude of taxes consumed by their superiors.
Because of this they suffer from famine.
The people are difficult to govern because of the officiousness of their superiors; because of this they are difficult to govern.
Men are continually dying because they lust after life; because of this they frequently die.
It is only those with whom life is no object who truly value life."
-   Translated by C. Spurgeon Medhurst, 1905, Chapter 75 

Chapter and Thematic Index to the Tao Te Ching