Archive for the ‘Qigong’ Category

Fong Ha Workshop on Maui 2011   2 comments

Sifu Fong Ha comes from our lineage.... Starting his Taiji training from Master Dong's grandfather in 1953

Join Taiji on Maui and learn from Sifu Fong Ha at our exclusive Workshop this month.

On Sunday September 25th for four hours Master Ha will give detailed instruction in his methods of Qigong and Taiji principles. Starting at 10:00 AM until 12:00 and from 1:00 until 3:00 PM we will be training at a private residence in Maui Meadows.  This class is for students of all levels. We are very fortunate to get a semi private workshop limited to about twenty students for the very affordable price of $25.00.

Fong Ha will be on Maui for a whole week starting on Thursday morning the 22nd at Kamaole beach # III at 6:00AM to 9:00 and 5:15 to 6:30PM.

He has always let folks come and hang out with him and get in some free practice at the beach. I believe we should give back to him by attending the workshop and getting the full class and paying him for his instruction; all proceeds will go directly to him.

Please join us at the workshop and also at Kamaole beach # 3 for the whole week (except Saturday and Sunday) for practice of what you learn at the workshop.

Fong is a very generous and fun man that is a living legend; do not miss this opportunity to train with a genuine Taiji icon. Master Ha started his training in 1953 with Master Dong’s Grand father the great Tung Ying Chieh, he is world renown, and we are blessed to have him for this special workshop.

To Sign up E-mail me @
MauiTaoist@Gmail.com

Or Call 250-4663 or 344-2532

Taoist Meditation Lesson #8 Heavenly Sojourn   Leave a comment

Connecting the planets

Completing the Small Circle

In the previous lesson, I outlined the basic idea of the Small Circle or Microcosmic Orbit meditation.  Learning to connect your internal solar system will give you much insight into your internal energy. The last lesson leads you through a series of points in your energy system. The point was to bring qi down from the minds eye to the perineum at the bottom of the torso. This involves bringing your awareness to each point along the way for a sufficient length of time that you can feel it at each point before moving to the next one, Basically you were learning the “Yin path“, the downward, relaxing, nurturing and frankly the easy path of energy flow.

If you have become adept at this skill, you are ready to learn the other half of the process, bringing energy up the “Yang path”.  I hope that you noticed how the energy “wants” to flow down the yin path almost as if gravity were pulling it there and in a way, it is. Just to be real about it, there is a mechanical reason for this. By sequentially relaxing downward, your body is allowing blood and lymph as well as the flesh to sag and drain downward towards the earth. Keeping your back straight while this is happening aids the flow by assuring that all the necessary passageways remain open to that flow; slouching or having any misalignment or muscle tension will interfere with this process.

The yin path starts at the tip of the tongue and descends through the tongue, past the thyroid, thymus, heart, solar plexus, dantian, sperm (ovarian) palace, and ends at the perineum. Purists might know that the “Ren” channel ends, and the “Tu” channel starts at the ovarian palace, but the Tu channel “emerges” at the perineum and that is why I start there. These eight places are one-half of the microcosmic orbit, the other seven points are the topic of this article, the “Yang Path“.

In my method, the “Yang Path”  starts just under the skin at the perineum but it is at the coccyx or tailbone where it moves up to the “Ming Men”, gate of life  located just below where the thoracic spine joins with the lumbar spine. It then goes up along the tendons covering the spine, past the kidneys and adrenal glands. From there the path goes between the shoulders at the “Shen Dao”, the path to the spirit, opposite the heart center on the spine i.e.. the third thoracic vertebra near to the thoracic/cervical junction. The next place of wonderment is called “Da Zhui”, the great hammer. Da Zhui is about the C-7, the thoracic/cervical junction, on the spine opposite the throat. From this point, the qi moves upward, goes past the “Jade Pillow” at the top of the spine joining the skull and moves over the skull, up to the Crown Point, and then terminates at the palate just under the minds eye.

When you have completed the yin path and are completely relaxed and all the energy has drained into your hips and pelvis it will coalesce near the premium. You are now ready to bring qi up the spine and recycle the energy via the “Yang path”.

This is a new skill and it can be confusing depending on how you interpret what you are doing in the moment. Just to clarify that statement, some teachers will tell you to “pull the qi to the tail bone using your anus and collect it there“. I would say this too, but invariably pulling and pushing qi up the back channel is not the most effective way to do it, in my opinion. It does work, and you can get started doing it this way and yet if there was an easier way, you might want to try it.

Just tuning the breath and “listening” you may be able to sense the energy moving thought the small circle, that would be very nice indeed. Just sitting quietly and observing the energy flow is fantastic. I would say that is a high achievement. “Moving” qi through the circulation is controlling it. Both are valid and have different applications, for example I like to move qi through the body with my mind so that I can learn how to feel it moving when I’m not moving it!

Before any practice I recommend Tuning the Breath

I recommend that you start to access the back channel (yang path) by first starting at the Crown Point. Just lift up on the Crown Point and feel the head lifting off the shoulders and the spine lengthening and this will pull the tailbone into a vertical alignment, which also opens the pathway at the rear of the anus towards the back. Ah, see now the whole channel is open and now you can pull the energy to the anus and it will be sucked up the spine all the way to the top!  In the beginning, you may still need to coax it up by using your breath and muscle contractions, but as you get better at it, you can reduce the effort and concentration that you apply and spend more time enjoying the results. Each time the qi is at the bottom (Hui yin), open the crown, and allow the qi free access to the top.

From the bottom of the torso, pull up the PC Muscle (this muscle runs from the pubic bone to the tailbone) and you will feel a rush of energy there; this is a simple way of developing perineum power.  This is when you want to gently pull up around the anus and feel the energy go around the anal sphincter muscle to the rear of the anus. The energy is now at the tip of the tailbone. Learn to feel your internal musculature here and you can very gently contract the muscles there and actually create a wave of qi that will move up the sacrum to the lumbar spine and it will collect at the top of the lumbar region at a place known as the “Gate of Life”.

Bring qi up the Du Meridian

It may take a few tries to do this but keep at it and soon you will feel qi gathering at the Ming Men. You may need to rock your hips slightly to open the lower gate, this will help avoid stuck energy there.  Some say it is like “sipping through a straw” each time you take a breath the energy descends some being pulled back up on the next breath. By using a combination of first pulling the spine up from the top, and then going through a series of muscular contractions and breaths you can apply mental energy to move the qi up, up, and up…

Over time, you will feel the energy moving up through the kidneys, and the Shen Dao,  Da Zhui, through the jade pillow and up to the crown.  When you get used to bringing the energy to the Ming Men you will find it has enough inertia to just rather shoot up through the other points.  The yang path may flow fast as the qi rushes up to the top or, hopefully in a more controlled way. This can be a beautiful and rewarding release of energy that can thrill you when you feel it. Remain calm, and enjoy this energy release as you might enjoy a sexual energy release as it its related to that same feeling.  This is also do to the Chong Mai or thrusting vessel (that is another story) that runs deeper directly through the center of your spine.  Once you get used to these types of experiences you may never be the same again, you are gaining control over your energy.

I would not try to analyze this or focus on each individual point on the back channel at this point in your training. These skills can take awhile to acquire, and unless you have been doing this for some length of time, it may be meaningless for you to get too esoteric about it. It is not how much you know, or think you know about “meridians” and all that, what really matters is that you practice often and you keep it simple.

Many of these spine points can be blocked by accumulated postural  stress and may require qigong movements to open them, particularly prone to being blocked are the Shen Dao and Da Zhui. Come to class, or find a good teacher in your area for help with these two places. You do not want a blockage in “the path to the spirit”!

Even though you can now complete the circle, you are still just at the beginning of a new journey. Do not be in a rush, just work on these new skills for a while and get good at “circulating the microcosmic orbit”. You will find that as you get to know this skill you will be able to use this all the time, like when you are doing sitting or standing meditation or while doing moving soft qigong, or Taiji or even use this skill during sex. This is a start of a new level of qigong training, truly “going internal”.  While all forms of qigong training effect you internally, learning the small circle is the beginning of what we call “nei gong”. You are now moving into a higher level of meditation, where meditation and qigong come together and move your mind and body into the realm of pure energy, yet another step on the path of “Spiritual Alchemy”.

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Qigong Lesson #5 Harmonizing Yin and Yang   Leave a comment

This is Bruce Lee’s Jeet Kune Do Symbol                                          “Using no way as way” & “Having no limitation as limitation”. The arrows represent the endless interaction between yang and yin

The focus of the last qigong lesson was to introduce the properties of Yin and Yang in the human energy system as it pertains to Qigong practice.  One of the first things qigong students learn is the difference between the way yin and yang manifest during practice. This basic understanding is the starting point to getting to know your energy. Eventually this awareness of yin and yang will be discerned in all of your energy systems.

There are many different “energy systems” in the human being and all of them have yin and yang elements. For example in basic qigong practice the most obvious energy system in the physical body are things like muscles and bones; pneumatic (breath) and hydraulic (blood and lymph) but there are others such as mental, emotional, spiritual, electrical (nervous), and chemical, like hormones and neurotransmitters.

The reality of life is there are no absolutes; energies are always in ebb and flow.  In the last lesson I used a diagram showing the separation of yin and yang, this is only to get a basic understanding of the rise and fall of the energy; this symbol could be called Yin AND Yang. The Taiji symbol is sometimes called the Yin/Yang diagram. Do see the difference between the two? Yin and Yang or Yin/Yang, the difference is the first one defines yin and yang as distinctly different and separate things; the second one shows the harmony between the two.

In the title to my web site, I say “Balance and Harmony for a better life.” Balance and harmony is a common phrase; some people reverse the two words however saying “harmony and balance.”  To my mind though, you need balance before you can have harmony.  This is an important point for you to realize in your training as qigong and Taiji works on us to first balance our energy so that we can harmonize with reality. Again this is true whether we are talking about emotions or our bodies…. For example, if we have balanced emotions then we can harmonize with others.

Harmony is what we get when we have all our energy systems working together in a synergistic way. Synergy is a good word, it is when the sum is greater than the parts; you know, sort of like one plus one equals three.  Now while some of our energies may be “Yang” there will be others that will be “Yin.”  For example, my mind may be yin while my body is yang, while at the same time my legs may be yang while my arms may be yin and my emotions could be yin while my spirit is yang!

Yet it all works together in harmony. When the thinking mind is softened and yin, the spirit fills with energy and could be considered yang. When I am moving my body upward there is energy coming up from my legs which could be considered yang at that moment yet I keep my hands soft (with my mind) making them effectively yin. Yang leads and yin nurtures. For example my intention (yang) tells my body to relax (yin) the relaxed body attracts energy to flow into it, yang.  Lets say for example, the energy (in the form of blood pressure) is down in the legs, (yang) then, when we relax the hands (yin) the energy will flow into them, and back and forth filling and emptying.

While doing qigong notice how you can control the flow of energy when doing the movements by sequentially relaxing and expanding. As you are alternately flexing and relaxing different groups of muscles, you can lead the qi through your body. Remember, the energy wants to flow into emptiness just as electricity seeks a ground or water (and air) flows from high pressure towards low pressure.  In the great source book of Taoism, the Tao Te Ching, Lao Tzu tells us, “The sage leads by following, by putting himself beneath others they all flow towards him.”  Can you see how the philosophy of Taoism teaches us how to be better people?

Learning to be both yin and yang at the same time (yin/yang) is like bringing together the two halves of who you are. We all have yin and yang elements in play in every part of who we are. Proper qigong and Taiji is all about learning to first balance our energies and then to harmonize all these different energies so that we can find the reality that we need not be so polarized in life as to lose sight of the “big picture”

Like two horses…. The mare and the stallion, named yin and yang…
The stallion leads the way with the nurturing mare just behind him, giving him encouragement and moral support. She wants him to lead, and he enjoys doing the hard work of blazing the trail and such. The clever mare knows how to get him to lead where she wants to go by using her soft nurturing way, and he is glad to go where she wants him to. The two move in harmony due to the balance of their complementary energies.

Go to Qigong on Maui web site

Taoist Meditation Lesson #7 Finding Heaven   Leave a comment

“The sage sees the universe without going out the door”

 

Small Heavenly Circle (Microcosmic Orbit) Meditation Part #1

Attaining Tao is to merge with the wonders of heaven. In the very first verse of the Tao Te Ching, Lao Tzu says, “The Tao that can be named is not the real Tao”. What he is saying is the greatest of all things is beyond words, and once we attempt to name it we have defined the indefinable, which obviously is not going to work.  So then, how do we merge with the undifferentiated source of all things? Simple, start by just letting go of your desire to be or do anything and focus your energy into heaven.

If you have read the six prior lessons on Taoist meditation basics and practices and if you have actually tried some of these techniques then it is time to expand your horizons. Be sure to read Tuning the Breath as well.

I hope by now you have had some success with staying “in the moment” and have learned to use some of these tools to dissolve your mind into your body. Learning to control your thoughts is the basic methodology to allow your energy to find a higher calling. In this article, I will give you a little piece of treasure, another tool for your meditation that will help you reach a higher state of consciousness.

Much has been written about the “Small Heavenly Circle” also known as the “Microcosmic Orbit” meditation; a simple Google search will give you over 5,000 results.  I will not attempt to re-invent the wheel here, (pun intended) but instead I will give you my method.  This method of meditation takes the practitioner on an inward journey along the superhighway of energy that predominates within the human body.  My method is a straightforward and simple way to start exploring the universe within.

On the inward journey, the first things we learned were to dissolve our thoughts and get in touch with our energy, something you are getting skilled at if you have been doing the lessons so far. Now I am going to explain how to circulate that energy within your body.

We start with a basic energy circuit that runs up and down the torso in a circular path just under the surface of the skin; this path is called the “Small Circle.”  The vessels and meridians in your body that carry the qi are usually along high conductivity tissue such as tendons  and sometimes muscles. The centerline of both the front and back of our torso is mostly tendons, and this is a good conductor for the qi to flow within.  Learning to follow this path is a major step to moving even deeper into your body, and will give you more insight into the universe within you. My method starts with identifying the two major pathways of energy (that connect into a circle) by defining 15 points along the way. Like planets in a galaxy, we will travel to each one, picking up provisions along the way.  As we get to know each “planet” we will gain an understanding of our inner workings, this is the “Sage seeing the universe with out going out the door”

The two main paths have many names and energy can be moved in a variety of ways. In this beginning technique, we are going to follow the natural flow of energy down the front and up the back. For now, just think of them as Yin and Yang.  The “Yang path” starts at the perineum and then the base of the spine, continues up and over the crown of the head, and ends at the pallet. The “Yin path” starts at the tip of the tongue and flows down the front of your body and ends at the perineum at the bottom of your torso. Technically the “Ren” channel ends at the ovarian palace but since the connecting “Tu” channel emerges at the perineum I start there. Again, there are many resources available online for your perusal. Here I want to give you my method of navigating this “orbit.”

First, let me name, locate, and describe each “planet” along the orbit. Since we have to start somewhere, I start from that place where you “see things” when you close your eyes, a place between the eyebrows that is sometimes called “the minds eye.”

There are many more than these 16 points (that are really bigger than “points” that is why I think of them as “planets“) but I like to keep things simple. Picking these 16 allows us to be clear about each one and later we will apply a breathing technique to help propel your “spaceship” to each “planet”.   As your awareness grows you will feel and communicate with many more places than I have put on this list.  For example, between numbers  8, 9 &10 there are 2 others, the anus for instance, which is actually 6  in itself, front, back, each side, the center and the outer muscle!

My list of 16 celestial destinations within:

Classic texts would have you start at the Dan Tian and “contemplate your navel” for “as long as it takes to feel the qi there“.  I will not refute this method but there are alternatives. While this skill is admirable, I think we get the point; moving on from there, I believe spending a few minutes at each point is a better way to learn this orbit. Of course take as long as you want to explore each world, again the “classics” say to spend as long as a couple of months on each point until you can send your awareness and feel your qi there.

Once you have “opened the channel”, you will notice the qi moves rather quickly around the orbit. I usually do not need to linger long at each place at this point in my training and because I am not writing a book here, think of this as a quick tour through the planets,

The Mind’s Eye (behind your forehead)
The Heavenly Pool (where the tongue touches the pallet)
The Throat, (thyroid gland)
Thymus gland
The Heart
The Solar Plexus
The Dan Tian (just one inch below the navel)
The Sperm (Ovarian) Palace (a hands width below the navel)
The Hui Yin (the perineum)
The Tip of the Tail Bone
The Gate of Life (on the spine opposite the Dan Tien)
The Kidneys and Adrenals (on the spine opposite the Solar Plexus)
The Shen Dao, Between the Shoulders (opposite the Heart)
The Da Zhui, at the C-7
The Jade Pillow (at the base of the skull)
The Bai Hui or Crown Point (at the top of the head)

My planetary journey starts where I already am…

Sit and tune the breath,

Bring your awareness to,

1.    The Minds Eye (behind your forehead); Starting where your mind is already is a good place to start. When you close your eyes, you will “see” or rather “observe” energy actively moving about. Then just let the awareness sink down trough the Yin Path….

2.    The Heavenly Pool (where the tongue touches the pallet); When I put my awareness here I feel saliva welling up from the bottom of my mouth and pooling around the base of my tongue encouraging me to swallow.

3.    The Throat; This spot sends the flow downward along the yin channel. Here lies the thyroid gland a tiny little gland that controls the rates of regeneration for your entire body.

4.   The Thymus gland is a very sensitive gland that is an emotional regulator, sensing the heart and breathing rates, etc.

5.     The Heart; When my mind travels here I feel my heart moving a little bit, not so much an increase in speed, but sort of a warm gentle thumping.

6.    The Solar Plexus; This is a major nerve gathering center in your chest, at this location I feel a lump that seems to radiate out in all directions.

7.    The (Lower) Dan Tian (one inch below the navel); This is the home planet for your Qi. When qi gets stuck in your head (Upper Dan tian) it can cause rampant thinking, when the qi is at your Thymus or Solar Plexus, (in the middle Dan tian), you might feel emotional, but when the qi is here it will feel at home. After my first few years of practice, I began to feel a rotational sensation here.

8.    The Sperm (Ovarian) Palace (a hands width below the navel); This space is connected to all of your glandular systems and placing my mind here, brings me a sense of being connected internally.

9.    The Hui Yin (the perineum); When here, I feel a pulsing feeling as though there is a warm current flowing through my perineum moving towards the back of my body. This is the bottom of the torso and it is full of muscles that support the pelvic floor. The Hui Yin is sort of the launching pad for the next part of the orbit, the Yang path.

To keep things simple just do this for now…

First Tune your Breath and then just work on putting your awareness on each spot until you notice it; just like when you were using your hands; remember, “listening” for the tingling sensation there? If not re-read the other lessons. The point is, if you can send the energy to your hands it is a logical step to move to these orbit spots here. Just do this a little bit and see if you can feel the flow of energy coming down from your head to your perineum.

In the next lesson, I will lead you through the rest of the orbit.

Soon you will see that Taoist meditation and internal qigong are similar. You are now starting to learn the fine art of “Nei Gong” or “internal qigong”

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Yiquan Club in Kihei   9 comments

Yiquan friends doing some Yi Jin Jing Qigong

Come and play with our Yiquan club every Thursday morning.  Since Sifu Fong Ha comes here every September, a group of six or seven dedicated practitioners has began meeting every Thursday to continue working on his (and others) teachings. Since then it has become a great free-form “Internal Arts Day”

This is not a “class” because it is at Kamaole III Beach Park and the county will not allow a formal class: so I call it a club, there is no charge we just play.

Yiquan means “Mind (intention) Boxing” and it is a simple way to train martial arts and meditation skills. One of the main practices is just standing.  There is a huge variety of postures used in standing work, also known as “Zhan Zhuang” lit. “standing like a post”.  In Yiquan, there are eight main postures, you just stand and hold a posture, it is very simple.

Every Thursday morning starting at 6:30 AM with zhan zhuang, Qigong and Taiji walking, sometimes we take a break about 7:50 or so, look for us at a table at that time, then at  8:15 AM, we continue with Taijiquan until we are done.

The pre-dawn standing part is simple; just stand (or sit) in Wuji and if you want to, hold some postures or do whatever you want to! Try doing some “spontaneous qigong” also known as “Zi Fa Gong” or do the Yiquan postures.

The qigong that we originally did here consists of two sets and some “Taiji walking”.  The first set is called “Yi Jin Jing” this is the famous “muscle and tendon changing classic” invented by Bodhidharma in about 520 AD.  The second set is another classic qigong set known as “The Eight Brocades” or “Ba Duan Jin“.   Most likely though, whatever we we do here now is pretty random, so many things we could do, it is never the same qigong at this practice session. “Taiji walking”  in the sand is a favorite!

The Taijiquan part usually consists of doing the Dong (Yang) Long Form, we often do all three sections of the form or whatever we decide!

Come and play but know this is not a class…. I don’t do any real “teaching” I want to have fun with my friends, build some push hands connections, and keep the spirit of all of our teachers training active at Kamaole III

Overview:

6:30 AM to 7:50 AM
Wuji, Zhan Zhuang, Yiquan

Zi Fa Gong

Yi Jin Jing, Ba Duan Jin, or “Whatever Qigong”

Taiji walking

7:50 to 8:15 AM Break…

8:15 AM
Taijiquan
Tui Shou

See All Classes Here:

https://taijionmaui.wordpress.com/category/schedules/

Taiji Postures Gallery #1   5 comments

Repulse Monkey Step

Golden Rooster

Kick with Sole

Holding Hands

Press

White Crane Spreads its Wing

Punch

Push

Single Whip

Lazy Tie the Coat from the Fast Form

Push Hand Through Mountain

What do you do? Diet and exercise   4 comments

Temptation is in the small things…..
Love is patient endurance……

David

natural woman

Imagine you are a Taoist… you wake up in the morning and do your Qigong while your blood sugar and adrenalin levels are high.
Then you have some fruit, later for lunch, a nice salad with some veggies.  When you are done for the day, when you can relax, you enjoy a piece of fish, some meditation and then off to a restful sleep…

I have a food/nutrition philosophy; mostly, I only eat food.  By that, I mean “food that a natural person would eat”.  For example, in nature, there are no such things as bread or cheese, or packaged foods, and most food we now eat cooked was consumed raw.  I am not against cooked food, but mostly keep to raw foods.  In the cooked food area, I think we need to cook our meat these days, and I occasionally eat cooked beans and rarely even potatoes.

For the most part, I eat as if I was a natural person living in the natural world; fruit, vegetables, and some meat make up the lion’s share of my diet. Did you know that in countries where we consider people “under nourished” there is a longer life expectancy than here in America? Most people just eat too much of the wrong foods at the wrong times…

Another principle I mostly adhere to is that of proper food combining or for me actually, not combining…   Because of the facts of the body’s digestive system, we can optimize our diets to work in harmony with our natural attributes.  For example, our digestive juices are specific for certain foods and bad combinations can cancel out the chemistry so we get poor or no digestion. Also drinking after eating dilutes the digestive acid causing incomplete digestion.  Starch like bread, rice, or potatoes, require a different chemistry then protein; this can lead to such things as un-digested meat rotting for days inside our intestines.

Meals as common as “Fish and rice” or Steak and potatoes” “Spaghetti and meat sauce” and even the “Sandwich” are all recipes for poor digestion and I avoid them.  The main idea is, never mix anything with fruit, and do not mix proteins and starches.

A typical day’s food consumption for me would be something like this…
Mornings, from 6 AM until noon I only eat fruit ….
Afternoons I limit my food intake to vegetables and possibly a small amount of either meat or a starch.
Evenings from 6 PM until nine I would eat my meat meal.
Do not eat or drink anything after the meat or after 9 PM.

Fruit can move through you in an hour, veggies take about 4 hours but meat takes 8 hours to digest. Wait that amount of time between meals to avoid stimulating conflicting digestive chemistry. This way everything gets a chance to digest well.

Do whatever you want to when you eat out or are visiting friends do not be a “Food Nazi”; I’m just suggesting some common sense guidelines for your information.  Don’t be self-righteous about it; just remember: “Temptation is in the small things and love is patient endurance”.  In time, you will see the truth and adapt to a more healthy way of living.

I have cured my acid stomach problems, quit eating empty calories, eliminated almost all sugar, dairy, gluten, starch, fat, supplements, medicines, drugs and alcohol from my diet,  and lost over fifty pounds… effortlessly.

We may never achieve the bodies depicted above, and yet we can all dream…. and do our best to be the best we can be. Somewhere inside of us is the image of the perfect self; hold to that image and take right action.

Proper assimilation of food and daily morning qigong is a perfect two-prong approach to balanced health.