Archives for category: Engaged Living

Following is an article by Deepak Chopra, et al found on Linkedin.  This is tremendously important information and I recommend everyone look into this and consider it very seriously, as if your life and the quality of life depended on it, because it does.

By Deepak Chopra, MD, William C Bushell, PhD, Ryan Castle, David Vago, PhD, Rudolph E. Tanzi, Ph.D.

Ten years ago researchers began to focus on inflammation as a link to disease. They stood out in that they did not emphasize the acute redness and swelling that accompanies the site of a wound or burn as it heals, which is known as acute inflammation. Rather, they discovered clues were leading to something more subtle – a low-grade, chronic inflammation that has few if any overt symptoms. This kind of everyday inflammation has now been linked to an overwhelming majority of serious lifestyle disorders, including hypertension, heart disease, type 2 diabetes, Alzheimer’s disease and most cancers. What was an intriguing trend ten years ago is now being recognized as major global epidemic, all the more dangerous because it is invisible.

We encourage you to read the first post we wrote last week in order to gain more basic knowledge about chronic inflammation. Going past lifestyle disorders, chronic inflammation may be the key to aging. In addition, numerous inflammation-related genes have been linked to susceptibility to most age-related diseases, such as those mentioned above. The chemical markers in the bloodstream that serve to indicate inflammation are associated with the aging body and cellular death. Already some gerontologists are floating the idea that inflammation may be the largest contributor to aging. If this turns out to be right it will greatly simplify a complex subject, because two aspects of aging have traditionally made it very hard to grasp medically.

First, the deterioration of the body over time is not a straight line but an unpredictable set of changes that look different in everyone. Second, no single process can be pinned down as “aging” by itself. The common signs of aging, such as losing muscle strength, defects in memory, and moving more slowly – not to mention medical conditions like arthritis and dimmed eyesight – are related to many different processes and don’t appear in every elderly person. In fact, there are at least a few cases where these changes are at least temporarily reversed; there are even people who get stronger and have better memories as the years go by. Chronic inflammation has the possibility to simplify this scenario, in part by exploring the common factor that so many seemingly unrelated aging processes share.

Read the rest of this entry »


yangsittingBelow is a summary for Dr. Yang Yang’s Functional Meditation including the contemplations and mental principles.  Hopefully this will help in understanding this technique and process

Nurturing Daily Life through Contemplating Reality

Awareness Contemplations for Understanding Reality as it is through Functional Meditation

*The Meaning of Life

*Everyone is Seeking Happiness

*Nothing is Personal

*Everyone is Different

*Yin-Yang (Reality/Reversal)

The purpose of the Contemplations is to identify aspects of life to consider and upon which we can meditate, or contemplate. As a methodology for meditation, this technique is considered contemplation. The process is to take a topic for which we want a deeper understanding and to take it into meditation, to contemplate it. The process is basically a reversal of the Taoist cosmological idea of “from Wuji to Taiji”. In this case, we go from Taiji to Wuji. We take an idea into our busy minds and purposefully think upon it as a method for leading us to stillness. Once we reach of state of Wuji, we of course discard the idea and sit in stillness. In the process we make peace with the idea or concept we are contemplating so that once we leave meditation we are hopefully not bothered by the aspects of our life that relate to the contemplation. In time, we should be at peace with the idea more and more until we have a change in our relationship with the idea and the greater world. From this we can see that not only is this a good method for meditation, it is also a template for enlightened living, a guide for daily life and a way we can extend our “practice” to all aspects of our lives. Read the rest of this entry »

Following is a list of suggested reading (books, articles, videos) for Insight Qigong students.  The Basic Program Readings apply specifically to those just beginning on this path or taking our workshops, but are obviously applicable to any and all who may be interested.  Further readings explore Taijiquan, Yoga, Neigong, Zen and advanced Qigong practices.  They are divided into categories based on our approach to training, but only as a means for organization because in the end it’s all Qigong.

Basic Program Readings


Dr. Yang’s Evidence-Based Taiji and Qigong video  The Qigong on this video forms the underlying basis of the Qigong aspect of our basic program

The Healing Promise of Qi, by Roger Jhanke  This is a great general introduction to Qigong practice.


Mindfulness in Plain English  A great handbook on mindfulness practice

In the Sanctuary of Silence  How to plan and carry out a daily practice of superconscious meditation

Returning to Natural Mind  This video captures what we call applied meditation, being present all the time

Engaged Living

The Power of Intention  Wayne Dyer’s book on using mind and intention to live at a higher level.

Seven Lessons in Conscious Living  Roy Eugene Davis’ book for engaged living through the discipline of Kriya Yoga.  This is a simple outline to powerful daily living.


Further Readings


Hunyuan Qigong, Feng Zhiqiang  This advanced book forms the underlying essence of what Insight Qigong is all about.  Unfortunately it is out of print.  However, if you are interested in the book, please let me know.

Daoist Neigong  Once we get beyond the basic Qigong practice, we begin to  work with Neigong or internal skill.  This is not necessarily advanced practice as much as it is deeper practice.  This is a good general book for delving into Neigong.

Warriors of Stillness: Meditative Traditions in the Chinese Martial Arts  This is one of those books that belongs in every category.  Ultimately, it is about Zang Zhuang, or Standing Qigong.

The Way of Qigong: The Art and Science of Chinese Energy Healing  This is a very good book on all aspects of Qigong practice by Ken Cohen, who is also a student of Hunyuan

Special Taoist Taiji Stick and Ruler Qigong  This book is by Grandmaster Feng Zhiqiang and Master Wang Fengming on the Bang and Ruler.  This is high level Qigong and is recommended for those interested in going deeper into the practice.  It is available on Master Wang’s website, per the link above.  There is no direct link to the book nor a way to purchase online, you will need to contact Master Wang and send a check for the book.  There is also a video further down the page which accompanies the book well.  I recommend them both.

Taijiquan/Martial Arts

Taijiquan: The Art of Nurturing, The Science of Power  By Dr. Yang Yang.  The premier book on Taijiquan practice.

Chen Style Taijiquan  By Feng Zhiqiang and Chen Xiaowang.  This primarily is a book of martial applications utilized in Chen Style Taijiquan by two of the highest ranking masters in that discipline.

The Essence of Taijiquan  David Gaffney and Davidine Siaw-Voon Sim.  This is a great overview of the history of Chen Village, Taijiquan, and the practice of Chen Shi Taijiquan Gongfu

Internal Gung-Fu Volume 2: Fighting and Healing Methods, by Erle Montaigue  A look at the complete art of the Internal Gongfu of the original Yang school, by the late Master Erle Montaigue.

The Art of Peace  The way of the warrior is based on compassion, fearlessness, wisdom, and a love of nature.  By Morihei Ueshiba, the founder of Aikido

Spiritual Practice

Zen Mind, Beginners Mind  An important book in so many ways

The Upanishads  This is a classic.  But it is not an instructional book.  Rather, it is the kind of book that resonates more and more as one develops in practice.

The Teachings of Don Juan: A Yaqui Way of Knowledge  There is a bit of controversy around Castenada, and this is not traditionally found in context with Asian practices, but it covers the Warrior’s Way, which ultimately transcends time and boundaries.  Recommended.

The Science of Self-Realization  This is a guide to spiritual practice in the Kriya Yoga tradition based on a commentary on the Yoga Sutras, the Shandilya Upanishad, and a brief outline of the inner meaning of the Bhagavad Gita.

Tao Te Ching  This is a staple for all seekers.  In this translation, Ursula Le Guin offers what I have found to be the best interpretation of Lao Tzu’s masterpiece.  It is much more poetic than rhetoric, a easy and at the same time challenging read.

I Am That  Talks with Nisargadatta Maharaj.  The natural approach for returning to union with the Ultimate Source.

Being a Taiji/Qigong practitioner and teacher, I am frequently asked about the art, the why, how, about, what-if, belief, tall-tale, deep-meaning, etc…kind of questions.  The answers are basically easy.  There are evidence-based proofs of the efficacy of the art on many levels, and there are hundreds of thousands of amazing testimonies, records of martial prowess and miraculous healings, and there is the old proof-in-the-pudding of practical experience: just try it.

While I am thankful for these basic foundations, they are still just that: basic.  They don’t get anywhere near the real essence of this practice.  Unfortunately, I don’t think anything really does, at least in terms of language, the symbolic representation of something else.  This “something else” is experience.  There are aspects of Taiji/Qigong practice that just do not conform to words.  One could say there is nothing to say about it and be correct.  Not because there is nothing worth discussing or reporting on, but because there is no language that does the practice real justice. Read the rest of this entry »

To wake up in the morning is a true blessing.  We are given another day, and shouldn’t take it lightly.  Most systems of self-nurture recommend a routine for beginning the day.  Following is a recommended approach.   Read the rest of this entry »

Mahavatar BabajiWe are now offering a monthly gathering for meditation at The Center for Holistic Healing, in High Point, NC.  Rather than offer a “how-to class” for beginners, or a lineage-specific meditation hour based on a specific type or school of meditation, we are offering a more open, Universalist approach that is accommodating to those with little or no experience and meaningful and enriching to the more seasoned meditator.  The real essence and power of meditation is found in the stillness.  This can be even more effective in common company.  Our goal is to explore ways of entering and cultivating stillness, and supporting each other in the process.  In the meantime we hope to build a solid meditation group that will helps us all in our practice and serve as a welcome place for those who are interested in meditation, but don’t know where to practice.

Each month we will feature a different group leader and look at different approaches to meditation.  We will spend a little time before meditation for chatting and fellowship.  Then we will spend a little time after meditation for questions and discussion.  We will also try to offer homework, something to contemplate, methods to try, or readings to consider between meetings.

As a support, I will be offering short blog posts exploring different aspects of meditation, training tools, and tips here on my training blog:

Please feel free to join us.

From Taoist teacher Deng Ming-Dao:


We’re all exhorted to exercise. Pragmatically, doctors say, “do any exercise you like,” but really, they’re just trying to get us to burn off calories. Physical therapists prescribe exercises so we can get well, but they’re not concerned if we do them once we recover. In other cases, when we think of exercise, it is linked to recreation, sports, having fun, and playing.

Understandably, martial arts and qigong are promoted as exercise. So it’s not hard to see why people have a take-it-or-leave-it attitude toward it and quit as soon as it stops “being fun.” After all, that’s the way exercise has been defined all their lives. It was the school quarterback, the homecoming game, the thrill of championships, the dives off the high board, the running “because I never got tired,” the game of hoops with the guys, the elegance of tennis games, the excitement of horseback riding. Exercise was defined in what was, after all, the terms of the ephemeral: youth, admiration, cheers, prowess, power, ability, stamina, and joy.

Martial arts, qigong, and spiritual arts shouldn’t be approached as exercise. They’re practices, done for one’s whole life. Where exercise reverberates with the crowd, practice is silent. Where exercise revels in being good, practice only aims at being better. Where exercise loves being fun, practice spends its time probing for deep truths. Where exercise celebrates getting the championship, practice celebrates the journey.

We just don’t have much of a precedent for practice in contemporary terms, and if we do, it has tinges of eccentricity and obsession. We might think of hobbies—someone who’s an avid reader, or stamp collector, or woodworker, or loves to raise animals. But those are activities that aren’t necessarily calibrated for health, longevity, and spirituality.

Practice is important. It does aim at health, longevity, and spirituality. And we don’t have any contemporary parallel for it. Embrace practice. I urge you to. But that embracing will be far easier if you don’t think of practice as exercise and you aim straight at its core.”


shaolin-monk-headstandEvery year, at the mark of the beginning of the Chinese New Year, we take the opportunity to accept the 100 Day Challenge.  The 100 Day Challenge is an old tradition in the Chinese martial arts and self-cultivation community wherein practitioners focus on one specific skill or set of skills for 100 days straight.  This practice can result in substantial improvements in skill, focus, discipline, and of course health.  The 100 day length is important because tradition has it that 3 months of repeated practice will result in a habit.  The particular skill or practice varies depending on the practitioner’s preference.  It can be anything from various martial applications, forms, meditation, Qigong, yoga, physical fitness routines, or mental skills.  It doesn’t have to be new, or difficult, or intense–but it can be.  The practice itself is not as important as the intention and engagement involved in the discipline.

While it can be challenging to stay with the discipline, the practitioner is advised to take it easy but steady.  If one is practicing a physical discipline, it is within the realm of the intention to read related material or write in one’s journal on the days when actually practicing may not be possible due to other life demands.  One is also advised to take a day off from the practice once a week–a day of rest.  It is also recommended that one keep a training journal during the 100 days, to keep track of progress and as a learning tool.

Needless to say, this is a very individual and informal practice.  It is always helpful to get together occasionally with like-minded practitioners for support and sharing of info.  Otherwise, dig in and make a difference.


“I truly attained absolutely nothing

from complete, unexcelled enlightenment!”

– The Buddha



Spiritual awakening is not a state, experience or goal to reach in the future. As the Buddha taught, it is not a superhuman achievement or attainment. You don’t have to travel to India to find it. It is not a special state of perfection reserved for enlightened beings, the lucky or the privileged few. It is not an out-of-body experience, and it does not involve living in a cave, detaching yourself from the realities of this world. It cannot be transmitted to you by a fancy guru, nor can it be taken away or lost. You do not have to become anyone’s disciple or follower. It is a constant and ancient invitation – throughout every moment of your life – to embrace yourself exactly as you are, in all your glorious imperfections. It is about being present, coming out of the epic story of past and future (“the story of my life”) and showing up for this precious moment, knowing that even your feelings of non-acceptance are accepted here. It is about radically opening up to this extraordinary gift of a life, embracing both the pain and the joy of it, the bliss and the sorrow, the ecstasy and the overwhelm. Knowing that you are life itself – vast, awake, alive, free – never separate from the Whole.

Awakening is not a destination – it is your birthright, your nature.

Here are some simple principles:

The amount of sleep adults need has once again come under the spotlight, with a recent Wall Street Journal article suggesting seven hours sleep is better than eight hours and the American Academy of Sleep Medicine drawing up guidelines surrounding sleep need.

So, what should the guidelines say? Unfortunately, when it comes to the amount of sleep adults require there is not really a “one size fits all”. Sleep need can vary substantially between individuals.