Wednesday, October 31, 2012

The Fragrance of Rock

"When speech comes from a quiet heart, it has the strength of the orchid, and the fragrance of rock."
-  Stephen Mitchell, Four Watercolors by Tao-chi  

"Gratitude unlocks the fullness of life.  It turns what we have into enough, and more. It turns denial into acceptance, chaos to order, confusion to clarity.  It can turn a meal into a feast, a house into a home, a stranger into a friend.  Gratitude makes sense of our past, brings peace for today, and creates a vision for tomorrow."
-  Melody Beattie

Simplicity: Quotes, Sayings, Poems

Heart

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

When I Walk, I Walk

"When I dance, I dance, when I sleep, I sleep; yes, and when I walk alone in a beautiful orchard, if my thoughts drift to far-off matters for some part of the time, for some other part I lead them back again to the walk, the orchard, to the sweetness of this solitude, to myself."
-  Montaigne

Walking: Quotes, Sayings, Lore

Meditation

Monday, October 29, 2012

The Two Realms Mingle


 
Here is how our front porch looks when decorated for Halloween Day.  Notice the five spherical white spectral (ghostly) visitors coming to "trick or treat" at our front door.   

"To all the ancient ones from their houses, the Old Ones from above and below. In this time the Gods of the Earth touch our feet, bare upon the ground. Spirits of the Air whisper in our hair and chill our bodies, and from the dark portions watch and wait the Faery Folk that they may join the circle and leave their track upon the ground. It is the time of the waning year. Winter is upon us. The corn is golden in the winnow heaps. Rains will soon wash sleep into the life-bringing Earth. We are not without fear, we are not without sorrow...Before us are all the signs of Death: the ear of corn is no more green and life is not in it. The Earth is cold and no more will grasses spring jubilant. The Sun but glances upon his sister, the earth..... It is so....Even now....But here also are the signs of life, the eternal promise given to our people. In the death of the corn there is the seed--which is both food for the season of Death and the Beacon which will signal green-growing time and life returning.In the cold of the Earth there is but sleep wherein She will awaken refreshed and renewed, her journey into the Dark Lands ended. And where the Sun journeys he gains new vigor and potency; that in the spring, his blessings shall come ever young!"
Two Samhain Rituals, Compost Coveners, 1980   

"Tonight as the barrier between the two realms grows thin,
Spirits walk amongst us, once again.
They be family friends and foes,
Pets and wildlife, fishes and crows.
But be we still mindful of the Wee Folke at play,
Elves, fey, brownies, and sidhe.
Some to trick, some to treat,

Some to purposely misguide our feet.

Stay we on the paths we know

As planting sacred apples we go.
This Feast I shall leave on my doorstep all night.
In my window one candle shall burn bright,
To help my loved ones find their way
As they travel this eve, and this night, until day.
Bless my offering, both Lady and Lord
Of breads and fruits, greens and gourd."
Akasha, Samhain Ritual  


 




 

Sunday, October 28, 2012

Medicine Ball Exercises

Martial Arts, physical culture, and Qigong enthusiasts can benefit from using a medicine ball when doing exercises.  There are many routines developed by Taijiquan and Qigong masters using a medicine ball.  In addition, upper body strength is also improved by using Taijiquan weapons like the saber, sword, and staff. 

Medicine Ball Training and Exercises: Bibliography, Links, Resources
.  Prepared by Mike Garofalo.  A general introduction to the use of medicine balls in exercise programs. 

I developed my own medicine ball routine called:
Magic Pearl Qigong.

Magic Pearl Qigong, Part I, Movements 1-8
.   Instructions, Bibliography, Links, Handouts, Resources, Mythological Associations, Lore.  Prepared by Mike Garofalo. 

Magic Pearl Qigong, Part II, Movements 9-16
.   Instructions, Bibliography, Links, Handouts, Resources, Mythological Associations, Lore.  Prepared by Mike Garofalo.

The Magic Pearl Qigong can be a very vigorous physical culture routine if you increase the weight of the ball and the number of repetitions of each movement. 

 

Saturday, October 27, 2012

The Silent Outgoing Self Takes 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

 



Friday, October 26, 2012

Wild Goose Qigong

Dayan (Wild Goose) Qigong Exercises


Bibliography, Links, Quotes, Notes, List of Movements
Research by Mike Garofalo


The Wild Goose Qigong form is one long continuous sequence of movements, much like a Taiji form.  There are many aspects of the Wild Goose Qigong system as presented by Dr. Bingkun Hu of San Francisco.  


"In Ancient Egypt as well as in Ancient China the goose was considered a messenger between Heaven and Earth. In China geese are still a symbol of marriage, because of their lifelong pair-bond.  In the Roman empire, the goose was the sacred animal of Juno, a goddess of light, marriage and childbirth, who was later considered adviser and protectress of the Roman people. A story tells of how geese saved the Romans with their warning cries when the Gauls attacked the citadel of the Capitol.  The Celts associated the goose with war, possibly because of its watchful nature and aggressive temperament. Warrior gods were sometimes depicted with geese as companions. Remains of geese have been found in warrior's graves. The Britons kept geese, but did not eat them. They were, however, sometimes used as sacrificial offerings.  The goose, with its steady, powerful flight and migratory habits, can be associated with travelling, undertaking a journey to a new destination. This journey can be difficult and may take long.  The goose can help people find the perseverance needed to go on with their quests. In earlier times, shamans were aided by spirit geese on their journeys to other worlds."
-   Geese - The Animal Files    




"Wild Goose Qigong claims that “there are no intentional movements without awareness. Wild Goose Qigong advocates “wu-wei” (or “doing nothing”) and “tuo-yi” (“reduce one’s awareness to the minimum”). A good example is Wild Goose-1 (the first 64 Movements). We often tell our beginning learners that the movements in this set of qigong are supposed to describe the daily activities of a wild goose. There are three parts to this qigong.  Part One is “The Goose Wakes Up”. It stretches itself, it brushes up its wings and shakes them. It plays innocently.  A made-up story is even included: “Then the goose looks at the moon, which is reflected in the water and tries to scoop it up."  Part Two is “The Flying Goose”.  Flapping its wings, the care-free wild goose skims over a smooth lake.  It looks at the water and dips down to drink the water.  Then the goose is playing with he “qi”.  It tries to grasp the qi.  It holds and rotates the qi-ball.  It pushes out the dirty qi, and tries to receive the fresh qi from its lower back.  In Part Three, the goose is first flying up into the sky. Now it is flying over the water.  Then it is looking for some food.  After that, it is looking for its nest. At last, the goose goes to sleep.  When beginning, learners are encouraged to be pre-occupied with the daily activity of an innocent wild goose, when they are imagining that they are “flapping their wings” beside shimmering lake under a full moon, their heart beat will be naturally slow down, and their mind will gradually be quieting down too. At the same time, they will be more responsive to the instructor’s words on how to relax themselves through the shifting of body weight. Wild Goose Qigong is a medical qigong. We practice it because of its health benefits. When we have better qi flow, our blood circulation will improve. We will have more oxygen supply to our brain. Our mind will be more alert. We will get stronger, and we will have more physical strength, etc.."
-   Bingkun Hu, Ph.D., A Safe and Delightful Approach to Good Health   








Thursday, October 25, 2012

Dao De Jing, Laozi, Chapter 44

Tao Te Ching by Lao Tzu
Chapter 44

"Is the name or the man more precious?
Does the man or his goods count for more?
Does the gain or loss bring more pain?
Extreme economies entail great waste,
And excess holding heavy losses;
But a humbling is spared by few wants,
A miscarriage by knowing the limits;
Thus one can abide and endure."
-   Translated by Moss Roberts, 2001, Chapter 44    


"Fame or self: Which matters more?
Self or wealth: Which is more precious?
Gain or loss: Which is more harmful?
The more that things are desired, the more they will cost.
The more that things are kept, the more they will be missed.
If you are content with yourself, no one can deprive you.
Know when to stop, and you will never run into danger."
-   Translated by Ned Ludd, Chapter 44      


"What is more important to you
what others think of you or
what you think of your body, mind and spirit.
Is you natural energy, essence, and inspiration
worth more to you an acquired material things.
Is gaining more or less painful that losing.
Speaking with the mystery, refining your nature,
studying your emotions will inform you.
If you love well you will spend yourself well.
If you love too often you will exhaust yourself and die.
When the power of the Tao source of life flows into you from above
contentment and happiness abound.
When you know how to extend your love and live
in a way that does not impose itself on the universe
then you will flow into it
knowing when to move forward and backward
when to twist left or right
when it's time to float upward or settle downward
when it's best to move on or simply stand still.
Know these things and you will realize your limitlessness.
Be the sacred friend that joins the hands
of heaven and earth
accepting all the flaws and faults 
with and without your bodymind
bearing on your shoulders
the good and the bad all around you
and you will preserve the bodymind of the world."
-  Translated by John Bright-Fey, 2006, Chapter 44 


"A great name or self-knowledge:
To which of these does your heart respond?
Material goods or your natural virtues:
Which do you treasure more?
Profit or loss: which is more apt
To lead you toward destruction?
The love of excess lays Nature waste:
It spends the self and buys remorse.
Accumulation is the greatest loss.
Meet your needs and go no further,
And you will be a stranger to disgrace.
Recognize the limits of every situation,
And you'll be free from danger.
Thus can you fulfill the enduring harmony."
-   Translated by Brian Donohue, 2005, Chapter 44








Chapter and Thematic Index to the Tao Te Ching







Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Decaying Trees by the Sea

"The smell of the sea hugged the fog in the redwood trees,
All cool and dank, dimly lit and rank with green,
And in shadowed limbs the Stellar jays jabbered free,
And me, standing silently, an alien in this enchanted scene.

From behind the mossy grey stumps

the sounds of footsteps crunching fronds of ferns
caught my suddenly wary mind ...
What?

"Hello, old friend," said Chang San Feng.

"Master Chang, what a surprise," said I.
Master Chang sat on a stump, smiled, and said,

"Can you hear the Blue Dragon singing in the decaying tree;

Or is it the White Tiger roaring in the wilderness of your bright white skull?
No matter!  The answer is in the questioning; don't you Chan men see?

In the red ball flesh of this decaying tree

Sapless woody shards of centuries of seasons
Nourish the new roots of mindfulness sprouting. 
Yes, Yes, but how can it be?
The up-surging waves of life sprout forth from the decaying tree,
As sure as sunrise rolling over the deep black sea. 
Coming, coming, endlessly coming; waves of Chi

Tan Qian's raven roosts for 10,000 moons

     in the withered branches of the rotting tree;
     then, one day, the weathered tree falls,
     nobody hearing, soundlessly crashing
     on the forest floor, on some unknown noon. 

Over and over, over and over, life bringing death, death bringing life,

Beyond even the miraculous memories of an old Xian like me;
Watching, watching, sequestered from the strife,
Turning my soul away sometimes because I cannot bear to see. 

Even minds may die, but Mind is always free

Bounding beyond, beyond, far beyond you and me;
Somehow finding the Possibility Keys
And unlocking the Door out of the Voids of Eternities."

Master Chang somehow, someway,

slowly disappeared into the red brown heart of the decaying tree.

Then the squawk of the jay

opened my mind's eye to the new day -
Namaste
."  

-  Michael P. Garofalo

   Meetings with Master Chang San Feng   
   Remembering Prairie Creek Redwoods State Park, California





Tuesday, October 23, 2012

First Rain

Yesterday morning, we awoke to the sound of rainfall.  This is our first rain since last May.  Wonderful!  

Ironically, and coincidentally, our home water well pump stopped working on Saturday.  On Monday morning the water pump repair serviceman from Heitmann company came and repaired the problem.  Some of the the electrical controlling box parts had burned out.  The unit was replaced for $340.  Now we have water again in our home.  Yes!!  

"If there is magic on the planet, it is contained in the water."
Loren Eisley

"Man is not an aquatic animal, but from the time we stand in youthful wonder beside a Spring brook till we sit in old age and watch the endless roll of the sea, we feel a strong kinship with the waters of this world."
-   Hal Borland, Sundial of the Seasons


Water: Quotes for Gardeners 

Monday, October 22, 2012

Calm Mind, Kind Heart, Being Present

"Empty your mind of all thoughts. Let your heart be at peace.
Watch the turmoil of things, but contemplate their return.
Each separate being in the universe returns to the common source.
Returning to the source is serenity.

If you don't realize the source, you stumble in confusion and sorrow.
When you realize where you come from,
you naturally become tolerant,
disinterested, amused,
kindhearted as a grandmother,
dignified as a king.

Immersed in the wonder of the Tao,
you can deal with whatever life brings you,
and when death comes, you are ready."
-  Lao Tzu, Tao Te Ching, Chapter 16, Translated by Stephen Mitchell



The Three Step Practice

"First, come into the present. Flash on what’s happening with you right now. Be fully aware of your body, its energetic quality. Be aware of your thoughts and emotions.

Next, feel your heart, literally placing your hand on your chest if you find that helpful. This is a way of accepting yourself just as you are in that moment, a way of saying, “This is my experience right now, and it’s okay.”

Then go into the next moment without any agenda."
-  Pema Chodron, 2012





  
   




Sunday, October 21, 2012

Religion in America

"An extensive new survey by the Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life details statistics on religion in America and explores the shifts taking place in the U.S. religious landscape.  Based on interviews with more than 35,000 Americans age 18 and older, the U.S. Religious Landscape Survey finds that religious affiliation in the U.S. is both very diverse and extremely fluid.

More than one-quarter of American adults (28%) have left the faith in which they were raised in favor of another religion - or no religion at all. If change in affiliation from one type of Protestantism to another is included, 44% of adults have either switched religious affiliation, moved from being unaffiliated with any religion to being affiliated with a particular faith, or dropped any connection to a specific religious tradition altogether.

The survey finds that the number of people who say they are unaffiliated with any particular faith today (16.1%) is more than double the number who say they were not affiliated with any particular religion as children. Among Americans ages 18-29, one-in-four say they are not currently affiliated with any particular religion."
Statistics on Religion in America, Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life


I was very pleased to read that 25% of young adults are not currently affiliated with any particular religion. It is great to hear that more young people are thinking in an independent, open-minded, and free thinking manner.  

When I was 15 years old, I decided I was an atheist, and that I was no longer interested in the Catholic religion in which I was raised.  I wanted to be a Philosopher after reading public library copies of "The Story of Philosophy" by Will Durant, "Why I am Not a Christian" by Bertrand Russell, and "Zen Flesh, Zen Bones" by Paul Reps.  I was sent to Catholic schools from the 1st to the 12th grade.  I pretended to be a Catholic for three years until I was 18 years old in order to avoid hassles from my dictatorial father, extended family, narrow minded and bullying Irish Christian Brother teachers, noxious priests, and my social circles at that time.


My current views on organized religions are expressed elsewhere on a separate webpage.  I consider myself a philosopher with a variety of mystical and spiritual interests in Neo-Paganism, Taoism, Buddhism, and Mind-Body Movement Arts as an independent seeker.  "Atheism" seems too narrow a term to describe my outlook.  I am a free thinker, pluralist, non-theist, pro-science, rationalist, mystic, and philosopher. 




Saturday, October 20, 2012

October Morning Mild

“The Wheel rolls more, and Autumn returns.
Cooler the rain; the Sun lower burns.
The coloring leaves presage the Year:
All things move into harvest’s sphere.
I vow to savor fruits first picked;
nor into grief shall I be tricked.
I vow to offer what once I spurned,
and face the Turning reassured.
- Asleen O’Gaea, Celebrating the Seasons of Life: Beltane to Mabon, p. 116.


Samhain, Halloween Celebrations



"O hushed October morning mild,
Thy leaves have ripened to the fall;
Tomorrow's wind, if it be wild,
Should waste them all.
The crows above the forest call;
Tomorrow they may form and go.
O hushed October morning mild,
Begin the hours of this day slow.
Make the day seem to us less brief.
Hearts not averse to being beguiled,
Beguile us in the way you know.
Release one leaf at break of day;
At noon release another leaf;
One from our trees, one far away."
-   Robert Frost, October


The entrance to our front driveway features a seasonal display that Karen prepared.  Karen is petting our cat, King Tut, in the early morning hours. 


 

Friday, October 19, 2012

Tai Chi Standard 24 Form

The first Taijiquan form I learned in 1986 was the Standard 24 Movement T'ai Chi Ch'uan Form in the Yang Style of T'ai Chi Ch'uan.  At that time there were no books or instructional videotapes on this popular form.  Since that time, nearly 25 years have past.  Now there are dozens of books and instructional DVDs and webpages on the subject of the 24 Form. 

Snake Creeps Down on Left Side

My webpage on the Standard 24 Taijiquan Form has been the most popular webpage on the Cloud Hands Website for many years. In the sidebar of this blog, you will find a quick index to this webpage.

Standard Simplified Taijiquan 24 Form.  Research by Michael P. Garofalo, M.S. This webpage includes a detailed bibliography of books, media, links, online videos, articles, and resources.  It provides a list of the 24 movement names in English, Chinese, French, German and Spanish, with citations for sources of the movement names.  It provides detailed descriptions of each movement with black and white line illustrations and  photographs.  It includes relevant quotations, notes, performance times, section breakdowns, basic Tai Chi principles, and strategies for learning the form.  The Peking (Bejing) Chinese National orthodox standard simplified 24 movement T'ai Chi Ch'uan form, created in 1956, is the most popular form practiced all around the world.  This form uses the Yang Style of Taijiquan.  Published by Green Way Research, Valley Spirit Taijiquan, Red Bluff, California:  Webpage URL:  http://www.egreenway.com/taichichuan/short.htm.  File size: 269 Kb. 

This webpage provides many good suggestions for a person learning this form on their own if there is no Tai Chi class in their area. 

The most detailed book that I have seen on the subject of the 24 Form is:

The Yang Taiji 24 Step Short Form: A Step by Step Guide for All Levels
By James Drewe
London, Singing Dragon Press, 2011.
382 pages, black and white photographs, charts, detailed descriptions, training tips.


I give information on many other fine books by other good authors on the 24 Form in my webpage: Cheng Zhao, Foen Tjoeng Lie, Eric Chaline, Le Deyin, etc.. 

My students tell me that their favorite instructional DVD on the 24 Form is:

Tai Chi - The 24 Forms
By Dr. Paul Lam


I have taught this lovely Tai Chi form to hundreds of people since 2000.  Everyone tells me how much they enjoy learning and practicing this gentle form. 





"I am an acupuncturist and instructor in the San Francisco Bay area and will participate in the annual assembly of the American Academy of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation in Atlanta on November 14-18, 2012.  I will be one of the speakers for the workshop on "Chinese Therapeutic Exercises: A Cognitive and Kinesthetic Approach."  I will demonstrate the Simplified 24-form Tai Chi Chuan and introduce its therapeutic effects.  I found your website during my searching for pictures of the 24 Form.  I am impressed by your detailed instruction and the pictures for each movement.  Although there are some other similar pictures at other websites, your pictures are clearer with sequence numbers for easier following.  It's also amazing that you collected so much information including many citations about various Tai Chi Chuan activities.  I believe you are a lover or fan of Tai Chi.  I am deeply moved by your extensive efforts on your Cloud Hands website, which is a great reference for a Tai Chi learner.  May I ask for your approval to cite your pictures on your 24 Form webpage in my PowerPoint presentation for discussion?  We will print out this file as a handout for participants at the workshop.  Of course, I will put your website on it and introduce it to everyone at the workshop, and also express my gratitude for your generous sharing during my lecture."
-  Carol Wang, Email on October 18, 2012     


 

I also teach and enjoy playing the Chen Style Taijiquan 18 Movement Form created by Grandmaster Chen Zhenglei. Actually, in the last year, I have enjoyed practicing the Chen 18 Form more than the 24 Form.  Maybe it is just a case of novelty.   

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Tao Te Ching by Lao Tzu, Chapter 45

Dao De Jing, Laozi
Chapter 45


"Great accomplishment looks incomplete;
Use will not wear it out.
Great fullness looks empty;
Use will not exhaust it.
Great straightness looks crooked;
Great skill looks clumsy;
Great eloquence sounds stuttering;
"Being in motion overcomes cold;
Being still overcomes heat."
Be clear and still, and you will be the lord of all under Heaven.
-  Translated by Ha Poong Kim, 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  


"Sit quietly
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. 
Sit quietly
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.
Sit quietly
focusing
forgetting
summon order from the void
that guides the ordering of the universe."
-  Translated by John Bright-Fey, 2006, 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  










Chapter and Thematic Index to the Tao Te Ching




Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Question Our Answers

"It is often more important to question our answers than to answer our questions.  The process of questioning and holding a question within ourselves becomes part of the light on the path to discovery, softening and opening us to new realizations.  When we trust ourselves enough to begin to question tradition and authority, we begin the process of direct discovery.  It has been said that the highest learning comes in four parts: One part is learned from teachers; another part from fellow students; a third part for self-study and practice; and the final part come mysteriously, silently, in the due course of time.  Inquiry and questioning can free us from the rigid, mechanical life of strict adherence to one belief, and can move us into the joy of continuous learning."
-  Ganga White, Yoga Beyond Belief, p.11

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

A Will Finds a Way to Change

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

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

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

"I hear and I forget.
I see and I remember.
I do and I understand."
- Confucius 
 
"A callused palm and dirty fingernails precede a Green Thumb.
Wishes are like seeds - few ever develop into something.
Willpower is the art of replacing one habit for another."
- Michael Garofalo, Pulling Onions

"A will finds a way."
- Orison Swett Marden

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

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

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

Will Power: Quotes, Sayings, Aphorisms

Sunday, October 14, 2012

The Scent of Fallen Apples

"Smoke hangs like haze over harvested fields
The gold of stubble, the brown of turned earth
And you walk under the red light of fall
The scent of fallen apples, the dust of threshed grain
The sharp, gentle chill of fall.
Here as we move into the shadows of autumn
The night that brings the morning of spring
Come to us, Lord of Harvest
Teach us to be thankful for the gifts you bring us
The bounty of your sacrifice
The warmth and the light of friends gathered around the bounty of the earth.
Dionysus, Osiris, Cernunnos, Dumuzi, Frey,
Lord of the grain,
Welcome!"
-   Autumn Equinox Celebration   


Halloween, Samhain, Day of the Dead Preparations

Saturday, October 13, 2012

Creative Coyotes

Last night, around 10:30 pm, I heard a ruckus on my back porch.  The metal top of the container holding cat food crashed on the floor.  A mother raccoon and three of her babies were enjoying a feast of cat food.  The door to the back porch had been left open, and the four agile raccoons easily entered the porch area. 

Numerous coyotes also wander the vast fields to the west of our home.  Their barking-yipping sometimes fills the night air.  The local dogs then go into a barking fit.  I'm sure the racoons are far up in a tree as needed to avoid being eaten for dinner by coyotes.  

We live in a rural area with almond, olive, walnut, and prune plume orchards;  and pastures for cows, goats, and horses.  We live six miles south of the small city of Red Bluff (14,000 population).  

"According to one Coast Miwok version "Coyote shook his walik" (something similar to a blanket of tule) to the four directions south, east, north and west. The water dried, and land appeared.   In one creation myth called The Diver Coyote creates the earth and land from the Ocean or endless water. Coyote sends a duck to dive for some "earth". The duck dives to the bottom and comes up with some "earth". Coyote takes the earth and mixes it with "Chanit" seeds and water. The mixture swells and "the earth was there.   Another creation story says that there is "no earth, only water". Silver Fox (a female) feels lonely and mentions this in a prayer song, and then meets the Coyote. Silver Fox makes an artistic proposal: "We will sing the world". They create the world together by dancing and singing. As they do so, the earth forms and takes shape   In The Creation of Man myth, Coyote catches a turkey buzzard, raven and crow, plucks their feathers and place the feathers in different parts of the earth. They turn into the Miwok people and their villages.   Coyote comes from the west alone, followed by Chicken Hawk, who is his grandson. Coyote turned "his first people" into animals. He made the Pomo people from mud and the Miwok people out of sticks.  From the Sierra Miwoks, another creation myth is more comparable to Pomo mythology: Coyote and Lizard create the world "and everything in it". Coyote create human beings from some twigs. They argue over whether human beings should have hands. Lizard wants humans to have hands but Coyote does not. Lizard wins a scuffle, and humans are created with hands.   According to Coast Miwok, the dead jumped into the ocean at Point Reyes and followed something like a string leading west beyond the breaker waves, that took them to the setting sun. There they remained with Coyote in an afterworld "ute-yomigo" or "ute-yomi", meaning "dead home.   Many of the ideas, plots and characters in Miwok mythology are shared with neighboring people of Northern California. For example the Coyote-lizard story is like the tale told by their neighbors, the Pomo people. In addition, the Ohlone also believed that Coyote was the grandfather of the Falcon and maker of mankind. The relationship and similarity to Yokuts mythology is also evident.   The myths of creation after an epic flood or ocean, the Earth Diver, and the Coyote as ancestor and trickser compare to Central and Northern California mythemes of Yokuts mythology, Ohlone mythology and Pomo mythology. The myths of "First People" dying out to be replaced with the Miwok people is a "deeply impressed conception" shared by Natives in Northwestern California."
-   Miwok Mythology  


Nature Spirits

Friday, October 12, 2012

Press On

"Nothing in the world can take the place of Persistence.  Talent will not; nothing is more common than unsuccessful men with talent. Genius will not; unrewarded genius is almost a proverb.  Education will not; the world is full of educated derelicts.  Persistence and determination alone are omnipotent.  The slogan 'Press On' has solved and always will solve the problems of the human race."
-  Calvin Coolidge, U.S. President


I think that persistence is a necessary but not sufficient condition for problem solving, accomplishing good work, and general success in life.  Persistence is not "omnipotent."  We need sound knowledge, realism, correct values, the help of others, luck, talent, and persistence to carry on successfully in life.  

Willpower: Quotations

The Good Life 

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Dao De Jing, Laozi, Chapter 46

Tao Te Ching by Lao Tzu
Chapter 46


"When the Way prevails below the sky
Disbanded chargers dung the lad;
But when the Way the world deserts
War horses breed outside the towns.
No crime exceeds desire sanctioned,
No woe is worse than discontent,
No omen more dire than desire gained.
Truly with few wants content,
Contentment lasts as long as life."
-   Translated by Moss Roberts, 2001, Chapter 46 


"When the Dao rules, even the great war horses are used to plow the field,
When the Dao is overruled, even the pregnant horses are used in battle.
The biggest disaster is not knowing when to be satisfied,
The biggest mistake is to always want more.
Therefore, knowing when to be satisfied is the ever-lasting satisfaction."
-   Translated by Xiaolin Yang, Chapter 46  


"In a land where the way of life is understood
Race-horses are led back to serve the field;
In a land where the way of life is not understood
War-horses are bred on the autumn yield.
Owning is the entanglement,
Wanting is the bewilderment,
Taking is the presentiment:
Only he who contains content
Remains content."
-   Translated by Witter Bynner, 1944, Chapter 46 


"When dao reigns in the kingdom, galloping horses are turned back to fertilise certain fields with their manure.
If the world in accord with dao, racing horses are turned back to pull refuse carts.
When the world hardly lives in accord with dao, dao doesn't prevail or win.
Next war horses will be reared even on a sacred hill below the city walls, and blatant cavalry will frolic in the countryside, driving and riding pestering war horses in suburbs in between.
Dao does hardly prevail if war is on in city suburbs.
No lure is greater than to possess what others want.
There's no greater guilt than [sudden] discontent.
There's (...) greater disaster than greed. 
[Eventually] there's hardly a greater sin than desire for possession.
No disaster could be greater than [...] to be content with what one has [in dire need and disabling poverty].
No presage of [airy] evil is greater than men wanting to get more.
He who has once known the pure [orgasm] contentment that comes simply through being content [at its peak], gets rather content-centred a long time after."
-   Translated by Tormond Byrn, Chapter 46  










Wednesday, October 10, 2012

It's a Gas

Life provides all kinds of disappointments, regrets, sorrows, failures, disappointments, tragedies, pain, suffering, disease, death ...  Despite all of these challenges we try our best to pick ourselves up by the bootstraps and carry on.  When the sorrow and grief subside, and the sky clears, we find ourselves in a position to stand up tall and walk on.  Carry on!  Set an example for courage and toughness, and acknowledge the good we can do and the joys and satisfactions that remain.  

We are Jumpin' Jack Flash, and despite the disappointments, Life is a Gas!  



"I was born in a cross-fire hurricane
And I howled at my ma in the driving rain,
But it's all right now, in fact, it's a gas!
But it's all right.  I'm Jumpin' Jack Flash,
It's a Gas!  Gas!  Gas!
 
I was raised by a toothless, bearded hag,
I was schooled with a strap right across my back,
But it's all right now, in fact, it's a gas!
But it's all right, I'm Jumpin' Jack Flash,
It's a Gas!  Gas!  Gas!
 
I was drowned, I was washed up and left for dead.
I fell down to my feet and I saw they bled.
I frowned at the crumbs of a crust of bread.
Yeah, yeah, yeah
I was crowned with a spike right thru my head.
But it's all right now, in fact, it's a gas!
But it's all right, I'm Jumpin' Jack Flash,
It's a Gas!  Gas!  Gas!
 
Jumping Jack Flash, it's a gas
Jumping Jack Flash, it's a gas
Jumping Jack Flash, it's a gas
Jumping Jack Flash, it's a gas."

Jumpin' Jack Flash by the Rolling Stones
   Lyrics by Mick Jagger and Keith Richards
   1968
   Purchase the MP3 version of Jumpin' Jack Flash from Amazon



Tuesday, October 09, 2012

Positive Mindset for Seniors

"What are the qualities that make one's mindset positive?
They include being able to:

Think in a calm, pacified, and reflective manner instead of being disturbed, agitated, and impulsive in one's reactions.

Put ideas together rationally and arrive at the right judgment even in the absence of obvious evidence or proof.

Decide, plan, and execute a course of action in a patient, persistent, and disciplined manner.

Recognize the changes and be flexible in adapting to them.

Observe and perceive things with a sense of humor instead of outrage, indignation, and anger.

Let go of useless and counterproductive thoughts, desires, and ambitions instead of being preoccupied with them.

Relax and meditate or rest.

Resist temptation and coercion."

- Michael Fekete, Strength Training for Seniors, Hunter House, 2006, p. 36


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Lifestyle Advice from Wise Persons

Monday, October 08, 2012

Complimentary Medicine

Dr. Amit Sood, Director of Research at the Complementary and Integrative Medicine Program at the Mayo Clinic College of Medicine wrote in 2007 about the 10 most popular complimentary medical treatment programs:

1. Acupuncture
2. Guided Imagery
3. Hypnosis
4. Massage
5. Meditation
6. Music Therapy
7. Spinal Manipulation
8. Spirituality
9. Tai Chi
10. Yoga

I am sure the order of the list has changed somewhat for Americans since 2007, nearly over 5 years ago. Also, "medical treatment" would imply a supplementary or complimentary "treatment" for a non-healthy person with some sort of disease like cancer, chronic pain, inflammatory diseases, heart disease, diabetes, ulcers, stress disorders, mental illness, insomnia, etc.. 

The first eight treatment modalities on the list are passive.  The patient either uses psychological methods or somebody manipulates their body as they passively lie on a table.  Most of these hardly cause any heat to build up in the body, no tapas, no sweat, no force.  They primarily encourage staying cool and calm, and using focused positive thinking or meditating.  Most of these involve resting, relaxing, or falling asleep. 

The last two require some effort on the patients part: practicing, sweating, moving, working, learning, making some physical efforts, forcing change.  If walking were included as a method of complimentary medicine, it would rank in the top five. I don't think Taijiquan (with complex flowing postures) would be more popular than non-Vinyasa Yoga (with simpler static postures). 

Music therapy could involve the use of lively rhythmic music and dancing which would be heat producing.  Most of the time, I think "music therapy" is understood to mean, in this context, listening to New Age music (ambient, spacy, calm, soothing, relaxing), sitting and falling asleep to music. 

Sunday, October 07, 2012

Enlivening the Sinking Mind

I was very busy with gardening and home maintenance activities on Saturday and Sunday.  

A friend, Cathy, loaned us her roto-tiller.  I fully weeded, heavily fertilized, and extensively roto-tilled all of the large sunny garden.  I transplanted many plants from pots into the ground since daytime temperatures have dropped to below 80F.  I did some roof repairs.  I put all our outdoor tools into our sheds since some rain is predicted for next week.  We planted many starts of vegetables for our winter garden and many seeds.  I mowed.  I watered.  Busy, busy, busy - from dawn to dusk!  

I walked 4 miles each day, and taught yoga on Saturday.  Otherwise all exercise was from vigorous gardening. 

Work - Quotations

"Man was not made to rust out in idleness.  A degree of exercise is as necessary for the preservation of health, both of body and mind, as his daily food.  And what exercise is more fitting, or more appropriate of one who is in the decline of life, than that of superintending a well-ordered garden?   What more enlivens the sinking mind?   What is more conducive to a long life?"
-  Joseph Breck


Most of the time my mind is rising rather than sinking, even though I am an older man.  My tendency is towards high energy, abundance, drive, over-working, over-thinking, scattering enthusiasm ... mania. 




Saturday, October 06, 2012

I'm Going to Live the Good Life

"Here I go, I’m on my way
With my Love glasses on
Here I go, I’m on my way
I see more clearly and I feel strong

More, More, More, More

There’s got to be so much more to this life
My heart is racing just to know what it is like
More than I could expect
Anticipate or imagine
I’m willing to believe
Amazing things are still happening

I’m going to live the rich life

The full and blessed life
So if you all know what I mean
Put your hands up and declare with me
Love In full effect, L'Chaim

I’m going to live the good life
Beautiful and glorious life
So if you all know what I mean
Put your hands up and declare with me
Love In full effect,
L'Chaim

Here I go again on my mission to give it all

Give it all, give, give it all, all
Cause I’m aware that what I share
Will come back good measure
Pressed down, shaken together and running over

Life is whatever I receive it to be

Why not jump over doubt and dive into belief?
More than I could expect
Anticipate or imagine
I’m willing to believe
Amazing things are still happening

I’m going to live the rich life

The full and blessed life
So if you all know what I mean
Put your hands up and declare with me
Love In full effect, L'Chaim

I’m going to live the good life
Beautiful and glorious life
So if you all know what I mean
Put your hands up and declare with me
Love In full effect, L'Chaim


No eye has seen nor ear has heard
My faith is breathing only because
I hear these words
Exceeding and abundantly
More than we could even ask or think
Surpassing all human understanding
I’ve been given this amazing peace
This amazing peace

I’m going to live the rich life

The full and blessed life
So if you all know what I mean
Put your hands up and declare with me
Love In full effect, L'Chaim

I’m going to live the good life
Beautiful and glorious life
So if you all know what I mean
Put your hands up and declare with me
Love In full effect,
L'Chaim"

The Song "Life" by Beckah Shae
Lyrics by Jonathan Shocklee and Rebecca Wilson
Download MP3 "Life" from Amazon