Saturday, June 30, 2012

Ponderable to Our Touch

"The human body is not an instrument to be used, but a realm of one's being to be experienced, explored, enriched and, thereby, educated."
-  Thomas Hanna

"There is deep wisdom within our very flesh,  if we can only come to our senses and feel it."
 -  Elizabeth A. Behnke

"He who feels it, knows it more."
-  Bob Marley  

"No matter how closely we look, it is difficult to find a mental act that can take place without the support of some physical function."
-  Moshe Feldenkrais  

"I would have touched it like a child
But knew my finger could but have touched
Cold stone and water.   I grew wild,
Even accusing heaven because
It had set down among its laws:
Nothing that we love over-much
Is ponderable to our touch."
-  W. B. Yeats  



Friday, June 29, 2012

Tao Te Ching by Lao Tzu, Chapter 59

Dao De Jing, Laozi
Chapter 59

"In leading people and serving heaven
it is best to be frugal.
Being frugal is to be prepared from the start.
Being prepared from the start is to build up power.
By building up power nothing is impossible.
If nothing is impossible, then there are no limits.
Those without limits are capable of leading a country.
Those with maternal leadership can long endure.
This is to be deeply rooted in a firm foundation,
the way of long life and eternal vision."
-   Translated by Sanderson Beck, Chapter 59 

"To rule men and serve heaven, there is nothing like thrift.
Only through thrift can one be prepared;
Being prepared means having a heavy store of integrity;
With a heavy store of integrity, he can overcome everything.
Able to overcome everything, no one knows his limits;
If no one knows his limits, he can have the kingdom;
Having the mother of the kingdom, he can long endure.
This is called "sinking roots firm and deep, the Way of long life and lasting vision.""
-   Translated by Victor Mair, Chapter 59  

"While ruling the people
And serving heaven
Build up a store.
If you've built up a store
You can adhere to Tao early.
If you've adhered to Tao early
You can amass virtue.
When you've amassed virtue
There is nothing you cannot do.
When there is nothing you cannot do
Your capacity has no bounds.
Having boundless capacity
You're ready to rule the realm.
Leaning on the mother of the realm
You can last through all time.
You've been firmly established.
You have a strong support.
This is the Tao of long life.
This is the Tao of farsightedness."
-   Translated by Agnieszka Solska, Chapter 59 

"To govern the human and serve the divine, nothing compares to frugality.
Only frugality brings early recovery; only recovery means buildup of power.
Build up virtue, and you master all.
When you master all, no one knows your limit.
When no one knows your limit, you can maintain a nation.
When you maintain the matrix of a nation, you can last long.
This is called making the root deep and the basis firm,
the Way of long life and eternal vision."
-   Translated by Thomas Cleary, Chapter 59  

"For ruling men or serving God,
There's nothing else like stores saved up."
By "stores saved up" is meant forehandedness,
Accumulate Virtue, such that nothing
Can resist it and its limit
None can guess: such infinite resource
Allows the jurisdiction of the king;
Whose kingdom then will long endure
If it provides the Mother an abode.
Indeed it is the deeply rooted base,
The firm foundation of the Way
To immortality of self and name."
-   Translated by Raymond Blakney, Chapter 59 

"In governing the country and serving Heaven
There is nothing like frugality.
Only by being frugal can you recover quickly.
When you recover quickly you accumulate virtue.
Having accumulated virtue,
There is nothing you can't overcome.
When there is nothing you can't overcome
Who knows the limits of your capabilities?
These limits being unfathomable
You can possess the country.
The Mother who possesses the country can be long-living.
This is called "planting the roots deeply and firmly.""
-   Translated by Charles Muller, Chapter 59 


 Tao Te Ching by Lao Tzu: Introduction, Bibliography, Commentary, Chapter Index 

Thursday, June 28, 2012

Cloud Hands Explained

Every T'ai Chi Ch'uan form that I have ever seen includes the movement sequence called 'Cloud Hands' (Yun Shou) or 'Waving Hands Like Clouds.'  The movement includes stepping side to side, turning at the waist, and moving the hands gracefully from side to side.  Each style of Taijiquan has subtle variations of this movement.   

Here is an excellent new book on the internal martial arts by Sifu Robert Tangora of New Mexico:  

The Internal Structure of Cloud Hands: A Gateway to Advanced T'ai Chi Practice.  By Robert Tangora.  Foreword by Michael J. Gelb.  Berkeley, California, Blue Snake Books, 2012.  Bibliography, 141 pages.  ISBN: 9781583944486.  VSCL.  A thorough discussion of three components of internal power: 1) cross-body power, 2) left-right alignment or joint power, and 3) zhong ding power.  Six supplemental and complimentary exercises are precisely explained and illustrated.  "Cloud Hands is a paradigm for the internal symmetry in t'ai chi ch'uan through the hidden relationship between the stepping method, the changes of nei chin, and cross-body power. ... This book is beneficial for a a wide range of practitioners of movement, healing, and marital arts. ... The reader should be familiar with core concepts from t'ai chi ch'uan, e.g., song, nei chin, ch'i, and zhong ding."  

Sifu Tangora also offers many instructional DVDs on Taijiquan and Qigong.  He offers a 4 DVD set on the subject of Cloud Hands.    

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Cloud Hands Website Awards

I want to thank the Mixed Martial Arts Zone 2012 Martial Arts Award Committee for acknowledging my efforts in this Cloud Hands Blog to share my observations, ideas, practices, and research into the Chinese internal martial art of Taijiquan, Chi Kung, and fitness. 

"Hello Mike,
We just finished up the voting and ... "Congratulations - Your Site is One of the Best Martial Arts Websites On the Internet!"
Our 2012 awards committee of 12 top martial arts experts voted unanimously for this award for the Cloud Hands Blog.  Our team is passionate and dedicated to making sure that the best Martial Arts sites on the Internet get rewarded and noticed for all of their hard work and effort. We love self-defense, martial arts and everything that goes with it, and this is our passion."
-  Tony Hackerott, Secretary
    The Mixed Martial Arts Zone Martial Arts Award Committee

Kudos, Praise and Awards for the Cloud Hands Taijiquan website, Valley Spirit Qigong website, and the Cloud Hands Blog.

The MMA Zone Award

Brought to you by:
MMA Zone

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Easy to Say, Hard to Do

"It isn't sufficient just to want - you've got to ask yourself what you are going to do to get the things you want."
-  Franklin D. Roosevelt 

"There is not great talent without great will power."
-  Honore de Balzac

"Put your heart, mind, intellect and soul even to your smallest acts.  This is the secret of success."
-  Swami Sivananda 

"Easy to say, hard to do."
-  Takeguchi Shihan 

Willpower: Quotations, Sayings, Wisdom

The Good Life

Sunday, June 17, 2012

Salutation to Thee, Prithiti

"The essential ingredient in a temenos is the perimeter that marks out the space, whether by a wall, a fence, a hedge of flowers and bushes, or some rocks that only imply the full perimeter.  Having crossed the border, we find ourselves in a special place where certain things happen and other things do not."
-  Thomas Moore, The Re-Enchantment of Everyday Life, p. 293

"O Goddess Earth, O all-enduring wide expanses!
Salutation to thee.
Now I am going to begin cultivation.
Be pleased, O virtuous One."
-  Ancient Sanskrit prayer 

"Earth, is not this what you will: in us to rise up invisible?
Is it, O Earth, not your dream once to be wholly invisible?
Earth! Invisible!
What, if not change, is your desperate mission?"
-  R. M. Rilke, Duino Elegy - Ninth

Earth, Soil, Dirt, Place: Quotations, Poems, Sayings, Lore

Monday, June 11, 2012

Sunday, June 10, 2012

Miracles on a Walk

"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 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.

"Walking I am unbound, and find that precious unity of life and imagination, that silent outgoing self, which is so easy to loose, but which a high moments seems to start up again from the deepest rhythms of my own body. How often have I had this longing for an infinite walk - of going unimpeded, until the movement of my body as I walk fell into the flight of streets under my feet - until I in my body and the world in its skin of earth were blended into a single act of knowing."
- Alfred Kazin, The Open Street

"If you look for the truth outside yourself,
It gets farther and farther away.
Today walking alone, I meet it everywhere I step.
It is the same as me, yet I am not it.
Only if you understand it in this way
Will you merge with the way things are."
- Tung-Shan


     "Walking meditation means to enjoy walking without any intention to arrive. We don't need to arrive anywhere. We just walk. We enjoy walking. That means walking is already stopping, and that needs some training. Usually in our daily life we walk because we want to go somewhere. Walking is only a means to an end, and that is why we do not enjoy every step we take. Walking meditation is different. Walking is only for walking. You enjoy every step you take. So this is a kind of revolution in walking. You allow yourself to enjoy every step you take.
     The Zen master Ling Chi said that "the miracle is not to walk on burning charcoal or in the thin air or on the water; the miracle is just to walk on earth." You breathe in. You become aware of the fact that you are alive. You are still alive and you are walking on this beautiful planet. That is already performing a miracle. The greatest of all miracles is to be alive. We have to awaken ourselves to the truth that we are here, alive. We are here making steps on this beautiful planet. This is already performing a miracle. But we have to be here in order for the miracle to be possible. We have to bring ourselves back to the here and the now."
- Thich Nhat Hanh, Resting in the River


Saturday, June 09, 2012

Teaching Yoga to Older Persons

Teaching Yoga to Seniors

"1. First, Do No Harm. Join with our physician colleagues in making this our primary intention.  

2. Create a Safe Environment. Cultivate ahimsa (nonharming) by encouraging students to honor their own personal journey and explore their full potential, with compassion and integrity.  

3. Encourage Yogic Balance. Sthira sukham asanam: A yoga pose is, by Patanjali’s definition, stable and comfortable. Invite students to challenge themselves, but never strain.  

4. Meet People Where They Are. Honor individual abilities and limitations by offering accessible and appropriate modifications that reflect the intention and function of traditional postures.  

5. Emphasize Feeling Over Form. Let go of ideas of how a pose should look. Focus instead on how a pose feels. Teach students to discriminate between discomfort, which may be welcomed as an inherent part of the growth process, and pain, which is to be avoided. 

6. Honor the Inner Teacher. Don’t assume you know what’s going on with someone, even if you’ve asked. Consider yourself a guide, helping students explore what works best for them. 

7. Encourage Gratitude and Joy. Create an environment that celebrates what students can do.  

8. Emphasize Fluidity. The Tao’s teaching that ‘‘those who are soft and supple are disciples of life’’ is particularly important as the body becomes rigid with age. Minimize static ‘‘holdings.’’  

9. Use Skillful Language. Encourage and invite rather than direct and demand.
10. Respect Our Scope of Practice. Recognize that what we do as yoga teachers is only part of the integrative health care landscape. Do only what we are trained to do and refer to other practitioners when necessary.  

11. Be a Guardian of Safety. Get CPR/AED training and keep your certification current.  

12. Teach People, Not Poses or Conditions. While acknowledging the inevitable changes inherent in life, it is essentialto recognize the unchanging spirit at the heart of all beings."

 Therapeutic Yoga for Seniors, Teacher Training Manual, by 2008 Kimberly Carson and Carol Krucoff

Friday, June 08, 2012

Best Time to Practice?

I normally walk, practice taijiquan and practice chi kung in the early morning hours.  I normally lift weights and practice yoga in the evening hours.  I teach yoga three days a week from 5:30-6:30 pm at the Tehama Family Fitness Center.  On my days off from my employment, my fitness and practice schedules vary somewhat depending upon the weather, home chores, gardening, and studies.  In the hot summer months, I begin exercise at 5:30 am.  

"Most traditional authorities agree that the early morning is the best time for meditation. In India, the yogins typically meditate at sunrise, known as the "Hour of Brahma" (brahma-muhurta).  It is thought that the quality of the life force (prana) is then particularly pure and strong and more easily assimilated."
-   Georg Feuerstein, The Shambhala Guide to Yoga, p. 93  

"Chee-gung should be practiced between midnight and noon, when positive Yang energy prevails in the atmosphere.  Ko Hung's (250 CE) observation accords precisely with the findings of Western science, which has determined that the concentration of negative ions (i.e., chee) in the air peaks between 3:00 and 6:00 a.m.  Disciplined adepts of breathing rise around 4:00 a.m. to take advantage of this airborne power."
-   Daniel P. Reid, The Tao of Health, Sex and Longevity, p. 190. 

Any other suggestions about the best time to practice Yoga, Chi Kung or Taijiquan?  Any other good quotations on the subject? 

Thursday, June 07, 2012

A Prayer to Lakshmi

Prayer to Shri  Maha Devi Lakshmi

"I bow to you, O Mother of All Worlds, O Lotus Born, O Four-Armed Giver of Boons.  
Gently floating on the Shatki Seas, sitting firmly on the Heart of Vishnu.
O Maha Devi, sitting on a pink lotus, thank you for letting us see Your beauty, elegance, exquisiteness, perfection.
Thank You for showering our soils with abundant rain, and for the millions of petals, flowers, fruits, seeds, nuts. 
Praised be you, Loving Devi, shimmering in golden adornments and wearing a splendid red silk gown.  
You are Shakti, Siddhi, Svadha, Svaha, Sudha.
You are the purifier of this world.
You are the evening, the night, the light, the darkness.
You are Glory, ecstasy, joyfulness, intelligence, and devotion.
You are Sarasvati. 
You are Maha Devi Lakshmi. 
You celebrate with us and You bring to us flowers, baskets of delicious food, a golden pot of coins, sacred plants, your beauty, your smile, the world as it is right now.   
You are the Knower of Great Truths, the Watcher of the Here and Now. 
O Auspicious One, you fathom the Secret Knowledge and are Supra-Insightful, Supra-Intuitive, Supra-Genius.
You are the Science of the Self, O Devi, and you are the giver of the Fruit of Freedom (Mukti).
Logic, the knowledge of all Vedas, the Tantras, worldly knowledge, and Raja Neeti are all yours.
You are fully filled and are present everywhere in this world within and without your ideal, grandiose, or fierce forms. 
O Devi, who other than You could reside in the Hart of the Him who is the real form of all Yajyas, who is contemplated by all Gods and Yogis.
O Devi, when you give up these entire Three Worlds, this entire creation goes to destruction, and then You Yourself choose to play with possibilities of an alternative world, compelled to give life anther spin again and again through dozens of Kali Yugas.   
By your grace only, a person gets a Wife, Husband, daughter, son, house, family, prosperity, peace and friends.
Those upon whom You, O Devi, bestow your kindness, they are so favored with good health, prosperity, safety, peace, and happiness.   
You are the Mother of these entire worlds, and the Goddess of Gods. 
Vishnu and You, O Mother, are present everywhere in this moving and unmoving creation. 
Please favor us with continued work, good health, wealth, home, farm, animals, enjoyables, clean water, and food. 
O Vishnu-Vaksha-Stal-Vaasini, help keep us Loving relations with our Wife, Husband, daughter, son, parents, family, spiritual community, alter-egos and friends. 
O Devi, Protect our valuables, books, tools, applicances, art, jewelry, personal belongings, and home life.   
O Pure One, your presence moves us to now celebrate purity, kindness, truthfulness, and goodness. 
You help us, O Devi, to become admirable, virtuous, brave, fortunate, full of goodness, and intelligent.
O Devi, even Sri Brahma Ji is not capable of praising Your greatness.
Thus, Maha Devi Lakshmi, may You be satisfied with us and don't ever leave us."
-  Adapted by Mike Garofalo from Shri Lakshmi Prayers, Celestial Timings

"Lakshmi is the Goddess of wealth and prosperity, both material and spiritual. The word ''Lakshmi'' is derived from the Sanskrit word Laksme, meaning "goal." Lakshmi, therefore, represents the goal of life, which includes worldly as well as spiritual prosperity. In Hindu mythology, Goddess Lakshmi, also called Shri, is the divine spouse of Lord Vishnu and provides Him with wealth for the maintenance and preservation of the creation.
In Her images and pictures, Lakshmi is depicted in a female form with four arms and four hands. She wears red clothes with a golden lining and is standing on a lotus. She has golden coins and lotuses in her hands."
Bansi Pandit

Lakshmi is also called Shri, Thirumagal, Maha Devi Lakshmi; and is associated with Sita, Radha, Rukmini.  Lakshmi is a personification of the positive, productive, and life enhancing aspects of our good life the world, abundance, plenty, wealth, health, success, happiness. 

Tantric Yoga 

Wednesday, June 06, 2012

Dao De Jing, Laozi, Chapter 60

Tao Te Ching by Lao Tzu
Chapter 60

"Ruling a large country is like cooking a small fish.
When the world is ruled by Tao, spirits do not haunt.
It is not that Spirits are no longer numinous, but that their powers do not harm men.
It is not just that their powers do not harm men, the Sage also does not harm men.
If neither side harms the other, Te spreads throughout."
-   Translated by Tam Gibbs, Chapter 60 

Govern a big country as you would fry a smal fish.
Approach the world with the Tao and evi will have no power.
Not that evi has no power, but it will not harm people.
Not that evi is not harmful,
But the Sage is dedicated to not harming people-even evi people.
When no one hurts another,
All will eventually return to the good.
-   Translated by John R. Mabry, Chapter 60  

"Ruling a large kingdom is indeed like cooking small fish.
They who by Tao all that is under heaven
Did not let an evil spirit within them display its powers.
Nay, it was not only that the evil spirit did not display its powers;
Neither was the Sage's good spirit used to the hurt of other men.
Nor was it only that his good spirit was not used to harm other men,
The Sage himself was thus saved from harm.
And so, each being saved from harm,
Their “powers” could converge towards a common end."
-   Translated by Arthur Waley, Chapter 60  

"Nurturing your love
is like tending a small garden.
If you keep pulling up the plants
to see if the roots are growing
you will harvest nothing.

If you focus on your troubles

you give them added power.
Step aside as would a martial arts master.
The troubles still exist,
but you are not unbalanced by their blows.
They lose their power to disturb.
They become food for growth."
-   Translated by William Martin, Chapter 60  

"Ruling a large state is like cooking a small fish.
When you use the Way to govern the world,
Evil spirits will not have godlike power,
It is that their power will not harm men.
But it is not only that their powers will not harm men,
The sage also, will not harm them.
Since these two do not do not harm others,
Therefore their Virtues intermingle and returns to them."
-   Translated by Bram den Hond, Chapter 60  

"To govern a great state, one should act like someone cooking a very small fish (very delicately, otherwise they break up).
When a state is governed according to the Principle, phantoms do not appear there to harm the people, because the Sage who governs does not harm the people.
Not that the spirits have no more powers,
But their powers will not harm men.
Neither will they harm men,
Nor will the Sage harm the people.
The merit of this double tranquility (on the part of the living and the dead) comes back, therefore, to the Sage."
-   Translated by Derek Bryce, Chapter 60 

Tuesday, June 05, 2012

Lohan Chi Kung: 18 Budda Hands Qigong

Shaolin Temple Chi Kung
Eighteen Buddha Hands Exercises
Bibliography, Links, Resources, History, Lessons

Luohan Qigong is the "Art of Breath of the Enlightened Ones."  Luohan Qigong, or Lohan Chi Kung, is an system of exercises and breath control for improving your fitness, vitality, energy levels, concentration, poise, and well being.  Combined with seated or standing meditation, Luohan Qigong can also contribute to steady spiritual progress.  Numerous legends attribute the development of the Luohan Qigong methods, and the Muscle Tendon Changing Qigong methods, to the Buddhist leader Bodhidharma (Da Mo, Ta-Mo, Daruma), circa 525 CE, a early advocate of Chan (Zen) Buddhism. 

"Ever since the practice of Energy Yoga (Buddhist Qigong) and the doctrine of the Chan (Zen) tradition of Buddhist Dharma were introduced into China by the Great Indian Master Bodhidharma (Damo) to the monks of the Shaolin Monastery to strengthen their body, mind and spirit in the pursuit of Buddhist studies, the fusion of Buddhist Meditation, Qigong (Tsa Lung) and Martial Arts have evolved into a unique branch of Dharma practice that focuses upon the attainment of a state of Unified Oneness of the Single-Pointed Equipoise of Chan Meditation with that of the Physical Discipline of Energy Yoga and Martial Arts - a process which is characterized by the heightening of insightful awareness of the true state of reality and the realization of one's original nature.   The ultimate goal of the practitioner of Buddhist Dharma is to generate the Awakening Mind of Compassion and Mindfulness with which the greatest benefit for the greatest number of sentient beings can be realized. This journey of awakening begins with the embracing of discipline over the body, speech and mind which leads to the stability of these three doors of expression. Without the stability of body, speech and mind it is not possible to bring harmony to oneself.  Without harmony in oneself it is impossible to bring peace to the world."
Pathgate Institute of Buddhist Studies

Monday, June 04, 2012


The Fourth Chakra, Anāhata Chakra, Heart, Lungs (Air).  

Anodea Judith lists the characteristics of the Fourth Chakra as being "Love, Air, Breath, Balance, Relationship, Affinity, Unity, and Healing."  Her book is Wheels of Life: A User's guide to the Chakra System, Llewellyn, 1992; and the Fourth Chakra is discussed on pp. 204-251.  She lists yoga asanas for the Fourth Chakra as: standing chest opener; backbend (Sphinx, Upward Facing Dog, Cobra) prone position; standing Windmill straight arms shoulder height side to side rotation of waist/back (see also Swinging Arms, Bai Bi Yun Dong); the Fish (Matesendya) supine, standing lateral arm and wrist circles, seated cow head pose.    

Sunday, June 03, 2012

With Open Arms

A question:  Does the Heart Chakra govern, control, energetically interact with, or involve both arms?  

In the above artwork, from the cover of "Wheels of Life" by Anodea Judith, 1987, the Heart Chakra zone of the body is highlighted in a green color.  One would infer from the artwork that the arms are in the zone of the Heart Chakra.  In Anodea Judith's chart of correspondences for Chakra Four she lists parts of the body: lungs, heart, arm, hands. 
It would make sense from the point of view of the fact that most labor, work, productive activity involves the arms and hands.  We often work hard and long for those we love.  We hug those we love.  I like to welcome yogis, taoists, and druids with open arms.  I love to move my arms about gracefully in yoga, chi kung, and tai chi postures an know this helps my heart and lungs, the zone of the fourth chakra.  

The Chinese speak of mind-heart (hsin) and human nature (hsing) from Menicus.  

Hsin literally means "heart." It means mind, not the deluded mind of the ignorant but the Buddha-mind. Hsin is the mind that merge with the all-encompassing One Mind.
There is a Middle Dan Tien in chi kung theory.  It is in the heart area.  

Citta, a Pali word, refers to one's state of mind, emotional state, one's heart-mind, the quality of mental processes as a whole, heart-mind field of consciousness.

Tantric Yoga
Heart Chakra, Metta, Heart-Mind, Loving Kindness

Saturday, June 02, 2012


Gardening can accommodate those prone to mania. 

Pulling Onions by Mike Garofalo