- 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…
- Yi Ren® 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
A Blog by Brian Kane 1/14/2012,
(The first time I became aware that martial arts, both internal and external, could help someone kick a heroin addiction was when the famous rock musician Duff McKagan told then heroin-addicted singer Scott Wieland that he should try martial arts to help stop using. It seemed to work for Scott Weiland, and I thought that if I ever had a close friend or family member that was addicted to heroin, I would suggest martial arts. I never thought I would actually have to share this advice, however. Unfortunately, a person close to me has recently developed a heroin habit. When the time is right, I will definitely make sure I tell this person about how Yi Ren QiGong could be part of what helps him kick his habit and stay drug-free. His story has also helped me realize that drug addiction is not a moral issue or even a choice. It is a health issue. And it could happen to all of us.)
I cannot remember what time of year it was. It might have been summer or late spring. I cannot even remember the exact reason we were there, Hugh and I, outside of Aaron’s mom’s house: Aaron was a close friend of Hugh and was deeply troubled. I just remember that Hugh had to tell Aaron’s mom something about her son’s heroin addiction. Now that I reach back into the recesses of my mind, where most of us hide painful memories, I remember it was just that: Aaron had been caught trying to steal some lady’s purse at a bar the night before in order to feed his heroin addiction, and had landed himself in jail. I kept thinking to myself: what a waste, man. Aaron was a very talented chef and loved his job, but he was throwing his future away on some stupid drug. I also kept thinking how amazed I was at Hugh’s composure: Here he was, about to go into his good friend’s mom’s house to break to her the bad news about the vice grip that heroin had on her son, enough to make him turn into a petty thief, and he just had this kind of calm and strong smile on his face. I knew that inside he was pretty nervous and sad, but I also knew that whenever you were in a jam, Hugh—being tough as nails—would always be there for you.
But I must confess. Hugh is not his real name, and he is much more than just an acquaintance or casual confidant of mine. But I cannot divulge his identity, because he would rough me up a bit if I did. Although, unfortunately, I don’t think he would be capable of muscling me around at all anymore. You see, the tough as nails dude that I looked at with admiration as he was about to go tell his good friend’s mom about her son’s heroin addiction–a mere two years after we sat in that car looking at that sullen house–would sadly succumb to heroin himself—becoming a full-on addict. As I write these words, I simply cannot believe that this is true.
Oh I have had my suspicions for about eight months now. I just knew that there was something wrong with the man. He had lost about 40 pounds in a mere few months, it looked like. His face looked droopy and his eyes had lost the playful wit that they once had. However, he had not lost his stubbornness or uncanny ability to thwart you from making him tell you the truth about the trouble he was in. As soon as I would insinuate that I knew he was on something, possibly addicted, his eyes would get that old fire back in them. Although he did not have the physical presence that he once did (I could probably beat him senseless at this point) that look of detest, anger, and violence (all in one look) could still be intimidating. It could still shake the walls.
However, even Hugh, Mr. Tough Guy, could not sustain his façade forever, as no human is tougher than heroin: I have been watching the drug literally suck the life-force out of him to the point where at times his speech is barely intelligible and his gate is shaky as he often saunters in an opiate induced stupor. Since I have seen Hugh begin to deteriorate, I have become extremely angry: livid, fumid, vexed and frustrated. This was a person close to me, and at certain get-togethers, I would watch him nod off while eating food. I would watch him sit in his car and see his eyes roll back in his head as he peaked on heroin. I never saw him shoot up. But I did see the aftermath. Hugh was in bad shape, to say the least. So bad, that one day I decided his death was inevitable. Even though he is still alive as I write these words, I am still prepared for the worse.
You might wonder: Why don’t you help your friend? Thankfully, his family is in the process of getting him help, although Hugh has yet to admit he has a serious problem. Even though about six months or so ago I was certain Mr. Hugh would die from his addiction, I now have faith that if those close to him continue to push him in the right direction, he will make a full recovery. He will be the same person that I sat in that car with two years ago, with the same strong smile and lively eyes. He will have defeated heroin just like his friend Aaron, who he helped out, had done.
The question remains: What do I do now? How can I help my friend Hugh the same way he helped his friend Aaron, and perhaps even sport the same strong smile on my face while in the midst of this mess? I have written before how the Taoist text, the “Tao Te Ching” tells us in Verse 15 to remain “As chaotic as a muddy torrent. Because clarity is learned by being patient in the presence of chaos…”
This is definitely a Verse that I reference often with regards to how to deal with Hugh’s situation. Oftentimes in deep Yi Ren Qigong mediation, I also see visions of my younger days and how happy Hugh (who I have known most of my life) once was. Despite his recent unsavory disposition, it helps me realize that Hugh is just sick. Drugs are not a moral issue or in my opinion, even a choice at times. Like Neil Young crooned in his hit “The Needle and the Damage Done” there is a little bit of it in everyone. We all, depending on what has happened to us in our lives, have potential to fall victim to drug abuse and addiction.
Probably the most amazing advice I have read about comes from the Buddhist Monk, Thich Nhat Hanh. In a recent issue of the “Shambhala Sun” he said this about helping a person fight addiction without feeling overwhelmed:
When you feel overwhelmed, you are trying too hard. That kind of energy does not help the other person, and it does not help you. You should not be too eager to help right away. There are two things: to be and to do. Don’t think too much about to do–to be is first. To be peace. To be joy. To be happiness. And then to do joy, to do happiness—on the basis of being. So first you have to focus on the practice of being. Being fresh. Being peaceful. Being attentive. Being generous. Being compassionate, This is the basic practice. It’s like the other person is sitting at the foot of a tree. The tree does not do anything, but the tree is fresh and alive. When you are like the tree, sending out waves of freshness, you help to calm down the suffering in the other person.
Your presence should be pleasant, it should be calm and you should be there for him or her. That is a lot already. When children like to come and sit close to you, it’s not because you have a lot of cookies to give, but because sitting close to you is nice. It’s refreshing. So sit next to the person who is suffering and try your best to be your best—pleasant, attentive, fresh. (Andrea Miller, January, 2012, Shambhala Sun, Be Beautiful, Be Yourself, Volume 20, Number 3, page 47.)
The best thing I have done for myself in order to cope with my friend’s illness is to practice Yi Ren Qigong, without a doubt. The reason being is basically because YiRen QiGong has helped me be and remain happy, fresh and pleasant. When I first started dealing with Hugh’s state, it was like I felt like an addict: I could not sleep, I was tired and weak, and my mind was racing all the time—feeling helpless. I was surely more of a wounded tree than the fresh kind that Thich Nhat Hanh spoke of.
However, I have learned to turn my anger into hope and joy. I have learned to remember the person that Hugh was and has the potential to be again. In essence, through peaceful QiGong exercises, including meditation, I have been able to remember that this is not the tough guy Hugh: the real Hugh. This is the sick Hugh. I also believe that when we are sick, we develop toxic thinking patterns that are hard to stop once they spin out of control. I have mentioned many times in my blogs that I used to suffer from chronic, morbid depression: the type that would make it hard to get out of bed in the morning and face the day. However, since practicing Yi Ren QiGong, my bouts of depression never last longer than a week. I believe that the root of Hugh’s addiction, the cause of it, is depression and a general unbalance of his mind, body and spirit. Depression can be caused by being addicted to the toxic thought patterns that I mentioned, if you will. I often think that in strange way, I used depression as an excuse to not face my fears with courage and strength. In a way, my “drug” of choice was to feel better about my life by blaming other people for my problems and deeming the world an awful place. By doing this, I had an excuse to not make an effort to attain self-betterment, since my fatalistic view was that I would always be a mess because the world is a mess. There is an old saying that I heard when I was young; “Life’s a bitch and then you die, so forget it all and let’s get high.” I believe that this is a foolish man’s way of thinking. I am not saying that all drug use is detrimental to self-discovery (I have heard of people gaining higher levels of awareness through LSD and Psilocybin usage) but I am saying that it is possible to be happy without depending on a substance to bring you joy.
So in closing, I would like anyone that is dealing with a close friend and/or loved one who is afflicted by addiction of any kind, to consider my story and attitude with my own situation. I would also graciously ask that you send good energy into the Universe by sending good vibes to me, which I can share with Hugh. I don’t have any clever quip to end this blog with except, may we all realize that most unhappiness is caused by delusions of the mind.
By Brian Kane 12/31/2011,
While studying and practicing Yi Ren QiGong, as with any practice or exercise that can potentially improve your health, you will gain insight not only into past physical injuries, but also emotional. This insight, at first, can be rather alarming. The practitioner might feel like decreasing his or her intensity of workout, or even ceasing to practice Yi Ren QiGong altogether. If you seek self-improvement, the latter is a mistake.
First of all, it is often held true that others see us better than we see ourselves. This is true because so many of our actions are programmed—sometimes as early as childhood. We act at a subconscious level, often to our detriment and not benefit. We might not be aware of our actions because they have become intuitive and or instinctual. But why is this so?
To me, it is because as humans, we often internalize both positive and negative ways to deal with pain. For instance, let us say a person gets depressed after a recent romantic breakup or a death in the family. In popular American culture, the surest way to forget the pain is to turn to drugs and alcohol–in moderation ideally–in order to alleviate the emotional pain. Likewise, the athlete who has an injured knee, might turn to painkillers and ice to numb the pain, yet the injury remains.
At two recent Yi Ren QiGong seminars (one Jing & Rou and the other Level II, or Zang Fu), hosted by Brendan Thorson, one of the attendees, a very healthy woman of middle age (I will call her Rosemary), said that by the second day of the Jing & Rou seminar, she began to feel old injuries in her knees and ankles—injuries she had not felt in years. Brendan assured her that although she had not felt the pain in these areas for a long time, her joints had not fully healed in these areas. The Qi energy was directing its healing properties to both injured locations in her body. Although the process of physical healing can be very painful, the benefit of having fully healed muscles and tendons–which is what Yi Ren Jing(muscles) & Rou (tendons) concentrates on–can be very profound and rewarding. Rosemary persevered through the seminar and is happy she did: Her ankles and knees are feeling much better.
A week later at the Yi Ren QiGong Level II seminar, Rosemary practiced the Zang Fu program of QiGong developed my Dr. Guan Cheng-Sun. In Zang Fu, the QiGong exercises concentrate on the twelve major organ meridians which correspond to different emotions. These are emotions that might be trapped in the organs and not consciously felt by the practitioner. Some of these emotions can even be stored as sympathy pains, as experienced by Rosemary. Rosemary had lost her husband to colon cancer, which affects the large intestine, and also her recently deceased mother, who had an inflamed large intestine due to years of drinking, smoking and other detrimental health habits.
While practicing the Lung/Large Intestine exercise, Rosemary began to cry and looked sad. She began to remember massaging her husband’s liver, where the cancer had spread to, in order to help him through the cancer treatment process. I noticed that the usually very calm and collected Rosemary seemed very distraught after the first day of the Yi Ren Level II seminar. However, on the Monday following the two-day seminar, during one of Brendan Thorson’s regular two-hour classes (In this case, coincidentally it was a Level II class), through her words and body posture, I could tell that Rosemary had less unrest about her husband and mother’s deaths: She seemed like she was more satisfied knowing she did all she could to help them during their last days, and dying hours.
I personally observed this all, thinking I had been spared from any potential physical or emotional pain induced by the two seminars. I was wrong.
Lucky for me, I do not have any past serious, chronic physical injuries. The only physical discomfort I have felt from Yi Ren QiGong is in my knees, but I have not felt any of that pain for about six months. Since then, physically, I feel fine. Emotionally, I have some major things to work on.
One thing that this practice has done is made me much more aware of myself and other’s defense mechanisms. I am not writing about defending yourself from things that are negative, but oftentimes, out of fear and blockages, people build all sorts of negative programs that preclude them from realizing their full potential.
Lately I have become aware of what sorts of things cause me to act negatively and also what I do in order to potentially sabotage things in my life that have the potential to lead to failure—and in turn, pain. On the Tuesday that followed practicing Level II Yi Ren Qigong for 14 hours over three days, every fear, guilt, delusion and other emotional pain that I could imagine having over the last 10 years or so, came rushing into my conscious like a Tsunami. It was staggering. I did not know what to do. I felt so much despair that I lashed out at my friends, family, people at work. I felt like there was no hope and that I should just end it all. Luckily, I had Brendan Thorson and my closest friends to talk to. (And of course my mom, who I said some pretty mean things to. I have asked for forgiveness for my words. Thankfully she understands and all is forgiven.)
As I lay on my bed after talking to a few friends, I felt somewhat better, but physically exhausted. I said some things that were very dramatic and alarming, but I knew while I was saying them that I did not mean them. It was as if I had given my soul a spiritual colon cleanse and much of the emotional gunk that had built up in my mind, body and spirit had been expunged.
I woke up the next morning feeling much lighter and grounded. I could not believe the way I had acted the night before. When I was driving to work the next day, I could tell that I had made some progress in returning to what I like to call the “Real Brian Kidd.” The person that inside that I know I am, however, that does not always make an appearance. I now have a greater understanding as to why this is. I suppose that I should write more about that at a later time. For now, I am just grateful to Brendan Thorson, Dr. Sun and his Teacher Master Zhang, for giving me the opportunity to experience the amazing Power of Internal Martial Arts, specifically Yi Ren Qigong, and for helping me find my own Tao, or way, to the personal freedom that I know, with perseverance, I will eventually find. Happy Holidays and many blessings.
*You might remember when I wrote of the story of the master that told his student that any type of meditation or QiGOng practice can potentially stir up old, uncomfortable memories. QiGong can make you strong enough to face these memories and become at peace with them. This in turn can make those memories have less of a negative impact on your actions by dissolving emotional blockages, or what in the West is commonly referred to as hang-.ups.
By Brian Kane: 12/11/11
“Fear is an acronym for: False Evidence Appearing Real,” Gary Busey.
Why do we fear things, when there is nothing to be afraid of? I was lying in bed this Saturday, December 10, 2011, (right before this weekend’s Level II YiRen Qigong Seminar hosted by Brendan Thorson) and this inquiry came to my mind. Fear seems to motivate us in everything we do: Fear of being unemployed makes you work harder than you should at your job, fear of looking foolish might make you incredibly afraid to speak and/or perform in front of a crowd, fear of being single and being alone and lonely often makes individuals choose a partner that is not right for them. I think it was Robin Williams who jokingly quipped that he oftentimes finds himself with a girlfriend that he knows is not necessarily the “right” girl but the best “right now” girl. Although many of us have similar fears, some people’s fears might seem deranged and very esoteric. Believe me when I write that if you believe some of your fears are strange, you are certainly not alone. Even if no one in the entire world shares one of your darkest most secret fears, more people than you might think are afraid of some very peculiar things.
When I was meditating about fear an idea came to my mind. Instead of being motivated to do things by fear, perhaps it would be better to be motivated by seeking self-fulfillment. During this weekend’s Level II YiRen Qigong Seminar, after completing the Large Universe exercise, which is intended to circulate Qi, or Chi, throughout the 12 major meridians, I wrote down the following ideas:
Fear + Ego amounts to trying to garner praise which leads to competition. Altruism + Ego amounts to trying to spread peace and joy, which leads to cooperation. The latter is much more self-fulfilling in the long run and I am confident that if you lead your life by this design, you can be both happy and successful.
You might question: Well, is not the opposite of fear, courage? I would answer that courage is not the opposite of fear, but rather being afraid and acting with your best interest in mind regardless of your fear. Self-fulfillment is not the opposite of fear either, but it is a way to alleviate fear more effectively than say, being motivated to do something in order to impress other people.
Instead of trying to impress people, it is much healthier to think about how you can help both yourself and your fellow man or woman by your actions. For instance, let us say you are a painter and you have never sold one piece of art even though your paintings seem very similar to what another renowned artist has produced. You paint what you paint because you want to be praised and want to sell pieces, but in your mind, you know that very few painters share the same brush strokes. Your fear of what others think motivates you.
However, if you paint with the intention of being true to yourself, thus seeking self-fulfillment, more often than not your honesty will touch someone and enhance her life. That person will enjoy your art not because it is popular or “better” than someone else’s, but because it is a true representation of part of you: your soul.
Verse Three of the “Tao Te Ching” reads:
When praise is lavished upon the famous,
the people contend and compete with one another.
When exotic goods are traded and treasured,
the compulsion to steal is felt.
When desires are constantly stimulated,
people become disturbed and confused.
Therefore, the wise person sets an example by
Emptying her mind
Opening her heart,
Relaxing her ambitions,
Relinquishing her desires,
Cultivating her character.
Having conquering her own cunning an cravings,
she can’t be manipulated by anyone.
Do by not-doing.
Act with nonaction.
Allow order to arise of itself.
Part of Verse 15 of the “Tao Te Ching” states
Those who aspire to Tao don’t long
They selfishly allow the Tao to
use and deplete them;
They calmly allow the Tao to
renew and complete them.
To me this means that reaching complete self-fulfillment is not a goal one sets, but the pursuit of feeling fulfilled or satisfied that your actions have taken into the consideration of others as well as yourself, is imperative for your own health and well-being.
This week I am going to start being aware of my fears and accepting them. More importantly, I am going to try to be motivated not by fear, but, with courage, by the intention of feeling truly fulfilled that my actions are not controlled by what is seen through the eyes of others, but through the windows of my own soul.
By Brian Kane 12/5/2011,
It has been a third of a year since I last wrote a blog regarding Yi Ren QiGong. During that short amount of time, much has changed with both me and the Noble School of Tai Chi & QiGong Training. I will touch on many of these things in the ensuing blogs. Let’s begin.
In the immortal words of Neil Pert from the seminal rock band Rush: “…changes aren’t permanent, but change is.” Change for the better or evolving your self is almost never easy either. It takes work—hard work. And although some would rather ignore the fact that when you do try to better your life and reach your true potential, that unforeseen obstacles, adversaries and adversities will appear, this phenomenon, however unfortunate it might seem, is often inevitable. But do not falter—the Universe will lift the shroud of lies from over your eyes if you are willing to be receptive to its teachings. And now a synopsis of some of what has happened to me during my blogging hiatus.
First of all, this hiatus was not due to indolence or writer’s block, well not completely.
In fact since August I have improved my life substantially by accomplishing a few things I did not think I was remotely capable of. These include releasing an entire music album (see http://www.vamposcura.com) and passing a Web Developing test. And although these might not seem like life-altering or groundbreaking feats, they did not come easily. This was not because of any self-doubt or despair, but a few sucker punches from the game of life.
For instance, while I was studying for my Web Developing test, the motherboard to my laptop computer melted. I was devastated—at first. I had about a week to study for the test, yet my computer, which is a pretty important device to study Web Developing on, was on the fritz. I was done for, I thought.
I am still without a computer, as I type this on my Dad’s desktop. In fact, I have been without a computer for nearly two months. At first, it felt like I had a limb amputated and that my quality of life would be drastically diminished. But that has not been completely the case.
During this time I have focused more of my time studying Taoism, Yi Ren QiGong and music. My life now consists of simple things: music, web developing, my job, and Yi Ren QiGong. I write simple not because they are of little value or easy to master. They are simple because they do not seem like a chore to me: I just do them. I wake up, do a few stretches and exercises, take a shower, shave—sometimes—get dressed, (I get dressed every time, but skip a shave maybe twice a week) grab a muffin and some tea and then head out to my friend’s apartment to carpool to work. Simple. Some might say that sounds like a drag: the life of a worker bee drone. But the end truly justifies the means. Every aspect of your life is a process. Not very many people start out at jobs they like, but if you have the right attitude, you can get the vocation that will allow you to be happy and stay centered. I believe I am on the right course. I believe it is possible for all of us.
You will notice that when you begin to change and evolve that it might feel like the walls of life are closing in around you. This is not necessarily true. I truly believe that a great deal of our fears can manifest themselves in seemingly strange ways. Oftentimes, we know our potentials, but we do not change because we are scared of what might happen as we struggle to grow. I mentioned demons in my last blog. Demons can reveal themselves to you when you try to break free of the shackles of self-mediocrity. But during this time, as the enemies of your mind close in, as those walls get closer, remain calm. I have noticed that after moments of disarray and chaos in my life, after the smoke clears, things are much better. That is, as long as I deal with those tumultuous times intelligently. Yi Ren QiGong has certainly been one of the means I have used to stay as centered and grounded as possible. I am far from perfect. Lately, I seem to get irritated and angry easier, but I have not resorted to self abuse in order to cope with these trying times in my life. I do not drink to excess or abuse drugs. Just as importantly I try to think as positively as possible, despite what seems like a battle going on inside and around me.
Part of Verse 15 of the “Tao Te Ching” Reads
A sage is subtle and intuitive, penetrating and profound.
His depths are mysterious and unfathomable.
The best one can do is describe his appearance.
The sage is as alert as a person crossing a winter stream;
as circumspect as a person with neighbors on all four sides;
as respectful as a thoughtful guest;
as yielding as meting ice;
as simple as uncarved wood;
as open as a valley;
as chaotic as a muddy torrent.
Why “chaotic as a muddy torrent?”
Because clarity is learned by being patient in the presence of chaos.
Tolerating disarray, remaining at rest,
Gradually one learns to allow muddy water to
Settle and the proper responses to reveal themselves…
This is currently the most meaningful passage from the “Tao Te Ching” to me. I have hundreds of questions about myself and humanity and how both fit into the Universe. I would love for the answers to reveal themselves immediately. However, many of the answers I absolutely need to know now, however trivial they might seem to others, can create delusions and blockages in my mind if I obsess over them. My advice to those who are in the same position is to meditate as much as possible to calm the mind. For those who are familiar with YiRen QiGong Level II, practice the Stomach/Pancreas exercise as much as you can and work on the Wisdom Gate meditation.
All in all, be aware that this too shall pass. As cliché as that might seem, it is that simple truth that will get you through trying times and help you achieve a higher level of self-awareness and realization of potential. I have much more to write about but will save it for a different time. I leave you with this fact about how one connects with others and the Universe: No matter what circumstances you find yourself in, if you project negativity, negativity will be projected back to you and that energy will be like having your feet in blocks of concrete. If you project positivity into the arcane and vast Universe, positivity will be projected back to you, and although you will positively be more grounded, even gravity will not be able to restrain your feet from leaving the ground, and you will soar to new heights.
A blog of sorts by Brian Kane,
How would you define a demon? Is a demon really a supernatural entity that can possess your soul or a trick of the mind: what Taoists refer to as emotional blockages? Maybe they are both. At any rate, a healthy person must learn how to deal with his or her demons. Recently, Seattle Yi Ren Qigong and Taichi Instructor Brendan Thorson showed me some important passages from the Taosit text the “Tao Te Ching.” It has proven to be an essential complement to my YiRen Qigong practice. But for now, let us move on…
In light of the recent tragedies in Norway and at home, it seems unfathomable that a human being could be capable of killing other human beings for a so-called “good” cause. Since when does murder really accomplish anything? This would have to include murdering yourself either quickly with a pistol, a rope, a knife et-cetera, or slowly with bad habits including detrimental drug ingestions and poor eating habits. Sadly, one of my favorite musicians ever, Amy Winehouse—may she rest in peace—comes to mind. They say she had demons. Some even say she is now “free” of pain now: the pain that lead to her untimely demise.
One of my favorite passages from the Tao Te Ching Reads:
At birth, a person is soft and yielding,
At death stiff and hard.
All beings, the grass, the trees:
Alive, soft, and yielding;
Dead, stiff and hard.
Therefore the hard and inflexible are friends of death.
The soft and yielding are friends of life…
One of the many lessons YiRen Qigong has taught me is that strength, whether physical or inner, is not just about how hard you can push or pull, but also how well you flow or yield with both the negative and positive forces that you encounter. For instance, in the case of Amy Winehouse, it is not certain why such a talented and successful person would destroy herself. I have speculated before that one reason artists may be unbalanced is because they naturally tap into the psychic energy body without being emotionally grounded or at least able to know how to control their emotions. There is probably a myriad of reasons as to why Winehouse self-destructed, but the bottom line could be that she did not have the knowledge to know how to live with, and ultimately destroy, her demons, or energy blockages.
For instance, one question often posed to avid music fans is “Who is your favorite Beatle?” Paul and John were obviously very talented musicians and amazing songwriters. In fact, they seem to be the most popular of the Fab Four. Ringo was a solid drummer who seemed to be a perfect fit for the band. And George: Well George was the so-called quiet Beatle.
But that is certainly not because he had nothing to say. In fact, although George Harrison was not as prolific of a songwriter as John and Paul, when he did write a song, it was almost always amazing. Frank Sinatra, old blue eyes himself, called Harrison’s song “Something” the best love song of the 20th century.
But old Georgie Boy never seemed to develop an over-inflated ego or sense of self-importance as John Lennon and Paul McCartney did. After the band broke up, while Paul and John were taking swipes at each other in the news media and even in puerile and petty song lyrics, George was writing songs about love and spirituality, including the simple, yet beautiful, “My Sweet Lord.” To me, George was the Taoist Sage of the Beatles. His humbleness and effortless action , or what is referred to as Wu Wei, is what ultimately allowed him to have a very happy and productive life.
The Tao Te Ching States
The wise person acts without effort
And teaches by quiet example.
He accepts things as they come,
Creates without possessing,
Nourishes without demanding,
Accomplishes without taking credit.
Because he constantly forgets himself,
He is never forgotten.
This definitely sums up George Harrison, may he also rest in peace. It brings a smile to my face to imagine that if there is an afterlife –or what some believe is just a different life and that death is an illusion–that George Harrison is right now plucking his sitar while Amy Winehouse watches in awe with a new expression of peace on her face. I think she deserves that.
Another passage of the Tao Te Ching reads:
What does it mean that “hope and fear are phantoms of the body?”
When you regard your body as your self,
Hope and fear have real power over you.
If you abandon the notion of body as self,
Hope and fear cannot touch you…
So this brings us back, perhaps to demons and how they seem to plague just about all of us. The pre-Socratic Greek philosopher, Heraclitus, often wondered why humans have to endure so much pain. Basically, one of his most famous observations is that life is full of opposites and each element of these opposites needs each other to exist: good and evil; happiness and sadness; love and hate; peace and war and so on. I like to sort of compare this to the yin and yang in Taoism. To me, even in darkness or evil, there can be a touch of wisdom and conversely, even in light and good, there can be at touch of foolishness or ignorance.
For instance, a weightlifter surely has big muscles, but in order to improve the physical stature of his or her physique, he or she must endure pain, pain that often lingers days after an intense workout. However if one works out too much, that person might amass massive muscles but be hard and stiff. It is possible that a man half his size who is more soft and supple could over take him in a fight. So in this case, it is not a case of weak or strong, but a case of balancing physical strength and endurance and physical flexibility and suppleness. No man is just one thing or the other. We all have our strengths and weaknesses, our angels and our demons. To stay healthy we must all have a way of moving with both the positive and negative energies in life, and resist trying to resist them.
The Tao Te Ching States:
Allow yourself to yield, and
You can stay centered.
Allow yourself to bend, and
You will stay straight.
Allow yourself to be empty, and
you’ll get filled up.
Allow yourself to be exhausted, and
you’ll be renewed….
In YiRen QIGong, practice the sitting wisdom gate meditation and notice how many insightful thoughts your mind generates. But in turn, try the pushing hand exercise with a friend and notice that by working with your partner, exerting equal force to his yielding, and equal yielding to her force, that your mind becomes still and balanced. As we begin to dissolve our demons, instead of grinding our teeth and fighting them, maybe we should loosen our jaw with repose and reflection and learn to dance with them until they are no longer our demons, but maybe even our friends.
This might seem infeasible, but one man, yes another musician, who many believe actually might have, if not physically but spiritually, died and was born anew is John Frusciante, mostly known for his work with the Red Hot Chili Peppers–however his solo material and other projects are to me, much more fascinating. John, as a young man, wanted to live the cliché rock star life full of excess and ultimately self harm. However his inner demons told him to stop (or was it his angels? I am not sure). He quit the band, became a hardcore drug addict for about five years, and nearly died on several occasions. His battle was a brutal one in which he lost all his teeth and butchered his nose with cocaine use—his arms were covered in needle scars. Ultimately however, he got help and rejoined the band about six years after leaving.
You might say that the more light a person has, the more darkness seeks to destroy that person. I hate the concept of idols or anointing other human beings, but Mr. Frusciante should inspire us all. He is now one of the most spiritual musicians, and people for that matter, on the planet , having conquered addiction and subsequently his demons. Like George Harrison, all John Frusciante seems to want to do with his music is spread love and joy, and if there is a melancholy note, it is only to balance out the joyous ones.
All in all, what might have seemed to the outside observer as a horror story (that being the site of Mr. Frusciante slowly dying while verbally expressing his battle with his demons: There are several YouTube clips that depict this) to John it was a necessary phase in his life in order to become the best person he could be.
He is not embarrassed or ashamed of the time when he was a self-destructive, loathing recluse who had little love for himself. To Frusciante, and to me, his plight was a very dramatic demonstration of the inner battles that every person seeking spiritual and emotional freedom must fight. As I mentioned in earlier writings, when you meditate and seek to dissolve your blockages, you will encounter demons. You have a choice, let them live inside you or wage a war against them. A war best fought intelligently with self improvement and not destruction—although what might seem like self-destruction could be a means to an end. However, I do not condone drug abuse or any other sort of self-harm in order to be free.
Perhaps a very small analogous anecdote to the aforementioned example is what happened to me while I wrote this blog. About six months ago I spilled a bottle of Kombucha on my keyboard. I was very alarmed and dried it out with a hair dryer. However, the next day, my keyboard was very sticky and the keys stuck to the computer. I was very annoyed and thought I would for sure have to take it into a shop and have them fix it. Gradually the keys became less sticky, but occasionally they would stick a great deal again.
Then tonight, in another brilliant move, I spilled a glass of water on my computer keyboard. Just as before, feeling like a complete dork, I turned the laptop upside down and the water poured out from beneath the keys. I then disconnected the computer and ran it into the bathroom where I commenced to dry it with the hairdryer. After doing this for about a minute I panicked. I ran back to my desk and plugged it back in.
I was extremely relieved to find that my computer still worked great. In fact, guess what, the keys no longer stick at all. It was as if what was seemingly a huge disaster, was actually a positive event.
I am willing to bet that many of the trials that we face, the ones that might seem indicative of inevitable failings and our demise, are just what YiRen QIGong inventor and my teacher Brendan Thorson’s Teacher, Dr. Guan-Cheng Sun, would refer to as the bitter before the sweet. As he would say, you must taste the bitter before you get to the sweet.
And lastly, I leave you with one more passage from the Tao Te Ching to ponder:
Know the universe as your self, and
You can live absolutely anywhere in comfort.
Love the world as your self, and
you’ll be able to care for it properly.
Until next time, this is your old YiRen QiGong pal saying: over and out…
By Brian Kane 7/11/2011,
“Dude, you should turn up the guitar solo on that part,” I said to my friend while we were mixing a new song.
“Actually, I was thinking that we should turn it down if anything,” he quickly replied. “I mean it seems to kind of come in aggressive, and shouldn’t necessarily be brought up.”
As I began to listen closer, I noticed that what my friend said was true. I began to wonder why I didn’t notice that at first. Then we came to the song where he played the bass part.
“OK, that bass is fricken loud! That needs to be turned down a bit.” I said while my friend listened to his part.
“Yeah I know, I noticed that right away,” my friend replied and then made an observation. “I think it is an ego thing, because I played the bass on this song and didn’t even notice that in the first mix it was way too loud and you didn’t notice that your guitar part was just fine but wanted it louder…”
Although this might not seem like a profound conversation: one that could lead to a personal epiphany, it did in my case. I think it illustrates that in order for people to work well together, they have to consider the overall goal that the people involved are all trying to accomplish: in this case, producing music.
One thing I have observed about YiRen QiGong is that by practicing in a class setting, as opposed to by yourself, you can get more powerful results. A lovely young lady wrote to me recently that she seems to gain more time and space to practice QiGong when she does it with a group: not time in the linear sense or physical space, but the spatial patience to practice : Patience that she often cannot find when she is on her own.
From my experience, this makes perfect sense. I am able to practice on my own usually, but right now, I have so much on my plate, that it often seems hard to get into the right frame of mind to practice YiRen QiGong. However, I have noticed when I do find a moment to practice, even 30 minutes can change my outlook on the day and the tasks at hand.
As an individual, I feel that it is possible to grow with YiRen Qigong, but practicing with others, especially with a certified YiRen QiGong instructor, is even more beneficial. I am positive that my Jing & Ru Class on Monday with Brendan Thorson will be equally as fun (if not funny because lately, class seems to be as spiritually uplifting as it is humorous) as it will be soulfully rewarding. I just have to make sure to have the third eye outlook of a man that is but one of many in a collective movement of people looking to better themselves as well as humanity as a whole. My view is that YiRen QiGong has the power to create people with the clarity and compassion to do just that.
(Next on my agenda is to interview a man who studies brain activity and is certain that YiRen QiGong improves the performance of your mind. Stay tuned! Until then, let’s all try to listen harder from a Universal perspective. Good Day! Brian.)
Seattle Tai chi qigong
By Brian Kidd
This morning I was listening to some rare interviews with John Coltrane. The thing that struck me most about his voice is that he sounded so much more mature than his age. He was only about 30 in one interview, but sounded like he could have been much older. I then remembered the story about Miles Davis punching Coltrane in the stomach once because Coltrane was using heroin. Davis wanted to punch some sense into him, although Davis dabbled in that drug as well.
Despite the historic punch-to-the-gut, Davis and Coltrane, of course, remained good friends until Coltrane’s untimely death in 1967. In fact, they continued to work with and admire each other throughout the 1950s.
Being a musician myself, I have seen how demanding and thankless the music industry can be, especially on the musicians that often do not get the recognition they deserve. This can really take its toll on a person’s soul and try one’s patience. I remember asking jazz local Jazz drummer Matt Jorgensen if he ever thought about quitting music and he quickly replied, “Everyday. It takes a lot of strength and will to continue on…”
Recently I was doing a recording session with Steve at Saturna Studios. Before we even began to record, he was listening to some tracks I made and posted online. He was initially very critical. “This sounds stupid, the way you and that guy work together sounds totally lame because it’s like he just added a bunch of electronic music to it without really thinking about it.”Prior to this, we had been at a local bar and most of the time there he harangued me for my ideas about the album I am putting together, acting like he knew what was best for my music.
At first, I was a bit angry at him and kind of defensive but I did not vocalize my inner thoughts. Then the next song came on. “Now this, this is different. This is good, kind of has a Bauhaus feel to it…” Steve stated.
Thankfully I kept my mouth shut during most of his previous tirade, wrought with seemingly outlandish, harsh judgment about my music. I could have stormed out of the studio with a emphatic, “FU” but instead remained centered and calm, confident in my music and its direction; Even though at times I have absolutely no idea why I even bother making music. It will probably never pay the bills or put food on the table. I guess it’s kind of an addictive hobby. It could be worse, I could be addicted to video games. I never could understand how any person over 20 could play video games all day. Not that I dislike video games, but I just wonder where these people find the time to play them for hours on end. Then again, people could wonder the same about adult musicians like myself. Man, there just isn’t enough time.
Throughout my career as a musician, I have been in numerous ego-testing situations. I have flubbed on stage and had embarrassing moments, been lambasted by band members and criticized harshly be critics. This is nothing new to most musicians. But it can create negativity and resentment in a person’s soul, and even obscure the success a musician has.
As Steve and I sat and listening to the rest of my material, we remained dead silent. After listening to the demo tracks, he kind of looked a bit sorry for his previous comments. I ignored his eyes and just said, ”Well, man, it’s late. We have to record tomorrow. I will see you about noon.(Which in musician time is like 7 a.m.)
The next day we had an extremely productive recording session during which we laid down drum and guitar tracks. I helped him set up the drum kit and all 10 microphones to record the kit. He taught me about how to record drums, and I showed him a couple techniques I use on guitar. We had a few cold ones, laughed a lot about both our mess-ups and recording triumphs (Steve played drums on the track) and needless to say were just plain had a blast. I guess this is why I make music. Oh, yeah, it can be fun.
Steve and I recorded well into the a.m. hours. During the session, we got into a couple arguments and Steve, who is very funny, made a few snide remarks. (One of which was during a melodic guitar complement I was tracking. Sitting right next to me while I was playing, he remarked, “Woah there, Carlos Santana, settle down.” After I was done with the track I said to him, “You said play sexy, didn’t you.” We both had a laugh.)
So this brings us to my final thoughts about forgiveness. You might wonder, what does all this rubbish have to do with forgiveness anyway? It sounds like a bunch of bologna to me. Well, many of us have had to work in groups or with other people. This concept definitely does not apply solely to music (whether in a huge orchestra or just with a partner.) Most people, myself included, have to work with others at their place of employment, usually for 40 hours a week. It can be very easy to gossip and tangle with other people during these hours. My advice, try to stay neutral, do not talk about other people, do not take criticism personally (usually it is a result of the criticizer’s own frustrations) and try to smile and joke around as much as you can, keeping in mind to stay tactful.
When I was younger, I probably would have argued with Steve and maybe even insulted his own music. Heck, I probably would have taken my business elsewhere. I honestly believe that in addition to just getting older, maybe a bit wiser, YiRen QiGong has helped me control my negative emotions a great deal. One thing I like to do in situations where I feel that someone might be trying to attack me, is to start to think more in the back of the mind or the Parietal Lobe. YiRen QiGong instructor Brendan Thorson believes that a great deal of people’s emotional problems lie in the fact that they live mostly in the frontal lobe of the brain. When you connect the frontal lobe with the back of the mind, which is more intuitive, you can feel calmer and more centered. This has been my experience.
YiRen Level III QiGong has truly helped me be able to think more calmly and detach my ego when need be. When you worry too much what others think about you and what you do, it is very easy to become defensive, especially when your ego is fragile or inflated. Level III has helped me recognize the oneness of the universe that we all are part of. I guess the value the YiRen QiGong classes that I am taking now are that they have helped me forgive in the moment, if you will. That way emotional gunk doesn’t build up in my organs and Energy Centers. So in a sense, Level III is like a Soul Filter much like a fuel or oil filter on your car. The lessons prevent buildup.
So after cleaning up and getting off the junk, Coltrane put together his famous quartet that included Jim Garrison, McCoy Tyner and the amazing drummer Elvin Jones. One of my favorite stories was during a set in support of Coltrane’s famous record “A Love Supreme” avant-garde Jazz Pianist Thelonious Monk started dancing around in the aisles. Monk was happy about the success that his former band member was having. Success that the spiritual John Coltrane had earned by being both persistent and forgiving. Although he died at the age of 40, Coltrane reminds us that some of the most beautiful and useful things can be created when people work in groups. Part of being able to do so productively, is being able to forgive those we work with. The results usually end up being very rewarding.
By Brian Kane 6/4/2011
When I was in sixth grade, my teacher, Mr. Bannister, when referring to a peculiar current event that involved our government or a celebrity, often said: “All is fair in love and war.” When I was 11 or 12, that saying really never affected or left an impression on me, because besides the usual innocent grade school crush and the proverbial “love” note the read “Do you like me?” or “Will you go out with me?” I had no idea what love felt like. And war, it would be another 15 years until I had friends leave for the Middle East, and had one of those, Shane, die in combat.
Flash forward 20 years…I often think about what Mr. Bannister said.
With regards to war, well forget about it, although we like to live under the illusion that there are “rules” in war, that idea is utter bull crap. Does Abu Ghraib strike a chord with anyone? How about the Mi Lai Massacre? Yeah, I wonder if former Secretary of Defense, Donald Rumsfeld (or as New York Times columnist, Maureen Dowd referred to him as, “Rummy”) thinks there are rules in war. I truly doubt it.
Love is a different story. Ideally, there should be no deception in love. There should be no games, manipulation, spitefulness, et-cetera. The word ‘fair’ almost alludes to the fact that love is a game. That brings up the question: Does love really exist? Or is it merely a chemical trick of the mind: a Serotonin farce?
I believe that love is real. I know when I am in love if after the lustful feelings have subsided, I truly enjoy the company of a girl to the point that I am excited to support her and, ideally, she is excited to support me. If you are truly in love, then sex is perhaps only half of the equation. Once I went to a rock concert, and the singer of the band told the audience that he would like to thank his wife. Because without her, he did not believe he would be as successful as a musician. See, love is empowering and mutually beneficial and some would say, necessary for a healthy existence.
I would revise Mr. Bannister’s quote to say: “All is fair in war and lust.” That makes more sense. For instance, recently former Senator John Edwards has been in the news for cheating on his wife and then supposedly receiving contributions from a supporter to cover it up. I am sure that he loved his now deceased wife. However, his lust got the better of him and he had an affair, ruining their marriage. And I am sure most of you have read about Arnold Schwarzenegger having a kid with the live-in maid. This list could go on forever: Pastor Jimmy Swaggart, Hugh Grant and his affair with a prostitute, Tiger Woods, Bill Clinton and on and on.
In the aforementioned cases, only one of the women forgave her lover, Hillary Clinton. Some might use the argument that humans are not innately monogamous. I would have to say that some of us are more monogamous than others. It is true that some people should just not get married or should agree to polyamorous relationships which involve multiple partners. Men seem to be more apt to want multiple partners, but this does not mean they are not capable of love. Love involves sacrifices, so it seems to me that even if you have lustful feelings, you should be able to subdue them if you are truly in love with a person.
One of the biggest issues in relationships seems to be cheating. I myself have never cheated on a woman but that is not to say that I have never had the urge or thoughts of doing it. Moreover, if I was a man of power and prestige like say, Bill Clinton, I cannot honestly say that I would have remained completely faithful to my wife. Like my uncle Marvin often says about celebrity affairs: “Hey, how would you act if you were constantly around eye-candy and having women throw themselves at you on a regular basis?” I’d like to think that I would remain faithful to my girlfriend or wife. But one can never be completely sure.
So even if love is a game, nobody likes to play with a cheater. Being in love is not easy because although true love does exist, so does the incredibly strong urge of sex and lustfulness, which are often completely different emotions than love.
Man, where in the world am I going with this? OK, so like with friends, we all have different values and levels of tolerance when it comes to lovers. Some of us view love as a very Shakespearean tragedy or comedy: “The Merchant of Venice” depicts the often ridiculousness of love. Some believe it does not exist and is a way to control our natural tendencies to desire to copulate with anyone that is willing. Some believe that love exists, but is not for them. Some believe that they have found love, even though in the past they thought they were in love. You know… love is a really complicated phenomenon. Maybe we make it that way. It is certainly hard to describe love with words so I will stop this nonsense now and get to the issue at hand: Lovers and Forgiveness.
The year was 1998, November to be exact. I had just broken up with my first serious girlfriend. I will spare you the details of how and why this love affair ended but I can tell you that some pretty mean things were said by both of us during the breakup. One of the things she said that has haunted me over the years is “You are gonna end up old and alone.” Although I do not believe this to be prophetic, I think we are all scared of that happening to us. None of us want to be the crazy cat lady (or man).
She felt really bad about saying that among other things and in a beautiful letter (which most of her letters were) she asked for forgiveness for her words and actions.
“…I said some things out of anger and rage that I didn’t mean to say,” she wrote. “You are a wonderful person and I wish the best for you because that is what you deserve…” She went on…”Forgive me for my harsh words please, you know that I don’t meant them…”
Of course I was kind of a bugger at times during that relationship, but hey, I was a kid. We both were. That was a very long time ago and honestly I have completely forgiven her and she has forgiven me.
A recent ex of mine one time randomly emailed me some pretty vitriolic words. I was kind of taken back since it had been about two years since we had broken up and she had since then married. Some of what she said, I think I kind of deserved and I wrote her back saying I was sorry. She did not respond—right away.
About six months ago, she wrote me a beautiful email that explained that she was getting help for some of her personal issues. Part of that help entails asking people that you might have hurt over the years for forgiveness. I cannot tell you how happy this made me. She explained why she believes she made our relationship hard and then I wrote to her explaining what I believe I did wrong. After I wrote her back, it was like part of what was weighing down my soul to love had been lifted and I was breathing easier, if that makes sense.
I could go on with other examples, but the point is, forgiveness is very empowering. It is not a sign of weakness or conceding. It is good for both parties involved. Love is also empowering. It is not a sign of weakness or conceding. It is also good for both parties involved. Perhaps the trick is to realize and be at peace with the fact that relationships run their course: Some last a very short time, some last until death. Throughout it all, both very kind and, unfortunately, often very mean words will be said: very kind and in some cases mean actions will be taken. The trick is to not act out of what my first serious lover also mentioned in her letter “…passion and rage…” but out of intelligent understanding and maybe even patience.
Dr Guan-Cheng Sun has written three books that are available to YiRen QiGong students. In Volume Two he wrote “One of the major problems in Western medicine is its lack of the knowledge and understanding about the functions of the internal organs at the energetic level. For example, shoulder pain can be caused in an individual by chronic grief. In such a case, the shoulder pain is not the problem, it is the signal of an accumulation of grief. Many people don’t understand this could be caused by holding the grief for a long period of time and they do not allow themselves to cry to release the grief. Instead, they may take painkillers to repress the feeling of the shoulder pain. Without the knowledge and understanding about the functions of the body at the energetic level, the body’s intelligence and energetic communications can be easily mistaken as illnesses or problems requiring medical treatment with drugs and surgery…”*
He then goes on to write how our thoughts, state of mind, emotional habits and behavior have a direct connection to our health and quality of life.
After reading through the exercises, I came upon two Level Two YiRen QiGong exercises that I believe can help us learn to forgive past lovers (and others) and also empower us to seek new lovers and relationships. Those exercises are the Lung/Large Intestine exercise (as mentioned in my previous two writings) and the Stomach/Pancreas exercise. From my understanding these two exercises are Heaven (Du) related to Yang Energy, and Earth (Ren) related to Yin Energy, partners.
For example, the lungs are affiliated with the emotions of sadness, grief, depression, sorrow, momentum and enthusiasm. The large intestines at the conscious level are related to abomination, detachment, forgiveness and purity and at the emotional level: coolness, purity, longing, despair and hopelessness.
The Stomach, at the emotional level, is related to curiosity, anxiety, obsession and stress. At the conscious level: thoughts, decision making, imaginations, delusions, logic and reasoning. The pancreas, at the emotional level, is related to impatience, worry, shame and guilt.
This is not an exhaustive list, but my intentions are for the reader to see how the health of these two organ pairs is very important not only in relation to forgiveness, but also the strength and courage to carry on in your quest for both self love and the love of another person. The more I study Yi Ren QiGong, the more I have become aware that there is a definite mind/body connection. If that connection is not fluid and unimpeded, oftentimes blockages or hang-ups are created.
Love and war, to me, are two separate and very different things. War is destructive, and love is mending. War is foolish, and, contrary to some popular belief, love is very wise. It might be a misconception of love that created that quote that my elementary school teacher taught us. No matter whether you agree with the adage or not (All is fair in love and war) it is unarguable that forgiveness of lovers (whether it be romantic, ideal love or a fleeting, lustful tryst) is imperative to living a healthy life.
With all that said, I leave you with the lyrics to a Daniel Johnston song. Johnston found true love with his muse, Laurie, and she inspired him to write beautiful lyrics such as these. Enjoy.
True love will find you in the end
You’ll find out just who was your friend
Don’t be sad, I know you will,
But don’t give up until
True love finds you in the end.
This is a promise with a catch
Only if you’re looking will it find you
‘Cause true love is searching too
But how can it recognize you
Unless you step out into the light?
But don’t give up until
True love finds you in the end.
*Dr. Guan-Cheng Sun , PHD & Jill Gonet, M.F.A.(2011). “Qigong: Energizing the Zang-Fu—YiRen QiGong Therapy Manual Volume II” page 1.
By Brian Kane,
What is a friend? According to Merriam Webster’s dictionary, a friend is: one attached to another by affection or esteem. It seems to me that friends are something we need in life in order to get by. Friends can give us advice, help us in difficult situations, and just be there to comfort us through both good and bad times. Hopefully they make us laugh a lot too.
But not all of us desire to make new friends or even have close ones. Why? I remember when I was a kid, I heard Rusty Willoughby of Flop croon in the song “Regrets” “…I haven’t got no friends, shit is a better companion…” It always baffled me when I heard those words at age 16. I loved my friends and had a lot of them, relatively speaking.
But then I got older. Many of my closest childhood friends do not even speak to me anymore. Stuff went down, sometimes on numerous occasions, which tested my friendships and in some cases ultimately dissolved them.
I suppose an anecdote is prudent at this point. For instance, one of my closest childhood friends, we’ll call him “Mike,” used to constantly talk bad about me behind my back. This didn’t really surprise me since he used to talk to me about other people all the time as well. One day, at a friend’s house I was looking for the remote control. I found it in a table drawer along with a piece of paper that had quotes on it. I dismissed it at first, but upon further inspection I noticed that the quotes were things that I used to say quite often. Brian Kane verbal idiosyncrasies if you will. Stuff like “Whatever man, I don’t even care anymore,” “Can you Drive?” and mannerisms like, “Poor a perfectly good beer down the drain and say it was mostly backwash,” “Always cancelling plans to hang out with friends and instead always be with his current girlfriend” et-cetera. Basically, the list was sort of poking in fun of some of my quirks or things that “Mike” found irksome.
The list was mostly composed by my supposed best friend, “Mike.” Now this really hurt me and I called “Mike” up to chastise him. His excuse was basically, “Well you know when you hang out with someone a lot and some of the stuff they do bugs you? I just had to get that off my chest.” But you had to make a list about me with another one of my friends? That seems very deranged.
In retrospect, I believe this was a lame excuse and just one of the many reasons that I am no longer friends with “Mike.” At the time, I forgave Mike and we remained friends. And if that was the worst of what he was capable of doing to his supposed, “friends” then I would most likely still be friends with him today, even though he can be a extremely insensitive and abusive. However, some of his later actions are simply unmentionable, and I just simply got exhausted trying to remain friends with him.
Coincidentally, this character now lives right behind me in a cozy condominium with his new wife. I have had recent conversations with him and he has not changed much: He still talks smack about people we know or knew and acts like a complete buffoon in public, usually embarrassing everyone around him. The sad thing is, he is not inherently a buffoon, but his insecurities make him act stupid in social situations, with absolutely no decorum. I look at it like this, Mike’s good side is great (he can be smart, caring and funny). His bad side is horrible and outweighs any part of his good side (he is vindictive, spiteful, jealous, selfish, condescending and rude.)
There is an old saying: Small minds talk about other people, large minds talk about issues, and even larger minds talk about ideas. When I saw “Mike” recently, he was still using only half of his brain–gossiping and bashing others. Needless to say, it only validated my choice to not want to ever be his friend again.
So this brings us to friends and forgiveness. It is inevitable that your friends are going to hurt you. I think that the question is not whether you should forgive them (you always should) but whether you should remain friends with them. I consider myself an extremely open minded person and try to get along with everyone
For instance, in my senior year high school yearbook, someone wrote: “I think I’ve known you since Jr. High! Northshore…the prison school, right? Anyway, you’ve always seemed like a really cool guy to me who is just nice to everyone. Good luck in the future. Have a good summer.”
It probably seems hypocritical of me to me talking about one of my old friends, but I do it to create an example of how we should forgive our friends no matter what. And I am not trying to be self-righteous, but that is one of my favorite yearbook inscriptions that I have ever received. I guess I look at it as self-confirmation that I am a decent person and always have been. I am far from perfect, as most of us are. But one thing I have always tried to do is be kind to people. I always felt that I had a part of me that was like everyone else, even the jerks that we all must encounter.
By studying Yi Ren QiGong and tai chi, most notably Level III, I have gradually begun to see more of the universality of human existence. One thing I have noticed more and more is that when I hang out with a person long enough, even for just one evening, my inner voice and even decision making process takes on the characteristics of the person I hung out with. I can even close my eyes and imagine how one of my friends might look and what he or she might say and act like being in the same situation that I am in at any given moment.
For the most part, for me, this is a good thing since I consider most of my friends super intelligent and wise. However, for instance, when I hung out with “Mike” I said and did some really ignorant and hurtful things to people. “Mike” was having a detrimental influence on me. The reason I still hung out with “Mike” is that I am very loyal. However, I now know that you must forgive those who have done you wrong. This releases any bad, draining energy created by holding an infantile grudge. However, one should never feel obligated to remain friends with someone. People change: sometimes for the worse.
As I mentioned in the last blog, practicing the Level III Extraordinary Meridian Exercise along with the level II Lung/Large intestine exercise is an amazing way to let grudging feelings go and forgive yourself and others.
One lady in the last Level III class I attended said that by attending Dr. Sun’s recent Level III seminar on May 21st and 22nd she has begun to realize more and more how we are all connected to each other and to the universe. She was very excited and said that since that seminar, she has been much more at ease and clearheaded. YiRen QiGong teacher Brendan Thorson, lead us through some of the same exercises that Dr. Sun had lead at the seminar, and after class, I felt very calm an introspective. I thought about my life and my friends in it. I thought about something a friend did recently that hurt me. But I did not get upset. I just smiled and forgave that person. The burden on my back felt much lighter after that. Hopefully one day that burden will seem weightless. Forgiving friends is definitely a start.
By Brian Kane 5/19/2011,
(This is the first in four small installations that I will write: Yourself and Forgiveness; Friends and Forgiveness; Lovers and Forgiveness; and finally, Group Dynamics and Forgiveness. I think forgiveness is a very important thing and holding grudges creates harmful blockages. This is what prompted me to write these pieces. Enjoy)
I have a confession. Please forgive me, but I hardly know anything about QiGong other than it is helping me. Yes I have been taking classes for about one year and a half, but in QiGong time, it seems like that is like one minute and a half. All I know is that when I do these exercises, they help me.
Will you forgive me if I seem like a fraud? You know, I am probably not even the best student. I just recently started compiling all the lessons into a binder and a folder on my computer. I always was a little slow. Heck, I didn’t even practice QiGong hardly at all last week. I worked overtime last weekend during Dr. Sun’s seminar about the lungs and large intestines. It was a seminar about letting go of sorrow. Maybe it was even a seminar about forgiveness. I would not know, because I am such a bad student and an ungrateful person. I didn’t even write a blog last week either, geez, or this week for that matter. I don’t even know if I have anything else to write about.
Man, things just seem to be falling apart lately. I mean, I have so few friends, no lovers, and I don’t even recognize myself anymore. I thought QiGong was supposed to help me but everything seems so blah lately.
This week I began really reflecting on past friendships and intimate relationships. When in the past, these reflections made me smile and even laugh, recently they have just left me with a bunch of regret and depression. Man, I should have held on to that friend, he was a cool dude. Man, I should have stayed with that girl, she was so beautiful and funny. Man, I should have studied something different in school. Man. I really messed up my life.
Now all I do is sit around, practice QiGong, read books, play guitars and synthesizers, meet amazing people, abstain from drugs, drink only in moderation, workout and am more fit now than I was 10+ years ago as a kid, learn programming languages, write an album, play live shows with friends…wait, my life does not suck at all. I might feel very lonely at times, but I am comfortable being in this place. A place that I believe is what I referred to, two blogs ago as the Dark Night of the Soul.
Yes, I have said some stupid things to people, but people have also said stupid things to me. I forgive them. I forgive myself for what I said to my old best friend. We do not talk anymore, but I hope he forgives me like I have forgiven myself. I think that is where forgiveness begins: with yourself.
In one of my first pieces, I mentioned that my late Grandfather used to say “You are your own worst enemy/” One of the ways we are our own worst enemy is by not letting go of regret and forgiving ourselves for past errors. I believe that sometimes, forgiving yourself is not even warranted. I think that many of us are way too hard on ourselves. But who could blame us? I mean oftentimes society sets very high standards for us, and we in turn might feel frustrated when trying to live up to those standards. I myself often feel like a marionette on a string, being pulled and contorted into what are oftentimes uncomfortable positions and find myself in unfamiliar places.
And we have to realize that all of us are deep and complex beings. It was Church of Satan founder Anton LaVey of all people who noticed the hypocrisy of men when he would play the Calliope at Saturday night parties. Before he founded his church, he was a paid musician. At some parties, he would see men engage in what might be considered ungodly behavior. These same men would be at church with their wives the next day, begging God for forgiveness for the debauchery they engaged in the night before. LaVey believed that men were going against their natural instincts, which is part of what prompted him to form his Church.
Now, I do not agree with most of what LaVey taught and wrote about, but his observations were quite telling. What I believe is that we all have a visceral, primitive side, or a wild side if you will, and there is no reason to be ashamed of that. If we oppress our natural instincts, which include sex, then I believe that these urges might manifest themselves in abusive behavior: self abuse and abuse of others. They key, perhaps, is to be forthright with all those you encounter and seek to balance your animalistic side with your more cerebral spiritual side. And who is to say that animalistic experiences cannot be spiritual? The ultimate goal is to gain a higher sense of awareness of yourself and how you fit into the universe. Along your journey, you may feel like you have done things that are unlike you. (A sort of Dr. Jekyl and Mr. Hyde experience) But this is all necessary to obtain peace in your mind and spirit.
In essence I view the likes of Anton LaVey—a man who thought humans should try to quell every so-called natural desire, no matter how immoral(possibly short of murder)—and say a person like the Dalai Lama, as sort of two ends of the moral spectrum. The Dalai Lama, who lives by mostly Buddhist teachings, was quoted in a 2008 news article as saying, “Sexual pressure, sexual desire, actually I think is short period satisfaction and often, that leads to more complication. He went on to say. “Naturally as a human being … some kind of desire for sex comes, but then you use human intelligence to make comprehension, you find that those couples always are full of trouble. And in some cases there is suicide, murder cases.”
My opinion is that sex is a healthy thing if it is not used solely as a form of escapism, but as a way to balance your being. It is obviously an act that is necessary to ensure our species survives and progresses. I suppose the only reason I bring sex into this piece is because so much of our guilt, perhaps, lies in our carnal desires. Hence, it should not be surprising that LaVey witnessed well-to-do men engage in what might be considered lewd and lascivious behavior one night and then see them pray to God for forgiveness the next day. To me, if innate desires are not relieved in moderation and with respect to both yourself and others involved, as mentioned earlier, the results can be much worse than having a responsible, respectful sex life. Ergo, it is unnecessary to have to forgive yourself for merely being human.
So I suppose my point is that life is full of choices and every one of us is bound to make mistakes. I find that most of the time there is no right or wrong course of action, but a myriad of options. I definitely forgive myself for choosing options that have had undesirable consequences.
While I reflect on my past errors, I have noticed that the Level II Lung/Large Intestine exercise helps me feel more at peace. This coupled with the Level III Extraordinary Meridian Exercise that brings my mind to a calmer oneness with the universe and helps me step outside of myself. This exercise, as YiRen instructor Brendan Thorson pointed out to me, can generate a great deal of Yin energy, which feels cool and calming and is more feminine. To me the best combination of exercises for self forgiveness cleanse negative energies and also open the third eye.
In essence, I believe that just about any of the YiRen QiGong exercises that I have learned so far have helped me deal with guilt and have given me the fortitude to forgive myself for my past follies. It was Dr. Sun who at one recent seminar stated that there is no right or wrong necessarily, but only experiences. If we learn from our experiences, then we are on the right path.
So I hope you can all forgive yourselves easier now and forge ahead into what might seem even more challenging: forgiving others. I might be in the minority, because it is easy for me to forgive others before I forgive myself. At any rate, playing the blame game is not a way to advance your progress towards happiness and well-being. So until next time, make it a point this week to try to forgive yourself for something that has been weighing you down for some time. Speaking of time, oh man, I haven’t even practiced QiGong this evening. I am SUCH a bad student. Oh wait, I guess I did write this blog entry. I guess I will forgive myself.