Archives for category: Hakuna Matata

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

Qigong

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.

Meditation

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

Qigong/Neigong

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.

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 »

From Taoist teacher Deng Ming-Dao:

“WHAT’S THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN EXERCISE AND PRACTICE?

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.”

Source:

https://www.facebook.com/dengmingdao?fref=nf

resilience-oak

Following is an article from Scientific American Magazine on how Mindfulness Training works to help manage stress and assuage early life trauma–among other things:  http://blogs.scientificamerican.com/mind-guest-blog/2014/08/11/mindfulness-training-may-assuage-early-life-trauma/

What are your passions, your interests?  What really makes you tick?  What should you be doing?  Are you doing it?  Does life have passion?  Who controls your passion?  Do you know you are the sum total of all the choices you have made till this point?  Do you know you can change your life by making different choices?  This is your life.  It’s the only one you have.  Let it go and live it like it matters:

Yoga Surfer from Charles Schwab on Vimeo.

Hakuna Matata is our motto and mantra.  It means no worries.  Worry, angst, stress, and anxiety will surely choke off any attempts at health and happiness.  In fact, these are some of the worst killers in human history.  And while we may need help getting a handle on our stress levels, we eventually have to face the undeniable fact that stress comes from within not without.  And we are ultimately responsible for our stress levels.  Stress is an internal reaction to external events.  At a certain level, such as when our lives are truly in danger, stress is a good thing.  At other times, such as when we worry about things we can’t control, stress is a very bad thing.  The key is in knowing the difference.  Worry, angst, and anxiety all lead to stress.  So many many people have physical and emotional problems that are a result of stress, stemming from worry and lifestyle choices.

The way to begin taking control of our lives and not being controlled by our emotions is to look honestly at life; ask ourselves if the worry is worth it.  Consider a different approach to life.  Understand that every second you have choices.  You don’t have to act the way you have always acted, the way you were raised to act, the way others you know act.  You are a complete, unique individual endowed with the ability to make your own choices, and blessed with the possibility of a higher standard of existence.

Consider these words from Jeff Foster:

What’s worse, the falling rain, or your resistance to getting wet? 
The changing winds, or your battle against them? 
The grass as it grows, or your demand for it to grow faster? 
This moment, or your rejection of it? 
Consider the possibility that Life is never ‘against’ you.
You are Life.”

“Nothing and nobody can make me suffer. Suffering is always, always, my own resistance to the Way Things Are Right Now, my own dis-alignment with a perfectly choreographed universe, an innocently imagined separation from my true nature as Consciousness itself”.

 

Consider this and choose wisely.  And remember, Hakuna Matata.

 

If you are not practicing these disciplines now, you will need to set aside the requisite amount of time daily to engage in practice.  An hour a day is ideal for developing a practice and realizing an increase in health and wellness.  However, that may not be realistic depending on your schedule.  I recommend a minimum of twenty minutes a day if possible.  Better would be twenty-to-thirty minutes in the morning and twenty-to-thirty minutes in the afternoon.  Again, each of us is different and have various demands and obligations.  Design your personal practice within your own constraints.  Feel free to contact me for help in designing a personal system.

First of all, integrate some stretching into your routine.  For the purposes of preparing the physical body to interact with the energetic and spiritual bodies via Qigong, basic stretching that addresses all the joints and muscle groups works well.  While we don’t teach Shaolin Qigong here, that discipline is great for pre-stretching.  An example of basic Qigong stretching is here.  If you want to go further, Hatha, Ashtanga, and/or Yin Yoga integrate well into our system.  Again, you don’t need to be an acrobatic, pretzel-twist yogi.  Just enough to open the joints, stretch the connecting bands, and prepare the body for energy work.

Optimal Qigong training alternates between moving and static practice.  For example, do moving Qigong for 5-10 minutes, then do Wuji or Santi standing for 5-10 minutes.  After standing, do agility exercises for about 5 minutes.  Then do another 5-10 minutes of standing.  If you are doing advanced Qigong such as the Hunyuan Series, Primordial Qigong Form, or Taiji you may do these and integrate stillness into your routine.  In time you will develop comfort with longer periods of standing Qigong and will want to practice dedicated extended standing.  Twenty minutes of standing is optimal, but work up to that.  There is no need to be in a hurry, the destination is found in the journey.

Optimal time for sitting meditation is twenty minutes or more per session.  It often takes 5-10 minutes to settle the mind in sitting meditation, so it is advisable to allow for longer than 10 minutes per session.  Make the time for meditation.  The rewards are worth it.  Once you are sitting for twenty minutes per session on a daily basis, you may want to consider extended meditation a couple of times per week (an hour is ideal) for deeper insight and spiritual growth.

You may want to do Qigong practice (stillness and movement) in the morning and sitting meditation in the evening, vice versa, or mix them in one session (ideal).  Again, this depends on your personal schedule and amount of experience.  The key is to alternate static and moving practice but to do both.

Don’t try to do too much, too soon.  Remember, this is nurturing practice.  It’s supposed to be fun and enriching.  That being said, if you have been practicing for a while and want to start approaching deeper experiences, extend your practice.  While an hour a day is ideal for health and wellness; two hours a day is better and will eventually lead to serious physical, energetic and spiritual growth.

Above all remember, this is your practice, your Qigong.  While an open and inquisitive mind is a good thing, find the approach that works for you and practice accordingly.  And never, never forget Hakuna Matata.