Posts Tagged ‘yin and yang’

The Three Jewels of Taoism: Shen

Friday, April 30th, 2010

The Three Jewels of Taoism: Shen
Heaven abides so that we have virtue. Earth abides so that we have Qi. When virtue flows and Qi is blended there is life.Huangdi Neijing

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If we think of Jing as your computer hardware and Qi as the power, then Shen is the data and graphics that are transmitted to the screen. In the Enlightened person, this data will manifest itself as Wisdom and Spiritual Presence.

Using the analogy of a candle, if Jing is the wax, and Chi (Qi) the energy of the candle, then Shen would be the light or radiance given off. In Taoism, it is thought that it is through Shen that we “radiate” ourselves into the external world. This spiritual effulgence creates wisdom, virtue, and inner peace, while generating and preserving balance within ourselves. Just as the light that radiates from a candle is dependent upon wax, wick, and flame, so a healthy, luminous Shen is identified with the cultivation and balancing of both Jing and Qi.

In The Yellow Emperor’s Classic of Internal Medicine, Huangdi states  “…that which cannot be fathomed (in terms of) Yin and Yang is spirit.”  This can be construed to suggest that Shen is immaterial and that its nature is therefore transcendent.

Talking about Spirit can be tricky given its non-material and ambiguous character. Is spirit composed of emotions, mind, or something else?  Most religions do not define Spirit very well. Taoism attempts a definition, although varying schools of Taoist philosophy have somewhat different views of this.  The Five Element school of thought claims that Shen includes:

– Shen – Mind, defined as consciousness and thought, and is said to reside in the Heart.
– Hun – Eternal Soul, akin to some western concepts of spirit, residing in the Liver.
– Po – Corporeal soul, Soul of the body, sometimes said to be akin to the vital force or “animal spirit”, centered in the Lungs.
– Yi – Intellect, memory and intellectual functions, resident in the Spleen.
– Zhi – Will, as in Intention and willpower, dwelling in the Kidneys.

The associated five elements are Wood (Hun), Fire (Shen), Earth (Yi), Metal (Po), and Water (Zhi).

In terms of the ancient Taoist view of embryology, Hun and Po join with Jing (seminal essence), their union catalyzing the emergence of Shen (spirit). Also, notice that these five aspects are associated with somatic structures: the organs of the body. Taoism makes no distinction between mind and body; they are always regarded as two contiguous expressions of one essence. Thus, the metaphysical affects the substantial and the substantial affects the metaphysical.

Shen may be adversely affected if we fail to preserve our vitality through good diet and exercise or if we indulge in excessively violent emotion. When Shen is in disharmony it often manifests itself as:

– Discord between one’s personality and the life one is living.
Insomnia, forgetfulness, heart palpitations, dullness of the eyes, poor cognition.
– Dearth of inspiration, intuitive awareness; deadness; no joie de vivre.
– Ambivalence, contradiction, the person has no “center”.
– Chaotic activity, anxiety, restlessness, fatigue.
– Little or no sense of your path in life.
– Little internal inquiry, self-reflection, discernment.
– In extreme conditions, neurosis, mental illness, e.g. depression and mania.

Shen can be strengthened and balanced through meditation, acupuncture, and certain herbal courses of treatment.  Somatic disciplines such as T’ai Chi and Qigong are particularly effective.  Qigong, of course, has become world renown for its health and medical applications, and justly so. It has had much documented success as a therapeutic modality within the secular health care system in China.

Shen is quite naturally empowered as one’s Jing and Chi are reinvigorated through the daily practice of Qigong.  However, it does seem to me that in our technological culture, there is much to distract or confuse the mind, emotions, and spirit, and the quantity and pace of these distractions are increasing.  There are so many aspects of our modern life that are in direct competition with, and deleterious to, the development of Spirit and Inner Peace.

In addition to the spiritually negative influences of our techno-culture, there is also reluctance on the part of certain groups, e.g. the Chinese government, to acknowledge the part Qigong has to play in the evolution of spirit.  So, some Qigong organizations may be persecuted if they have an overt spiritual and political agenda.  Combine Eastern authoritarianism with Western materialism and fixation on the external, and one can begin to see that the spiritual aspect of Taoist discipline currently receives short shrift in comparison to the health and medical aspects.

One needs a strong spirit in a strong and emotionally balanced body to persevere on the path of conscious evolution.  That is why I have developed this particularly efficient and potent style of Tantric Qigong.  The conscientious practitioner receives well-balanced spiritual sustenance as he or she nurtures and rebuilds Jing and Qi. © 2010 Keith E. Hall, www.inner-tranquility.com All rights reserved.

The Three Jewels of Taoism: Jing, Qi, Shen.

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Qigong, T’ai Chi, and Menopause

Friday, January 22nd, 2010

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Qigong, T’ai Chi, and Menopause

Menopause is a natural change in a woman’s life cycle that afflicts all women at some time. And the men that annoy them. According to the National Institutes of Health (NIH), “The symptoms of menopause are caused by changes in estrogen and progesterone levels. The ovaries make less of these hormones over time. The specific symptoms and how significant (mild, moderate, or severe) they are varies from woman to woman…A gradual decrease of estrogen generally allows your body to slowly adjust to the hormonal changes. Hot flashes and sweats are at their worst for the first 1 – 2 years. Menopause may last 5 or more years…As a result of the fall in hormone levels, changes occur in the entire female reproductive system. The vaginal walls become less elastic and thinner. The vagina becomes shorter. Lubricating secretions from the vagina become watery. The outside genital tissue thins. This is called atrophy of the labia.”*

Symptoms
“In some women, menstrual flow comes to a sudden halt. More commonly, it slowly stops over time. During this time, the menstrual periods generally become either more closely or more widely spaced. This irregularity may last for 1 – 3 years before menstruation finally ends completely. Before this the cycle length may shorten to as little as every 3 weeks.

Common symptoms of menopause include:
- Heart pounding or racing
- Hot flashes
- Night sweats
- Skin flushing
- Sleeping problems (insomnia)

Other symptoms of menopause may include:
- Decreased interest in sex, possibly decreased response to sexual stimulation
- Forgetfulness (in some women)
- Irregular menstrual periods
- Mood swings including irritability, depression, and anxiety
- Urine leakage
- Vaginal dryness and painful sexual intercourse
- Vaginal infections
- Joint aches and pains
- Irregular heartbeat.

Lifestyle Changes
Women taking hormone Replacement therapy (HRT) see some benefits. But they also increase their risk for breast cancer, heart attacks, strokes, and blood clots. The good news is that you can take many steps to reduce your symptoms without taking hormones:

- Avoid caffeine, alcohol, and spicy foods
- Dress lightly and in layers
- Eat soy foods
- Get adequate calcium and vitamin D in food and/or supplements
- Get plenty of exercise
- Perform Kegel exercises daily to strengthen the muscles of your vagina and   pelvis. (The Taoist and Tantric  versions of these exercises are more developed and so potentially even more helpful.)
- Practice deep conscious breathing whenever a hot flash starts to come on (try taking six breaths per  minute)
- Remain sexually active (the extended love making techniques of Tantra and Taoist sexology undoubtedly help)
- See an acupuncture specialist
- Try relaxation techniques such as yoga, tai chi, or meditation. Dr. Herbert Benson, author of “The  Relaxation Response,” suggests that Tai Chi is “…vitally important in PMS, infertility, hot flashes,  insomnia,…”**   He also says that “Repetition is key to creating the response.”***
- Use water-based lubricants during sexual intercourse.”*

Qigong for Abating Menopause Symptoms
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In Traditional Chinese Medicine, the symptoms associated with menopause are caused due to the body’s chi being disturbed. By practicing Qigong and T’ai Chi, this disrupted chi can be more evenly distributed and some of the uncomfortable symptoms can be ameliorated.

Regular practice of qigong and T’ai Chi can alleviate the irritability and stress associated with menopause by creating pelvic health and balancing emotional and hormonal swings.  It has also found to help increase the bone density in women, thus reducing the chance of post-menopausal osteoporosis.

Qigong may restore a woman’s sex drive, which can be decreased during in menopause. The regular practice of qigong tends to increases the levels of sex hormones thus restoring a healthy sex drive. One study showed that after a year of qigong practice, hormones were restored to near normal levels.****

A study published in the Oxford Journal Evidence-based Complementary and Alternative Medicine on eighteen women measured the effects of regular Qigong practice on chromic fatigue symptoms and the menopausal symptoms of night sweats, restless leg syndrome, and sleep apnea. The results showed improvement in the areas of sleep, energy and well-being. Qigong improved these symptoms of sleep disturbances after three months of practice.*****

Bone loss of up to 2% per year in women may occur after menopause. Prevention of includes optimizing the intake of calcium and vitamin D, exercise, and the optimization of normal menstruation. Stretching, strengthening, impact, and balance exercises are effective. As Qigong raises estrogen levels in women, this can reduce osteoporosis and heart disease. Tai Chi Chuan has proved to be successful in decreasing falls, and may restore bone density.

Kenneth Cohen states that “A wealth of anecdotal evidence suggest that Qigong tends to delay menopause and can extend the years of fertility.” He notes that female qigong masters have even been known to conceive during their sixties.******  One woman in her 50′s began practicing Qigong and after about 10 days  said, “I was amazed that my period reappeared…I celebrated it as a clear indication of rejuvenation.”*******

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References:
*www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/ency/article/000894.htm
**my.webmd.com/content/article/25/1728_57992.htm.
***http://www.webmd.com/news/20000530/mysterious-medication-of-meditation
****Ye Ming, et al. Relationship among erythrocyte superoxide dismustase activity, plasma sexual hormones (T, E2), aging and qigong exercise. Proceedings, Third International Symposium on Qigong, Shanghai, China.. 1990:28-32
*****Naropa J. Mike Craske, Warren Turner, Joseph Zammit-Maempe and Myeong Soo Lee. “Qigong Ameliorates Symptoms of Chronic Fatigue: A Pilot Uncontrolled Study.” Evidence-based Complementary and Alternative Medicine Advance Access published online on August 1, 2007
****** Cohen, Kenneth S. The Way of Qigong: The Art and Science of Chinese Energy Healing p33
******* B.G., Los Gatos, CA qinway.org/qigong_testimonial.htm

Winter and Spiritual Practice

Thursday, January 7th, 2010

Winter And Your Spiritual Practice

Deep winter. The earth is swaddled in snow, a deep silence pervades the land were Winter, t'ai chi chuan yang style, long form, qigong meditation, Vipassana, Zen, inner tranquility, inner peace, Emotional-Spiritual Intelligence, bioenergetics, neo-reichian, Reich, orgone, qi, chi, ki, vitality I live, punctuated only by the occasional ” thock, thock” of the axe splitting wood.

The Winter season can be a great time for introspection and self-inquiry. One’s Chi is contracted and Yin.  The life force of much of nature is quiescent, hibernating; collecting itself for the surge of life that will follow in the spring.  For warm-blooded, non-hibernating creatures (this might be you!) this presents some difficulty. The active Yang part of your life force is reduced and is split between keeping you warm, fighting off colds and flu, and all of your regular mental and bodily functions. Activities of daily living, work, recreation, negative emotions, even sex can compete for your available Chi.  Sometimes it seems there is just not enough energy to go around and one can easily become mentally and physically sluggish, lethargic, perhaps even emotionally challenged or withdrawn.

Additionally, aggressive exercise during this time can seem invigorating, but may result in a net energy loss, leaving one prone to exhaustion and illness.  While meditation is an ideal practice in many ways for the Winter season, one’s practice should be balanced by some physical training that generates life force. Yoga, Tantric Qigong, and T’ai Chi are excellent for this purpose. They balance your mental and emotional states and generate more energy than they consume in the performance of the exercise.

Sometimes it seems to be an extra challenge to pony up the perseverance and spiritual discipline necessary to continue a yoga or tantric qigong practice in the cold stillness of January and February.  The often physically and emotionally exhausting madness of the December holiday season doesn’t help much either, does it?

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Winter Meditation for Collecting Life Force
Try this meditation to collect your Chi during the cold winter season. You can do this either out of doors, making sure you are adequately wrapped up in warm clothes and blankets, or indoors, preferably in front of a window with a good view of nature. Wear warm but loose clothing, a thick, fluffy sweat suit with a sweater may be ideal for this. Make especially sure that your waist is not constricted.

1. Sit up as straight as you can, take a deep breath, and relax your legs, belly, chest, shoulders, neck, and jaw.
2. Locate the Tan Tien point, 4 finger widths below your navel.
3. As you view the wintry landscape, begin to breathe deeply into the Tan Tien, collecting your life force deeply into your center, just as the earth’s energy is collected and stored deeply underground.
4. Press you feet firmly against the ground or floor and draw in Chi from both the earth and the air.
5. Feel warmth grow in your belly as you continue to breathe deeply and continuously.
6. Feel the vast strength and stability of the earth, and how its energy abides even during the coldest time of the year.  Align and harmonize your energy with this boundless earthly reservoir of wintertime Chi. Continue for 10 minutes or more.
7. Conclude by feeling that you will abide as you amass your Chi, that you are able to protect yourself from exhaustion and illness, and are readying yourself for the rebirth of spring. © 2009 Keith E. Hall Inner-Tranquility.com. All rights reserved.

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Qi and the Seasons

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Tantric Qigong, Mindfulness, and Flow

Friday, November 20th, 2009

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Tantric Qigong, Mindfulness, and Flow

Mindfulness, which is often thought of as a Buddhist concept, is really about being Present.   Presencing is one form of self-inquiry (which can be done as a meditation or as coaching) as is Tantric Qigong.  These art forms are about getting out of your head, your mental analysis, comparison and judgment, and becoming present to what really IS.

It sounds simple, and it is. However, this is not very easy for most people. We are constantly and anxiously analyzing, comparing / contrasting, projecting our assumptions, and judging the world around and within ourselves. Our perceptions are based on our past experiences and our experiences are shaped by our perceptions.  This is why I often maintain that we are continually “lying” to ourselves and others.  Our internal stories about the world and ourselves are supreme acts of creation in that each person’s world becomes based more and more on this mental / perceptual editing.  How can we know what is real?  How can we ascertain what is truly necessary and important in our lives?  What will really sustain our Self, our heart and soul?  Thinking and analyzing isn’t gong to cut it. It hasn’t worked too well so far has it?  Perhaps no-thinking may be more useful.

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Even kittens seek release from the Wheel of Karma

All of the multitudinous forms of meditation have elements of stilling the mind and its critical or judgmental aspects, these demons of discernment gone horribly wrong. But have you ever tried stilling your mind? Herding kittens is much easier. Practices such as Vipassana, Zen, T’ai Chi, Yoga, and Tantric Qigong all have techniques to bring one out of the maze of one’s thoughts and unbridled emotions as one of their goals.  The only difference in these arts is in their approach.

One approach to mindfulness and being present is to focus on the details of our experience.  Walking down the street, noticing every minute part of what is around us.  People, the sun, clouds, every caress of the air upon your cheek, the feeling of your clothes touching your body.  Internally, we can notice body sensations, the character of your emotional flow, the many mental distractions.  Notice them and let them go.

Try this exercise:   Stop and see, touch, and smell the flowers.
A particular flower, perhaps a lily.  Notice its overall form and all of its minutia. tigerlily, tantric qigong, 8 treasures, eight section brocade, ba duan jin, 8 pieces of silk, 8 twists of silk, 8 brocades, qigong, self mastery, self-responsibility, qigong for self mastery, qigong for enlightenment, enlightenment, self actualization, self realization, spiritual awakening, spiritual evolution, kriyas, kriya yoga, kundalini, kundalini yoga, kundalini awakening, kundalini activation, kundalini rising, meditation, kundalini meditation, wu wei, t'ai chi, taiji, t'ai chi chuan, t'ai chi chuan yang style, long form, qigong meditation, Vipassana, Zen, inner tranquility, inner peace, Emotional-Spiritual Intelligence, bioenergetics, neo-reichian, Reich, orgone, qi, chi, ki, vitality, life force, chakras, tumo, dumo, dantien. tan tien, hara, bagua, Taoism, taoist, taoist tantra, tantra, tantra yoga, dakini, daka, goddess, tantrika, tantrik, stress, stress management, 10 minutes, 10 minute exercise, 10 minute stress, 1 minute stress management, 1 minute meditation, 60 second relaxation, 60 second stress manager, personal growth, spiritual growth, yoga, Sifu, classes, instruction, workshops, seminars, Intention, Manifestation, power of Now, Presencing, Being Present,The secret, Yoga Nidra, Higher Consciousness, The Law of Attraction, What the bleep, Buddha, Buddhism, Tantric Buddhism, Rockville, Gaithersburg, Aspen Hill, silver spring, Brookeville, sandy spring, Laytonsville, Potomac, Derwood, Montgomery County, Frederick, Germantown, Maryland, District of Columbia, Washington DC, guided meditation, visualization, Theta brainwave entrainment, guided relaxation, online programs, meditations CDs, meditation downloads, meditation mp3, ambient nature sounds, ocean surf, pheromones, self healing, qigong yoga, energy yoga, chakra yoga, chakra qigong, chakra chi kung, Chakra meditation, Howard County, Columbia, Frederick, Baltimore, Northern Virginia, Prince Georges County,The sturdiness of the stalk.  How does it feel to lightly stroke its petals?  Kiss a leaf.  Notice its texture.  Does it kiss back?  The color.  How the hues blend on its petals and leaves.  The subtle patterns within.  The heady incense of its scent.  Pistils droozed, laden with pollen. Can you almost see and hear the grains floating down?  Take plenty of time.  The closer you come into unity with this flower, the more you will become Present and unify your consciousness.

Flow
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Qigong as a Meditation
Using the mind alone to still the mind is fraught with great difficulty. Where you are blind to Self, by definition you cannot see what is needed for equanimity, for inner peace.  You remain blind. When you are stressed, distracted, overwrought with emotions you must keep in check, the mind is a team of horses pulling in many directions at once. It is an almost impossible challenge to attempt to use only mental processes to be present and centered, and to still the raging beastsTao Flow, tantric qigong, 8 treasures, eight section brocade, ba duan jin, 8 pieces of silk, 8 twists of silk, 8 brocades, qigong, self mastery, self-responsibility, qigong for self mastery, qigong for enlightenment, enlightenment, self actualization, self realization, spiritual awakening, spiritual evolution, kriyas, kriya yoga, kundalini, kundalini yoga, kundalini awakening, kundalini activation, kundalini rising, meditation, kundalini meditation, wu wei, t'ai chi, taiji, t'ai chi chuan, t'ai chi chuan yang style, long form, qigong meditation, Vipassana, Zen, inner tranquility, inner peace, Emotional-Spiritual Intelligence, bioenergetics, neo-reichian, Reich, orgone, qi, chi, ki, vitality, life force, chakras, tumo, dumo, dantien. tan tien, hara, bagua, Taoism, taoist, taoist tantra, tantra, tantra yoga, dakini, daka, goddess, tantrika, tantrik, stress, stress management, 10 minutes, 10 minute exercise, 10 minute stress, 1 minute stress management, 1 minute meditation, 60 second relaxation, 60 second stress manager, personal growth, spiritual growth, yoga, Sifu, classes, instruction, workshops, seminars, Intention, Manifestation, power of Now, Presencing, Being Present,The secret, Yoga Nidra, Higher Consciousness, The Law of Attraction, What the bleep, Buddha, Buddhism, Tantric Buddhism, Rockville, Gaithersburg, Aspen Hill, silver spring, Brookeville, sandy spring, Laytonsville, Potomac, Derwood, Montgomery County, Frederick, Germantown, Maryland, District of Columbia, Washington DC, guided meditation, visualization, Theta brainwave entrainment, guided relaxation, online programs, meditations CDs, meditation downloads, meditation mp3, ambient nature sounds, ocean surf, pheromones, self healing, qigong yoga, energy yoga, chakra yoga, chakra qigong, chakra chi kung, Chakra meditation, Howard County, Columbia, Frederick, Baltimore, Northern Virginia, Prince Georges County, of the mind.

One of the great aspects of T’ai Chi and Tantric Qigong is the facility with which these arts bring you into mindful presence and flow.  You really can’t let your mind wander; you’ll forget what you are doing.  The practitioner must focus his or her attention on one’s stance, sense of grounding, the coordination of subtle movement with deep diaphragmatic breathing, alignment of the body with gravity, and the flow of life force (Chi, Qi, Ki).  The moment your mind wanders you are lost, the efficacy and consciousness of energy flow is diminished. This sort of compels you to come back to mindful presencing.  We begin anew, as we must always do each moment, to align and unify mind, body, and spirit, heart and soul, with the eternal power of Now. © Keith E. Hall and www.inner-tranquility.com  All rights reserved.

The Importance of the Tan Tien in T’ai Chi, meditation and health: Sea of Chi

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Tantric Qigong, Taiji, MS and the Immune System

Friday, November 13th, 2009

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Tantric Qigong, Taiji, Multiple Sclerosis and the Immune System

Multiple Sclerosis is a condition where one’s immune system dysfunctionally attacks the fatty sheath that insulates nerves. Just like an electrical wire that has been stripped of its insulation, one’s nerves start to short out. The nerve impulses never reach their terminus, which causes those afflicted to begin to lose coordination.

There is still no conclusive etiology for Multiple Sclerosis, though statistically the group at greatest risk consists of Caucasian women born in the northern United States.  Once contracted, the disease manifests itself in numerous symptoms, which tend to be progressive. Often one notices initially some difficulty with balance and walking, followed by a kind of paraesthesia, or prickly sensations in various areas of the body. Untreated, persons with MS can develop pain in the eyes and blindness due to optic nerve inflammation. Multiple Sclerosis can result in tremors, slurring of speech, and a gradual deterioration of cognitive function, or even sudden paralysis.

Tantric Qigong, 8 Treasures, Eight section brocade, Ba duan jin, QigongTantric Qigong (Chi Kung) and T’ai Chi (which is a form of qigong) have been shown to be effective in ameliorating and reversing the onslaught of this condition. Qigong and T’ai Chi tend to have an overall balancing effect on the body and psyche. In the case of MS and other autoimmune disorders, these arts will start to bring the immune system back into balance. Where the immune system is too dysfunctionally aggressive, as in autoimmune conditions, the practice of Tantric Qigong will reduce its Yang qualities. Where the immune system is weak, qigong will strengthen its Yang. So balance can be achieved whether one’s immune system is hyperactive or hypo-active.

Though Western medicine remains clueless within its paradigm about the mechanism of qigong healing, MS sufferers can experience significant relief by integrating this healing discipline into their daily routine as the following examples illustrate.

Husted et al., in an article published in Alternative Therapies in Health and Medicine, noted that this sort of practice could result in multiple sclerosis patients being able to increase their walking speed (a 21% increase) and hamstring flexibility (a 28% increase). They also noted MS patients improved in vitality, social functioning, mental health, and ability to carry out physical and emotional roles.¹

In a paper on trans-disciplinary approaches for treatment and rehabilitation in neurotraumatology at a joint international congress in Brescia 2004, researchers discussed the application of Qigong for disabled persons whose Chi (Qi) is unbalanced and stagnant, noting one case of a woman legally blind due to multiple sclerosis who was able to regain her sight enough to be able to drive and read.²

There is mounting evidence that qigong can produce significant positive alterations in psychological, neuroendocrine, and immune systems.  Astin et al. reported that 8 weeks of qigong reduced the pain experienced by multiple sclerosis patients.³  Another study also reported qigong’s beneficial effects on general health in patients with muscular dystrophy. 4

In a study investigating the effectiveness of mindful movement in symptom management in people with multiple sclerosis, investigators noticed a broad improvement in symptomatology in practitioners of these arts while the control group showed a continued deterioration in symptoms. The study concluded that “training in mindfulness of movement appeared to result in improved symptom management for…people with multiple sclerosis.” 5

Joni Bell, who has practiced Qigong for 10 years, says “I’ve had multiple sclerosis for 32 years and I was compromised by the disease. My many falls traumatized my left foot, and osteoarthritis resulted. Since incorporating Qigong into my life, my strength and balance have improved remarkably and I seldom fall.” 6

Elaine Silverman, disaffected with her prognosis and treatment plan through conventional western medicine, turned to alternative healing, including qigong, about which she says ” Even genetic conditions can be overcome, as I later learned through the study of QiGong…(it) allows the body to internally slow down, relax, and begin to balance itself.”7

While more research may need to be done to appease the western medical literati, these contemporary results validate the thousands of years of anecdotal evidence accrued by Eastern practitioners of Tantric Qigong, T’ai Chi, and Taoist Tantra. © 2009 Keith E. Hall and www.inner-tranquility.com. All rights reserved.

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1. Husted, C., Pham, L., Hekking, A., & Niederman, R. (1999). Improving quality of life for people with chronic conditions: The example of t’ai chi and multiple sclerosis., Alternative Therapies in Health and Medicine 5(5), 70-74
2. GA Brunelli, Klaus RH von Wild  (2005) Re-Engineering of the Damaged Brain and Spinal Cord: Evidence-Based Neurorehabilitation (Acta Neurochirurgica Supplementum) (Pt. 2) p156
3. Astin JA, Berman BM, Bausell B, Lee WL, Hochberg M, Forys KL. The efficacy of mindfulness meditation plus Qigong movement therapy in the treatment of fibromyalgia: a randomized controlled trial. J Rheumatol ( 2003;) 30:: 2257–62.
4. Wenneberg S, Gunnarsson LG, Ahlstrom G. Using a novel exercise programme for patients with muscular dystrophy. Part II: a quantitative study. Disabil Rehabil ( 2004;) 26:: 595–602.
5. Mills N, Allen J. Mindfulness of movement as a coping strategy in multiple sclerosis. A pilot study. Gen Hosp Psychiatry. 2000 Nov-Dec;22(6):425-31.
6. Cinelli, P Qigong – A Gentle Way to Bring Movement into Your Life (2009) Capital Community News
7. Silverman, Elaine From Hell To Well: My Journey Back From Multiple Sclerosis (2008) pp 75, 106

Benefits of Tantric Qigong

Friday, November 6th, 2009

What are the Benefits of Tantric Qigong?

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Balancing the Body
– Gently increases physical strength
– Improves balance
– Increases vitality and life-force (Qi, Chi, Ki)
– Increases flexibility
– Remedies poor breathing habits, increases respiratory volume
– Improves posture and the body’s biomechanical alignment
– Can reduce backaches, headaches, TMJ syndrome
Slows the aging process
– Helpful for addictions
– Non impact Qigong can be helpful for arthritis
– Relief of fibromyalgia, plantar fasciitis, and other diseases of the musculo-skeletal system.
– Can help gastritis, constipation, poor digestion
– Strengthens the immune system
– Beneficial for insomnia
– Helps with menopause, PMS -  reported to restore estradiol levels in hypertensive menopausal women
– Reduces fatigue
– Good warm up for more strenuous exercise / sports, martial arts
– Can reduce the symptoms of allergies

Balances the Emotions
– Reduces irritability and symptoms of stress
– Empowers one to let go of anxiety
– Can be helpful for sadness, depression, and mood swings
– Facilitates an sense of emotional balance, empowerment, and stability
– Enables one to transmute negative emotions and recycle the inherent life force in a beneficial manner

The Mind
– Reduces mental fatigue
– Creates mental clarity
– Hones one’s ability to focus, helpful for some ADD / ADHD sufferers
– Unifies mind, body and emotions – helpful for getting you “in the zone”.
– Increases alertness
– Good preparation for meditation
– Helps keep one “on task”, increases productivity  © 2000 Keith E. Hall Inner-Tranquility.com . All rights reserved.

More articles on Qigong:

Qigong, Immunity, and Influenza

Qigong and Immunity

Qigong For Drug Addiction

Intro to Tantric Qigong

Tantric Qi Gong: Frequently Asked Questions

Plantar Fasciitis, Fibromyalgia, Tai Chi & Qigong

10 Minutes to a Healthier You! FAQ

T’ai Chi & Osteoporosis

Qigong and Fibromyalgia

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Part 2: Winterize Yourself!

Friday, January 30th, 2009

Taoist & Yogic Practices.

Tantric Qigong
Tantric qigong (chi kung)  can be so ideal in the winter. Even though the earth is cold and hibernating, one can draw on the Earth’s deep Yin while willfully stimulating the Heavenly Yang.  Tantric Qigong includes gentle movement, conscious breathing, and stretching. It takes only 10 minutes and can be practiced either indoors, or outside in the natural light for additional benefit. In the winter, Tantric qigong helps you to fire up your Heavenly Chi while drawing on the deep stability and steadfastness of the Earth’s Yin.

Here are some tips for practicing  Tantric Qigong in wintertime:

–Increase the number of repetitions of the 8 Treasures.
–Focus on directing the chi inward. Pay particular attention to Chakras 2, 3a, 3c, 4 and 6.
–Do “Raise and Lower Hands Alternately” to stimulate and balance the immune system while drawing in and balancing the Heavenly and Earthly Qi.

Tantric Qigong: Raise Hands alternately

Tantric Qigong: Raise Hands alternately

Here are some additional exercises from the Advanced Tantric Qigong curriculum that may be helpful. Some of these 8 Treasures Tantric qigong forms balance yin and yang, some permeate the body with energy, some balance the pineal gland. If you’ve taken the courses, you know which does what.

–Golden Serpent (Tantric Qigong Level 2)
–Heavenly Chakra Qi Gong (Tantric Qigong Level 3)
–Transmuting Breath (Tantric Qigong Level 4, part 1)
–Transmuting Breath 2 (Tantric Qigong Level 4, part 2)
–Heart Breath 3 (Tantric Qigong Level 5, part 3)
–Tumo meditation (Tantric Qigong Level 5, part 4)

See also: Winter Meditation for Collecting Life Force

Qigong and Immunity

Qigong, Immunity, and Influenza

© 2006 Keith E. Hall. All rights reserved. Part 3: Some simple suggestions

Presencing

See how the change of the seasons affects your Qi and Life Force:Tantric Taoist Sexology & The Seasons.

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Part 9: At the Pinnacle of Power is Surrender

Tuesday, January 27th, 2009

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At the Pinnacle of Power is Surrender

In Taoist cosmology, the entire phenomenal world evolves from the interplay of the forces of yin and yang. In both an enlightened society and a healthy individual, these forces are co-equal and in a dynamic state of Yin & Yang, balance, taoism, tantric qigong, 8 treasures, ba duan jin, eight section brocade, spiritual surrender, enlightenment, self mastery, the secret, 8 twists of silk, qigong for self mastery, 8 silk brocades, qigong

balance. Just as a mountain needs the valley, and soft receives hard, impetus needs receptivity to fully empower and balance it. You can’t surf on crests alone, you need a trough to create the wave.

So it is with people. You can’t control your entire life and all of the world. The universe isn’t designed on Yang alone. And it is not wise to turn your power against yourself through resistance. This is an unhealthy effort to suppress, to freeze the flow of yin and yang. In this state you can neither will change nor surrender to it, and it takes the majority of your available energy to engage in this struggle. Attempting to use this stratagem, we eventually become like a pot ready to boil. If we do not remedy this, we are apt to harm ourselves or others through outwardly directed violence, or inwardly directed dis-ease.

“…ultimate freedom is surrender.”
–Vajrama

Many times you have heard that people can’t change. This, of course, is not true. Though it may be statistically unlikely that a person will alter their core programming, people can change. We can evolve. We just don’t want to. More precisely, we are afraid to change our defenses, our ego structure, our perception that it is our resistance that has allowed us to survive. Many of us choose the illusion of safety by erecting a fortress around our most tender parts, denying all access. The promise of joy, freedom, and fulfillment that we have yet to consistently experience is insufficient motivation to let go of the suffering, anxiety, frustration, and defensive / aggressive temperaments that make us feel so safe. Safe because we know these dysfunctions so well. They seem to have allowed us to survive, and we’ll be damned if we let them go. Better to forgo freedom and joy for a hunkered down safety. Look around you, is it not so?

We stop ourselves from surrendering to our spiritual yearning with fear and an unconscious stubbornness. Stubbornness born of our anxiety and belief that we cannot safely Be another way. So we acquiesce to both the protection and prison of our ego and habits. We allow ourselves to remain stuck between resistance and letting go, will and surrender. Between our animal history and our evolutionary future. We enlist our power in resistance, in being scared and stubborn. And a little lazy.

“At the end of our wanderings there is only the soul’s yearning to return to God.”
Ram Dass

Throughout our lives we have been taught to use our power, our life force, to pursue the material world. We have lusted after romantic love, and for pleasures both gross and refined. At some point, it would behoove ourselves to invest similar vigor in turning our yearning to the care and nurturing of our soul. It takes all our will to journey to the threshold of self-realization. Yet we cannot enter by will alone. We have to surrender.

The mating of spiritual willpower with yearning gives birth to this Divine surrender, this yielding to the Higher Self. True emotional and spiritual freedom is really the purpose of spiritual power and its mate, surrender. Yang begets Yin and, whether directed inward for self-liberation or outward in service to others, power manifests its highest expression in surrender.

Trust. Relax. Let go. Allow yourself to fall into the waiting arms of the Divine.  © 2008 Keith E. Hall  Inner-Tranquility.com . All rights reserved.

The 3rd Chakra and the Spiritual Purpose of Power Part 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9

Another article on the 3rd Chakra:  Sea of Chi

 

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Tantric Qigong Karma Burning: Chakra Issues,  Part 2,  Chakras 1 & 2,  Third Chakra, 4th Chakra, 5th Chakra,

Karma Burning  Karma Burning in the Lower Chakras  1 2 3  4 5

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Sea of Chi, Sex, and Enlightenment

Monday, January 19th, 2009

Sea of Chi, Sex, Tantric Qigong and Enlightenment

There is more than one acupuncture point to which the appellation “Sea of Chi” is affixed. For instance there is “Qi Hai Shu” or “Sea-of-Qi Shu” (Urinary Bladder 24) which is located at the level of the lower border of the spinous process of the third lumbar vertebra. This point strengthens the kidneys, chi and yang, and is said to “enrich” yin. It can tonify the blood, restore collapsed yin or yang, expel kidney stones, and gathers chi for the lower Cinnabar Field. This point is sort of the “back door” to the chakras of the lower Tan Tien (Cinnabar Field) and one of its effects can be to strengthen certain types of sexual energy.

Tian Shu, Qihai, Guan Yuan- Sea of Qi

Tian Shu, Qihai, Guan Yuan- Sea of Qi

“The Cinnabar Field [hsia tan-t’ian or xia dantian] is the root of the human being. It is the place where essence and spirit are stored…Men store in it their semen, and women their menstrual blood…and is the gate of the joining of Yin and Yang. It is three inches below the navel, attached to the Caudal Funnel (weilü) [a point at the level of the coccyx] and is the root of the two kidneys…”

–Laozi Zhongjing, sec. 17. Translation published in Fabrizio Pregadio, “Early Daoist Meditation and the Origins of Inner Alchemy,” in Benjamin Penny, ed., Daoism in History: Essays in Honour of Liu Ts’un-yan, 139-40 (London: Routledge, 2006).

So one can see how Sea-of-Qi Shu has some importance for our vital, sexual, and generative functions. It can be seen also to have a Tantric aspect in that it unifies Yin and Yang, Essence and Spirit.

Most often, the term “Sea of Chi,” as used in acupuncture refers to Qihai, which is on the midline and below the navel. It is used to treat abdominal pain, nocturnal emission, impotence or erectile dysfunction, uterine bleeding, irregular menstruation, dysmenorreha, postpartum hemorrhage, constipation, among others. From this list, one can see how this point has a direct effect on the quality of both male and female sexual energies.

In a sense, this entire mid to lower area of the abdomen can be called a Sea of Chi, with much the same poetic accuracy that the clairvoyant yoga Masters describe this area as Manipura, or the “City of Jewels.” The entire area is a large storage battery for our light, the very essence of our life force. How we express this life force is another matter, and varies from person to person depending on their karmic patterning.

While acupuncture and moxibustion are excellent for certain conditions, particularly physical and emotional ones, certain aspects of the higher spiritual qualities are more efficiently developed with supplemental practices such as T’ai Chi, Tantric Qigong, Tumo, Conscious Breathwork, etc. Karma is somatically stored in the tissues of this and other areas of the body, and the meridians and points cannot completely release or transform this sort of energy. Apparently the karmic charge is both too dense and simultaneously widespread somatically for the meridians to be able to have a direct, significant, and consistent “karma burning” effect. If that were really possible, then all one would need for enlightenment would be to stick some needles in there. I wish it were that easy. In that case, I can think of a more than a few people who could benefit immediately and tremendously from being needled.

If one’s Intention is to create evolutionary Awakening and Spiritual Freedom, we must harness all the Will, life force, and persistence that the third chakra can produce. One way of doing this is to generate large quantities of Chi through breath exercises, and couple this life force with a process of liberating somatic holding patterns (our karmic habits and resistance to spiritual growth) through precise conscious movement. This allows life force, consciousness, and intention to be unified, and the form of our karmic baggage to be released and transmuted.

This is one of the specific and most important intentions of both our Tantric Qigong system as taught in the”10 Minutes to a Healthier You!” course, and the breath and mental / muscular control and surrender methodology of the”Relax! Journey to the Primal Sea” CD program. These techniques work not only with the meridians and superficial points but also with the deeper, more extensive internal chakras. For instance, the location of the lower Cinnabar Field is not only associated with the QiHai and Guan Yuan points, found two or three inches below the navel, but also an energetic field three to four inches inward (deeper if you are sufficiently zaftig.) Both the superficial and the deeper, more internal fields must be a least partially cleared and balanced for physical, metal, and spiritual health to be restored and Awakening to occur.

Breath Coaching can be ideal for someone who is ready to surrender his or her spiritually maladaptive patterns. During this process, the coach and trainee work with both the seat of personal power, and the seat of Spiritual Surrender i.e., the Tan Tien, Solar Plexus, and Heart Chakras. One does not lose even one quantum of personal power, but the software applications governing its use and intention may change. This transforms self centeredness, victim / victimizer consciousness, and stubborn attachments to ego patterns into an empowering surrender to the Flow of Tao. What is perceived as surrender by some is in actuality allowing yourself to be carried into the power of Universal Flow while generating empathy, gratitude, and compassion as a natural consequence. I think you can see how this would be important for both spiritual progress and healthy, dynamic interpersonal and sexual relationships.
(See, The 3rd Chakra and the Spiritual Purpose of Power, parts 1-6)

Certainly though, an acupuncture and / or moxa treatment can be calming, centering, and revitalizing and tangibly important, since a modicum of physical health and centering is a prerequisite for higher spiritual attainment. In our increasingly frenetic and dis-eased world, this should not be underestimated in its value, especially if it is as an adjunct to an efficacious spiritual and somatic practice. © 2008 Keith E. Hall. All rights reserved.

Sea Of Chi: Part 1, 2, 3, 4

The Three Jewels of Taoism

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Karma Burning    Karma Burning in the Lower Chakras  1 2 3  4 5

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Sea of Chi: Building Chi, life force, and power

Monday, January 19th, 2009
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Building Chi, life force, and power

In breathing deeply to the Tan Tien, you are building Chi – life force and power, while also stretching the belly physically. Any third chakra issues one may have are actually stored somatically in the belly, and stretching that area kind of “stretches” your paradigm, your karmic patterns. As we stretch, so we also relax and let go. Yin within Yang, Will and Surrender. When this stretching occurs with a clear intention to let go of the past i.e., the karmic habits we have become accustomed to, then true transcendence becomes more likely. So you see, this point is critical in creating the discipline to be on a spiritual path of growth and evolution, although for the purposes on the CD, I would say don’t over-think this and get yourself stressed trying to relax! Just do the breathing nude or wearing loose clothing that doesn’t cinch your waist, let the belly relax, and enjoy!

At first, people don’t really want to stretch this point. I mean they say they do, but really, they don’t. I have had the privilege to be able to teach Taoist and Tantric arts since 1977, and have been blessed with the opportunity to offer these arts to thousands of students. But very few open themselves to actually receive it. Why? Well, it sounds really good to have freedom and more personal power, but the tricky thing is you have to give up your old ways of doing things. These old karmic patterns affect your emotions, relationships, your body, even the very way you perceive the world itself. So, one has to be willing to give up these old habits, whether they are forms of anger, underlying pain, victimhood, or whatever. They have to go to make room for the new person you want to be. To get to own a brand new Blissmobile, you have to be willing to trade in that old clunker called pain and fear.

Now all of this seems elementary in way, and it is. It is really the foundation of any sort of psychotherapy, for instance. However, simple is not necessarily easy, and the mind lies to us all the time. That is why I am a big fan of the somatic approach, because the body does not know how to lie. Even experienced meditators can have their minds play games with them. That is one reason that Zen Masters sometimes do unexpected things, to kind of snap you out of the mental-emotional rut you are in while you are pretending that your are meditating. Change that begins in the body is demonstrably true; no mind games are possible.

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So, that is why I put a lot of emphasis in the CD program on the belly, breathing, and letting go. This process allows the body to build power, a reservoir of life force, while over time gently wearing away the old patterns, just like waves on the beach.

© 2008 Keith E. Hall. All right reserved.

Next: Sea of Chi, and Acupuncture – Moxibustion

Sea Of Chi: Part 1, 2, 3, 4

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