- CurriculumThe classes listed below are a combination of the core classes (Yi Ren Qigong Levels 1-3) and some of the other non-core classes that are offered on a regular basis and occasionally. With time the list of non-core classes will grow and expand to meet the demand and need of the student base. Tai Chi & Qigong Seattle Training Curriculum Core Classes and Current list of non-core classes -Level 1: Foundation, Chi Gong Exercise Awakening the Healing Powers Within (The prerequisite for all subsequent courses) Yi Ren® Qigong -Tai Chi Movement: Taoist Tai Chi For Internal & External Strength & A Peaceful Mind (Completion of Level 1 Required) -Moving With Qi: Chi Kung & Tai Chi Style Movements (Completion of Level 1 Required) Yi Ren® Qigong -Level Two: Development Of The Twelve Major Meridians and Organ Networks (Completion of Level 1 required) Yi Ren® Qigong -Jing & Rou: Integrating The Qi Into The Muscles & Tendons To Build Physical Strength (Completion of level 2 required) Yi Ren® Qigong -Level Three: The Extraordinary Meridians (Completion of Level 2 required & Jing/Rou suggested) Yi Ren® Qigong -Sound/Energy Center Correspondences (Prerequisite: completion of Level 2) Yi Ren® Qigong -Forms of Meditation: To Help People Enlighten Their…
- Qigong Level 1: Internal Qi Activation & Cultivation
- Level 2: Activating & Developing the Internal Organ Energy Pathways
- Level 3: Development of the Extraordinary Meridians
- Moving W/ Qi: Qigong w/ Taichi style Movements
- Jing & Rou: Muscle & Tendon
- Tai Chi Movement: Taoist Tai Chi
- Sound / Energy Center Correspondence
- The Sacred Gates of Internal Cultivation
- Continuing Ed.
- Consultations & Private Lessons
- Contact Us
By: Brian Kane
“I believe that just as school gives learning structure in the academic institutions, attending Yi Ren Qigong classes also gives structure to your personal practice, enhancing it and in turn enhancing your overall health—both physical and mental.”
Every day, I learn. Most of us do. We learn about facts and phenomena, but we also learn about ourselves: why we succeeded, why we failed. Through all of the trials and tribulations of learning, I have found that the two most detrimental things a person can do during the lesson of life are to let anger shut down your brain and obsess about how others view you.
In the fall of 2013, I went back to school. The prospect of going back to school frightened me, at first. However, I knew that I could not let an opportunity to get trained in a field that I had a passion for pass me by. I was not getting the work I wanted, and part of the reason was that I needed more experience and schooling. With both my education path and school internships, I am currently getting both.
I am doing well academically, receiving high marks and my work output satisfies me. However, my struggle matches my recent accomplishments. As I write this the day after the end of winter quarter, I can hardly believe I made it through the quarter’s course work. I took classes as part of my degree that involved material I had never seen before. As a result, I had to ask questions constantly, even at the risk of appearing stupid in front of my fellow classmates. In fact, I am certain that some of them thought that I was dumb and out of my element: The fact is, once I stopped caring about what others thought about me and once I gained the humility to admit that I was not completely absorbing the material, then I started doing much better.
We all have different learning styles and rates, depending on the material, and I feel that some very smart and able people sell themselves short because they care too much about the opinions of others, including the teacher. All in all, and all things considered, most of us are of average intelligence—we might excel at certain things but when all areas of knowledge are considered, most of us are in the same range of intelligence, myself included. What I believe, is what makes successful people (people who are happy and satisfied with both their work and personal lives) is having a positive, proactive attitude and being able to take failures in stride.
Exercising the mind is important, but
Don’t Leave Out the Body!
However, I have something to admit: Although I studied my school subjects intently and intensely, as the school quarter progressed, I neglected my Yi Ren Qigong practice more and more, eventually ceasing it altogether. My mind and body definitely was negatively affected by this. As Noble School of Tai Chi and Qigong Training owner Brendan Thorson has told me and other students, oftentimes people who are not active and/or do not practice some sort of spiritual work such as Qigong or Yoga, are too much in their heads and the body begins to suffer.
From my own personal experiences at school, I have found that school stress can wreak havoc on the adrenal glands and the organ they sit on top of, the kidneys. This can lead to an unhealthy increase in the stress hormone cortisol and also to Adrenal Fatigue. (see article by Brendan Thorson: http://www.qigongedu.com/2012/01/balancing-hormones-for-improved-energy-yi-ren-qigong-medicine/)
I believe that just as school gives learning structure in the academic institutions, attending Yi Ren Qigong classes also gives structure to your personal practice, enhancing it and in turn enhancing your overall health—both physical and mental. When I began school in the fall, I continued to practice Yi Ren Qigong, and I did not feel mentally or physically drained. Once I stopped practicing, I began to gradually notice that my mind was not as focused and would start racing, my energy levels became less and less, my digestive system began to be negatively affected and even my skin began to break out with a bit of acne, which I have not had in many years. As a side note: when I first started practicing Yi Ren Qigong, I suffered from eczema. My eczema would get worse, the more stress I had to endure. My eczema, at one time, completely went away. Although it did not fully return over the last few months, I did get a couple small blotches on my arms. According to Thorson, eczema could be a result of an imbalance of kidney qi.
So what’s the overall takeaway? Balance, boldness and humility are keys to living a happy and successful life. To me, it seems that no matter how busy we are, it is vital to remain active physically, including practicing Qigong. Ironically, oftentimes when I feel the least able to practice Yi Ren Qigong, is when I need to practice it the most. Attending Yi Ren Qigong classes can greatly help motivate a person to continue to practice on his or her own, and just as importantly, remind that person about the value of practicing Yi Ren Qigong.
By Brian Kane,
It was the winter of 2009 and I had just begun taking Yi Ren Qigong lessons from Brendan
Thorson. One night, after a two-hour lesson, he and I sauntered down University Avenue in the
U-District of Seattle. As we approached the south part of the Avenue, we came upon a homeless
man sitting in a doorway, bundled up with a thick layer of clothes and a tattered coat. It is my
usual habit to ignore street people. This is not just because they potentially will ask for money, of
which I usually oblige, but also deep down, I know that any unfortunate twist of fate could make
me end up just like them: homeless and often hopeless.
Brendan on the other hand, to my surprise, casually struck up a conversation with the disheveled,
bearded vagrant and actually knew who this man was. I was very taken back by this because
although I had empathy for homeless people, I also thought they were, to some degree, beneath
me and consorting with them would be an outright admission that I was no better than they
were and that in some ways their equal. The fact is, we are all equal and yes, we are all one
consciousness bonded together by our commonness of being made of star stuff that descended to
earth billions of years ago. Therefore we are all also of the stars and also of the Universe. This
notion is was touched on by the famous astrophysicist Carl Sagan who stated, “The nitrogen in
our DNA, the calcium in our teeth, the iron in our blood, the carbon in our apple pies were made
in the interiors of collapsing stars. We are made of starstuff.”
With that in mind, all things being equal, let’s begin to think about the time we live in. Most of
us are aware that the Mayan calendar ends on December 21, 2012. On this date, it is commonly
believed that the earth’s energy will shift as we transition from the age of Pisces to the age of
Aquarius. This means that the earth’s precession (which causes it to wobble like a spinning
child’s top) will cause the sun to rise in the constellation of Aquarius, transitioning from Pisces.
According to Brendan Thorson, “Based on my understanding (what I have read or heard from
other spiritually enlightened people) the universal energies over the past 2,500 years have been
more dominant in the earth center and as the energy is shifting to the new stage
(which 12/21 is supposed to be a major transition day) and again based on my understanding the
universal energies will become more dominant at the higher centers like the crown and or third
eye.” These energy centers are believed to be more yin than yang oriented.
Whatever the case may be, as Carl Sagan stated, we are made of star stuff. The wobble of the
earth, causing its precession is created by the gravitational pull of the moon and sun, which also
creates the equatorial bulge. So one must deduce, if we are made of star stuff and if the moon
and the sun, which itself is a star, affects the rotation of the earth on its access as well as its form,
would not the earth in its relation to the stars affect its inhabitants awareness and even epochs of
It is upon writing this that I remember a dream within a dream.
During a train ride from the glistening Emerald City to the City of Roses, nestled along the Willamette River, an old Indian man of about 80 years of age sat next to my aching body, and although it was on the cusp of winter, his garb was that of only leather sandals and a brown hooded cloak. His chocolate brown,deep-set, soft, peaceful eyes smiled at me as he noticed the pain in my tired, distant gaze and the
books in my messenger beg. I began to feel a deep warmth and assuring pressure in my chest and
the old man’s calming presence induced me to place the words of Krishna on my lap and switch
my gaze inward as he lightly patted my back, attempting to quiet my mind, and in my mind I
saw visions and heard enchanting melodies, weaving themselves into a brilliant, glowing beacon,
calling me to come closer…
As many insects were once an egg, then a larva, then a pupa and then an adult, so might be each
of our journeys through life. The smile of childhood often leads to the frown of adolescent angst,
which can travel well into adulthood, but comes full circle after the pupa state, during which we
emerge with a higher awareness and newly grown, uniquely colored wings.
All in all, it is best to remember the onensess that exists between us and the Universe. It is
also very beneficial to remember that we can be blinded by the light as much as the darkness.
Perhaps it is best to become friends with both, so that we can bask in the beauty of the shadows,
unfettered and untarnished by the power of each selfish force, always meek and humble,
patiently waiting for the arrival of Love, the Seer of seers, which illuminates the truth and our
I woke up during the twilight hour, as the train crossed over the Columbia River, from what must
have been a strange dream. The old man was nowhere in sight and in his place was a teenage
boy wearing tattered, punkish attire and a frozen sneer on his fresh face. Instead of avoiding
looking in his direction, I smiled at him as the old man had smiled at me and to my surprise he
smiled back; his scrunched brow then began to melt. We both relaxed back into our seats as the
humming of the train’s engine lulled us into a comforting trance.
And then I arose in my real bed and had a thought:
We will all arise from slumber on December 21, 2012 not to raging fires consuming the planet with doomsday fury, but perhaps with a more peaceful, caring mindset, as our dormant, fused Pineal Glands light up, receiving transmissions from the source, beyond the visible stars in the sky.
The journey never ends, but the choice about what to do along the way is up to each one of us.
Here is a documentary I recommend watching called Kymatica. It addresses the oneness of
human beings and it also speaks of a possible, if not necessary, shift in the consciousness of
By Brian Kane 10/17/2012
Yi Ren Qigong can teach the practitioner how to deal with both inner and outer conflicts in a way that is productive and not destructive. I have noticed recently that these conflicts can make a person grow spiritually, but not if they are met with hostility and anger.
Being aware of my own detrimental anger I noticed that there seems to be a formula that creates anger. This formula is when unmet expectations cause frustration which leads to anger. In life, there are only two things that are certain: you were one day conceived and will one day die. If one lives his or her life knowing that there are many things we cannot control and that goals and accomplishments are important, but they do not fully define us, then a person can live in and appreciate the present more: a concept I wrote about last week often referred to as mindfulness.
It is not healthy to act on our anger with verbal or physical altercation, but to identify the source and alleviate the source—to think about the solution and not obsess about the problem. A friend of mine said to me recently, “Life throws it, and we have to learn how to catch it.” This reminded me of pushing hands (a Taichi exercise) in which you are learning to synch up with your partner’s unique physical and bio-rhythmic motion, instead of trying to oppose your partner’s energy. In essence, you are trying to use both negative and positive energy to create a feeling of productive oneness.
I present the reader with a challenge: the next time either an internal thought, a tough situation you find yourself in or an external force—such as a different person trying to antagonize you–either intentionally or unintentionally, causes you to be angry, instead of acting on that anger with harsh words or violence, try to counteract your anger with positive thoughts of love and compassion. To do so, will alleviate your anger, it will transform the energy of anger into something more useful and even more powerful.
The acclaimed spiritual guru Thich Nhat Hanh, in 1995 during a conversation with Ram Dass, stated about anger:
“When you are angry, you are not lucid. You may say things or you may do things that can be very destructive. That is why it is better to use other forms of energy, like the energy of compassion, the energy of understanding…”
Thich Nhat Hanh also believes that loving kindness is us but anger is also us. So the loving kindness part of us should try to take care of the angry part of us like a mother cares for a baby.
Several situations this past week have caused me to get very angry. However, touching on my recent revelations pertaining to the importance of mindfulness, I discovered that the worst way to react to a hostile person or situation is with your own hostility, your own anger. In fact, in two cases in which a person was being passive-aggressive with me, instead of trying to use insidious hostility on that person, I asked the individual how he was doing. Almost instantly, his anger was transformed into gratitude for my thoughtful question and sincere feeling of empathy. He also felt grateful for my empathy generated by understanding why he was angry and a showing of compassion and appreciation for this person’s being, including not just his anger, but the person’s good qualities as well. I have challenged myself to continue to use this technique of diffusing my own anger and the anger of others.
Below is a video of the insightful discussion between Ram Dass and Thich Nhat Hanh. Have a great week, all, and be passionate about transforming your anger into more useful energies.
by Brian Kane 10/10/2012,
(Preface: From my experience, studying Yi Ren Qigong can strengthen not only your internal system, from the cellular to the physical level—including your organs, muscles and tendons—it can also help you gain new spiritual insights that can positively affect your behavior and in turn your life. Recently, I discovered that in order to live a happy life and perhaps find true intimate love, instead of focusing so much on individual sexual desires and romantic love, I should let myself go and let go of lustful desires. I should allow my pride to wane a little and think less from an egocentric point-of-view in order to discover, add to and enjoy the feeling of Universal Love—which to me is a kind of love that is more at the spiritual level, devoid of primitive, bodily desires. From this I discovered that my life perspective has become more of a Universal Perspective, a perspective that feels like that of a curious and happy child, but with a stronger awareness and intellect of an adult mind. This in turn has led me to be more mindful of everything I do, what the Buddhists refer to as Mindfulness. In other words, I live in the moment, with less concern about the past or future, and am beginning to enjoy every aspect of life. I now see that even the simple, little things are just as important as the complex ideas that should not feel like a burden, but rather spark curiosity and appreciation for this often-arcane thing called life.)
I have to write this thing, I thought to myself. I have to eat I have to get some sort of sleep tonight. I have to make some spaghetti, with some chicken and maybe a bagel with some cream cheese. But I also have to write this article. I also have to go to work tomorrow. I will never get this done.
Okay, it’s time to make some spaghetti. I need some sauce; there it is, Classico. I need the noodles, a pot, a sauté pan, some olive oil: ah I think I should try some ice cream while I am at it, my favorite, Ben and Jerry’s Karamel Sutra. Wow, that sauce is smelling really good; I cannot wait to eat this huge plate of spaghetti with chicken and Kalamata Olives. Look how the sauce bubbles in the pan, smothering freshly cooked, succulent chicken slices, and how the steam billows from the pot of boiling water as the noodles cook, dancing around the inside of the pot as the scorching hot H20 baths them.
Now to get the metal strainer and pour the noodles from the pot into the glistening metal mesh, leaving only the golden noodles behind for me to place on a plate and smother with shimmering red sauce as the pieces of chicken appear as flecks of juicy morsels, gracing the top of the noodles and sauce. If I could, I would shrink down to the size of a an ant, and scale each noodle, becoming entranced by the soothing smell of a fine red sauce, the sweet smelling basil opening up my sinus cavities and lungs.
But wait, I almost forgot, I have to write this darn article. But I also have to eat. I will eat, but this time I will not think of anything except the spaghetti. The only thing that will exist in the Universe for about ten minutes will be me and this delectable plate of spaghetti. I bet that when I finish this fine meal, that my article will be just as decent as if I spent my time worrying and thinking about it while cooking and eating. In fact, I will be more rested and my mind will be calmer when I sit down to the task of writing my article.
I was right. The spaghetti has fueled both my body and mind and as I write these words, my mind is calm and my fingers are eager to receive transmissions from my brain.
Before studying Yi Ren Qigong, it was nearly impossible for me to think about or to enjoy only what was happening to me at any given moment, and not about the future or the past. In order to express to you, the beautiful reader, how my mind has progressed to see things from a new perspective, I must reminisce a bit with a sort of vignette about the past and then I will share with you how three progressions of my mind have started to make my life more pleasant.
It was back in November of 2007, five years ago, that I found myself on a date (well more of a nocturnal meet-up at a bar) with a woman whom I worked with. We will call her Felicia. I really liked Felicia: She was pretty, smart and had a great sense of humor.
As she approached me after getting off the Metro bus she came right up to me and gave me a strong and sweet hug. It felt really good. That night was very blustery and we ended up sitting outside at a covered bar in the Fremont Neighborhood of Seattle. She kept telling me what an amazing time she was having and how much of an incredible person I was. Inside this made me feel very happy, but I did not let on too much to my joy because I did not want to seem to anxious or needy—I guess girls do not like that.
I did however tell Felicia, who grew up in Minnesota and just graduated from a college in Orange County California, that I thought she was a breath of fresh air—a true gem: a beautiful soul.
She smiled at that and I knew I was winning her over. I drove her to her home as it began rain and the wind began to blow with even more ferocity. As she opened the door to get out of my car I held her hand for a second and then brought it close to my mouth and kissed it. She looked at me for a short moment with a big smile on her face and then quickly poked her head back inside the car and kissed my right cheek. However, before I could say anything she dashed into the wind towards her home. I was beside myself, I felt that this was overall a great night and I felt the energy of Felecia’s love inside my car and all over my body, even though she had left.
Unfortunately, this was not the inception of a love affair, but the beginning of a lesson that I would have to learn—well many lessons.
At work, the following Monday, Felicia and I ate lunch together, as we did on many of the ensuing days. Except one day she stopped eating with me and acting strange. When she saw me at work, she just gave me an awkward smile and walked away.
I thought that she must not think I really like her that much, or I was not really serious. So the next Friday, I asked her if she would like get some dinner with me. She seemed to get really fidgety and uncomfortable, but agreed.
In order to save space and perhaps spare me from having to recount our date in detail, I will share this: About an hour into our date, Felicia revealed to me that she was a lesbian.
I was shocked and confused. I thought about our first meet-up and about how much fun she said she had. She then blamed her behavior on having too much to drink. She told me that she just prefers the presence of woman and likes being intimate with them more than men. She even told me that I would find a girl, someone much better than her.
I was really depressed for the next few months and it was really hard to go to work, but I managed. I even ran into Felecia one day walking with her girlfriend. I was very angry with her for awhile but then several things dawned on me.
Perhaps sexuality is not a dichotomy at all, but rather a continuum. We all fall somewhere on that continuum and some of us happen to be even right in the middle—bisexual. Maybe it was my ego that tried to demystify the situation that came to this conclusion, but I think it is true.
Even more importantly, I realized that it is possible to love someone, to have strong feelings for someone, without necessarily feeling sexually aroused or interested in a person. This is part of what I call, Universal Love.
Universal Love is love without the ego or the sole desire to sleep with someone. I felt true Universal Love for the first time recently, one night after a vivid dream, the contents of which I would like to keep personal for now. However, I will divulge that while being half-awake I heard a female voice ask me if I was alright, to which I replied that I was not. Then I completely woke up in shock as I felt a powerful force fill my chest.
This energy made it clear to me that we are all brothers and sister and that in order for the soul to truly be free, we have to find a way to love each other, on the spiritual level. When I felt this feeling, it was as if I was outside of my body and its primitive desires. All I desired was to somehow connect to the universal energy of love and to support all beings as the Universe was supporting all of us.
From this feeling of Universal Love, I had gained a new perspective on life and relationships. A week after my dream, I was not a completely changed man yet—I still am not, although I am on a new path—but I noticed that I began to see things with a quieter mind and the appreciation of a child. A popular question that many spiritual gurus ask is, when you were a child, how many times a day did you see something that amazed you and made you happy? Now as an adult, how often does this happen? The world did not stop being amazing, but, perhaps, as an adult, many of us have closed our eyes and filled our minds with worries, fears and other detrimental emotions such as jealously, resentfulness and lust.
From my recent experience, I see how there is a natural progression that can enhance your experience with Yi Ren Qigong and your overall life in general. That progression is that once you let yourself fall into the frequency of Universal Love and learn to love all beings on this planet equally without too much desire of physical gratification you will naturally gain a new perspective on life. To me this is the perspective of both the child (a Universal Perspective) in all of us and the happiness that comes with that, and the adult intellect that we all possess to some degree, which gives us the ability to contribute beautiful and useful things to the Universe. By feeling comfortable with ourselves and not expecting too much from ourselves or others (what I mean is, being too concerned with status or how we are perceived by others) we can gain a much less myopic and narrow view of our existences, and our eyes can see the world more collectively and our hearts will open up without fear. Then we can all make our dinners thinking about just that, making our dinners. Every bite that we take of our meals will be reflected upon mindfully—in the present, with deep awareness, and we will only be present in the moment.
To summate, Universal Love, leads to a new broader Universal Perspective, which then leads to Mindfulness, which entails only being present in the moment, and enjoying it as much as possible.
Now if you will excuse me, I have just poured myself a nice warm cup of green tea, which I will enjoy with a clear mind as I gaze into the murky green liquid and raise the cup to my mouth. The steam and aroma will grace my face as my taste buds wake up from their slumber, calming my body and soul, lowering it into the steady stream of Universal Love, into bliss.
I’ve been taking Yi Ren Qi Gong for about 4 months now. The experience I’ve had is hard to put into words so I’ll just outline some of the benefits I’ve noticed.
1.) I can feel more fully what my body does and does not want. I am much more aware of how specific types of food, exercise, activities and mental/emotional states affect me. Yi-Ren Qigong has greatly amplified my natural feedback system so I am much more aware of my reaction to things.
2.) I do not have the urge to drink anymore. Before I began qigong I was a very heavy drinker. I am not sure if I was an alcoholic or not, but I drank the equivalent of a bottle or two of wine daily and would get antsy when I didn’t drink. After beginning to take Yi Ren Qigong with Brendan my desire to drink just sort of withered away. After starting my qigong practice I was left drinking out of pure habit and realized (since there were nights that I now wasn’t drinking) that I had basically spent the last ten years of my life either constantly (at least) mildly hung over or intoxicated. Since I started doing the classes the compulsion disappeared and I have realized the negatives outweigh the positives. I’ll still have a beer or glass of wine with dinner or while out and about, but it is no longer a defining part of my life, a crutch or an impediment.
3.) I realized that my body, or whatever it is that constitutes me as a person, is different from what I, as a scientifically educated, US born, biological materialist was led to believe. My body/mind/spirit/energy being is… not more complex necessarily, but different from how I’ve always thought it to be. Manipulating the Qi energy as I am learning in Yi Ren QiGong is like taking the reigns on parts of my life I’ve always struggled to control.
4.) I have always suffered from anxiety. Although I can’t say I’ve come close to curing it yet, I’ve started to be able to discern large complex sets of emotions/reactions/sensations that underlie my anxiety. I’ve awakened a deeper part of my mind from which has sprung an organic symbolic/visionary language of images and sensations I can use as tools for healing myself.
On top of the above mentioned benefits I can say that through Brendan’s Yi Ren Qigong classes I’ve begun to develop an experientially based spirituality. I am seeing the world in a much different, more full, and better way. I can’t help feeling like I’ve stumbled upon something truly amazing.
Blog entry by Brian Kane, May 30, 2012
Initially, when my contract ran out with my former employee, I was immensely stressed. However, I was also very relieved to have left that position, since it was not a job that addressed my true passions. Although I am not sure if it is possible to find a job that you are truly passionate about. Well, I suppose it is possible, but definitely not easy. Unfortunately, it seems that many employers are either only hiring part-time or are using employment agencies to fill jobs, oftentimes with contract workers. This makes it very hard to have a pleasant or optimistic outlook about one’s future at a prospective or current employer.
Not having a job gives you time to think more about yourself and your interests. For instance, since being unemployed, I have been working a lot more on guitars and playing guitar. I have been writing more and studying web developing. Most importantly, I have more time to practice Yi Ren Qigong.
You might ask: Why is that the most important thing? Well, in order to think with a clear mind and relieve the stress induced by being jobless, I have practiced Yi Ren Qigong and it has helped tremendously. I have to remember that I am an individual and do not have to follow any predestined path, laid out by what society or corporate America deems important. In order to find what I believe to be important, I look within, aided by Qigong and meditation.
It’s hard for me to believe that it has been eight years since I wrote an article about a career counselor named Larry Gaffin, who has since passed away. Gaffin was the owner and founder of Seattle’s Center for Life Decisions, which was a support group to help people get ideas for finding enjoyable careers.
Some of the most interesting things Gaffin stated were that: “If people don’t have balance, then they tend not to make decisions well. When people are looking for a job, they tend to get very stressed. They tend to neglect two things: their health and their relationships. Guys in particular, we tend to isolate ourselves. We tend not to ask people for help.” (Kidd, Brian. “Finding Work That Matters”. Madison Park Times [Seattle, WA] June 2004: A11. Print.)
I have to think to myself, all in all, what is the most important thing, just finding a job or finding a job that is enjoyable? Let’s say it takes me awhile to find work that I enjoy or find a job at all. What is the worse thing that could happen? I suppose I could become homeless. However that is very unlikely. Here is what might actually have to happen: I might have to move out of my apartment. I could stay with friends until I get back on my feet. I might have to sell my car. I could use the money I get for the car to pay it off. Then when I get a job, I could buy a different car. I can take the bus to job interviews and such. I will have to adapt.
Those are the biggest concerns I have and when I type them out, I realize that in the greater scheme of things, they are miniscule. I will be fine.
There is no question that the job market is tough right now–really tough. But by taking a step back from my job search and practicing Yi Ren Qigong, which includes any exercise from Level One to Level Three (including the Yi Ren Qigong Wisdom Gate meditation), I have been able to keep a much calmer mind and focus on being happy and healthy. Most importantly, despite having had many of my job applications rejected, Yi Ren Qigong has helped me realize and maintain a high love of self. It has helped me realize my self worth. Not being employed can be very disheartening. Yi Ren Qigong has helped me keep my heart and faith. Ever onward.
An Article by Brian Kane 4/29/2012
It is a popular spiritual metaphor of hope to believe that it is darkest before the dawn. About one year ago, I wrote a piece about how to become the Dark Knight of Your Soul (in order to be at peace during the Dark Night of the Soul). Today, as I write this, I am excited to tell the reader that Twilight is imminent, and this very trying part of my spiritual journey is close to an end. I am ready to start my new life. For about the past four years, I have made some major changes as a person—changes that could not have been accomplished without the aid of Yi Ren Qigong, which I learned primarily from Brendan Thorson at the Noble School of Qigong and Tai Chi Training. Yi Ren Qigong helped me exist healthily during the Dark Night of the Soul and also taught me how to constructively cope with the inner turmoil that is inevitable during this time. From my own personal experiences and observations, I have devised a basic, yet imperative and effective, survival plan for anyone who feels emotionally and spiritually stuck.
The Resistance on the Soul: Strengthening the Spirit
During the Dark Night of the Soul you will experience both negative and positive inner forces. The negative forces, although often intrusive and very uncomfortable, are analogous to weights used by weight trainers seeking to improve and/or refine muscle size. I have mentioned before that Yi Ren Qigong has helped me improve my physical strength tremendously as evidenced by my huge weightlifting increases. Just as importantly, Qigong has given me the strength to deal with the negative forces of the Universe.
However, this is not to say that one should deal with the trying times of the Dark Night of the Soul solely with brute-force. Also, a person should not indulge in negative habits such as drug abuse or self-mutilation during this time. Just as there are positive and negative inner-forces that will be experienced within, there are also positive and negative ways to cope with what feels like the spiritual doldrums, where nothing is really happening in a person’s life. (In the Ocean, there are places known as the Doldrums where there is little wind, and sailing boats often get stranded. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Doldrums,). During the Doldrums of the Dark Night of the Soul, it might even feel like it is time to leave this existence, which is a fallacy that could lead to tragic results. So if this is not the end of the story, but the end of Part One, how does one move on?
Medical Yi Ren Qigong
First off, try not to panic. This is not the time to feel despair, but to feel delight: You are about to emerge out of this time a much stronger, smarter and wiser person. When you are plagued by inner turmoil, counteract the negative, self-destructive thoughts with varying resistance—there is a time to advance and a time to retreat—but never give up. To me, the most symbolic Tai Chi exercise on how to deal with life’s stressors is the Pushing Hands Exercise, where you work with and not against both your friends and adversaries. Instead of trying to outright destroy your demons, learn to, as I wrote about in an earlier entry, dance with your demons. Often times your demons (which can be viewed as loosened blockages causing issues to surface) will be much too strong for you to handle by simple mind-over-matter. The most positive and powerful way to function when you are being attacked by dark forces is to take time to calm down, sit down, relax and meditate.
Why meditate? It is common for people to think that they can merely think their way out of depression or just snap out of it. Unfortunately, this is often not effective. The underlying problem could actually be thinking way too much with the frontal lobe of the brain, what the Taoists refer to as the Intellectual Mind. This part of the mind is great at reasoning and logic, however oftentimes when answers to personal questions are not readily available, thinking too much with the frontal lobe can cause what Yi Ren Qigong instructor Brendan Thorson has referred to as the “broken record effect.” Trying to process too much information at once with the frontal lobe can lead to obsessive and intrusive thoughts that repeat over and over and over and over and over and over…
This is not good. In fact, I have heard people who have been clinically diagnosed with Bipolar Disorder, describe symptoms of intrusive and repetitive thoughts that can lead to deep depression and even manic episodes.
When you meditate, as I have many times at home and in class, you start to bring more attention to the back of the mind, the Parietal Lobe. This is what the Taoists refer to as the Self-awareness and Intuitive Mind. When you use this part of the mind, you become more conscious of your body and your emotions. From what I have experienced, when you begin to focus more on your body and inner feelings, you start to calm down and feel at ease. By turning down the Frontal Lobe chatter, you can collect your thoughts in a more organized and less chaotic manner. I often compare meditation to rebooting your brain. Like a computer, your brain can slow down, get stuck, freeze and become infected with spyware and pesky viruses. Meditation can be a way of defragging your mind (organizing it and getting rid of clutter) and purging detrimental programs.
All in all, the goal is to integrate the Intellectual Mind with the Intuitive Mind. Too much use of either one is maladaptive. One of my personal experiences with this was after a six-hour day of Yi Ren Qigong meditation and exercising. After Brendan Thorson’s seminar, I went to get a haircut. I was definitely still in a meditative state when I arrived at the hair salon and I am sure much of my brain activity was in the Parietal Lobe. I went to sign in for my haircut, and asked for a pen. There was a jar full of pens close-by to my right, however it did not register in my brain: I was still too far within myself and not very aware of my surroundings. I am usually very astute and alert, and although I was very calm (the receptionist probably thought I had been prescribed Medicinal Marijuana) I was not very cerebral or calculating. In a sense I was a ship without a skipper. Recently, through Qigong, including deep meditation, my Intellectual and Intuitive Mind have begun to integrate, and when the two come together, it is the best feeling I have ever had. In this state I am best able to be rooted firmly to the earth, aware of the inner and outer forces of the Universe that affect me, and I am able to work with them, in a sense performing Pushing Hands with my mind.
Your thoughts do not only affect your emotional state, but also your physical body. A very obvious example of this is when men and women have sexual thoughts; they can change the state and condition of their sex organs. I do not mean to be crude, but this is something we can all relate to. This is the same as having what Thorson has coined junk or toxic thoughts. Sexual feelings are usually positive (as long as they are not obsessive or controlling) but what about negative thoughts such as feelings of inadequacy or blind anger? These too can change the condition of the body as well. You will notice that a person with low self-esteem will often walk around like he has a weight on his shoulders. He might appear slumped over as he stares at the ground while lazily dragging his feet. His face might look droopy and he might have dark circles under his eyes. When you are in the Dark Night of the Soul, it is not uncommon to feel useless and isolated. However, you will only exacerbate this condition by feeding yourself junk thoughts: “I’m a failure; I’m stupid and ugly; my life is over…” This can have very bad effects on your internal organs, especially your kidneys, which in the view of Yi Ren Qigong, are the body’s internal power house. The kidneys generate electricity for supporting the work of the internal body. You might also feel extremely angry during this time. An angry person might appear half-cocked all the time and sport a snide sneer on her face. When you are angry, it can have very ill effects on your liver, which in the view of Chinese Medicine and Yi Ren Qigong is the house of the soul. Your liver also affects the strength of your muscles and tendons.
These junk thoughts can eventually lead to high levels of stress. Eventually, when you are over-stressed, the Adrenal Glands, which are located on top of the kidneys, become overactive. This can lead to Adrenal Fatigue that makes a person feel completely drained of energy. Moreover, your body will begin to produce too much of the stress hormone, Cortisol, which can be very damaging to the body and mind. High levels of Cortisol have been linked to obesity, increasing the overall process of aging and can disrupt productive thought patterns, which can lead to anxiety and depression.
When an individual is in a state of high-stress and his or her mind is chaotic, racing to go nowhere, he or she will naturally seek relief. In American society, many people are not aware of the option of Qigong to bring the body and mind back into balance. Some believe you have two options to deal with stress-induced depression and other psychological disorders: Counseling (in particular psychiatric drugs) and street drugs such as heroin, cocaine and most popularly, marijuana and alcohol—which do not fix the problem at its root, but rather, merely numb the symptoms of the issue.
To me, the options of legal psychiatric drugs and street drugs are negative ways to deal with the Dark Night of the Soul.
It is definitely true that some people’s minds are so disturbed that they need psychiatric drugs to prevent them from harming themselves or others. However, in many cases, as I can attests to personally, Qigong, in particularly medical Qigong such as Yi Ren Qigong, can be very effective at curing psychological disorders. It is widely known that psychiatric drugs can have severe side-effects: One fellow Qigong practitioner recently wrote that being on psychiatric drugs felt like she had a chemical lobotomy. This might seem like an exaggeration, but, although I do believe that mood stabilizers such as Prozac, Xanax and Lithium can be effective in balancing and controlling moods, let us examine these drugs, including their side effects, by clicking on the following public health links:
This is not to say that practicing Yi Ren Qigong will, be like a walk in the park. The healing and development process at times can be physically and emotionally challenging. But these challenges are part of the healing process and are not harmful to one’s body. For instance, Prozac has been reported by some users to cause kidney discomfort, which I believe (and some experts concur) is due to Prozac’s negative effect on the kidneys. However, any kidney discomfort a Yi Ren Qigong practitioner might experience is not indicative of his or her kidneys being destroyed but healing and getting stronger. You can liken this to the muscle pain you might feel after a hard physical workout. The pain might not even be experienced right after the workout, but maybe the next day or even two days later. I personally have experienced dull or sharp pains in my kidneys after practicing Medical Yi Ren Qigong, but instead of feeling fatigued afterwards, I feel energized and stronger.
In a sense, although some patients might believe that psychiatric drugs are helping their minds, they could actually be destroying their bodies. The mind is being tended to but the body is being neglected.
When you are in the Dark Night of the Soul you might be especially prone to depression and other mental maladies. My suggestion is to exhaust all spiritual-work options, including Yi Ren Qigong, before resorting to taking psychiatric drugs. Remember, you might not have a chemical imbalance where levels of neurotransmitters such as serotonin and dopamine are either too high or low, but actually an imbalance of the use of the Frontal and Parietal Lobes of your brain. Ideally, these two parts of your brain will work in conjunction with each other, creating balance in a person’s overall being.
In all my years of going to the doctor, when complaining about a mood disturbance, I was never told about the option of meditation or Medical Qigong. In fact, in my first entry, I wrote about one General Physician handing me a bag of the anti-depressant Zoloft and saying to me “It’s nothing to be ashamed about.” By that doctor, who is actually a very good and smart MD, saying that, he acknowledged that there is a social stigma against people who are on psychiatric drugs.
Therefore, since Medical Qigong is not widely endorsed or touted by the majority of the medical community in the United States, and there is a social stigma against people on anti-psychotic drugs, to some, the only viable option might seem to be street drugs such as heroin and marijuana.
Now I have nothing personally against the use of marijuana. In fact, I think that marijuana, used in moderation, can lead to some profound spiritual insights. Unfortunately, marijuana has also been shown to have negative impacts on short-term memory and linear cognitive functions such as mathematics. I have enjoyed marijuana before, and like I stated earlier, the feeling of being under the influence of marijuana is similar to being in a meditative state. However, whereas meditation is actually creating more connections in your mind, marijuana is merely shutting off parts of your brain and turning up others. One very clever Yi Ren Qigong student told me in class that he compares being high on marijuana to walking around with a telescope. You might be able to see deeper into the vastness of your mind and subsequently the universe while on it, but while walking around, you will surely bump into things unnoticed in your immediate surroundings.
Heroin is a much different story: It is much more detrimental and even deadly. In the United States, including Washington State, heroin use is growing at an alarming rate, especially among young adults 18-35. There could be many reasons for this, including the over prescribing of pain medications such as Oxycontin and Percocet, which are Opioids or essentially synthetic heroin. An increasing trend is for abusers of Opioids to progress onto heroin, which has the same effect but is much cheaper.
About seven years ago, I had a severe case of Strep Throat. Along with the Penicillin I was prescribed, I was also given a prescription for Percocet. I found this curious because I felt relief the next day after taking my first dose of Penicillin. I did not use the Percocet to treat the pain caused by my Strep Throat, since that had greatly subsided. However, I did take the Percocet recreationally since I was curious.
Now I am sure that Opioids (and Opiates such as heroin) are very effective at treating physical pain, but additionally, they can help alleviate the pain caused by psychological issues. While high on Percocet, I noticed that every worry or anxiety I could muster to in my mind would not cause me to feel unbalanced or stressed. I felt like I was in a peaceful place of bliss. However, I only used Percocet a few times and thankfully did not get addicted. One of the things that prevented me from using it more was from what I had witnessed Opioids and heroin do to people physically, even leading to death. Again, this is a case of treating the symptom and not the underlying cause (which is often unresolved issues that the Taoists call blockages, popularly thought of in the West as unresolved psychological issues from childhood trauma or even further on into adulthood.) This is also a case of treating the mind, but neglecting the body, in turn, slowly destroying it.
The ironic thing about the abuse of street drugs is that often times, addicts who seek help, end up on the path that they should have initially taken. They often end up on a spiritual path that can include studying Christianity, Islam, Hinduism, Buddhism, Taoism, et-cetera. Also, they often learn about spiritual exercises, including Yoga and Qigong. Sure these practices are much harder than popping a pill, taking a toke, or injecting yourself with heroin, but in the long run, they will lead you to a happy life. From my own experience, the more I practice Qigong, in particular Yi Ren Qigong, the easier it becomes. I do not view it as a chore (as a “have to do”) but as a delight (as a “get to do”). Any pain that I experience from practicing Yi Ren Qigong is a good pain that is bettering my life, not bad pain that is slowly killing me.
During the Dark Night of the Soul, you have the option of getting through this time by positive means, such as practicing Yi Ren Qigong, and negative means such as using harmful drugs. The choice is yours, but it is my view that opting for the second option will either lead to a lower quality of life, even death, or that you will eventually be guided to the option you should have opted for in the beginning: the first option, the positive one.
Dealing with the Doldrums
Picture yourself standing on the back porch of a vacant beach house, staring at a crystal lake on a warm, summer night. It is right after sunset and both the light of the vanished sun and a newly appeared moon illuminate the dusky sky. The few clouds that are left overhead actually appear to be red, as the sun’s light refracts off the atmosphere. Behind you all the lights of the large, two-story wooden beach house are off and the only sound you hear in the house is the faint hum of the refrigerator in the nearby kitchen. About 40 yards in the distance you see a large, 100-foot party, yacht skipping freely across the lake. You begin to feel isolated and desperately lonely as you hear the merry laughs of both familiar and unfamiliar people. It feels like you will forever inhabit the beach house, alone, and the yacht full of partiers, living happy and fulfilling lives, will float farther and farther away—never to return.
This can be how the doldrums feel. This feeling of loneliness and inactivity can lead to either self-destruction or self-improvement. Contrary to what you might believe, the yacht will return to you, when the time is right. In the meantime, remember that this is not a time in your life to feel morose, but to celebrate. It might sound inane, but you are in a spiritual cocoon, preparing to emerge as a butterfly. How brilliant your colors shine depends on how well you nourish yourself during the Doldrums of the Dark Night of the Soul.
One of the most common thoughts experienced during the Doldrums is suicide. They say that suicide is more-often-than-not a permanent solution to a temporary problem. Often times a surviving jumper will attests that during that despondent descent, he or she had a moment of clarity and regretted jumping. To me, the act of suicide is an example of the result of trying to fight inner turmoil with just the Frontal Lobe of the brain, the Intellectual Mind, and not bringing your thought energy to the back of your mind, the Parietal Lobe or Self-awareness, Intuitive Mind.
The Doldrums are a time to think about improving yourself, and they are not at time to compare yourself to others. Success means something different to everyone and every person is on a different journey. There is no such thing as a universal time-line for when things are supposed to happen in your life. People who believe this end up in unhealthy marriages; working at jobs they detest and often feel that they are living their lives on someone else’s terms or on society’s terms. Self-approval is much more important than garnering approval in the eyes of your peers, elders and/or society-at-large.
From my experience, your mind will seem to play tricks on you during the Doldrums of the Dark Night of the Soul. You will at times not act like your usual self and begin to worry about things you never used to worry about. With time, I guarantee you, as long as you continue to practice Medical Qigong, these worries will subside. You might even feel that you need to learn new things, things you were never even interested in before. To me, this is the brain getting stronger and more curious. I remember that once in high school, during Trigonometry class, a kid shouted to the teacher, who was giving a lecture, “Who cares!” The kid could not figure out how Trigonometry applied to his life. It is true that he might not ever use it after high school, but Trigonometry was teaching the kid to use and exercise parts of his brain that he could apply to other activities such as Architecture or even music. Studies have shown that mathematics, including Trigonometry, can help people better understand music and vice-versa.
During the last four years I have taken up many hobbies and learned to do many new things, exercising my mind in a positive way. Some of these new activities include, learning about Web Developing, working on electric guitars and vacuum tube amplifiers, learning to work on my car, and of course, practicing “Medical” Yi Ren Qigong. I have found that if I keep my mind occupied and stay active, often times the worries in my mind will lessen. Interestingly enough, in many cases, the things I used to obsess over and many of my bad habits (including feeding myself junk thoughts) have gradually disappeared, seemingly very abruptly. However, although I was not aware of it, my practice of Yi Ren Qigong, has helped my brain and body get healthier, even when I was not aware that any changes were taking place inside me.
So here you are, in the Dark Night of the Soul, on your sailboat, floating freely in the Doldrums, just waiting for the wind to pick up. Again, do not panic, positive changes may be closer than you think. As long as you take this time to do positive things for yourself, you will emerge out of this phase a much more evolved and well-rounded person, both in the eyes of others but more importantly, yourself. Now that you have read through my advice about how to healthily survive during the Dark Night of the Soul, I think you deserve to take a deep breath, turn on some relaxing music, dim the lights (maybe even light some candles and incense), sit down, softly close your eyes and peacefully meditate. If you listen hard enough, you might even hear those on the party Yacht calling your name.
Possessing Me (A Story that Needed to be Told and Should Be Read by All)
A blog by Brian Kane 3/31/2012
It has been about two weeks since I finished reading Jane Alexander’s, “Possessing Me.” I waited this long to write a review because I wanted to see what aspects of this book left a lasting impression on me. First off, Jane Alexander wrote this book with passionate prose. You can feel the intensity in her writing style and earnest hysteria in her recollections of her tumultuous past: Her childhood was full of parental abuse and the frustration of dealing what with doctors told her she had—Bipolar Disorder.
But the frustration started long before her initial diagnosis. I do not want to give too much of the story away, but when Jane seeks help from a social worker as young kid, you are certain she will get the help she needs to not only incriminate her parents for child abuse, but also find a way out of what can only non-hyperbolically be called a living hell. However, not only did the social worker deem her living situation healthy, she even described her parents’ domicile (which, being rather cluttered beforehand, had been thoroughly cleaned and organized in preparation for the social worker’s visit) as a good Christian home. Nothing could be further from the truth. That is unless you believe spare the rod and spoil the child means it is okay to drag your sleeping kid out of her bed and across the floor by her hair and then box her senseless, merely for missing a few spots while cleaning the dishes. That is only one of many abusive incidents that left me both angry and heartbroken for the young protagonist.
However, Jane’s story is not one of melancholic despair that will leave the reader feeling morose from learning of a tragic existence. Even as Jane is enduring living in mental hospitals, foster homes and alternative high schools for troubled teens, you know that there are two prophetic events that that will aide her in her recovery from Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder, which most likely lead to her diagnosis of Schizoaffective Disorder: a combination of Schizophrenia and Bipolar Disorder. These events are when she visited her biological father in China at age 13 and saw people practicing Tai Chi (a type of Chi Gung exercise) for the first time, and when she purchased a book about Chi Gung, also referred to as Qigong, as a kid as well.
Even as you read about her being administered a plethora of psychiatric drugs that are meant to cure of her of her illness, but only harm her both physically and mentally—Jane refers to the feeling of being on psychiatric drugs as having a chemical lobotomy—or when you learn about her near tragic suicide attempt, you know that Alexander will cure herself.
However, the road to her recovery is not an easy one and reading Jane’s recollections about her past is often not easy either. In fact, some of her actions might make the reader pass harsh judgment upon her, but perhaps one of Alexander’s intentions in writing this book was to show that even people that society has given up on and thrown away, can become stable, successful and productive human beings.
As Jane begins to heal herself, the harshness of the story turns into an exhilarating tale of recovery. An analogy that Jane Alexander herself might use is that the pre-recovery segment of the story feels like you are reading a book underneath the harsh fluorescent lights of a sterile, stuffy, high school classroom in a poor town. During her recovery, you are transferred to a Buddhist monastery, and reading by bright and calming candlelight.
Alexander’s book is certainly not the first about a young woman’s trials with mental illness. I was reminded of two other books while reading Jane’s memoir: Elizabeth Wurtzel’s “Prozac Nation” and Sylvia Plath’s “The Bell Jar.” However, although both Wurtzel’s and Plath’s stories are excellent, it is hard to really take anything away from them except that mental illness is an arcane condition that no one really knows how to genuinely cure. One has to wonder: If Plath had learned about and practiced meditation and Chi Gung, would she have lived a full life and maybe even still be with us today (she would be nearly 80 years old) and conversely, if Jane Alexander had not become a practitioner of Chi Gung, would she have followed the same tragic path that Plath did? I think in both cases, the answer might surely be, yes.
In summation, I highly recommend this book to anyone. Even if you yourself are not living with mental illness, chances are, someone that you care about is. This very candid and empowering book may help a person with psychological issues find the freedom that Jane Alexander found by curing herself of a supposedly incurable disease.