Archive for April 2010

Earth Day   7 comments

We cannot "save the planet"

Did you know?

The earth has survived volcanoes, ice ages, earthquakes, floods, erosion, plate tectonics, collisions with asteroids, gamma ray bursts, and who knows whatever for billions of years; always surviving, evolving and adapting.

Did you also know that in China in 1931 between one and 2.5 million people died in a flood?
Or that also in China in 1887 between 900,000 and 2 million people died in a flood.
In addition, in 1556, an earthquake killed 830,000 in China.
And another earth quake in China in 1976 left 242,419 people dead? And in 1920, 243,117?
How about the earthquake-generated tsunami in Indonesia, 230,000 lives lost.
And the death toll in Haiti is estimated at 230,000?

The eruption of the Volcano in Iceland puts more CO2 into the air in one day than the entire population of Europe did in the last 100 years.  And did you know that CO2 is a scant 0.033% of the atmosphere; and it is the only source of life for all the green plants on the Earth?

Did you also know 250 million people each year get malaria resulting in between one to 2.7 million deaths? In addition, did you know that environmentalists, through the EPA banned DDT, and yet DDT was heralded as having saved over 500 million lives in the two decades before it was banned?

The bottom line is: we cannot “save the planet” and conversely we cannot destroy the planet. Are we so arrogant that we think we can destroy the planet when we are only a minuscule drop in an ocean of planetary history?  Everything here is from here….whatever we dig up, or burn or eat or whatever, came from here and it is going to stay here. The planet will adapt and evolve. We may not adapt however, and so life goes on. The planet will be fine.

Yin/Yang, Taoist thought understands these things, sure, we all want a clean environment, and we also don’t want millions to die from malaria or perish in cheaply made lightweight vehicles.  Nature always works things out.  If we are not meant to survive then, we will not. Perhaps we need war and disease to teach us what to do, or what not to do. These things are all part of nature, even our strange lifestyle is part of nature, as are we. There are those people that will not eat meat and consider it wrong for people to eat meat, do they protest the tiger, fighting extinction, and begrudge him his last meal?

Heaven and Earth are eternal, our physical selves, not so much. The Human experience for an individual is all we have here and now. Do not fret or worry about mother Earth, she will survive. Our only challenge is to deal with each moment correctly, enjoy what we have and let nature take its course.

If we are going to live full and joyous lives, we need to live in harmony with the way things are, adapt and overcome. To change with change is the way of nature; to be discontent is the greatest misfortune.

Happy Earth Day

Qigong Lesson #3 Exploring Wuji   4 comments

One of over 8000 thousand life-size Terracotta Warriors standing strong for over two thousand years

Zhan Zhuang “Standing like a post” Standing Meditation

Standing builds structural integrity in your physique, calms the mind and emotions and it provides a foundation for internal qigong work known as “nei gong”.

As you are learning to connect with your internal energy, many new and intriguing adventures will open up to your awareness.  In fact, awareness is the primary connection that you make as the path unfolds before you.

You can reach your health goals whatever they may be, whether they are physical health, as in posture, flexibility, balance or general strengthening or mental goals such as, improved memory, freedom from excessive thoughts or disordered thinking, or perhaps emotional goals like curing frustration, mania, anger, fear, grief, worry, depression or whatever else.

The one common denominator in almost all ailments is unbalanced energy within you. Even the most devastating illnesses often have their roots in basic problems with your personal energy and many are therefore preventable. Balancing our energies is the goal of all traditional Chinese medicine and Qigong is a basic part of TCM.

In the first two Qigong “lessons” here on this blog, I outlined the first skill you should master, Wuji. As the name implies Wuji is a starting point and it is where we begin all qigong exercises and the Taiji forms, yet there is a whole genre of “Wuji training” that can be explored.

Standing is sometimes called zhan zhuang, which means “standing like a post”, or referred to as standing meditation; it is in fact an excellent qigong exercise all by itself. There are no real ”forms“ per se, instead individual postures are sustained for a length of time as necessary.

The main goal here is to balance out our internal energy by standing still, however stilling your body often encourages thinking to arise; sometimes the thinking can become overwhelming.  Redirect your thoughts into becoming aware of the 12 points outlined in the last lesson and only allow your thoughts to go through the “postural check list”.

Another technique to stop unnecessary thinking, is to simply count your breaths; paying attention to the air moving in and out as you do. When you find yourself caught up in a daydream, just start over with the alignment and then find your way back to your breathing; in this way you will learn to dissolve your  mind and body together.

After we still our bodies, and refocus our thinking, errant energy tends to go into the emotions.  This can be very annoying as thoughts and emotions are linked, often emotional thoughts like: “I feel dumb standing here”, “What are others thinking about me seeing me standing here?”, or “Am I wasting my time standing here?”  Any excuse we can dream up to release us from learning about our true selves seems like a good enough reason to stop our training. Just go back through the same routine and you will find these emotions subside.

While standing in a posture, there are many other techniques that you may apply, such as various breathing practices and a whole host of higher-level skills known as “nei gong“. These skills will be explained in future articles about that topic but the first step into that whole universe of qigong arts starts with zhan zhuang.

To perform zhan zhuang all you need to do is stand, correctly of course, in any one of numerous postures. To avoid an emotional reason to give up, commit before hand to doing zhan zhuang for a certain length of time, say 10 or 15 minutes. You may stand in Wuji, or pick some postures from the Taiji form.  In the beginning I recommend you attempt at least three minutes in each posture, that way you will not get bored so that during the 15 minutes you could manage five postures. Serious zhan zhuang practitioners may stand for up to an hour in one or two postures!

In coming lessons, I will show you some postures that can be used in addition to the ones you are learning as part of a Taiji class. Who knew that by just standing you could accomplish so much without knowing any forms?

Stand strong and you will develop good balance, strength, and energy.

Copyright Cory Williams 2010

More here: Qigong Lesson #4

Qigong Attitude   3 comments

First, gain an understanding of your energy system.
Align the body correctly to facilitate energy flow.
Relax the muscles to encourage energy flow.
Learn to dissolve your mind and body together.

Develop an emotional connection to the energy within.
Become intimate with your energy.
Practice until you know what is right in your heart.
Let go of your silly ego needs.

Gain freedom from your thoughts,
Become as open as Heaven,
Be as firm as the Earth,
Shine brightly like a star,
Be as flexible as water,
Gain inspiration from all things,
Know the truth that will set you free.

There are many paths to freedom yet only those who learn the truth will be truly free.  The real you is often hidden behind layers of physical and egocentric defenses.  Physical obstructions, thinking, and emotions, all inhibit your true self from shining through.

Spiritual qigong? Medical qigong? Martial qigong? Meditation? Internal, external, standing, sitting, moving, stillness, Taiji, whatever…. It makes very little difference; they are essentially the same thing. Don’t get confused by esoteric teachings. Do not be distracted from the truth by thinking too much about it.

Do not make your journey complicated; just follow the simple methods outlined in your training.  Adding too much just takes you farther away from the truth.  Practice “Wu Wei“; practice with diligence, yet keep it simple and you will gain profound awareness.

The truth is simple:
Love your energy as though it was the most valuable substance in the universe….in time you will discover the creator of all things.

Go to Qigong on Maui web site