- 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
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By Brian Kane 4/25/2011,
“Hey, Superstar: What’s With Your Ego? All of Us are Rock Stars in the Universe’s Eyes!”
Preface: From Yi Ren QiGong teacher Brendan Thorson:
In Yi Ren® Qigong Level I, we activated and developed the central energy circulating system, and in Level 2 we continued to open the internal energy pathways in order to energize the internal organs, and to bridge the mind and the inner self. In Level 3 we build upon these foundations of internal cultivation, and learn how to integrate this internal energy with the larger energy field surrounding us. Today, we focus on developing the extraordinary universe, in order to harmonize and balance the internal organs, and also to help our internal energy harmonize with “the outside,” thereby integrating our personal mind with Nature more closely, and allowing us to experience a greater state of oneness.
On Monday, April 25 I took my first ever YiRen QiGong Level Three class and my awareness of the universality of our existence as human beings was heightened. During class I began to look out from myself and become less egocentric. Then a realization came to me: Many of our personal issues stem from over-inflated levels of self-importance–or as we might say in the West: an out-of-control ego. It lead me to think about my own personal issues and how I might let go of the need for validation from others as to my own worth as a contributor to the universe. I began to feel that no matter who we are, all of our contributions to the universe are equally important, and that the lust for power without maturity can lead to a person’s misfortune or even demise.
Almost a year ago, I got into a heated online argument with a fellow QiGong practitioner about the universe and how we fit in it. The argument was not the most productive because we did not attempt to understand each other’s points of view: We both just wanted to be right—no matter what. The argument ended not only in a disagreement (perhaps after the debate we both held even more strongly to our respective opinions) but also in the end of a friendship. The person’s last swipe at me was simply: “Wow Brian, you really do have an Ego problem!” Initially I scoffed at the person’s accusation and inwardly accused this individual of the same offense. However, today I think the person was right. I do have an Ego problem, many of us do.
In class, we started with the Small Universe Developing Exercise and meditation. We then moved on to the Extraordinary Meridian Exercise. My Yi Ren QiGong teacher, Brendan Thorson describes the purpose of the exercise as such:
…to increase our awareness of internal energy flow around the extraordinary meridians; to harmonize and balance the internal organs; to integrate our internal energy flows with the energy flows outside of the body.
After about ten minutes of doing this exercise, I began to reflect about some issues that are troubling me. Many of these problems stem from caring far too much about what other people think about me, especially those who I admire and respect. It then occurred to me that if I base my value off of other’s accolades, then I will never be happy. Instead my value as a person should be based solely on how hard I try (not necessarily succeed) to become a person that is one with the universe and at peace with myself.
Today, Saturday April 30th, I woke up and began thinking more and more about my Ego problem. I then was even able to laugh about the argument I had with the fellow practitioner, realizing I should have handled the situation completely differently. Today, I would have simply stated that your point of view is very interesting and I will mull it over a bit. I might even say (not being patronizing), wow, you might actually know more about this subject than I do, thank you. Instead of trying to impress this person with my knowledge and attempt to remove this person from this individual’s own gaudy, gold-plated Ego Throne, the newer version of Brian Kidd, would not waste his energy on arguing in circles, but rather bow out in order for both of us to reorganize our thoughts, removing poisonous amounts of pride.
I then remembered a passage from a book I read about Taoist meditation and QiGong.
In it the author writes:
*…If you lack maturity before you start moving into the world of spirit, you can become power mad and hooked on power. In order to become free, you must throw away whatever power and its benefits you have previously accumulated.
The ego of people who acquire psychic power before they are mature enough to handle it often inflates beyond belief. An immature person who accumulates large amounts of spiritual energy quickly and a youth who suddenly becomes a fabulously rich rock star can experience similar negative ego tendencies. Such people frequently abuse their good fortune because they do not know how to productively channel the newly acquired energy, be it spiritual power or money. The rock star frivolously spends millions on drugs and childish whims; the spiritualist squanders psychic energy on simple-minded gratification or domination games. The youth could, but does not, invest cash; the spiritualist could, but does not, heighten spiritual awareness to compassionately help fellow beings. Both have the capacity to temporarily get what they want, without considering the effort that has brought them to this moment. They forget that they can fall just as far as they have risen…
When the author writes of psychic energy he is addressing the fifth of the eight energy bodies that Taoists believe humans are composed of. These energy bodies are:1. The Physical Body,2. The Qi(Chi) Body,3. The Emotional Body,4. The Mental Body,5. The Psychic Energy Body,6. The Causal Body,7. The Body of Individuality,8. The Body of the Tao. In order for a person to move through these distinct levels of energy vibrations, he or she first must become fairly stable in the previous energy level. The process is somewhat sequential. For example, if one’s emotional body is unstable, then—as many of us have experienced—one’s mental body is negatively affected.
From my own experience with working with my third eye and Level III exercises dealing with the extraordinary meridians, I have definitely noticed not only the vividness of my dreams increasing, but also a newly found intuition about people and life events. However, I am not intensely pursuing the enhancement of this ability, until I feel that my previous four energy bodies are more stable.
Addressing the example the author uses of a rock star, I believe that music, especially the practice of creating music, can surely open up one’s psychic energy levels. Whereas the author uses the example of a young person acquiring fame and money often leading to self-destructive behavior, I also believe that creating music is actually a way to convey and cultivate one’s spirit and in turn psychic energy levels. Either way, the same holds true whether the case be the acquisition of money or spiritual power: If a person is not emotionally mature enough to use new found spiritual or monetary fortune altruistically and/or for self preservation, then the results can lead to self destruction.
An anecdote that I find both alarming yet somewhat humorous was when an old friend of mine, a musician, was admitted into a hospital’s psychiatric ward after a suicide attempt. A doctor there asked her a battery of questions like are you having sleep disturbances, have you experienced a lowly mood for more than one week, have you generally lost interest in your hobbies et-cetera. One of his questions was: Are you a musician? To this she said yes, and then upon realizing the oddness of the question asked “Wait, What?” with what must have been a very confused look on her face. The doctor replied, “Oh it’s just that we get a lot of musicians admitted here.”
It might seem like a cliché or gross overgeneralization to say that musicians and artists in general are completely nuts, but sometimes this is the case. I believe this is not because having the genetic code for madness automatically makes one creative, or vice-versa, but that, in my humble opinion, when you tap into the creative recesses of your mind, you can also stir up psychic energy. If you are not spiritually mature enough to know how to deal with this ability– if the lower Toaist energy bodies like The Emotional and Mental Bodies are not balanced or at least somewhat stable—you could suffer from destructive self-delusions. I am sure we can all think of many examples of artists who might have gained psychic insight too soon, before they were emotionally stable enough to process the ability healthily. And creative talent, plus fame, plus monetary affluence without emotional and mental balance seems to me like a recipe for disaster.
So all in all, the Extraordinary Meridian Exercise really took me out of myself and my mind wandered up to the heavens and all around the vastness of the universe. The next day at work, I was definitely picking up people’s vibrations even more than I usually do. Brendan Thorson suggested that if you feel that you are overwhelmed with picking up too many energies due to Level III exercises, that you should slow down the intensity of your Level III practice. Also, he suggests practicing “the Integrating the Power of the Hands and Arms and the Feet and Legs with Dantien” exercise. This exercise will protect you from unwanted energy disturbances. For me, the Level II Kidney/Urinary Tract exercise is also an excellent way to ground myself and prevent my mind from getting lost.
I am very excited to continue with the YiRen QiGong Level III course. This is all new to me, but I feel that I am ready to at least dabble in my Psychic Energy Body and see what happens. Truth be told, I was a little bit frightened of taking this course, because it seems as though I am having some troubling delusions caused by trying to balance my first four energy bodies. However, I experienced a greater sense of balance after practicing the Extraordinary Meridian Exercise because I realize that I am but a small piece of the universe; albeit I am a very important piece of the universe, just as everyone is, but not important enough to feel either inferior or superior to any other human being. In that emptiness of Ego, I am finding solace.
*From Relaxing Into You Being by Bruce Frantzsis (page 72)
By: Brian Kane 4/19/2011,
The more I struggle with improving myself and destroying my internal demons, the more I realize that I will need three main components to complete my journey, which now seems stuck in the doldrums, or the Dark Night of the Soul. These components are strength, patience, and faith. This week during my QiGong practice both in and out of class, I came to many realizations about myself including why it is so often hard to be the real you, the façade of online social networking and why good things come to those who wait.
About a year ago, I had an amazing breakthrough during a vivid dream. I was sitting on a bright sunlit mountain plateau when a man in an old Chinese robe came into view on a distant mound. I sat in awe as he approached me with a smirk on his wise, weathered face. He jumped in the air, controlling the rate of his decent. He spoke not words, but communicated to me with his mind. He told me that it is possible to do many things with QiGong, as long as you keep your mind open and in harmony with nature. All this he spoke of while jumping up high in the air, descending to the ground rapidly, then as he approached the misty grass covered with a slight haze of fog, he slightly slowed his decent. As my eyes bugged out of my head with bewilderment, he laughed heartily. He laughed even louder when I tried to accomplish the same physical feat and was able to uncoordinatedly control my movements against gravity as well—awkwardly moving like a newborn fawn.
Then as soon as he showed me this, I was transported to a room where I found myself sitting with a guitar in my hands. My left hand was covered with a loose fitting shawl and the man told me not to play just with my eyes, but with the feelings of my fingers and the visions in my mind. I felt like he was trying to say that the naked eye can easily be deceived, but the sense of touch ( and in turn energy) and the third eye can be far more useful and informative. He also was trying to convey that we can incorporate QiGong into many facets of our lives.
Since that day, I have often practiced both guitar and QiGong with my eyes closed (one day I will get even more serious and blindfold myself) and in many ways my prowess as a guitar player has improved as many of my movements are more fluid, natural and less dependent on sight. Interestingly, in a later meditation, I feel that the same man told me that to find real beauty, I must also learn to be less dependent solely on the naked eye, but to use all senses– including using the third eye–to feel the vibrations that say a piece of art or even a woman elicits and emits.
YiRen QiGong teacher Brendan Thorson believes the man might have been Dr. Guan-Cheng Sun’s granduncle, Master Zhang,(who taught Dr. Sun QiGong) but he could have been any man from the same lineage. Heck, he could have just of been a very wise figment of my imagination. This might seem a bit far out to some, but I am being completely truthful when I write that this was one of the most insightful dreams I have ever had. Whoever this man was, his words have definitely stuck with me. It reminds me of the time that I was about 13 and my family and I traveled to Canada. While staying near Grouse Mountain, I had a dream in which God came to me and explained that even though I pray to him, he is not going to just magically make things happen for me. He explained that I have to do the actions and he will be there for support. Interestingly, whom I deemed as God, spoke to me too not with words but to my mind, and although his words seemed complex or even too difficult for a 13-year-old boy to understand, I woke up feeling very enlightened. I would say that was the first time in my life I spoke with a benevolent, spiritual entity.
Many people feel that we have sprit guides or even guardian angels. In moments of spiritual unrest, I definitely receive helpful information including how to improve my life. I was thinking in the shower, as many of us do, when the following ideas came into my mind about what I will need to fulfill my life goals.
First of all, I will need strength. Sure that might seem a bit vague, but I will need complete physical, mental and emotional strength in order to become a productive adult. Previously I have noted that my goal is to be as happy as a child. However, could you imagine what we would be like if we only had the strength of a child as adults? We would stammer and whine and maybe even cry all day long.
Most of us have built up defenses that prevent us from behaving like children in stressful and trying situations. But not all of us have learned how to release negative emotions so that they do not weigh on our shoulders. The Level I YiRen QiGong Small Universe Cultivating Exercise is excellent for getting rid of this emotional baggage.
Part of our stress is created by the quest to become who we believe we really are. As I have noted in earlier writings, who we are is defined by many different things but ultimately we define ourselves. Some of the ways that we are viewed by ourselves and others is by our family, friends, hobbies and career choice. But even these aspects of people’s lives do not completely define a person. To me, who and what we love really lets people know who we are.
One popular way for people to let others know who they are is by social networking platforms on the Internet. To me, these are actually quite laughable, since you are only using your eyes to get to know someone who could be very well deceiving you with false presentations and messages. Perhaps Master Zhang would find them funny as well, or even troubling. This is not to say that these social networks do not have positive aspects. For instance, they are amazing at helping you reconnect with old friends that you yearn to get to know again.
To be the real you and to get to really know a person you must have courage. The first thing I usually wonder about when a person wants to get to know me better is: What do you want from me? But I think that you can build healthy, symbiotic relationships as long as you realize that you do not have to cater to every wish a friend has and they are not obligated to always be there for you. To me, there are three types of people in life: Those you hold close and dear; those you keep at arms’ length, and those you completely avoid. All of these types of people help define who you are and what your values are.
Through all of this remember, that friends and lovers can often hurt you the most. I am reminded of Angelina Jolie’s famous tattoo that reads:”That which nourishes me, also destroys me.” Or even Pretenders lead singer Chrissie Hyndes’ lyrics “There’s a thin line between love and hate…”
Although a bit hyperbolic and dramatic, I believe the tattoo means partially that those who we love the most, can also hurt us the most. But the hurt is less if we develop the strength of a thick skin and the ability to not always take the negative actions of those close to us so seriously. Oftentimes those actions are merely manifestation of the inflictor’s own problems and issues. I believe that if you develop a strong self love, then you can deal with friend’s and lover’s transgressions in a more useful way and communicate with them better.
However, the true test of strength could be when you yourself are feeding your mind with abusive and negative thoughts. When the incessant, broken record effect starts, that is when it is time to mediate. When you meditate, concentrate on changing the negative thought patterns to positive ones. For example, if you keep dwelling on a negative thing a boss or co-worker said about you, think of instances in your life that contradict what they said.
I also find that humor can actually build a lot of strength too. Laughing has been proven to improve people’s health. Even in seemingly dire situations, I try to find humor. Oftentimes, comedians and humorists can convey how absurd most of our trials and worries are. It is by no accident that many comedians are self-deprecating. It is not that they have low self-esteem so much as they have learned to laugh at themselves. The audience can often identify with the comic, and therefore learn to laugh at themselves too.
With regards to YiRen QiGong, I find that when I am low on energy and stress is getting the better of me, both the Level I Energy Grounding Exercise and the Level II Kidney/Urinary Tract exercise really build up my Kidney energies and give me more stamina to forge ahead. Dr. Sun often refers to the Kidneys as helping us develop “The strength of a bear.”
The next virtue I will need in my life is patience. Most of all I will have to be patient with myself. Lately I have been asking myself, why am I acting so unlike me? Why am I acting like such a joker, a clown? I believe that in order to develop autonomy, a strong sense of self and freedom to be who you really are, you have to go through many awkward phases. These are necessary to build individuality and character.
Of course you must also have patience with others. Many times in the past I have gotten frustrated with others and have spoken to them with acerbic words full of vitriol. Not only would this make the situation worse, it also has lead to broken romances and friendships—even broken musical endeavors, which are often very sad to me. However, now when I feel angry and frustrated, I usually meditate and think more clearly about how to approach people who are trying my patience. Since studying YiRen QiGong the amount of people I have pissed off has decreased dramatically. In fact, off the top of my head, I cannot think of the last time I left a person livid. This makes me very happy.
Recently, there has been a barrage of unfortunate events that have negatively affected a music project I am involved in. These sorts of setbacks used to greatly discourage me, but like mentioned a couple blogs ago, now I seek the solution more tactfully, and try to avoid dwelling on the problem. By doing this I have come up with not only one, but many solutions very quickly. When you have a project you are working on, just because things do not go as you envisioned, does not mean the outcome will be less good and that you should quit.
In my intro blog, I mentioned that we live in a sort of point-and-click society fraught with instant gratification. I believe that with the advent of new technology, information can travel much faster but also that people often think less about what they write. There has been many times when I reflected on something I wrote on a social network site and was like: What in the world was I thinking? The truth is, is that not only do these networks sort of give us a way to instantly communicate with many people at once, but that also, they allow us to hide behind our computer screens, creating a false sense of anonymity. Ironically, even though an online representation of a person is often misleading, some people use them as if they are a substitute for actual social interaction. This to me is highly detrimental to developing not only a realistic view of reality, but also the cultivating of a person’s patience.
Oftentimes in our spiritual journey, we encounter the Dark Night of the Soul. To me, this is a time when it feels as if nothing is happening and you are stuck. I feel that I have definitely entered this phase of my life. It has taken a great deal of patience for me to deal with this phase. YiRen QiGong and meditation has definitely helped me get through this time and deal with it healthily. I believe that when many people enter this phase, they often turn to substance abuse or other unhealthy habits to deal with the unknowingness that is faced. Some might even feel that life is passing them by. This is simply not true as we all find a comfortable place in the Universe at different times in our lives.
For example, my Uncle, Marvin, a good man he is, did not finally find out what he wanted to do with his life until he was about 37. Marv (a former Navy man) is a marvelously smart man and decided to become a Certified Public Accountant (CPA). It took him a few times to finally pass the CPA exam, as it is not easy, but now he is a top CPA at a large real estate company. He loves his job (even though the often charmingly cantankerous man will usually just say, “Eh, it’s a job,”) and also the rest of his life that he shares with my dad’s sister, Aunty Marge. Prior to being an accountant he worked in many dead end positions at the old Tradewell Supermarket in Seattle. Marvin was definitely patient, and definitely went through dark times in his life, but today he is actually a fairly affable man, content with his vocation.
One of Webster’s Dictionary definitions of faith is: Firm belief in something for which there is no proof: complete trust. Some would say that blind faith is foolish, but I think that faith can be a wise and good thing. Some people put their faith in a loved one, in God or most importantly— to me anyway—-themselves. Especially in a time of the Dark Night of the Soul, it is really easy to lose sight of who we are and things might seem a little chaotic. Faith can be the thing that carries us through the darkness and keeps us from slipping into detrimental patterns. I still highly advocate the YiRen QiGong Level II Stomach/Pancreas exercise if you feel sort of in a phase that I like to call “The Twilight Zone” where things seem illogical, imaginary, surreal and just plain backwards. This feeling is not unusual, so don’t fret if and when you find yourself in this place.
Strength, patience and faith: These are the ideas that I hope to employ more and more in my life. Thus far they have certainly helped me get through some tough times. In fact, I now consider myself a Dark Knight of the Soul, as I chivalrously battle all sorts of internal and external spiritual enemies. So I leave you not necessarily with a coherent summation of what might seem to some like an incoherent transcript (hahaha), but with a video that explains a bit about patience with regards to the Dark Night of the Soul, from University Of Metaphysical Sciences, Christine Breese. I hope you enjoy it.
By Brian Kane 4/12/2011,
“Analyzed that thought ‘til I thought it made sense. Seems that I forgot, just how easy life is. Quixote, would appreciate, this mess I’ve made: The proof is in my armor plate. Imagination leads me to my grave…”
I wrote those words when I was 22 years old, but they still often apply to me today. Imagination: It can be our best friend or our worst enemy it seems. I have a huge imagination, as many of us do, and some would even say that I live and/or find solace in my imagination. This is not necessarily a bad thing as Einstein said,” “Imagination is more important than knowledge. For knowledge is limited to all we now know and understand, while imagination embraces the entire world, and all there ever will be to know and understand.”
However, having a vivid imagination is different than being delusional and not being able to cope with or decipher reality from unreality. This affliction could be part of a mental malady—a psychological sickness–but perhaps more often it is the result of an individual trying to avoid the pain that reality can bring. Ironically, the imagination that brings us joy and freedom can also evoke scenes of darkness and despair. It could be that imagination is important when applied to knowledge and creativity, but detrimental when it is used as an escape or substitute for the realities of some of life’s most basic needs: including forming friendships and finding love; having a vocation and living place.
The key to me is to know when to step out of one’s imagination and address the realities that organize our lives so that both our internal and external realities are tended to. One way to find the strength to do this is by studying YiRen Qigong. But first let’s explore my ideas of imagination and how it applies to dreams, demons, QiGong and self-consciousness, and the effects of music on mediation and in turn the quality of our lives.
When I first started studying YiRen QiGong, instructor Brendan Thorson said to pay attention to my dreams. After about one month of practicing QiGong, my quality of sleep had improved vastly. I would no longer wake up a grump—which I was notorious for—but feel vibrant and refreshed. About two months into the practice, I was definitely having vivid dreams, the content of which was at times humorous, at times troubling, and even informative. Thorson told me that not every YiRen QiGong practitioner will experience vivid dreams (he said he often forgets his) but that if you do dream of something you deem significant, don’t disregard it as merely a trick of the mind. Although some of your dreams might be of things that could only exist and manifest themselves in your imagination, they could also be giving you important information that could improve your life.
So then it is time to take the ideas from your dreams out of your imagination and put them to the test. This is where your strength is tested. It is a universal understanding that following your dreams is not easy. The more you desire something, the more pain and disappointment you could face in reaching your goal/s. However, in order to find balance in life, I believe you have to give your best effort at obtaining that which you want most, whether it be a particular vocation, a romantic interest, spiritual awareness, financial security or just having peace of mind. It is often inevitable that you will have fears and apprehension on your journey.
I am experiencing a bit of ambivalence and fear myself with regards to some life decisions I must make. During warm-up for the Tai Chi class on April 12th, the Level II Stomach and Pancreas exercise really helped me find strength and clarity. One thing I was unaware of and that Brendan brought to my attention is that what hand mudra that you use can affect your experience with this exercise. If you have a lot of emotional gunk to get rid of, your thumb should be between your index and middle finger with a closed fist. If not, it should be between your middle and ring finger.
I certainly had some garbage to dispose of and so I opted for the index and middle finger mudra. During the mediation with this exercise, I was able to generate the strength to feel positively about my life. I then realized a very important thing: When your imagination generates positivity and happiness, embrace that feeling as much as you can. However, when your imagination produces negative and despairing thoughts, it is time to meditate and bring tranquility to your mind.
However, meditation will not always be a pleasant experience. I mentioned in my earlier writings that meditating is like a glass of water with sediment or sand on the bottom. That sediment is all the emotional trash that a person has gathered over the years. When you meditate, you shake the vessel or stir its contents and the sand begins to rise to the top. Many Toaists call these demons. When these thoughts arrive, it is quite natural to want to stop meditating and repress those thoughts again. However in order to dissolve those pesky pests, you have to work through them and send them back down to the bottom of the glass, eventually dissolving them.
YiRen Qigong Instructor Brendan Thorson once told me that some students have come to him and said that they have an emotional blockage or hang up that they just cannot seem to get past. They have even gone to counseling or taken psychiatric drugs to try to cure their condition. However, he has seen students gain better clarity and emotional relief by practicing QiGong. You might say that instead of dealing with the problem down river or as it manifest itself, many students, myself included, have solved problems and improved their moods by dealing with the problem at its source.
Recently, I have gained some very interesting insight into some of my blockages. I am aware of my problems now and am at peace with these issues. The next step is being vigilant in destroying your demons. Like training your muscles, you might not get results right away, but before you know it, your efforts will be very rewarding. One benefit that I have had with taking classes with Brendan, is that whenever I have a personal problem I am dealing with, he is usually available to discuss it with me and offer advice not only in what action I might want to take but even more importantly, what YiRen QiGong exercises I should practice in order to help my mind see things more clearly.
Two exercises that really help me when I am having problems with negative visions are the Wisdom Gate meditating exercise (the Wisdom Gate is between the Life Gate and Solar Plexeus), and the Brain Gate exercise. Also my new favorite Level II exercise, the pancreas/stomach exercise works for me as well. Interestingly, according to Dr. Guan-Cheng Sun the stomach is a Yang organ associated with the virtues of logic and reasoning. At the Conscious level, the stomach is associated with imaginations and delusions and the pancreas with self-blame.
This week was also a QiGong breakthrough for me in that I have finally shed any doubt that QiGong is helping improve my life and that I don’t care what others think about my involvement with the practice. YiRen QiGong has become as much of part of my life as music, writing, working out and you might say shaving every morning. It is now just part of my routine. However, I do not push QiGong onto others I think might benefit from it. I live by the Woody Allen idea that life is tough, and for the most part, to find happiness, just do whatever works. I would like to add that whatever works as long as it is ultimately not detrimental to your overall being or the being of others. I would definitely not suggest taking drugs, consuming alcohol in excess or anything else that is harmful to your body. But I have friends that are perfectly healthy that do not practice QiGong. They could definitely benefit from the practice, but maybe Yoga works best for them, or studying the Bible or the Quran.
From my experience with YiRen QiGong, you do not lose yourself through the practice, but actually gain a better understanding about who you are. It is important to me to keep my individuality and not try to be just like my teacher/s. Brendan Thorson is on his own path as we are all on ours. What he can divulge are recommendations to better your life, but you do not need to feel obligated to follow his suggestions. I have disagreed with him on what is best for me and been wrong, and I have also been right. The important thing is to do the exercises, seek advice from your teacher and then come to your own conclusions. This is how I see it anyway.
Moreover, I have learned to not become frustrated with detractors of the practice of YiRen Qigong—the skeptics. The bottom line is, unless a person has practiced QiGong, it is virtually impossible to have a constructive conversation with that person about the practice. Not everybody is going to like QiGong or believe it is helping them. It is their right to think this way and it in no way indicates who they are as people: again, whatever works.
“Women they will come and they will go. When the rain washes you clean, you’ll know.” These are lyrics from the song “Dreams” by one of my favorite bands, Fleetwood Mac. In fact this week I have been listening to that song repeatedly. Stevie Nicks’ voice is very hypnotizing and the lyrics, although about lovers going their separate ways, are very encouraging to me and just downright beautiful. When I mediate I will often listen to soothing music like this. Although in deep meditative states I often lose contact with the words and melodies, these tunes help me relax.
This is not to say that one should only listen to positive music. Music is art and art should depict all aspects of life, from love to hate, despair to discovery. Music can definitely spur our imaginations about things and create visions in our minds.
When I was a kid, my father, heeding the advice of our church pastor, discarded many of his Rock N’ Roll albums at the local dump. The pastor thought that Rock was the Devil’s music. I remember when I was about 10 we used to play “Stairway to Heaven” backwards and try to hear the Satanic message. Interestingly, the only time I could decipher any sort of message from below was when a person would tell me what I should be hearing. To me, “Stairway to Heaven” was a beautiful song. A song of hope as Robert Plant, Led Zeppelin’s lead singer, would often introduce the song as. However, there are actual transcriptions online of the entire song backwards, and the message is much darker: almost the antithesis of the song forward. One thing to note is that live recordings of the song have the same message so it is possible that the band did not record any hidden messages. I honestly do not know if Led Zeppelin purposefully created song lyrics that would have a different message when played backwards. I think the important thing is to remember that our imaginations can falsify reality and that we are being influenced by many outward forces, most of which we might not be aware of.
Although my imagination has caused me a great deal of discomfort in the past, I will never cease living a large portion of my life in the spiritual realm of my dreams and imagination. Ultimately I believe this will lead me to a happier life. The darkness of life and my imagination will always exist however, now I have my personal weapon of choice, YiRen QiGong, to battle those intrusive thoughts. Now I have a greater hope that instead of it leading me to an untimely death, as long as I follow my dreams the correct way, my imagination will liberate me to a long and fulfilling life.
By Brian Kane,
A Week of Random Observations and Revelations
This was a bi-week for the Tai Chi class. I decided to attend the Level One class on Wednesday. Before I give any reflections about the class, I must divulge some inner revelations that I had this week. The main revelations: I believe you should try to incorporate both QiGong exercises and attitudes into your everyday life, and when you project positivity, positivity is projected back to you.
I work a desk job for a fairly large company. Honestly, I would rather be doing something more creative and/or labor intensive, but a job is a job. I work in close quarters with my co-workers. In fact, we sit right next to each other, staring at 30-inch monitors all day. I have grown fond of some of my co-workers: The people I sit by are some of my favorite people in the world (although some of them are moving on to different jobs.) However, when you sit right next to people, their foibles become fairly apparent to you and it can add to work stress. Personally, I am very tolerant of people, but we have some characters in our group, myself included. What has helped me remain calm, is to take a break every two hours or so and do a YiRen QiGong exercise or meditation outside for about five minutes. For stress, I like to do the energy grounding exercise along with the Energy Center Enhancing Exercise . However, you should experiment to see what works best for you.
During class, Brandon Thorson, recommended to a student that she do a YiRen QiGong exercise for 20 minutes every morning to quiet her mind and relax her body. From my own experience, this really helps me keep my composure at work and my production numbers have increased since practicing every morning.
One of the perks of this my job, is that we get free lunches. Unfortunately, most of us used to dread what they would serve us contractual workers, as it was often a greasy mound of mush.
However, our old chef was replaced by a woman named Chris who is amazing. She has drastically changed the quality of the food and unlike the slouch the used to prepare our meals, she takes tremendous pride in her work. She always greets us with a hello as we walk into the lunchroom and is happy to cater to our needs. One day she even walked around the lunchroom with a pan of freshly baked cookies and asked each table if they wanted one.
What is the lesson I have learned from Chris? It’s simple: When you project positivity, no matter what your situation, positivity will be returned to you. Chris has the same ingredients and facilities to use as the lunchroom louse before her, yet despite obviously being over-qualified and not having the most glamorous job at this time, she takes tremendous pride in her work and exceeds what is expected of her.
This was also a week of reflection and regret for me. The cause of my regret is not important necessarily. The root of it is fear and having too high of expectations. You know, we all sort of imagine what a person that we are interested in is like. We have a picture in our mind of a romantic interest and oftentimes our imagination can be enough to suffice the basic human longing to be intimate with someone. The ironic thing is, oftentimes the more we like someone, the more freaked out and unlike ourselves we become, at least initially. I often wish I could just come out and say what I feel about a romantic interest. But in the past, I have been accused of seeming too anxious or needy. I believe that in order to live a healthy life and even to optimize your YiRen QiGong experience, not only is it best to remain as positive as possible, but also chose friends and lovers wisely. Perhaps more importantly one has to learn to really love one’s self. By nature, I am a pleaser and used to forget to think about my own needs. In order to really connect with someone, you have to project positivity, confidence and self-esteem and respect. Otherwise, you will end up in toxic relationships.
One of my favorite people ever, author and QiGong practitioner Jane Alexander (who authored the book “Possessing Me” which can be found here http://www.amazon.com/Possessing-Me-Healing-Jane-Alexander/dp/0983070903/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1292013959&sr=8-1 ) once wrote the following to me when I sough her counsel about a few life issues I was having. About relationships, she wrote:
A healthy mature woman looks for guys that exude confidence. Not testosterone confidence or ego but settled, mature sense of self. A guy that is comfortable with himself, has inner confidence that radiates out. You could say that women can smell it like a scent. If you don’t love your own being the way I described than you are not ready or capable of offering the same to other people, especially women who are going to want and need more emotional support or understanding. Unless you like self-harming emo girls, girls with no appreciable self esteem and self love will latch on to guys in the same developmental phase in order to save the guy or themselves. But you know what? Two self hating people do not make a healthy, loving relationship….It’s an important issue. If you want healthy, mature, successful girls that do not need to be or want to be saved than you are going to have to work on developing that kind of personality. Guys with especially low self esteem, depression or lacking inner confidence entirely might fall under the pathetic but cute section. Usually it’s just a turn off.
That was written to me almost three years ago, and the more I study YiRen QiGong, the more I realize that what we project affects not only our love lives, but also every other aspect of our lives. One thing that I have begun to dissolve is what I call the pessimistic filter. Just because you have had bad experiences in the past regarding a certain issue or situation, does not mean that it will continue to happen–that, that occurrence set a trend. If you have a pessimistic filter, then you will misinterpret other’s actions and your own successes and failures.
Bottom line, my advice to all of you is, be bold. You might not get the desired response from the person you long for, or the result of an attempt at a goal you have, but your boldness will definitely leave an impression on that individual and further your progress on improving yourself. Also, don’t take rejection as always being your fault. Remember, you are not the only one that has fears or hang-ups. The other person might have reasons for not wanting to get to know you better, which have nothing to do with you. One of my favorite hip-hop artists, Canibus, wrote “A wise man see failure as progress…” I agree.
In addition to this, remember, whether we are conscious of it or not, many of us play games with other people. Most of us don’t do this because we are just plain malicious and evil, but because we are uncertain about a person and put them through certain ‘tests.’ This is quite natural, I believe. But not only do we play games with each other, we play games with ourselves. One unfortunate habit people get into is what Brendan Thorson calls the “broken record” effect. From my own experience, this involves negative thoughts that prevent us from doing what is best for us. To me, these repetitive thought patterns are like bad habits. It’s like when a person gets nervous and lights up a cigarette. Some people, myself included, get nervous and turn on the broken record, which just feeds our minds with excuses and lies. I had a friend who was diagnosed with Bipolar Disorder who said that one of her symptoms was not being able to stop thinking about something. She would obsess over a dark thought. I too often suffer from this issue. From my experience, YiRen Qigong has helped me break negative thought patterns and see the issue in an objective way, controlling my Ego. Instead of dwelling on the problem, I seek the solution, which is usually much easier to find than I initially thought. I remember one time I told a counselor that I truly believed my so-called depression was actually an excuse not to go out there and fulfill my dreams. His eyes lit up, as he agreed. I think it became quite fashionable during the ‘90s and my youth to have the sort of attitude that the world is cruel, our futures are bleak and humans are beyond redemption. This trend needs to end.
I was looking through my old writings, and ten years ago I wrote the following lyrics:”So I tried to find comfort in words. But the man from Algiers says it’s all absurd—all absurd. He addresses the worse-case scenario and it buzzes in my head and it plays on my stereo. It’s the modern day trend, my friend and I’m telling you all, that it all needs to end. ‘Cause I know we’ll be fine, in time, We’ll be back again, back to when, we were all sane…”
As a new adult, I was beginning to experience for the first time a bit of post-adolescent angst/idealism. If I had been studying YiRen QiGong at the time, those thoughts would have surely still entered my mind, but I would have been able to digest them more healthily, and stopped the development of my pessimistic filter. Going “back again” is dissolving that filter and finding the same peace in one’s mind that a child has. It can be done. (Incidentally, the man From Algiers is Albert Camus. Algiers is now Algeria.)
So all these thoughts and revelations I brought into the Level One class on Wednesday. During the class we practiced the Small Universe Developing Exercise, Small Universe Enhancing Exercise, and Energy Center Enhancing Exercise. As YiRen QiGong teacher Brendan Thorson has stated many times, each time you take the same class, you will have a new experience. Needless to say, this was true for me. Not only did I feel the Qi energy around my body more strongly than when I tool the Level I class about a year ago, it also opened up many of my Energy Centers (which are analogous to the Chakras in Yoga). I arrived to this class with a heavy heart and a bad stomach. After class, I felt much better. My body was less tense, my stomach pain lessened and I felt more positive. One student arrived about one half hour late due to traffic. She commented that as soon as she entered the room we were practicing in, that her mind—which had been racing all day—began to quiet and she felt more at ease. I too have experienced this.
All in all, it was a week of ups and downs, but whereas in the past, I might be still brooding over trivial events, by incorporating YiRen QiGong into my daily routine, projecting positivity, not dwelling on the problem and stopping the broken record, I feel that the trials of the week were handled wisely and I am stronger for it.
By Brian Kane 3/29/2011,
Throughout my time studying QiGong (and Tai chi), I have found myself relating more and more to what might be considered Billboard Wisdom, or simplified Taoist or “New Age” ideas borrowed by the West. Ideas like a strong connection between the mind and body, or the healthy benefits for men to “explore your feminine side” no longer seem like just nifty notions for progressive thinkers: Lately, I have begun to experience their effects at an increasing rate. During this week’s Tai Chi class, we discussed how the mind and the body are connected and how we should pay attention to how our bodies can actually help us decide how to react, or what decisions to make, in difficult situations.
QiGong instructor Brendan Thorson attended Dr. Sun’s seminar this past weekend at which he gained a greater insight into how our minds affect our bodies, including all of our organs such as the kidneys and heart. For instance–and again this might seem cliché to you– let’s say you really like a lady, or gentleman. I am sure many of us have heard the saying “I got weak in the knees” or “I got cold feet” due to being attracted or feeling in love with a person. Well in YiRen QiGong, when we work on building up our kidney energies, our feet get warmer. When we have a sudden fear or moment of anxiety, the feet—and the hands for that matter–being affected by a lack of kidney energy, can feel cold. Thorson has also stated that we can hold a great deal of fear and anxiety in the knee joints which can make them shake and ache.
From my own personal experience, when I am nervous, let’s say, before a performance of any kind, I sometimes get really tight in the stomach and my mouth turns dry. The stomach is associated with the emotion of anxiety. Since I am fearful or worried about my performance, my mind communicates with my stomach—and vice versa–which is negatively affected by a debilitating emotion.
Off and on during my teens, my stomach problems were so bad that I would often vomit in stressful situations and not be able to eat sometimes for days. This was especially bad for me, because my metabolism was lightning fast. As I have gotten older, my stomach problems have subsided, and my metabolism has slowed down a bit, thank goodness. When I was going through my bout of stomach issues (most certainly a result of an over abundance of anxiety and worry created by a youthful, overactive imagination) I would often think about rock musician Kurt Cobain, who had crippling stomach problems himself. I guess I thought it was cool that we had that in common. Unfortunately, Kurt used heroin partially to cure his stomach pains, but I am certain that YiRen QiGong would have helped restore balance in his body and mind, curing him of his ailment.
Brendan quoted Dr. Sun as relating the brain to being the Federal Government of the rest of the body. I then made the joke that the goal of QiGong would then be to turn your mind from being a George W. Bush-type Federal Government, into more of a Barack Obama-type Federal Government, which garnered a few laughs. Brendan responded with a smirk saying, “Well it’s different for everyone. You have to find the type of federal government that works best for your particular body.” I would have to agree. Besides, I think I would like to have the characteristics of both Condoleezza Rice (a Republican and part of Bush’s Cabinet) and Hillary Clinton (a Democrat and part of Obama’s Government) in my brain. They are both brilliant.
Another interesting way the body can communicate with us through QiGong is by letting us know what foods and what quantities of food are best for our bodies. In fact, I have heard stories of Dr. Sun eating enough food at times to feed a few people and his love for dumplings. However, as he became more developed in QiGong, he got a better sense of how much he should eat according to what was best for his body. I personally experienced this before class on Tuesday. One of my weaknesses is Dick’s Hamburgers. Before class I got my usual: two cheeseburgers, a Deluxe and a small coke. In my mind, I knew that this was way too much to eat at the time, right before class and before dinner, which I usually eat at Aladdin’s Gyro-cery on University Avenue. But my emotions got the better of me and I HAD to have my usual.
Well, during class I became more aware of how negatively the fatty burgers were affecting my body. In fact, during one of the warm up exercises I got nauseous and felt unusually uncomfortable just from my regular delightful Dick’a burger binge. I now know to trust my intuitions more when it comes to food. I think my usual afternoon snack of an apple and a bottle of Kombucha would have agreed with me much more.
(As a side note, my brother–22 months my junior–when he was 16 or so, ate 10 Dick’s cheeseburgers before a Seattle Supersonics game. Although some say he had a little “medicinal” help of the common teenage kind, I think the kid just had that big of an appetite. And he weighed about 135 pounds at the time, with the usual youthful-Kidd metabolism. As a kid Kidd, this feat was fine and fairly innocuous. But now that we are both in our early 30s, I don’t think either of us would attempt to break the 10 Dick’s cheeseburgers record. I have contemplated it though, hehe).
To me, it is clear that there is a mind/body connection. To most of us, this is fairly obvious. What might not be so obvious is how to create a harmonious relationship between the mind (The Federal Government) and the body and its organs (the more localized branches of government). It reminds me of what Alexander Hamilton wrote in the Federalist Papers, which helped shape the U.S. Constitution. As to why government is necessary he wrote, “Because the passions of men will not conform to the dictates of reason and justice, without constraint.” I believe that YiRen Qigong is kind of like a government advisor for my brain and in turn, my body. It can help me see and feel more clearly what is best for my well-being. Dr. Sun and Brendan Thorson both encourage us to treat our organs as if they are our pets and to make sure each is taken care of with love and attention. By doing so, we will not only keep our organs healthy, but also our minds and our quality of life.
By Brian Kane 3/22/2011,
During this third week of the Seattle Tai Chi class the energy has begun to move deeper into my body. In fact whereas before, it felt like I was in the midst of a Qi(Chi) mist during each lesson, this week I felt like I was getting a Qi shower. I cannot even completely remember the warm up exercises, as my mind was hearing the instructor’s voice from a distant place and surreal scenes flashed into my mind as I moved with my eyes closed, and my Third Eye open.
Once while helping Brendan Thorson at the U District Street Fair last summer, a solemn man approached me and asked me why I practiced QiGong. I told him that my ultimate goal was to have the happiness and freedom of a child with the intelligence and thoughtfulness of an adult. He simply looked at me with a knowing look on his face and stated, “Of course, isn’t that the goal for all of us? Look at these children, they are pure,” he said while pointing to a little boy and girl walking by. “They don’t really know about the hardships of life. Of the pain it can bring.” He then turned from me, and rode off gracefully on his bike as his blonde mane flowed behind him.
I then began to think of my recently deceased grandfather. I noticed that while he was on his deathbed and barely conscious, he began to take on mannerisms like that of a child and speak with innocent child-like inflections. Although I did not witness this, my aunt told me he even recited Pat-a-Cake from Mother Goose.
The owner of the group home at which he lived explained that when people approach death, they begin to act child-like again and have vivid memories of childhood.
I wondered why this was. Oftentimes hazy childhood memories will creep into my mind—some good, some bad, mostly in my dreams. However, this week, some beautiful nostalgia revealed itself to me during the first half of class. I remembered, again, all the crazy tree forts (and insanely deep underground forts) my brother and friends built and the smell of the woods in the Queensgate neighborhood, where I lived as a kid from 1980-1989. I built many BMX tracks in those woods and often came home to my mom with fresh BMX wounds that never felt so good.
I also had memories of my late Grandmother’s kitchen in West Seattle, and the amazing meals she would make me. Of my dad and I launching those red water rocket toys and my mom and I jogging down the pipeline trail. I had memories of my brother and I making cat forts for our two cats, Monty and Mittens, and of my Grandpa Fred trying to teach me to play the banjo while Grandma Betty was sewing something in the next room at their house in what was North Seattle and now the City of Shoreline. I wondered how I could have lost sight of some of these things and how they lost their importance. These visions seem so basic and almost meaningless as I type this blog. But while I was having them during class, they meant the world to me. I was happy.
One of my favorite songs by Everything but the Girl is “The Heart Remains a Child.” I believe this is true. I am uncertain as to why adulthood seems to drive some people literally mad. This is one of life’s mysteries, it seems. I have several friends who were extremely talented and had promising futures as teenagers, but are now not quite all there. This really saddens me.
Our growing brains into adulthood seem to make us smarter, but they also seem to make some people angrier, greedier, meaner, and out of touch with how their actions affect others. I remember when I turned 13 and some of my friends changed very much over just one summer: from nice kids to complete jerks. The time of innocence was definitely behind us.
However during the class warm up, I began to look around the room, and think about the students in class and other kind souls that I know. It made me feel more at ease and realize that the negative actions of others are often done out of fear and insecurity. It might sound cliché to “tap into your inner-child,” but it makes more sense to me now. When you are a kid, you are excited and curious about everything. And when you laugh as a kid, it is seen as being cute. As an adult you might seem silly or simpleminded. People get too serious. They take themselves too seriously.
During the second part of the class, we began the YiRen Tai Chi movements, which included twisting the torso, loosening the sacrum, releasing pent up energy. When I first took the Tai Chi class about 18 months ago, I remember the instructor, Brendan Thorson, warned the students that they might feel angry the next day or two because we can hold a lot of frustration and anger in our sacrum. Sure enough, the next day I woke up and wanted to punch a hole in something. Today, 3/23/2011, I felt the same way. This feeling intensified as something unfortunate happened at work. When usually I would just grin and bear it, today I lashed out a bit in frustration and was rather hostile in an email to a co-worker. Thankfully he has a good sense of humor. However, as the day progressed, I gradually began to calm down and actually felt really at ease–more than I usually do. Interestingly, according to Thorson, a rigid sacrum can also make a person age faster, so loosening up the sacrum can make us feel and look more youthful.
This week’s lesson was definitely a breakthrough for me. I feel that the Qi is moving deeper inside my body and helping me find greater inner strength. My visions and dreams are becoming more and more lucid. I believe they have something to tell me. What it is, I am anxious to find out.
Post Script: Stay tuned for my next article (one with actual interviews) about how QiGong could help people with drug and alcohol problems. Thanks.
By Brian Kane 3/ 15/ 2011,
This was the second week of the Tai Chi Class. However the important lesson I learned was not during class. It is a lesson that pertains to honoring the lineage, teachers and students, as we are all one, on the same path towards happiness and spiritual freedom.
Many of us want to feel powerful, beautiful, smart, highly esteemed et-cetera. This is part of our egos. However, one of the great cosmic paradoxes is that we are all, in a sense, one. All part of the universe and all connected to each other—whether we know it or not. In the YiRen School, every person involved is following a similar path. In order for all students to feel the healing power of YiRen Qigong, we must all learn the same techniques taught in a sequence which has been developed by Dr. Sun, who is carrying on a teaching lineage that is thousands of years old.
Of course Qigong will evolve over time and become more effective as the masters develop it. But this process takes time. It also takes time to improve and develop yourself through Qigong, but once you have surmounted personal obstacles, the feeling of freedom is very rewarding and empowering. However, everybody’s path and rate of progress will be different, and a great deal of it depends on how much effort the student is willing to put forth, which will require courage and open-mindedness.
On Friday, March 18, Brandon Thorson held an Intro class at the 8-Limbs Yoga Center on Capitol Hill. One of the attendees, a man named Andrew, brought up a very insightful observation during the class. After one of the exercises, he said that he was becoming aware of new sensations and realizations in his mind and body. Upon discovering these things, he felt that he had two choices: either explore this new found territory (which could be uncomfortable) or hold off, and wait until he felt ready to venture into this newly discovered area of his being.
I think this idea applies to each of us in our own lives. Qigong is away to improve our lives. Just like learning a new skill to get a better job. This in turn can improve the quality of life for our families, which can help your spouse and/or children and friends, relatives (all the people you know) find inspiration to improve their own lives. But these individuals must find the courage and strength fulfill their dreams.
To me, it is kind of like turning frustration, into inspiration; it is like turning jealousy into joy. I experienced both of these feelings this week. An acquaintance of mine, I can tell, is really improving her focus as an artist. Her recent musical efforts have received attention and accolades from a few revered publications. This brought attention to my own aspirations and the fears or hang-ups that have prevented me from exploring new territory in my own music and other interests. At first I felt very jealous and even angry about her recent achievements. However, then I thought about it: I am sure that she had her own fears and internal blockages at one time. Just about all of us have fears. However, she overcame them, at least enough to whip up the courage to really go for it and release some great music. And then I thought about it more: What I was jealous about was even the wrong thing. I was jealous of the praise she was getting from critics and fans alike. But it was jealously from an egocentric perspective about her being exalted. (I want to be deemed brilliant too, I thought.) What I should have been jealous about was the elation she has experienced by having spread happiness to others. However I should not have felt jealous about that at all, but rather joyful and inspired. This is how I feel now.
I think that by realizing that we are all part of the universal consciousness and are all one, I have begun to free myself from jealousy and resentment. I now better realize that my actions can have a profound impact on others, especially those on the same path. I have stepped outside myself for once and am aware that I am no greater or lesser than anyone else. If my goals keep all of those around me that I hold dear in mind, and if I continue to develop a view of life from a universal perspective, I will feel satisfied, happy and successful. It will take courage. It will take time. I have both. I hope all of you all find the same.
By Brian Kane 3/8/2011,
This week, The Noble School of Tai Chi and QiGong training has started new classes. I have taken all the classes available for the six-week series, and am currently enrolled in the Tai-Chi Movement class.
One thing I have noticed , and teacher Brendan Thorson has expounded on, is that even when you have taken one of the classes, you still develop more understanding and Qi each time you retake a specific course
This Tuesday, I started the Tai Chi Movement class. Since November 2009, I have taken the Tai-Chi and Moving with Qi courses about five times, and each time both my coordination and general calmness of mind has increased. We started the class with exercises that those of you in Level Two will learn.
(Do not be too concerned with remembering the details of the below description. From my own experience, when first starting QiGong, it is best to practice the exercises and FEEL how they are affecting your mind and body as opposed to THINKING or INTELLECTUAL ZING the practice. )
First, we practiced the Kidney/Urinary tract exercise, really building up our internal energy. Of the five elements: wood, water, fire, earth and metal– the kidneys and the Urinary Tract, associated with the Bladder, are yin energy associated with water. In order to nourish the wood associated with the Liver (yin, wood) and Gall Bladder (yang, wood), we then moved on to the Level Two Liver and Gall Bladder exercise, really calming the nervous system and creating a strong bond between the Gall Gladder 21 points on the top of the shoulders, and the Kidney One points (also referred to as the Root Centers or Bubbling Springs) on the bottom of the feet. Our last Level Two exercise was the Lungs (yin, metal) and Large Intestines (yang, metal). For me, working on these two organs associated with the metal element, really opened up my breathing and released a lot of stress. In QiGong, breathing is very important, and during this exercise, we filled our lungs deeply with oxygen and released stagnant energy.
For those in Level one, you will be working with the kidney meridian and energy centers mostly—developing the Small Universe. This is a necessary step before you move on to level two, but like I stated earlier, one series of classes is not necessarily better or more advanced than the other. However, in your own QiGong growth, you must fulfill the prerequisites in order to ensure that your body and mind is aware enough to move to the next level. And we all grow at our own pace.
After our warm up exercises, which also included warming up the joints and connecting the hands, wrists, arms and feet to the Dantien (where Qi is stored between the Earth Center and the Life Gate) it was time to practice the Qi Ball Movement exercise. I am taking this class with the same people I took the Tai Chi, Moving with Chi, class with and we all have improved vastly over the last six weeks. One student has even developed a more fluid movement of the exercise. Yi Ren Qigong style of Tai Chi does not necessarily involve complex movements, however–as attested to by many of Brendan’s student– it does concentrate more on cultivating Qi(Chi) energy than some of the more known forms of Tai Chi (which is a QiGong exercise) in the United States.
I ended the class with the Pushing Hands exercise with Brendan Thorson. Brendan commented on how much smoother and correct my movements have become over the past year. My sacrum and hip area used to be very tight and uncoordinated, hampering my ability to perform the Pushing Hands Exercise effectively. This exercise teaches the student how to work with others and also move in concert with his or her partner’s energy–not pushing or retreating too hard or soft. All this, while the student is aware of not only the rotation of the hips, but also the joint pairs: the wrist and the ankles, the shoulders and the hips, and the knees and the elbows. An easy way to remember these pairs is to imagine that you are a quadruped or four legged animal (as opposed to our exclusive bipedal, two legged, human mode of movement) and match the joints in your mind that way. If that doesn’t make sense, I apologize…
Classes are just getting started and you can still start next week if you would like. I feel that this is an exciting time for QiGong in Seattle, and with spring arriving soon, this is a great time to clear out those winter cobwebs from your body and mind: a sort of spiritual spring cleaning, if you will.
Remember, that QiGong and Yoga work very well together. I take a Vinyasa Flow class once a week, and I am certain that QiGong and Yoga are very symbiotic, as my performance and internal peace is greater when I do both.
If anyone would like me to attend an Intro Class with them, please let me know. You can reach me at my email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Cheers to all!
Look for this blog to be updated weekly!
Brian Kane 2/19/2011,
It was late September and the incessant sound of the Pacific Ocean calmed my spirit as I sauntered down the South Promenade towards downtown Seaside, Oregon. As I began to approach Broadway, my heart filled with anticipation at what would await me: ice cream shops, bars, restaurants, music stores, an historic arcade, clothing stores and of course the novelty shops that I even enjoyed as a kid. In fact, I had not been to Seaside in more than 10 years, and many memories flooded my mind as I turned right onto Broadway.
It had been so long since I had visited Seaside that I hardly recognized any of the shops, so I couldn’t tell if they had been there long ago or not. One shop in particular really sparked my interest. I would have remembered this shop as a kid because it stood out amongst the rest, but I did not remember ever visiting it. Upon approaching the store, I noticed there was no sign outside. Oriental decorations were on display in its windows including Buddha statues and garden bird baths.
I entered the store trying to appear calm and collected, but upon breaking the entryway threshold, I noticed that my whole body began to feel energized. Two places on my body in particular were tingling very strongly: the Internal Energy Promoters. This point is located between the index and middle finger where the tendons meet on the inner palm. While practicing YIRen QiGong, this is the area where both hands are faced toward each other in order to generate an energy ball of Qi.
At first I thought it must be imagining the sensation, and it was just because the shop reminded me of QiGong (part of Chinese culture) that I was experiencing a kind of Pavlovian or conditioned response. After checking out the Katana Blades and garden displays, I went outside to collect my thoughts. What in the world was happening?
I thought, okay just walk quickly inside and check out more of the oriental figurines in the back. I scurried back inside, trying to avoid looking at the shop owner, who had a sort of impish smirk on her face. Did she know? This was all in my imagination. It had to be. However, just like the first time entering the store, my Internal Energy Promoters were activated and my mind seemed very alert.
After about five minutes of browsing the items in the store, I left empty-handed, but made note of a couple statues that I would purchase upon returning, hopefully sooner than in 10 years. I actually plan to return this summer.
Back in Seattle I told a fellow QiGong student about my experience and she thought it might have happened because some of the items in the store had been blessed. I wasn’t sure what to think, but it did make me feel good knowing that there was a possibility that I had somehow connected with the energy of inanimate objects that very well could have been blessed and were most certainly from China, where QiGong was developed.
This January, I went to Las Vegas as part of the celebration of my dad’s 60th birthday. I visited there in 2003 with a friend. During that visit I had more of a Hunter S. Thompson mentality of engaging in every depravity, mostly legal of course, that I could. Of course I was younger then, and quite honestly, this time I really wanted to visit as many of the Hotels and other tourist attractions that I could, being mostly sober.
I was with my Aunty Marge and brother Steven as we approached the Bellagio. Just inside the entrance we took in the beautiful ceiling display of Chihuly glass, formed into different colored flowers. After relishing the beauty of the Chihuly display, we entered a large area with glass ceilings through which natural light illuminated the Chinese New Year Exhibit.
I was in Vegas. For the most part, QiGong was one of the furthest things from my mind. However, as soon as I entered the Bellagio Garden with the Chinese New Year exhibition, just like at the arcane store in Seaside, my Internal Energy Promoters began to pulse with Qi. This time when it happened I casually told my Aunt what was going on. I thought she would kind of grin and dismiss it. However she simply said, “Yeah, ‘cause you’re probably picking up on sensations created by the exhibit…” I think she was probably right.
So what’s to make of all this? I am really not sure. I consider myself an avid QiGong practitioner, but there is no way I can explain what happened during those two incidents. The phenomenon was definitely a positive one and although foreign, it has left two impressions on me.
First of all, I believe that whether we are aware of it or not, everything we do affects us more than we might be cognizant of. This includes not only who we consort with and what we put in our bodies, but even the places we visit. For instance, Seattle during the winter always leaves me sort of in the doldrums. It is almost like the Seattle I knew of during the summer (that of a very energetic, beautiful city with the most gorgeous cherry blossoms I have ever seen) is a completely different place. My mind thinks back upon July and August, and I feel as though a celestial veil of gloom has been placed over the beautiful Emerald City, and that it will never be lifted.
Regarding this feeling, Noble School of Tai Chi and QiGong instructor Brendan Thorson stated that when you practice QiGong, no matter where you are, it can always feel sunny inside of your mind and body. Recently, after one class, a student of his actually stated that he read that Seattle was created as a place to torture people. I found that notion fairly humorous, but in a city with the highest suicide rate (and curiously the greatest number of college graduates) one cannot ignore the fact that for some reason, depression pervades in Seattle. I have battled with depression myself, and Yi Ren Qigong andTai Chi have definitely helped stabilize my moods.
However, one’s immediate environment, such as a person’s living quarters, can also affect the energy a person feels. The idea of Fung Shui used to seem preposterous to me, but after living in a studio apartment for years now, I noticed that when I remove clutter from my life and actually clean and organized my domicile, that my mind feels more peaceful and I am less stressed.
Secondly, I am certain that when you practice QiGong, it is possible to develop yourself to the point that you can communicate nonverbally with other people, even from afar. For instance, I now believe that prayer works perhaps because a higher power is involved, but also perhaps because our thoughts of healing and/or helping a person can reach that individual and affect their state of being. When I walked in that Seaside shop, it is possible that I was receiving messages from the people that had blessed the items in the store and the energy was very positive and nourishing. It is also possible that the store owner herself practices some sort of energy work such as QiGong or meditation and I picked up on her energy.
Obviously many of the explanations I have proposed in this blog are just guesses. As I continue to grow with Yi Ren QiGong and find greater inner peace and understanding, I am sure better explanations will reveal themselves. For now, however, I am just happy and excited that my whole being seems to be traveling a path to a much better place.
By Brian Kane 1/19/2011,
My late Grandpa Fred had many sayings. Some were funny. (Lemonade in the shade is as big as a baby elephant’s asssssssk your mom for 10 cents to by a glass. A dinner-time prayer: Here’s the bread, here’s the meat, why the hell don’t we eat?) Some were serious. (Laugh and the world laughs with you, cry and you cry alone. To the more laconic: You are your own worst enemy). The last one always stuck with me. Why would you be your own worst enemy?
When we are born, we are a clean slate, for the most part. We haven’t really had our hearts broken, gotten let go from a job, had a loved one die, been told we were stupid, ugly, nerdy, et-cetera. The problem is not when we are told these things, it is how we react to them. If we react negatively and store those ideas about ourselves in our minds, they can create blockages that prevent us from being who we really are. They can prevent us from being happy.
During a recent meditation, I sought to answer why it is that I often expect the worse to happen. Some have called me paranoid, neurotic, skeptical, cynical. The truth is that the more I want something, the louder the inner voice of doubt speaks up, often with ridiculous assumptions and scenarios. The simple answer is that I should be able to handle anything. No matter what happens, I must remain hopeful and optimistic. It’s easy to be depressed and doubtful. And that is why some people chose that path. It is harder to be optimistic, but the payoff is much larger.
I’ve been my worst enemy many times. I used to think I just had really low self-esteem, but the problem is a bit more complicated than that. For me, as I am sure for many others, being self-sabotaging is a way to avoid failure and the pain that it can cause. Moreover, we often avoid situations that caused us heartbreak in the past. I am reminded of Paul Simon crooning: “I won’t disturb the slumber of feelings that have died. If I never loved, I never would have cried,” in the song “I am a Rock.” The character he is depicting with song, finds solace in his books and his poetry: But how can one survive by being a lonely, morose recluse? I am not sure you can.
Over the past few years my view of people has changed dramatically. For instance, in 2008 I met a woman (we’ll call her Courtney) who is blindingly brilliant. She attended a prestigious college, did well for a couple years there, but then dropped out. Her reasoning was not quite clear, but she stated that most of it had to do with not being on good terms with her guidance counselor. I believe it had more to do with her self-doubt, which led to drug abuse and self-mutilation. Her reasoning for that had to do with many things, including the way she was treated in high school (she was harassed for being a minority at her school and often physically and psychologically abused ) to her father dying when she was only in her 20s. These are definitely some tough things to endure, but like I stated earlier, it is not what happens to us in life that determines who we are, it is how we choose to react to those hardships. Of course there is always a time of grief and sadness in life, but what happens in our lives can either make us bitter or better.
I’ve also met other people who aren’t so smart. They aren’t so talented or attractive. Yet they are living happy, successful lives and fulfilling their potentials. This is because the quality of life we experience is almost certainly affected by our attitudes. Whereas my super smart friend, Courtney, has actually been homeless, partly due to her being her own worst enemy, some of the people I have met recently who were not given as many gifts, are living happy, healthy lives.
All in all, at least half of the success you will experience in life has to do with attitude. It was Woody Allen who quipped “80 per cent of success is just showing up.” Being brave can be tough, but hardly anyone who is successful did not take chances.
Many of the aforementioned ideas are not new to us. They seem so basic. Yet many people opt to avoid situations that make them vulnerable. Whether it’s giving a presentation in front of your boss, or asking a girl or boy out on a date, applying for your dream job and on and on, most of us have been our own worst enemies, making excuse after excuse for not being the person we really want to be.
So how does Yi Ren Tai Chi and QiGong and meditation fit into all this? For me, the best way to break through my internal blockages has been to observe them from an objective view. This can be accomplished by quieting the mind. I have become much more self aware by studying QiGong. This process has not always been easy. I have come to many plateaus over the last year and one half that I never thought I would advance from. Currently I am very aware of my blockages and the unnecessary fears they have created in my life. Because of my Ego and proud-nature, I used to repress my problems. However, I have been very humbled by the teachings of Dr. Sun and Brendan Thorson. The first step I had to overcome in order to make personal progress was to be able to take criticism. I have become much better at not taking constructive criticism/advice personally. Now that I am privy to my problems, I am confident I can surmount them and live a fruitful life. I am confident that I will one day be my best ally…