Becoming a Dark Knight of Your Soul! Seattle Tai chi & Qigong

By: Brian Kane 4/19/2011,

The more I struggle with improving myself and destroying my internal demons, the more I realize that I will need three main components to complete my journey, which now seems stuck in the doldrums, or the Dark Night of the Soul. These components are strength, patience, and faith. This week during my QiGong practice both in and out of class, I came to many realizations about myself including why it is so often hard to be the real you, the façade of online social networking and why good things come to those who wait.

About a year ago, I had an amazing breakthrough during a vivid dream. I was sitting on a bright sunlit mountain plateau when a man in an old Chinese robe came into view on a distant mound. I sat in awe as he approached me with a smirk on his wise, weathered face. He jumped in the air, controlling the rate of his decent. He spoke not words, but communicated to me with his mind. He told me that it is possible to do many things with QiGong, as long as you keep your mind open and in harmony with nature. All this he spoke of while jumping up high in the air, descending to the ground rapidly, then as he approached the misty grass covered with a slight haze of fog, he slightly slowed his decent. As my eyes bugged out of my head with bewilderment, he laughed heartily. He laughed even louder when I tried to accomplish the same physical feat and was able to uncoordinatedly control my movements against gravity as well—awkwardly moving like a newborn fawn.

Then as soon as he showed me this, I was transported to a room where I found myself sitting with a guitar in my hands. My left hand was covered with a loose fitting shawl and the man told me not to play just with my eyes, but with the feelings of my fingers and the visions in my mind. I felt like he was trying to say that the naked eye can easily be deceived, but the sense of touch ( and in turn energy) and the third eye can be far more useful and informative. He also was trying to convey that we can incorporate QiGong into many facets of our lives.

Since that day, I have often practiced both guitar and QiGong with my eyes closed (one day I will get even more serious and blindfold myself) and in many ways my prowess as a guitar player has improved as many of my movements are more fluid, natural and less dependent on sight. Interestingly, in a later meditation, I feel that the same man told me that to find real beauty, I must also learn to be less dependent solely on the naked eye, but to use all senses– including using the third eye–to feel the vibrations that say a piece of art or even a woman elicits and emits.

YiRen QiGong teacher Brendan Thorson believes the man might have been Dr. Guan-Cheng Sun’s granduncle, Master Zhang,(who taught Dr. Sun QiGong) but he could have been any man from the same lineage. Heck, he could have just of been a very wise figment of my imagination. This might seem a bit far out to some, but I am being completely truthful when I write that this was one of the most insightful dreams I have ever had. Whoever this man was, his words have definitely stuck with me. It reminds me of the time that I was about 13 and my family and I traveled to Canada. While staying near Grouse Mountain, I had a dream in which God came to me and explained that even though I pray to him, he is not going to just magically make things happen for me. He explained that I have to do the actions and he will be there for support. Interestingly, whom I deemed as God, spoke to me too not with words but to my mind, and although his words seemed complex or even too difficult for a 13-year-old boy to understand, I woke up feeling very enlightened. I would say that was the first time in my life I spoke with a benevolent, spiritual entity.

Many people feel that we have sprit guides or even guardian angels. In moments of spiritual unrest, I definitely receive helpful information including how to improve my life. I was thinking in the shower, as many of us do, when the following ideas came into my mind about what I will need to fulfill my life goals.

First of all, I will need strength. Sure that might seem a bit vague, but I will need complete physical, mental and emotional strength in order to become a productive adult. Previously I have noted that my goal is to be as happy as a child. However, could you imagine what we would be like if we only had the strength of a child as adults? We would stammer and whine and maybe even cry all day long.

Most of us have built up defenses that prevent us from behaving like children in stressful and trying situations. But not all of us have learned how to release negative emotions so that they do not weigh on our shoulders. The Level I YiRen QiGong Small Universe Cultivating Exercise is excellent for getting rid of this emotional baggage.

Part of our stress is created by the quest to become who we believe we really are. As I have noted in earlier writings, who we are is defined by many different things but ultimately we define ourselves. Some of the ways that we are viewed by ourselves and others is by our family, friends, hobbies and career choice. But even these aspects of people’s lives do not completely define a person. To me, who and what we love really lets people know who we are.

One popular way for people to let others know who they are is by social networking platforms on the Internet. To me, these are actually quite laughable, since you are only using your eyes to get to know someone who could be very well deceiving you with false presentations and messages. Perhaps Master Zhang would find them funny as well, or even troubling. This is not to say that these social networks do not have positive aspects. For instance, they are amazing at helping you reconnect with old friends that you yearn to get to know again.

To be the real you and to get to really know a person you must have courage. The first thing I usually wonder about when a person wants to get to know me better is: What do you want from me? But I think that you can build healthy, symbiotic relationships as long as you realize that you do not have to cater to every wish a friend has and they are not obligated to always be there for you. To me, there are three types of people in life: Those you hold close and dear; those you keep at arms’ length, and those you completely avoid. All of these types of people help define who you are and what your values are.

Through all of this remember, that friends and lovers can often hurt you the most. I am reminded of Angelina Jolie’s famous tattoo that reads:”That which nourishes me, also destroys me.” Or even Pretenders lead singer Chrissie Hyndes’ lyrics “There’s a thin line between love and hate…”

Although a bit hyperbolic and dramatic, I believe the tattoo means partially that those who we love the most, can also hurt us the most. But the hurt is less if we develop the strength of a thick skin and the ability to not always take the negative actions of those close to us so seriously. Oftentimes those actions are merely manifestation of  the inflictor’s own problems and issues. I believe that if you develop a strong self love, then you can deal with friend’s and lover’s transgressions in a more useful way and communicate with them better.

However, the true test of strength could be when you yourself are feeding your mind with abusive and negative thoughts. When the incessant, broken record effect starts, that is when it is time to mediate. When you meditate, concentrate on changing the negative thought patterns to positive ones. For example, if you keep dwelling on a negative thing a boss or co-worker said about you, think of instances in your life that contradict what they said.

I also find that humor can actually build a lot of strength too. Laughing has been proven to improve people’s health. Even in seemingly dire situations, I try to find humor. Oftentimes, comedians and humorists can convey how absurd most of our trials and worries are. It is by no accident that many comedians are self-deprecating. It is not that they have low self-esteem so much as they have learned to laugh at themselves. The audience can often identify with the comic, and therefore learn to laugh at themselves too.

With regards to YiRen QiGong, I find that when I am low on energy and stress is getting the better of me, both the Level I Energy Grounding Exercise and the Level II Kidney/Urinary Tract exercise really build up my Kidney energies and give me more stamina to forge ahead. Dr. Sun often refers to the Kidneys as helping us develop “The strength of a bear.”

The next virtue I will need in my life is patience. Most of all I will have to be patient with myself. Lately I have been asking myself, why am I acting so unlike me? Why am I acting like such a joker, a clown? I believe that in order to develop autonomy, a strong sense of self and freedom to be who you really are, you have to go through many awkward phases. These are necessary to build individuality and character.

Of course you must also have patience with others. Many times in the past I have gotten frustrated with others and have spoken to them with acerbic words full of vitriol. Not only would this make the situation worse, it also has lead to broken romances and friendships—even broken musical endeavors, which are often very sad to me.  However, now when I feel angry and frustrated, I usually meditate and think more clearly about how to approach people who are trying my patience. Since studying YiRen QiGong the amount of people I have pissed off has decreased dramatically. In fact, off the top of my head, I cannot think of the last time I left a person livid. This makes me very happy.

Recently, there has been a barrage of unfortunate events that have negatively affected a music project I am involved in. These sorts of setbacks used to greatly discourage me, but like mentioned a couple blogs ago, now I seek the solution more tactfully, and try to avoid dwelling on the problem. By doing this I have come up with not only one, but many solutions very quickly. When you have a project you are working on,  just because things do not go as you envisioned, does not mean the outcome will be less good and that you should quit.

In my intro blog, I mentioned that we live in a sort of point-and-click society fraught with instant gratification. I believe that with the advent of new technology, information can travel much faster but also that people often think less about what they write. There has been many times when I reflected on something I wrote on a social network site and was like: What in the world was I thinking? The truth is, is that not only do these networks sort of give us a way to instantly communicate with many people at once, but that also, they allow us to hide behind our computer screens, creating a false sense of anonymity. Ironically, even though an online representation of a person is often misleading, some people use them as if they are a substitute for actual social interaction. This to me is highly detrimental to developing not only a realistic view of reality, but also the cultivating of a person’s patience.

Oftentimes in our spiritual journey, we encounter the Dark Night of the Soul. To me, this is a time when it feels as if nothing is happening and you are stuck. I feel that I have definitely entered this phase of my life. It has taken a great deal of patience for me to deal with this phase. YiRen QiGong and meditation has definitely helped me get through this time and deal with it healthily. I believe that when many people enter this phase, they often turn to substance abuse or other unhealthy habits to deal with the unknowingness that is faced. Some might even feel that life is passing them by. This is simply not true as we all find a comfortable place in the Universe at different times in our lives.

For example, my Uncle, Marvin, a good man he is, did not finally find out what he wanted to do with his life until he was about 37. Marv (a former Navy man) is a marvelously smart man and decided to become a Certified Public Accountant (CPA). It took him a few times to finally pass the CPA exam, as it is not easy, but now he is a top CPA at a large real estate company. He loves his job (even though the often charmingly cantankerous man will usually just say, “Eh, it’s a job,”) and also the rest of his life that he shares with my dad’s sister, Aunty Marge. Prior to being an accountant he worked in many dead end positions at the old Tradewell Supermarket in Seattle. Marvin was definitely patient, and definitely went through dark times in his life, but today he is actually a fairly affable man, content with his vocation.

One of Webster’s Dictionary definitions of faith is: Firm belief in something for which there is no proof: complete trust. Some would say that blind faith is foolish, but I think that faith can be a wise and good thing. Some people put their faith in a loved one, in God or most importantly— to me anyway—-themselves. Especially in a time of the Dark Night of the Soul, it is really easy to lose sight of who we are and things might seem a little chaotic. Faith can be the thing that carries us through the darkness and keeps us from slipping into detrimental patterns. I still highly advocate the YiRen QiGong Level II Stomach/Pancreas exercise if you feel sort of in a phase that I like to call “The Twilight Zone” where things seem illogical, imaginary, surreal and just plain backwards. This feeling is not unusual, so don’t fret if and when you find yourself in this place.

 

Strength, patience and faith: These are the ideas that I hope to employ more and more in my life. Thus far they have certainly helped me get through some tough times. In fact, I now consider myself a Dark Knight of the Soul, as I chivalrously battle all sorts of internal and external spiritual enemies. So I leave you not necessarily with a coherent summation of what might seem to some like an incoherent transcript (hahaha), but with a video that explains a bit about patience with regards to the Dark Night of the Soul, from University Of Metaphysical Sciences, Christine Breese. I hope you enjoy it.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yW6g6znewo8

 

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