Saturday, November 30, 2013

Doing Then Talking

"Venerable Teacher, I am now deeply aware that to know or to think about something is much different than actually aligning oneself with the reality of being and doing it.  To have a quick mind or tongue is not equal to real achievement.  A person may think he is a good rider, but once he takes up the horse's reigns, it takes time and practice in order to ride well.  To talk and think about the Universal Integral Way is merely talking and thinking, which do not go beyond the relative realm; to a universal being talking and thinking are irrelevant.  The Universal Way is not just a matter of speaking wisdom, but one of continual practice in order to reach universal realization.  If one hope to align oneself with it, one must practice it.  If one does not practice it, one will never reach it.  Although it takes years of practice to become one with the Universal Way, it takes but an instant to realize it.'
    "Kind prince, " said the master, "just relax your body and quiet your senses.  Forget that you are one among many.  Undo the mind and allow it to return to its virgin purity.  Loosen the spirits within you.  Thus all things return to their root, and because there is no separation between them and their source, their return goes unrecognized.  To know of the return is to depart from it.  Do not be curious about its name and do not be in awe of its forms.  Then the truth will present itself to you naturally of itself and you will join in oneness with deep and boundless reality.  This is what it means to be a Universal One."
Hua Hu Ching, Chapter 49, translated by Hua-Ching Ni.  A Taoist work from around 500 CE, questionably attributed to Lao Tzu.


I'm not so sure about being or becoming a "Universal One."  Just being alive is awesome enough, and curiosity seems fine by me.  I do agree that action often speaks louder and eloquently than bragging by blowhards.   

"A wise man speaks when he has something to say. A fool speaks when he has to say something."
-  Plato


Concordance to the Tao De Jing

The Good Life

  



Friday, November 29, 2013

Taijiquan Opening Non-Movement

Here is a description of the beginning of the Opening Posture of Taijiquan from the book Traditional Chen Style Taijiquan by Fan Chun-Lei and A. Frank Shiery, p.37:

"1. Preliminary Stance: Stand naturally upright with the feet placed shoulder-width apart, toes pointed slightly inward, and arms hanging naturally at the side. The body should be kept upright with the shoulders relaxed, eyes slightly closed and breathing naturally. The body should face north. The mind should remain empty, calm and clear. This is the state of WuJi, (Negative Terminus in Taoist Teaching).

2. Commencing Form: The body should exhibit being relaxed externally while solid within. The head is held naturally erect as if pulled upward by an invisible string. Close the lips slightly with the tongue touching the upper palate. The toes firmly grasp the ground with Yongquan point pulled upward. The eyes are looking straight ahead with the chin drawn slightly inward. The hip is turned up and the coccyx turned back and upward with the waist directed downwards. The whole body should remain relaxed. A mind state of intent is maintained while the vital energy flows upward from the Dantian to the Baihui point, while the turbid energy flows downward from the Dantian to the Yongquan point. During this time, the body exhibits no external movement. Yin/Yang, for example, closing/opening, supple-firm and fast-slow are manifested internally, portraying the image of the Taiji, (Grand Terminus).

Key Points to Remember: For the beginner, the primary concern should be to cleanse the mind and spirit of tension and anxiety, removing all negative thoughts. This develops even-temperedness and an alert mind for quick movement and response. Once this technique has been mastered, the practitioner can begin to understand and practice Taijiquan more effectively."
- Fan Chun-Lei and A. Frank Shiery

Simplified Standard 24 Form Taijiquan

Chen Taijiquan

Standing Meditation


 

Thursday, November 28, 2013

Happy Thanksgiving


Best wishes to everyone.  

May we enjoy peace, prosperity, and freedom.

Thanks to all the decent, hardworking, kind, and broadminded people all around this beautiful earth.  

"One cannot wonder at this constantly recurring phrase "getting something for nothing," as if it were the peculiar and perverse ambition of disturbers of society.  Except for our animal outfit, practically all we have is handed to us gratis.  Can the most complacent reactionary flatter himself that he invented the art of writing, or the printing press, or discovered his religious, economic and moral convictions, or any of the devices which supply him with meat and raiment or any of the sources of pleasure as he may derive from literature or the fine arts?  In short, civilization is little else than getting something for nothing."
-  James Harvey Robinson


"The colors of the rainbow so pretty in the sky
Are also on the faces of people goin' by
I see friends shaking hands saying, "How do you do"
They're really saying "I love you."
I hear babies cry, I watch then grow
They'll learn much more than I'll ever know;
And I think to myself, What a wonderful world;
Yes, I think to myself, What a wonderful world.
Oh yeah!"
-  Louis Armstrong    


Gratitude: Quotes, Sayings, Poems

The Good Life


Wednesday, November 27, 2013

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 7 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..  Of course, all could be used by healthy persons for enjoyment and the maintenance of good body-mind-spirit well being. 

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 or Classical music (ambient, spacy, calm, soothing, relaxing), sitting and falling asleep to music. 

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Totemic Flute Chants

I enjoy listening the musical compositions and performances by Native American musicians and artists.  Lately, I have been listening to a number of MP3 albums by Robert Mirabal (also known as Johnny Whitehorse) and Mary Youngblood.



 
Dance with the Wind   Mary Youngblood's 2007 Grammy Award winning MP3 album.   

Riders of the Healing Road  A 2009 MP3 album by Johnny Whitehorse. 

Johnny Whitehorse  A 2006 MP3 album by Johnny Whitehorse. 





My favorite MP3 album by Robert Mirabal (AKA Johnny Whitehorse) is "Totemic Flute Chants."  This album won the Grammy Award in 2008 for the best Native American music album of the year.

Totemic Flute Chants

Monday, November 25, 2013

Sacred Staff

"The staff (Danda) is symbolic for the spine supporting the body. Since man's emergence for the animal kingdom he has walked erect. The levels of consciousness are in the spine where the life force is dominant. The base of the spine [Muladhara Cakra] is the place where the Kundalini Energy (Divine Coiled Serpent0 is located.
Khatvanga (Staff with Skull on Top) is symbolic of a pure or empty mind, one which is free from preconceived ideas which block the way for new perceptions, particularly Divine insight, that is, insight by intuition during meditation, reflection or quietness. In contrast to the perconceived ideas stands true knowledge, which is knowing from personal experience. Information is often mistaken for knowledge. The skull is mounted on a staff (the spine). The Kundalini Energy can then rise in the Sahasrara. The flow of the Divine energy through the staff or spine, into the empty skull, the mind free of preconceived ideas, is an experience that shakes one's whole foundation."
- Kundalini: Yoga for the West. By Swami Sivananda Radha. Timeless Books, 1978. p.41 


"Zhaozhou, who had been in poor health, asked his friend Miao Zhang, "Do the bees have Buddha nature?"  Miao Zhang smiled and said, "The roses are so fragrant today, and the cherries so sweet.  Let's walk in the garden and leave our crutches behind." 

    Gathering together in an orchard of blooming sweet lime trees, the students waited for their esteemed teacher, Kasyapa.  Slowly walking down the dirt path, relying on his danda walking staff for balance, Kasyapa joined his students.  He sat quietly for a long time, enjoying the fragrance of the lime blossoms.  Finally, he raised his danda staff.  Everyone stared at Kasyapa - serious, intent, focused, and silent.  Only Shifu Miao Zhang smiled, and then lifted his cane and pointed at a lime blossom.  Kasyapa pointed his danda at Shifu Zhang.  Another transmission was completed.  The sacred thread remained unbroken."
- Shifu Miao Zhang Points the Way

  

Way of the Short Staff

Cane Practices in T'ai Chi Chuan



 

Sunday, November 24, 2013

Dao De Jing by Laozi, Chapter 4

Tao Te Ching by Lao Tzu
Chapter 4


"Tao, when put in use for its hollowness is not likely to be filled.
In its profundity it seems to be the origin of all things.
In its depth it seems ever to remain.
I do not know whose offspring it is;
But it looks like the predecessor of Nature."
-  Translated by Ch'u Ta-Kao, 1904, Chapter 4  


"The Tao is like the emptiness of a vessel; and in our employment of it we must be on our guard against all fullness.
How deep and unfathomable it is, as if it were the Honored Ancestor of all things! 
We should blunt our sharp points, and unravel the complications of things;
We should temper our brightness, and bring ourselves into agreement with the obscurity of others.
How pure and still the Tao is, as if it would ever so continue!  
I do not know whose son it is. It might appear to have been before God."
-  Translated by James Legge, 1891, Chapter 4 



道沖而用之或不盈. 
淵兮似萬物之宗.
挫其銳.
解其紛.
和其光同其塵.
湛兮似或存.
吾不知誰之子.
象帝之先.

-  Chinese characters, Chapter 4, Tao Te Ching



tao ch'ung erh yung chih huo pu ying.
yüan hsi ssu wan wu chih tsung. 
ts'o ch'i jui.
chieh ch'i fên.
ho ch'i kuang t'ung ch'i ch'ên.
chan hsi ssu huo ts'un.
wu pu chih shui chih tzu. 
hsiang ti chih hsien. 
-  Wade-Giles transliteration, Chapter 4, Tao Te Ching


dao chang er yong zhi huo bu ying. 
yuan xi si wan wu zhi zong. 
cuo qi rui.
jie qi fen. 
he qi guang tong qi chen. 
zhan xi si huo cun. 
wu bu zhi shui zhi zi.
xiang di zhi xian. 
Pinyin transliteration, Chapter 4, Daodejing


Concordance to the Daodejing

Taoism: Resources


"Existence, by nothing bred,
Breeds everything.
Parent of the universe,
It smoothes rough edges,
Unties hard knots,
Tempers the sharp sun,
Lays blowing dust,
Its image in the wellspring never fails.
But how was it conceived?--this image
Of no other sire."
-  Translated by Witter Bynner, 1944, Chapter 4  


"The way is empty, yet use will not drain it.
Deep, it is like the ancestor of the myriad creatures.
Blunt the sharpness;
Untangle the knots;
Soften the glare;
Let your wheels move only along old ruts.
Darkly visible, it only seems as if it were there.
I know not whose son it is.
It images the forefather of God."
-  Translated by D. C. Lau, 1963, Chapter 4   

"The Tao is like an empty container:
 it can never be emptied and can never be filled.
 Infinitely deep, it is the source of all things.
 It dulls the sharp, unties the knotted,
 shades the lighted, and unites all of creation with dust.
  It is hidden but always present.
 I don't know who gave birth to it.
 It is older than the concept of God."
 -  Translated by John H. McDonald, 1996, Chapter 4 
 

"Tao is infinite.
If we use It, we find It inexhaustible,
Deep!
It appears to be Ancestor of all things.
It rounds our angles. It unravels our difficulties. It harmonizes our Light. It brings our atoms into Unity.
Pure!
It appears to be everlasting in principle.
I do not know whose Son It is,
It existed before God was manifest in Form."
-  Translated by Isabella Mears, 1916, Chapter 4  



Chapter 4 of the Dao De Jing by Laozi: Text and Commentaries
 


Ripening Peaches: Taoist Studies and Practices

 
Chapter and Thematic Index to the Tao Te Ching






Saturday, November 23, 2013

Afoot and Light Hearted

"Afoot and light-hearted, I take to the open road,
Healthy, free, the world before me,
The long brown path before me, leading wherever I choose.
Henceforth I ask not good-fortune, I myself am good fortune;
Henceforth I whimper no more, postpone no more, need nothing,
Strong and content, I travel the open road. 

The earth, that is sufficient; 
I do not want the constellations any nearer;
I know they are very well where they are; 
I know they suffice for those who belong to them.  

(Still here I carry my old delicious burdens; 
I carry them, men and women, I carry them with me wherever I go; 
I swear it is impossible for me to get rid of them; 
I am fill'd with them, and I will fill them in return.) 

 
You road I enter upon and look around!
I believe you are not all that is here; 
I believe that much unseen is also here."
-   Walt Whitman, "Song of the Open Road," Leaves of Grass, 1890. 


Ways of Walking: Quotes, Poems, Sayings


 Hiking in Death Valley, California, 1988
 


Friday, November 22, 2013

Tara, Guide Us in Our Practices

"Homage to you born from a gold-blue lotus
Hands adorned with lotus flowers
Essence of giving, effort and ethics,
Patience, concentration and wisdom."
-  Translated by Thubten Chodron

"Homage, Lady whose hand is adorned with a lotus,
a lotus blue and gold
whose field of practice is charity, striving,
austerity, calm, acceptance and meditation."
-  Translated by Stephan Beyer

"Homage!  Golden One, blue lotus,
   water-born, in hand adorned!
Giving, Effort, Calm, Austerities,
   Patience, Meditation Her field!"
-  Translated by Martin Wilson 

"Homage, Mother, golden one,
Her hand adorned with a blue lotus,
Whose field of practice is generosity, effort,
Austerity, calm, acceptance, and meditation."
-  Translated by Anna Orlova

Twenty One Homages to the Goddess Tara
Verse 3

The Good Life


Lifestyle Advice from Wise Persons


Buddhism



 
The Ten Pāramitās 
Perfections, Virtues, Completeness, Highest Character Traits
From the Buddhist Pali Canon:
  1. Dāna pāramī : generosity, giving of oneself
  2. Sīla pāramī : virtue, morality, proper conduct
  3. Nekkhamma pāramī : renunciation
  4. Paññā pāramī : transcendental wisdom, insight
  5. Viriya (also spelled vīriya) pāramī : energy, diligence, vigour, effort
  6. Khanti pāramī : patience, tolerance, forbearance, acceptance, endurance
  7. Sacca pāramī : truthfulness, honesty
  8. Adhihāna (adhitthana) pāramī : determination, resolution
  9. Mettā pāramī : loving-kindness
  10. Upekkhā (also spelled upekhā) pāramī : equanimity, serenity





Thursday, November 21, 2013

T'ai Chi Ch'uan Yang Style Long Form

If you are learning the Yang Style Taijiquan long form, you might find the following webpage of use to you as you study and practice:

Yang Family Style Tai Chi Chuan Traditional Long Form
By Michael P. Garofalo.
This webpage provides a list and brief description of the 108 movements of the Yang Style Taijiquan Long Form divided into five sections for teaching (.html and .pdf versions available). The webpage includes an extensive bibliography on the subject, scores of Internet links, historical notes, and quotations. 120Kb.

The Yang Long Form discussed on this webpage conforms to the form developed by Yang Cheng-Fu (1883-1936) and documented in books by Bu Fu Zongwen (1903-1994) and Yang Zhenduo. The numbering of the movements varies from author to author, but the essential sequence and moves remains the same.







Wednesday, November 20, 2013

November Gardening Chores

November Gardening Chores
Red Bluff, North Sacramento Valley, California, USA
USDA Zone 9

Removing dead and non-productive summer vegetable crops. 
Turn in composted steer manure and compost into the cleared vegetable garden.
Ordering from seed and garden catalogs.
Planting potted trees and shrubs.
Putting winter crops in the ground and harvesting greens: onions, lettuce, radishes, garlic, beets, chard, cabbage.
Placing cold sensitive potted plants in protected areas or indoors.
Planting bulbs.
Prune and mulch dormant perennials.
Prune fruit trees.
Storing and repairing tools.
Cleaning, storing, repairing and removing gasoline from equipment.
Fertilize with 20-9-9 or 16-16-16. 
Trees without leaves need little or no watering. 
Reduce or eliminate watering, watering as needed, depending upon rainfall, normally 3.1 inches in November.
Picking pumpkins, squash, colored corn, and other crops for Thanksgiving decorations.
Pruning grape vines.
Picking and storing peppers. 
Raking leaves and add to compost piles and mulch layers.
Lawn care: aerate soil and fertilize.  
Digging holes and post holes in cooler weather. 
Burning dead trees and shrubs in burn pile. 
Watering potted plants. 
Reading gardening books and catalogs. 






Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Bow to the Wonder of It

"Laetus in praesens animus quod ultra est oderit curare et amara lento temperet risu.
Nihil est ab omni parte beatum
.
Joyful let the soul be in the present, let it disdain to trouble about what is beyond and temper bitterness with a laugh.
Nothing is blessed forever."
-  Horace


"To educate yourself for the feeling of gratitude means to take nothing for granted, but to always seek out and value the kind that will stand behind the action.  Nothing that is done for you is a matter of course.  Everything originates in a will for the good, which is directed at you.  Train yourself never to put off the word or action for the expression of gratitude."
-  Albert Schweitzer  


"The clearest sign of wisdom is continued cheerfulness."
-  Michel Montaigne  

"All our moments are last moments.   We abide in the forever leaving of our own coming?  We can put our hands together, palm to palm, settling here on the last leaf of our brief flight, and bow to the wonder of it."
-  Jen Jensen, Bowing to Receive the Mountain, 1997 


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

-  Judith Orloff, M.D.. 
   Positive Energy,
2004 

 








Monday, November 18, 2013

Taijiquan Simplified 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.    
 
Study Taijiquan and/or Qigong with Mike Garofalo in beautiful Red Bluff, California.  

Sunday, November 17, 2013

Tao Te Ching by Lao Tzu, Chapter 5

Dao De Jing, Laozi
Chapter 5

"Heaven and earth are not Good
They treat the thousands of things like straw dogs.
The Wise Person is not Good
He treats the hundred clans like straw dogs.
The space between heaven and earth
Isn't like a bellows?
Empty, by not shriveled up,
Set it in motion and always more comes out.
Much talking, quickly exhausted. 
It can't compare to watching over what is inside."  
-  Translated by Michael LaFargue, 1992, Chapter 5   


"Heaven and earth are impartial, they regard all creatures as sacred.
The self-controlled man is impartial, he regards all people as sacred.
The space between Heaven and Earth is like a bellows.
Emptied, it loses not power,
Moved, it sends forth more and more wind.
Many words lead to exhaustion.
Be not thus; keep to thy center."
-  Translated by Isabella Mears, 1916, Chapter 5     



Concordance for the Tao Te Ching

Taoism: Resources


"Heaven and earth are not like humans, they are impartial.
They regard all things as insignificant, as though they were playthings made of straw.
The wise man is also impartial.
To him all men are alike and unimportant.
The space between heaven and earth is like a bellows,
It is empty but does not collapse,
It moves and more and more issues.
A gossip is soon empty, it is doubtful if he can be impartial."
-  Translated by Dwight Goddard and Henri Borel, 1919, Chapter 5  

   
"Nature is not humane.
It treats all things like sacrificial objects.
The wise are not humane.
They regard people like sacrificial objects.
How the universe is like a bellows!
While empty, it is never exhausted.
The more it is worked, the more it produces.
Much talk brings exhaustion.
It is better to keep to the center."
-  Translated by Beck Sanderson, 1996, Chapter 5 

 
"Heaven and Earth are ruthless;
To them the Ten Thousand things are but as straw dogs.
The Sage too is ruthless;
To him the people are but as straw dogs.
Yet Heaven and Earth and all that lies between
Is like a bellows
In that it is empty, but gives a supply that never fails.
Work it, and more comes out.
Whereas the force of words is soon spent.
Far better is it to keep what is in the heart."
-  Translated by Arthur Waley, 1934, Chapter 5 



Chapter 5 of the Dao De Jing by Laozi: Text and Commentaries
 


Ripening Peaches: Taoist Studies and Practices

 
Chapter and Thematic Index to the Tao Te Ching






Saturday, November 16, 2013

Walking Faster

"There are countless physical activities out there, but walking has the lowest dropout rate of them all! It's the simplest positive change you can make to effectively improve your heart health.
Research has shown that the benefits of walking and moderate physical activity for at least 30 minutes a day can help you:
  • Reduce the risk of coronary heart disease
  • Improve blood pressure and blood sugar levels
  • Improve blood lipid profile
  • Maintain body weight and lower the risk of obesity
  • Enhance mental well being
  • Reduce the risk of osteoporosis
  • Reduce the risk of breast and colon cancer
  • Reduce the risk of non-insulin dependent (type 2) diabetes."
American Heart Association, The Benefits of Walking

Ways of Walking  Hundreds of quotations, sayings, poems, quips, and insights about walking.  


"Walking is one of the simplest and easiest ways to get the exercise you need in order to be healthy—and almost anyone can do it. Walking can strengthen bones, tune up the cardiovascular system, and clear a cluttered mind. This uncomplicated but important activity continues to attract researchers, reports the March 2011 issue of the Harvard Health Letter. Recent research indicates that:  Later in life, walking becomes as much an indicator of health as a promoter of it. After age 65, how fast you walk may predict how long you have to live. Walking, or gait, has long been recognized as a proxy for overall health and has been measured in many studies. Researchers have found a remarkably consistent association between faster walking speed and longer life."
-  Harvard Medical School, Research Points to Even More Health Benefits of Walking



 

Friday, November 15, 2013

Pushing Hands

Sticking Hands, Sensing Hands (Tui Shou), Push Hands    

I look forward to meeting and practicing Pushing Hands with a person in Red Bluff, California.  Let's meet up!  Contact me by email.  

"Push Hands is a relaxed, two-person sparring exercise that one may begin upon completion the Tai Chi Short Form. It may be considered as the bridge between the Form and fighting practice. Three specific techniques are emphasized: sticking--maintaining light contact with an opponent; listening--sensing the magnitude and direction of an opponent's force; andyielding--responding to an opponent's force partially by giving way, and partially by controlling or guiding its direction. The ultimate goal of the training is to reduce the amount of force needed to neutralize attacks, so that one may defeat speed and strength with skill."
- Chu Tai Chi, New York

"Pushing hands trains these technical principles in ever increasing complexity of patterns. At first students work basic patterns, then patterns with moving steps coordinated in different directions, patterns at differing heights (high, middle, low and combinations) and then finally different styles of "freestyle" push hands, which lead into sparring that combines closing and distancing strategies with long, medium and short range techniques. These exchanges are characterized as "question and answer" sessions between training partners; the person pushing is asking a question, the person receiving the push answers with their response. The answers should be "soft," without resistance or stiffness. The students hope to learn to not fight back when pushed nor retreat before anticipated force, but rather to allow the strength and direction of the push to determine their answer. The intent thereby is for the students to condition themselves and their reflexes to the point that they can meet an incoming force in softness, move with it until they determine its intent and then allow it to exhaust itself or redirect it into a harmless direction. The degree to which students maintain their balance while observing these requirements determines the appropriateness of their "answers." The expression used in some Tai Chi schools to describe this is "Give up oneself to follow another." The eventual goal for self-defense purposes is to achieve meeting the force, determining its direction and effectively redirecting it in as short a time as possible, with examples provided of seemingly instantaneous redirections at the highest levels of kung fu by traditional teachers. Pushing hands also teaches students safety habits in regard to their own vital areas, especially acupressure points, as well as introducing them to the principles of chin na and some aspects of the manipulative therapy or tui na also taught in traditional Tai Chi Chuan schools. At a certain point, pushing hands begins to take on aspects of qigong (chi kung), as the students learn to coordinate their movements in attack and defense with their breathing."
Pushing Hands in Wikipedia



Push Hands Exercises and Play in Tai Chi Chuan

T'ai Chi Ch'uan (Taijiquan) - Cloud Hands Website


"Because it's interactive, push hands may be the highest expression of tai chi chuan.  Every lesson it teaches applies equally to the martial arts and life. The two main things you have to deal with in life are interaction and change - the things that produce the most stress and trauma. When you deal with these successfully, you feel like you're on cloud nine. Likewise, when you practice push hands successfully, you feel exhilarated."
-  Chris Luth, On Push Hands


Thursday, November 14, 2013

All Must Be Touched

"There are several basic kinds of touch that you may experience:  Intimate -- Here, your pressure receptors respond to a handshake, hug or kiss. If the person giving the touch is someone you care about, you'll probably feel warm and comforted. Your pressure sensors send the feeling of how hard the embrace is, and your brain interprets the nature of the touch as soothing.  Healing or therapeutic -- This type of touch is often associated with massage or acupuncture. Sometimes, the pressure is gentle and meant to soothe sore muscles. Other times, the pressure is deep in order to work out knots. Despite differences in severity of pressure, you likely to be aware that the outcome is healing, so your body allows you to relax.  Exploratory or inquisitive -- We all learn about the world through our sense of touch. Many people test out foods, fabrics or other objects by feeling different textures. Sometimes it's possible to rely solely on the sense of touch. This is why it's easy for you to reach into your bag and find a pair of keys without looking. You know the cold feeling of the metal key and hard smooth feel of your plastic key chain.  Aggressive or painful -- Of course, we all know that touch can also equate to pain if the pressure is too much and the intent is wrong. A handshake that's too firm can be uncomfortable instead of reassuring."
Psychology of Touching


"The hand is so widely represented in the brain, the hand's neurologic and biomechanical elements are so prone to spontaneous interaction and reorganization, and the motivations and efforts which give rise to individual use of the hand are so deeply and widely rooted, that we must admit that we are trying to explain a basic imperative of human life."
-  Frank R. Wilson, M.D., The Hand, p. 10



“If a thing can be said to be, to exist, then such is the nature of these expansive times that this thing which is must suffer to be touched. Ours is a time of connection; the private, and we must accept this, and it’s a hard thing to accept, the private is gone. All must be touched. All touch corrupts. All must be corrupted."
-  Tony Kushner, Homebody/Kabul

"Fine art is that in which the hand, the head, and the heart of man go together."
-  John Ruskin 




 
 

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Yi Jin Jing Chi Kung

Yi Jin Jing

The Yi Jin Jing Qigong is a popular qigong exercise set from China. "Yi Jin Jing Qigong" means "Muscle and Tendon Transforming Exercises."

In most cases, this qigong regimen consists of 12 movement sequences. There are some versions of the Yi Jin Jing with many more movements (22, 49, 108, 216). Some of the longer versions of the Yi Jin Jing include movements from the Eight Section Brocade Routine, the Animal Frolics Routines, the Louhan Routine, or the Bone Marrow and Brain Washing Routine.

Most people practice a 12 movement version of the Yi Jin Jing that was described in a book published by Pan Weiru in 1858 called "Essential Techniques for Guarding Life." Also, Wang Zuyuan published a book in the 1880's titled "Illustrated Exposition of Internal Techniques" that described the same qigong routine as did Pan Weiru.
Names of the Yi Jin Jing Qigong Movements
Opening Form
1. Wei Tuo Presenting the Pestle 1

2. Wei Tuo Presenting the Pestle 2
3. Wei Tuo Presenting the Pestle 3
4. Plucking Stars on Each Side
5. Pulling Nine Cows by Their Tails
6. Showing Talons and Spreading Wings
7. Nine Ghosts Drawing Sabers
8. Sinking the Three Bodily Zones
Three Plates Falling on the Floor

9. Black Dragon Displaying Its Claws
10. Tiger Springing On Its Prey
11. Bowing Down in Salutation
12. Swinging the Tail
Closing Form

Some claim that the Yi Jin Jing was created by the famous Zen Patriarch Bodhidharma (Da Mo) around 520 CE, and refined over centuries by Shaolin monks, while others argue for an even more ancient Daoist lineage.

There are numerous instructional DVDs available now for the 12 movement verion of the Yi Jin Jing. I like the instructional book and DVD by the Chinese Health Qigong Association:

Yi Jin Jing: Chinese Health Qigong. Compiled by the Chinese Health Qigong Association. Beijing, China, Foreign Languages Press, 2007. 95 pages, charts, includes an instructional DVD. ISBN: 9787119047782. VSCL. "Qigong is an aspect of traditional Chinese medicine that involves coordinating breathing patterns with physical postures to maintain health and well-being. Yi Jin Jing/ Tendon-Muscle Strengthening Exercises is an accessible, fully-illustrated guide to a particular qigong exercise that focuses on turning and flexing the spine. Based on the twelve traditional routines of Yi Jin Jing, the exercises covered in the book feature soft, extended, even movements that invigorate the limbs and internal organs. In particular, practice of the Yi Jin Jing exercises improves flexibility, balance and muscular strength, and has a beneficial effect on the respiratory system. Each routine is described step-by-step and is illustrated with photographs and key points. The authors also point out common mistakes and offer advice on how to correct these. Complemented by an appendix of acupuncture points and accompanied by a DVD, this book will be of interest to Qigong and Tai Chi practitioners at all levels, students of martial arts and anyone interested in Chinese culture." - Singing Dragon.

For a good book on the theory of the Yi Jin Jing, read Qigong: The Secret of Youth: Da Mo's Muscle/Tendon Changing and Marrow Brain Washing Classics. By Yang, Jwing-Ming, Ph.D., 1946-. An Advanced Qigong Regimen for the Serious Practitioner. Boston, Massachusetts, YMAA Publication Center, 2000. Second Edition 2000, First Edition 1989. Index, appendices, charts, 312 pages. ISBN: 1886969841. VSCL.


Monday, November 11, 2013

Life Depends on Me

 "This is a great powerful statement from some spiritually achieved ones: 'My life depends on me, not on Heaven.'
     Excessively religious people may think those people had no God, but I don't see it that way.  I think that these were spiritually self-responsible people who did not rely on external authority to make themselves behave correctly.  The did not relinquish authority over their lives to other people and external circumstances, trading in Heaven's support to become dependent on others.  They did what was right and depended upon their own attainment and achievement to see them through life.
     This kind of achievement is called spiritual independence, and it is above the realm of ordinary religious followers.  I regard it as highly respected elucidation of the Way."
 -  Hua-Ching Ni, The Light of All Stars Illuminates the Way, 1994, p.26


"The gods help those that help themselves."
Aesop's Fables, Ancient Greece


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