Sunday, March 31, 2013

The Most Valuable Science

"Botany I rank with the most valuable sciences, whether we consider its subjects as furnishing the principal subsistence of life to man and beast, delicious varieties for our tables, refreshments from our orchards, the adornments of our flower borders, shade and perfume of our groves, materials for our buildings, or medicaments for our bodies."
-  Thomas Jefferson 

Saturday, March 30, 2013

Sensual Awareness

"Organismic awareness is what we - on the Ego Level - ordinarily, but clumsily, refer to as seeing, touching, tasting, smelling and hearing.   But in its very purest form, this "sensual awareness" is non-symbolic, non-conceptual, momentary consciousness.  Organismic awareness is awareness of the Present only -  you can't taste the past, smell the past, see the past, touch the past, or hear the past.  Neither can you taste, smell, see, touch or hear the future.   In other words, organismic consciousness is properly timeless, and being timeless, it is essentially spaceless.  Just as organismic awareness knows no past or future, it knows no inside or outside, no self or other.  Thus pure organismic consciousness participates fully in the non-dual awareness called Absolute Subjectivity."
-  Ken Wilber, Spectrum of Consciousness, 1977, p. 115

Friday, March 29, 2013

The Tripwire of a Smell

"Nothing is more memorable than a smell. One scent can be unexpected, momentary and fleeting, yet conjure up a childhood summer beside a lake in the mountains; another, a moonlit beach; a third, a family dinner of pot roast and sweet potatoes during a myrtle-mad August in a Midwestern town. Smells detonate softly in our memory like poignant land mines hidden under the weedy mass of years. Hit a tripwire of smell and memories explode all at once. A complex vision leaps out of the undergrowth."
-  Diane Ackerman  

The Five Senses

Thursday, March 28, 2013

Benefits of Walking

Recent studies have indicated the numerous "mental benefits" of walking such as: slowing mental decline, lowering Alzheimer's risk, improving sleep, improving mood, and improving concentration.
The Mental Benefits of Walking from Arthritis Today, 2010.
"For someone who walks regularly, their body is better able to deliver oxygen to all systems, including the brain, because they’ve improved their cardiovascular function. Not surprisingly, regular walkers report better mental clarity and ability to focus. Creativity is enhanced because walkers have the ability to relax their mind and let it wander around while they’re walking. Outdoor strollers can have the benefit of beautiful scenery as well as just seeing things from a different perspective, which stimulates creative thought and the imagination.  Whether you want to improve your body, your mind or both, the benefits of walking should encourage you to make the time to do it."
Mental Benefits of Walking, Creating a Good Life

Scientific studies have shown that their are numerous benefits of walking: improves insulin sensitivity and thus prevents diabetes, improves one's sex life, saves you on gym costs, can reduce the need for certain medicines, reduce fibromyalgia pain, helps with overcoming certain cancers, reduces stroke risk, and improves memory.
The Eight Astonishing Benefits of Walking, The Mother Nature Network

Walking: Quotes, Sayings, Poems, Information

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Relaxed Awareness

"Do the small things of life with a relaxed awareness.  When you are eating, eat totally - chew totally, taste totally, smell totally. Touch your bread, feel the texture.  Smell the bread, smell the flavor.  Chew it, let it dissolve into your being, and remain conscious - and you are meditating.  And then meditation is not separate from life."
-  Osho  


Tuesday, March 26, 2013

The Beauty of Inflections

"I do not know which to prefer -
The beauty of inflections
Or the beauty of innuendoes,
The blackbird whistling
Or just after."
-  Wallace Stevens, Thirteen Ways of Looking at a Blackbird, 1923

"Listening is a magnetic and strange thing, a creative force. The friends who listed to us are the ones we move toward, and we want to sit in their radius.  When we are listened to, it creates us, makes us unfold and expand."
-  Karl Menninger

Monday, March 25, 2013

Sufficiently Thankful

"I do not wish to die -
There is such contingent beauty in life:
The open window on summer mornings
Looking out on gardens and green things growing,
The shadowy cups of rose flowering to themselves-
Images of time and eternity-
Silence in the garden and felt along the walls.
The room is suddenly filled with sun,
Like a sacrament one can never be
Sufficiently thankful for.  Door ajar,
The eye reaches across from one
Open window to another, eye to eye,
And then the healing spaces of the sky." 

-  Alfred Leslie Rowse  


Sunday, March 24, 2013

Realize Your Personal Legend

"It's a force that appears to be negative, but actually shows you how to realize your Personal Legend.  It prepares your spirit and your will, because there is one great truth on this planet: whoever you are, or whatever it is that you do, when you really want something, it's because that desire originated in the soul of the universe.  It's your mission on earth."

-  Paulo Coelho, The Illustrated Alchemist: A Fable About Following Your Dream, translated from the Portuguese by Alan R. Clarke, paintings by Moebius, Haper/Flamingo, 1988, 1993. 

Saturday, March 23, 2013

Doubting Makes Sense at Times

Many times I have read or listened to some unjustified or outlandish claims about the value or benefits of yoga or qigong.  Some claim one can obtain amazing, otherworldly, special or magical powers (siddhis) from the practice of these arts.  Some claim that all kinds of ailments, diseases, and illnesses, both physical and mental, can be cured or overcome with diligent "correct" practice. These arts are also connected with religious viewpoints (e.g., Taoist, Hindu, Tantric, Buddhist) that also make some questionable claims about the benefits of various spiritual practices. Some extraordinary anecdotes are very suspicious and should be doubted. 
There are definitely benefits from the correct and sensible practice of various mind-body arts and spiritual practices; and, there are definitely limits to these benefits.  Keep an open mind, be somewhat skeptical, courteously question, and test claims against reality.  Look at the other side of the coin.  Don't believe all that you hear or read.  Weight anecdotal claims against common sense, averages, and personal differences.  Be careful of an over reliance on magic.  Avoid being gullible.  Respectfully listen to "authorities," but do not always accept their recommendations and claims on blind faith.  Watch out for fakes, phonies, and hucksters.  Keep a clear understanding of the limitations of your own body and mind and how certain practices might not be beneficial to you and even detrimental to your health and well being.  Do some research, listen to other experts, read widely, get a second or third opinion, and think clearly and wisely. 

Willpower and faith have a place in beneficial body-mind practices, but cannot force or control the flow of the Tao just as you desire.  Accept some defeat, loss, failure, errors, misinformation, and falsehood as part of the reality of the life and mind.  Uncertainty and chaos also share in the spotlight on the stage of life. 

Two books that I have read might help you in keeping a more level perspective on these topics with respect to the practice of Yoga:

The Science of Yoga: The Risks and the Rewards  By William J. Broad.  New York, Simon and Schuster, 2012.  Index, bibliography, notes, 298 pages.  ISBN;  9781451641424.  VSCL. 
The Hindus: An Alternative History  By Wendy Doniger.  New York, Penguin Books, 2009.  Index, bibliography, notes, 779 pages.  ISBN: 9780143116691.  VSCL. 

Friday, March 22, 2013

Set Fire Dubstep Dancing

Marquese "Non-Stop" Scott does a new Dubstep Dance called "Set Fire."  Tai Chi Chuan dancers might pick up a few new moves from Marquese ...

Thursday, March 21, 2013

Dao De Jing, Laozi, Chapter 27

Tao Te Ching by Lao Tzu
Chapter 27

"A good traveler leaves no tracks,
A good speaker is without flaw.
A good planner does not calculate.
A good doorkeeper does not lock, yet it cannot be opened.
A good knotter does not use binding, yet it cannot be undone.
Therefore, the sage is good at his earnest demands upon people.
So no one is left out. 
No talent is wasted.
This is called being in the tow of enlightenment. 
And it ensures the good person.
For everything that is good is the teacher of the good person.
For everything that is bad becomes the resource for the good person.
No need to honor the teachers. 
No need to love the resources. 
Though knowing this is a great paradox,
It is the subtle principle."
-   Translated by Edward Brennan and Tao Huang, 2002, Chapter 27   

"The conduct of the virtuous leaves neither trace nor clue.
The words of the virtuous afford no ground for fault-finding.
The projects of the virtuous require no intrigue.  
When the virtuous are obstructed in their policy, though there be no bolt to the door which shuts them in, it yet cannot be opened.
When the virtuous enter into relations with others, though they be not bound by the ties of contract, they yet may not release themselves from their obligations. 
Thus the Sage ever uses his goodness in saving others; and therefore there are none who are abandoned.
He ever uses his goodness in saving the inanimate creation; and therefore there are none of these who are abandoned.
This is called being doubly enlightened.  
Wherefore the virtuous man is the teacher, or patron, of the bad man, while the bad man is employed as material, on which to work, by the virtuous man.
If the bad man does not reverence the other as his teacher, nor the good man love the former as his material; then, in spite of any wisdom either may possess, they are both greatly blinded.
This doctrine is both important and sublime."
-   Translated by Frederic H. Balfour, 1884, Chapter 27     

"A good traveler leaves no trace.
A good speaker makes no slips.
A good accountant uses no devices.
A good door needs no bolts to remain shut.
A good fastener needs no rope to hold its bond.
Therefore the wise are good at helping people,
and consequently no one is rejected.
They are good at saving things,
and consequently nothing is wasted.
This is called using the Light.
Therefore the good teach the bad,
and the bad are lessons for the good.
Those who neither value the teacher nor care for the lesson
are greatly deluded, though they may be learned.
Such is the essential mystery."
-   Translated by Sanderson Beck, 1996, Chapter 27  

"Good travelers leave no trace nor track,
Good speakers, in logic show no lack,
Good counters need no counting rack.
Good lockers bolting bars need not,
Yet none their locks can loose.
Good binders need no string nor knot,
Yet none unties their noose.
Therefore the holy man is always a good savior of men, for there are no outcast people.
He is always a good savior of things, for there are no outcast things.
This is called applied enlightenment.  
Thus the good man does not respect multitudes of men.
The bad man respects the people's wealth.
Who does not esteem multitudes nor is charmed by their wealth, though his knowledge be greatly confused,
He must be recognized as profoundly spiritual."
-   Translated by Daisetsu Teitaro Suzuki and Paul Carus, 1913  , Chapter 27 


Chapter and Thematic Index to the Tao Te Ching

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

The Practice of Walking

"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


Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Eight Immortal's Taijiquan Cane Form

Here is a T'ai Chi Ch'uan Cane form that I enjoy practicing and have taught to many of my students: 

The Eight Immortals Cane Form.  Created by Master Jesse Tsao from San Diego, California.  Part I of this cane form is based on the Yang style of T'ai Chi Ch'uan.  This form has 36 movements.  

Traditional Tai Chi Eight Immortals Cane, Routine One.  Demonstrated by Master Jesse Tsao.  Instructional DVD, 64 minutes.  Produced by Tai Chi Healthways, San Diego, 2008.  Routine One is based on the Yang Style of Taijiquan.  Master Tsao developed this cane form himself, with grandmaster Zhu Tiancai's support. 

Traditional Tai Chi Eight Immortals Cane, Routine Two (Cannon Cane).  Demonstrated by Master Jesse Tsao.  Instructional DVD, 65 minutes.  Produced by Tai Chi Healthways, San Diego, 2008.  Routine Two, Cannon Cane, is based on the Chen Style of Taijiquan.  Master Tsao developed this cane form himself, with grandmaster Zhu Tiancai's support.  

Way of the Short Staff.  By Michael P. Garofalo, M.S.  A comprehensive guide to the practice of the short staff, cane, jo, walking stick, gun, zhang, whip staff, 13 Hands Staff, and related wood short staff weapons.  A detailed and annotated guide, bibliography, lists of links, resources, instructional media, online videos, and lessons.   Includes use of the short staff and cane in martial arts, self-defense, walking and hiking.  Separate sections on Aikido Jo, Cane, Taijiquan cane and staff, Jodo, exercises with a short staff, selected quotations, techniques, selecting and purchasing a short staff, tips and suggestions, and a long section on the lore, legends, and magick of the short staff.  Includes "Shifu Miao Zhang Points the Way."  Published by Green Way Research, Valley Spirit Taijiquan, Red Bluff, California.  Updated on a regular basis since October, 2008.  Related to Mike's popular webpage on the Staff.

Toju Zenchu brandished his staff before Daoist Shifu Miao Zhang and challenged him "Miao Zhang, speak and you get whacked with Nanten's staff.  Do not speak and you still get whacked with Nanten's staff."
Shifu Zhang stood up quickly, lifted his cane strongly in defense, and quietly said, "Yunmen's shit stick stinks and Nanten's staff is cracked!  I am leaving now to take my evening walk. Goodbye."  

Monday, March 18, 2013

Garden Preparations

Karen and I have been working in our garden a lot in the recent weeks.

Our large "Sunny Garden" needed some work: weeding, fertilizing, tilling, pruning, thinning, etc.

Here is how the area looked before we began our work project.  The first photo is a view to the south.  The second photo is a view to the north. 

Here is how the Sunny Garden looks after our gardening efforts.  I removed the dying Lelyandi cypress tree at the south end of this garden.  All the weeds were removed and placed in the compost pile at the north end of this garden area. 

We still have swiss chard, cabbages, onions, garlic and other winter plants in this garden.  This past weekend we took a chance and planted two tomato starts in this garden.  Our frost date is April 10th, so we will need to protect the tomatoes if the temperature should drop.  We still have some tilling and weeding left to do in this garden; however, the bulk of the preparatory work will be accomplished before April. 

Here is a view to the west.

Sunday, March 17, 2013

A Morning Prayer

"In the morning, everything is new.
 The day's blank slate lies before me,
 ready for my writing.
 May it be words of beauty I write.
 May it be deeds of grace I do.
 May it be thoughts of joy I think.
 All the Holy Ones, Listen;
 this is what I pray.
 Great Spirits of the Four Realms,
 Holy Ones of the Realms of Minds,
 Kindreds of Yore,
 as I go through the day,
 keep my eyes open wide.
 May I not miss beauty.
 May I not miss joy.
 May I not miss wonder.
 Keep me awake and aware of the world.
 It is my privilege to perform my morning prayers.
 It is my honor to do what should be done.
 As I rise with the morning, fog lifting slowly from my mind,
 I pray not to forget these truths.
 -  Ceisiwr Serith, Book of Pagan Prayer, p. 126

Saturday, March 16, 2013

Bench Press Contest

I exercise, lift weights, socialize, and teach yoga and Taijiquan at the Tehama Family Fitness Center (TFFC) in Red Bluff, California.  I've been a member of this gym for 12 years. 

At 6 pm tonight, the TFFC hosted the annual Bench Press Contest.  Men and women, in three different weight classes, participated in the contest.

All lifters participating ranged in ages from 15 to 40.  I wished that they had an over 60 age class for lifters. 

CJ won the competition with a lift of 405 pounds and he pressed his bodyweight 32 times.  Wow!!

I plan to enter the competition next year.  Why?  1.  To contribute to the scholarship charity.   2.  Set a goal for myself.  3.  Be the oldest person in the competition at 68 years of age.  4.  Lift 260 pounds in the bench press.  5.  Encourage other older persons to participate.  5.  Have fun. 

Taijiquan Sword Form

32 Sword Form, Simplified, Yang Style, Taijiquan Jian.
Webpage by Michael P. Garofalo. 

This popular webpage includes a comprehensive bibliography, scores of links to webpages; an extensive listing of the names and name variations for each movement in English, Chinese, French, German, and Spanish; a detailed analysis of each posture and movement sequence with explanations and numbered illustrations and detailed instructions; selected quotations; comments on 20 Taijiquan sword techniques; a comprehensive media bibliography; a chart of performance times; recommendations for starting to learn this form at home one your own with instructional DVDs, books and practice methods; and, a comparison of the 32 and 55 sword forms in the Yang style. 

This is the standard, simplified, orthodox, 1957, 32 Taiji Sword Form, in the Yang Style of T'ai Chi Ch'uan. 

© Michael P. Garofalo, Valley Spirit Taijiquan, Green Way Research, Red Bluff, California, October 2, 2011.  235Kb+. 
The Wild Horse Jumps Over the Mountain Stream 

Friday, March 15, 2013

90 Days to Make A Change

"You should prepare to follow the program for 90 days.  Why?  Because behavioral research indicates that it takes 90 days to prepare for change, build a new behavior, become confident in the face of high-risk triggers, and move past the likelihood of relapse.  Brain research also suggests that it takes a few months of practicing a new behavior to create permanent change."
-  John C. Norcorss, Ph.D., Changeology, p. 7  

Six Keys to Bodybuilding Success
1.  "Set realistic goals― short and long term.
2.  Plan an orderly and thorough routine to train the entire body.
3.  Make a commitment to stick to your routine for four to six weeks to realize the changes and benefits, develop perseverance and create a habit.
4.  Establish enthusiasm for your training, the driving force to perform successfully.
5.  Ease into an appropriate training program with a wholesome, thoughtful nutritional plan: proper foods, amounts and order of consumption.
6.  Be confident from the beginning that the application of these sound principles will produce the desired results."
-  Dave Draper, Brother Iron Sister Steel, p. 33

  "In traditional Taoist practices, the teachers speak about the need to do this exercise routine for a minimum of 100 days before any benefits become noticeable, and before you decide to stop doing the exercise.  The cultivation of the "Dan Tien" or "Field of Elixir", like the cultivation of any garden or field, requires work (Kung) over an extended period of time before the crop grows to harvest size.  The long term cultivation of the "Field of Elixir" or "Orchard of Elixir" demands that we continue these qigong  exercises for many years to assure longevity and to aim towards attaining the special powers of a chen-jen or "realized being."  The ancients Taoists said,  
"Only after a hundred days of concentrated work is the light real;
Only then is it the fire of spirit.
To set up the Foundation requires a hundred days."
-   The Secret of the Golden Flower, Translated by Thomas Cleary, p. 17, 49."
Eight Section Brocade Chi Kung  A webpage by Mike Garofalo   
Willpower: Quotes, Notes, Sayings

Thursday, March 14, 2013

Tao Te Ching by Lao Tzu, Chapter 28

Dao De Jing, Laozi
Chapter 28

"Who knows his manhood's strength,
Yet still his female feebleness maintains;
As to one channel flow the many drains,
All come to him, yea, all beneath the sky.
Thus he the constant excellence retains;
The simple child again, free from all stains.

Who knows how white attracts,
Yet always keeps himself within black's shade,
The pattern of humility displayed,
Displayed in view of all beneath the sky;
He in the unchanging excellence arrayed,
Endless return to man's first state has made.

Who knows how glory shines,
Yet loves disgrace, nor e'er for it is pale;
Behold his presence in a spacious vale,
To which men come from all beneath the sky.
The unchanging excellence completes its tale;
The simple infant man in him we hail.

The unwrought material, when divided and distributed, forms vessels.
The sage, when employed, becomes the Head of all the Officers of government.
In his greatest regulations he employs no violent measures."
-   Translated by James Legge, 1891, Chapter 28  

"Who his manhood shows
And his womanhood knows
Becomes the empire's river.
Is he the empire's river,
He will from virtue never deviate,
And home he turneth to a child's estate.

Who his brightness shows
And his blackness knows
Becomes the empire's model.
Is he the empire's model,
Of virtue ne'er shall he be destitute,
And home he turneth to the absolute.

Who knows his fame
And guards his shame
Becomes the empire's valley.
Is he the empire's valley,
For e'er his virtue will sufficient be,
And home he turneth to simplicity."

Simplicity, when scattered, becomes a vessel of usefulness.
The holy man, by using it, becomes the chief leader;
And truly, a great principle will never do harm."
-   Translated by Daisetsu Teitaro Suzuki and Paul Carus, 1913, Chapter 28 

"He who is aware of the Male
But keeps to the Female
Becomes the ravine of the world.
Being the ravine of the world,
He has the original character (teh) which is not cut up.
And returns again to the (innocence of the) babe.
He who is conscious of the white (bright)
But keeps to the black (dark)
Becomes the model for the world.
Being the model for the world,
He has the eternal power which never errs,
And returns again to the Primordial Nothingness.
He who is familiar with honor and glory
But keeps to obscurity
Becomes the valley of the world.
Being the valley of the world,
He has an eternal power which always suffices,
And returns again to the natural integrity of uncarved wood.
Break up this uncarved wood
And it is shaped into vessel
In the hands of the Sage
They become the officials and magistrates.
Therefore the great ruler does not cut up."  
-  Translated by Lin Yutang, 1948, Chapter 28 

"He who, conscious of manly strength, guards a womanly weakness, becomes the channel of the whole Empire to which all minor streams converge.
Being thus the channel of the whole Empire, the cardinal virtues will never depart from him, and he will revert to a condition of childlike innocence.
He who, conscious of light, keeps in obscurity, will become a model for the whole Empire.
Being a model for the whole Empire, the cardinal virtues will never fail him, and he will revert to the Unconditioned.
He who, conscious of his glory, guards humility, will become the valley of the whole Empire.
Being the valley of the Empire, he will revert to his original simplicity.
When this simplicity is distributed, the man becomes a thing of utility to the State.
The Sage employs men of this simplicity, and advances them to high rank; therefore his administration is on a grand scale, and never comes to an end."
-   Translated by Frederick Balfour, 1884, Chapter 28 


Chapter and Thematic Index to the Tao Te Ching


Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Playing to Improve the Brain

"Play certainly seems to facilitate an animal's ability to move in a more deftly coordinated and responsive way.  Chasing, tumbling, and scrambling about are a requisite part of strengthening muscles, honing eye-limb coordination, and laying down essential synaptic pathways to the brain.  Limb and eye-limb movements are coordinated in the cerebellum, and the number of cerebellar synapes is significantly influences by behavior.  Not surprisingly, there is a relationship between play and synaptic growth.  ...  Physical skills, such as those involved in hunting or defense, stem at least in part from the complex behaviors learned and practiced during play.  Most young mammals play with objects, an activity which, among other things, teaches them how to catch prey and how to explore the physical world.  Many species― including our own, nonhuman primates, rats, and those in the mustelid family― show a preference for complex and novel play rather than simple object manipulation."
-  Kay Redfield Jamison M.D., Exuberance, p.51

Fingers, Hands, Touching, Feeling, Somatics, Haptics: Quotations, Bibliography, Notes

Jamison, Kay Redfield, M.D.  Exuberance: The Passion for Life.  Vintage, 2005.  Detailed notes, index, 416 pages.  ISBN: 9780375701481.  VSCL.  


Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Naming the 24 Taijiquan Forms

Dear Michael:

"A friend of mine asked me to help translate Tai Chi 24 Forms into Cantonese dialect. Your web page of 24 Forms was introduced to me for reference. I am amazed at the number of translations for each movement.

I have come to realize the difficult task of getting to the real essence of translation. Inappropriate or incompetent translation makes the concepts ambiguous or misleading (with all the funny Chinese phrases of naming things.) Though in all honesty, each source tries to fit the bill, rarely do they come across the original design/intent of the moves in a comprehensive way.

Usually most Western sources just cannot read the Chinese words, lesser still the Chinese way of thinking. The Chinese side usually don’t know English well enough to get the essence across with poor diction.

But I must say that I am no expert. Only that I have observed some errors, and thought I should mention it to contribute to common understanding. I only do so as you welcome suggestions from others. (I am a native Chinese speaker.)

Here are the examples:

#3   亮翅 Word to word: White| Goose| Flash| Wing

Most Tai Chi schools use White Crane Spreads Its Wings. If this is the case, then the Chinese phrase should be亮翅. = Crane.

亮翅  Bai He Liang Chi  [Mandarin]


# 8   雀尾右 : Lan Que Wei You : Grasp the Bird's Tail Right

means ‘To block’, not ‘grasp’. This I believe is a typo, as it has the same sound as .

So is should be揽雀尾[Lan Que Wei (You) [Mandarin] (Notice I put a bracket around the word,RIGHT; for better illustration.)


#16   下势 : Xia Shi : Snake (?) Creeps Down

下势  Word to word:  Low| Inertia, dynamic force, or tendency, etc.

There is no mentioning of any animal’s name. I would be interested to know how this translation came about. Or, it is taken as an English slang?

Ok, that is all. I am struggling with my own thinking on this tough translation project. I admire your zest of life reflected in your web pages.
All the best."



I have often been perplexed about the translations or interpolations of the "names" of the movements in various Taijiquan forms.  The reference sources I have studied vary somewhat.  

I'm sure that a Cantonese vs a Mandarin starting point would reveal different results.  Then, again, an English, Spanish, or French version would provide additional interesting interpolations. 

As for my qualifications, I am fluent in only in the English language.  The only other language I use in my daily life is Spanish. 

Considering the worldwide popularity of the Standard Simplified 24 T'ai Chi Ch'uan 1956 form, I thought that some effort should be made to show the range of given names for each of the movement forms in the 24 Form, and I tried to do so on my Taijiquan 24 Form webpage. 

I welcome your comments and suggestions.  I would be willing to integrate them into my webpage if you send them to me, link to your webpage on the subject, or publish your final document as a separate webpage.     

Best Wishes,

Mike Garofalo 

Monday, March 11, 2013

Changing Your Behaviors

Top 10 Mistakes in Behavior Change

1.  "Relying on willpower for long-term change
2.  Attempting big leaps instead of baby steps
3.  Ignoring how environment shapes behavior
4.  Trying to stop old behaviors instead of creating new ones
5.  Blaming failures on lack of motivation

6.  Underestimating the power of triggers 

7.  Believing that information leads to action 
8.  Focusing on abstract goals instead of concrete behaviors

9.  Seeking to change a behavior forever, not for a short time
10. Assuming that behavior change is difficult.”
-  Stanford University, Persuasive Tech Lab

“1) Psych: Getting Ready
2) Prep: Planning Before Leaping
3) Perspire: Taking Action;
4) Persevere: Managing Slips;
5) Persist: Maintaining Change.”
Changeology: 5 Steps to Realizing Your Goals and Resolutions  By John C. Norcross.  Contributors: Kristin Loberg and Jonathon Norcross.  Simon and Schuster, 2012.  272 pages.  ISBN: 978-1451657616.  VSCL.  
"Willpower stands at the edge of three realms: compulsions, habits, and novel adaptations.
Willpower is amoral.
Willpower is another name for intentions and useful habits."
-  Michael Garofalo, Pulling Onions


Sunday, March 10, 2013

The Chinese Five Elements

I've been a student of the classical 'Elements' for over three decades.  Depending on the tradition studied there are from four to eight Elements.

The modern sciences of physics and chemistry have discovered or synthesized 118 Elements.  This fascinating subject can be studied through the graphical model of the Periodic Table of Elements first developed in 1869.  

I have studied a number of books and Internet resources about the subject of the Chinese Five Elements Theory.  The Five Elements are more often referred to as the Five Movers, Five Energies, Five Transformations, Five Phases, Five Powers or Five. The Five Energies are Wood, Fire, Earth, Metal and Water. 

I prepared a brief 2 page document about a gentle five movement Qigong set based on the Five Elements.  The document is titled:  The Five Elements Qigong and Internal Training Methods.  It will be used by our Valley Spirit Qigong Study Group in Red Bluff, California.  It is a read only PDF document.  The "Internal Training Methods" refer to visualizations, meditations, Taoist readings, mystical practices, and feng shui that will be discussed in our Study Group; and which are only hinted at in the brief list of correspondences under each of the Five Elements. 

I highly recommend the new book by Dr. Steven Liu and Jonathan Blank called "Secrets of the Dragon Gate: Taoist Practices for Health, Wealth, and the Art of Sexual Yoga."  The variety of creative practices and methods for health and well being are very useful and explained clearly. 

Five Elements Qigong: Bibliography, Links, Resources, Lessons, Quotations

Classical Five Elements

Saturday, March 09, 2013

March, Master of Winds

"I wandered lonely as a cloud
That floats on high o'er vales and hills,
When all at once I saw a crowd,
A host, of golden daffodils;
Beside the lake, beneath the trees,
Fluttering and dancing in the breeze."
-  William Wordsworth, Daffodils

"Ere frost-flower and snow-blossom faded and fell,
       and the splendor of winter had passed out of sight,
The ways of the woodlands were fairer and stranger
       than dreams that fulfill us in sleep with delight;
The breath of the mouths of the winds had hardened on tree-tops
       and branches that glittered and swayed
Such wonders and glories of blossom like snow
       or of frost that outlightens all flowers till it fade
That the sea was not lovelier than here was the land,
       nor the night than the day, nor the day than the night,
Nor the winter sublimer with storm than the spring:
       such mirth had the madness and might in thee made,
March, master of winds, bright minstrel and marshal of storms
        that enkindle the season they smite."
-  Algernon C. Swinburne, March: An Ode

March: Quotations, Poems, Sayings, Lore

The Spirit of Gardening

Friday, March 08, 2013

A Changing of the Cars

We have driven our 2002 Chrysler Town and County Minivan over 165,000 miles.  We decided to "retire" this reliable vehicle, and donate it to the charity Cars for Breast Cancer.  This maroon minivan had 6 cylinders, and got about 27 mpg highway.  We purchased this vehicle used in 2005 when it had 32,000 miles on the odometer.  

We just purchased a 2008 Chrysler 300 Sedan with 36,000 miles on the odometer.  This blue sedan has 6 cylinders, and gets around 26 mpg highway.  I am hoping we can get the same good service from this Chrysler as my Chrysler minivan, e.g., 2013-2021.

We also drive a 1998 Pontiac Sunfire Sedan, 4 cyclinder, with 140,000 miles on the odometer.  This car gets around 32 mpg highway.  When this Pontiac needs to be retired we plan to purchase a small, 4 cylinder sedan that gets closer to 40 mpg.

Also, I'm on the lookout for a used 175cc motorcycle.  I drove a motorcycle for 12 years in urban areas. This type of motorcycle can get up to 80 mpg. 

Karen's round trip commute to work is 16 miles (5 days a week) and mine is 30 miles (2 or 3 days a week).  We don't camp as much as in the past or engage in outdoor sports, so the need for a van or SUV has diminished.  Having a reliable automobile is a necessity for us folks living in a rural area.  

I found that using in our search for a used vehicle was helpful. 

Thursday, March 07, 2013

Months and Seasons

Months and Seasons
Quotes, Poems, Sayings, Verses, Lore, Myths, Holidays
Celebrations, Folklore, Reading, Links, Quotations
Information, Weather, Gardening Chores
Compiled by Mike Garofalo


Wednesday, March 06, 2013


" "Exuberance" derived from the Latin exuberanceex, "out of," + uberare, "to be fruitful, to be abundant"― is as its core a concept of fertility.  Exuberance in nature is defined by lush, profuse, riotous growth; it is an overflowing, opulent, and copious abundance.  ... In our time, "exuberance" usually denotes a mood or temperament of joyfulness, ebullience, and high spirits, a state of overflowing energy and delight.  It is more energetic than joy and enthusiasm but less intense, although of longer duration, than ecstasy.  The origins of the concept of exuberance in the cyclic fertility of nature, now largely forgotten, remain critical to understanding it as a primitive life force vital to survival."
-  Kay Redfield Jamison, M.D.  Exuberance: The Passion for Life

"The Greeks understood the mysterious power of the hidden side of things.  They bequeathed to us one of most beautiful words in our language― the word 'enthusiasm'― en theos― a god within.  The grandeur of human actions is measured by the inspiration from which they spring.  Happy is he who bears a god within, and who obeys it."
-  Louis Pasteur

Jamison, Kay Redfield, M.D.  Exuberance: The Passion for Life.  Vintage, 2005.  Detailed notes, index, 416 pages.  ISBN: 9780375701481.  VSCL.  

Springtime Exhuberance 

Tuesday, March 05, 2013

Dao De Jing, Laozi, Chapter 29

Tao Te Ching by Lao Tzu
Chapter 29

"If any one should wish to get the kingdom for himself, and to effect this by what he does, I see that he will not succeed.
The kingdom is a spirit-like thing, and cannot be got by active doing.
He who would so win it destroys it; he who would hold it in his grasp loses it.
The course and nature of things is such that
What was in front is now behind;
What warmed anon we freezing find.
Strength is of weakness oft the spoil;
The store in ruins mocks our toil.
Hence the sage puts away excessive effort, extravagance, and easy indulgence."
-   Translated by James Legge, 1891, Chapter 29 

"When one desires to take in hand the empire and make it, I see him not succeed.
The empire is a divine vessel which cannot be made.
One who makes it, mars it.
One who takes it, loses it.
And it is said of beings:
Some are obsequious, others move boldly,
Some breathe warmly, others coldly,
Some are strong and others weak,
Some rise proudly, others sneak.
Therefore the holy man abandons excess, he abandons extravagance, he abandons indulgence."
-   Translated by Daisetsu Teitaro Suzuki and Paul Carus, 1913, Chapter 29   

"As for those who would take the whole world
To tinker as they see fit,
I observe that they never succeed:
For the world is a sacred vessel
Not to be altered by man.
The tinker will spoil it;
Usurpers will lose it.
For indeed there are things
That must move ahead,
While others must lag;
And some that feel hot,
While others feel cold;
And some that are strong,
While others are weak;
And vigorous ones,
While others worn out.
So the Wise Man discards
Extreme inclinations
To make sweeping judgments,
Or to a life of excess."
-   Translated by Raymond B. Blakney, Chapter 29  

"The external world is fragile,
and he who meddles with its natural way,
risks causing damage to himself.
He who tries to grasp it,
thereby loses it.
It is natural for things to change,
sometimes being ahead, sometimes behind.
There are times when even breathing
may be difficult,
whereas its natural state is easy.
Sometimes one is strong,
and sometimes weak,
sometimes healthy,
and sometimes sick,
sometimes is first,
and at other times behind.
The sage does not try
to change the world by force,
for he knows that force results in force.
He avoids extremes and excesses,
and does not become complacent."
-   Translated by Stan Rosenthal, Chapter 29

Chapter and Thematic Index to the Tao Te Ching