Brian’s Blog

  • Brian’s Noble School of Taichi and Qigong Blog Introduction

    By Brian Kane 1/4/2011,

    If you are thinking about learning Yi Ren® Qigong and Tai Chi, then you are most likely seeking to improve your life. Even if you feel completely healthy, both physically and mentally, Yi Ren QiGong can help you gain a new awareness and perspective on life.  This has been my experience.

    I have been studying Yi Ren Qigong and Tai Chi for about 18 months now, and even in that small amount of time, my life has improved dramatically. My body moves more fluidly, without general aches and pains, and I am able to deal with stress better.

    Perhaps if you are like me, you have been frustrated when western medicine and physical therapy have not been able to cure you of certain ailments. What Yi Ren QiGong can give you, as it has given me, is the knowledge and ability to heal yourself, which is very empowering.

    Yi Ren QiGong is not a cure-all or a substitute for medication, but it can work well in conjunction with your current treatments. Yi Ren QiGong also may not help you right away, and it may take time for you to improve your life. To me, the time I have spent studying Yi Ren QiGong and Tai Chi has been well worth it. It has helped me realize that in stillness, there can be a flurry of internal activity that actually helps me live a more efficient life. It reminds me of my time in college. A friend of mine said that it is not necessarily how long you study, but how you study. Perhaps in life, it is not necessarily how long you spend at being a success and happy, but how you go about reaching your personal goals.

    During many of my Yi Ren QiGong sessions, I have gained new clarity and found answers to the questions that I thought about for hours on end, with no success. I am excited to share with the reader my personal revelations and growth with Yi Ren QiGong. The journey will not always be easy, but self-improvement hardly ever is.  So, let us begin…

  • Brian’s 1st Blog 1/3/2011

    By Brian Kane 1/3/2011

    Let’s face it, this is a point-and- click society, riddled with instant gratification and mass consumerism: It can seem like a rat race. Each of us deals with the repercussions of the hustle and bustle of the modern, computer era differently: Some find solace and escapism in a television sitcom or video game, some are soothed by an alcoholic beverage or toke of Cannabis, while others find comfort in food and sex. The list goes on.

    The goal of all these activities is perhaps to have fun, but just as much, to relieve stress, which can wreak havoc on both our bodies and minds. It can cause unhealthy imbalances. I should know, I have been a victim of crippling stress and have tried many of the aforementioned activities to alleviate it. Ultimately, none were long-term solutions and some even made it worse.

    Instead of being didactic and divulging my opinion on why many of the ways we seek to eliminate stress are extremely unhealthy, let me express what has worked for me and give you some background.

    For most of my adult life I have dealt with depression and anxiety, on and off. I would be fine for months, or even years, and then bam, something would trigger anxiety and its ugly cousin, depression.  Initially I thought I must just be like my beloved grandma, who was diagnosed with Bipolar Disorder. In fact, when visiting doctors, I would insist that I had Bipolar Disorder and they would refute my self diagnosis.

    Of course they really didn’t know what was wrong with me and when you visit many general practitioners, if there is no physical explanation for why you can barely function, they deem it a brain chemical imbalance. Once a doctor handed me a sample of Zoloft (an anti-depressant) and patted me on the shoulder saying, ”It’s nothing to be ashamed of…” I wasn’t ashamed at all, but really frustrated.  The Zoloft seemed to actually make me feel worse, and more detached than ever. Once a psychiatrist prescribed me Serzone. The dose I was taking was so small, that the doctor attributed it to my brain metabolizing the drug differently than most and perhaps my slender build. In retrospect, I believe that I felt better merely due to the placebo effect, in which my mind tricked itself into thinking I was better. This is not to say that psychiatric drugs cannot help people, but that I believe they are over-prescribed. They may treat the problem, perhaps, not at its source, but as it is manifested. This is not a swipe at doctors, they are very smart people, but are only human.

    For me, mediation and exercise were effective in combating my mental maladies. However it became evident in 2008 that these practices might not be enough. I had been taking the drug Finasteride (the generic name of the drug Propecia) for my thinning hair since 2003. A very nice dermatologist suggested I try Proscar, which is the same thing as Propecia, and that the side effects were very manageable and fairly innocuous. She couldn’t have been more wrong.

    This dermatologist explained to me that that Finasteride reduces the level of the hormone Dihydrotestosterone (DHT )in the body, including the scalp, where it is believed that it destroys hair follicles in some men, causing male pattern baldness.  I got the impression that DHT was just a non-essential hormone that causes baldness and unsightly body hair in men. In this case, I couldn’t have been more wrong.

    In about 2008, I noticed my moods were much more erratic than ever and that I was not able to handle stress as well as I had in the past. I did some online research and found that many men were experiencing the same side-effects, which actually persisted, and even got worse, after cessation of the drug. It turns out that Finasteride may affect the production of a neurosteroid called Allopregnanolone, which aids in coping with stress and even affects cognitive function. Interestingly, not all men who have taken Finasteride report side-effects, but even renowned endocrinologists such as Dr. John Crisler, DO, refuse to prescribe the drug. Crisler has had patients that have come to him with severe side-effects, including Hypogonadism,.  For more information, view this video:

    In March of 2008, after I stopped taking Finasteride, I was experiencing extreme brain fog, muscle spasms, weakness, anxiety and depression.  It became so bad that I was barely able to articulate myself and function at work.  Every morning after waking up, I literally felt like I had partied with a heavy metal band, ingested copious amounts of illicit drugs, and gotten my ass kicked by a gang of raucous bruisers.  This is not an exaggeration. I was desperate.

    During my online research, I found a site titled I found that I was far from alone. The threads I read on that site made my heart sink. Many men were very upset and seeking answers. Unfortunately, there are none. Some men on the thread reported feeling suicidal. They were not themselves anymore. They had lost both physical and mental vitality. I had to go to a doctor to get answers.

    After trying many remedies– including Maca Root (which did improve my cognitive function, somewhat) and exercise, during which I noticed I was significantly weaker and had lost 15 pounds in less than two months—I had to swallow my pride and go see a neurologist.

    It was like the whole darn cycle starting over again: I experience acute stress, I get depressed, my body gets tired. But this time it was far worse than anything I had experienced before. It had been more than five years since I sought help, and I was really distraught. I thought I was getting better.

    The neurologist ran a battery of tests. I underwent a physical and had blood drawn. All the tests showed that I was as healthy as a horse. But since I did exhibit strong reflex responses during the physical, the neurologist suggested I get an MRI of my brain, to rule out Multiple Sclerosis and ALS.

    I was very anxious and worried about the test results, because I honestly thought I had a neurological disease. However, when I called to get the results, I was told that my brain was perfectly healthy. The neurologist suggested I take an anti-depressant. I mulled it over a bit and decided that it might help me get back to my pre-Finasteride state. However, the drug, as in the past, sent my brain reeling into fits of racing thoughts and that strange detached feeling. I even tried to convince him that I MUST be Bipolar. But he dismissed that very quickly.  I quit taking the anti-depressant. I was going to win this battle by other means…

    Eventually, after about a year of my disuse of Finatseride, I began to feel better and found solace in my first love, music. I was unemployed, as many people were around this time—and still are—but feeling very hopeful about my future. I still suffered from bouts of brain fog and depression, but they were less severe. During this time I came across a YouTube channel called “SeeJaneTalk” which was hosted by Jane Alexander out of the San Francisco area. My life would be changed after this. See website:

    Jane’s past was very tumultuous. She was the victim of an abusive family and had spent much of her youth in mental hospitals. Jane was diagnosed as being Bipolar and had Schizophrenic. Like me, she tried just about everything to cure herself, including psychiatric medication, which she said made her worse.

    What worked for Jane was meditation and internal martial arts such as Qigong and Tai Chi. I had heard of Tai Chi, but was not familiar with QiGong. I wrote her feverishly, looking for any answers she might have. She suggested I read a book titled “Relaxing Into Your Being” by Bruce Frantzis. Frantizis (who had studied for several years with a Chinese Taoist Master) touched on many of the ideas I had about the modern computer era and that our brains were not capable of dealing with the fast pace of society without being stricken by massive amounts of stress.  Jane once wrote me that she thought I was most likely fine but,  “You have not learned to control the grey matter between your ears.”

    I read Frantzis’s entire book twice through and practiced some of the meditative exercises in it. Frantzis wrote that his master had told him to imagine meditation as a glass of water with sand on the bottom. When we meditate, we stir up the sand and it begins to swirl around and rise to the top. There will inevitably be some “demons” or issues that will rise to the top of the glass and we will have to deal with them. The goal is to settle the sand back to the bottom of the glass, and then dissolve or eliminate it. I was excited to get started.  I figured if internal martial arts helped Jane, it would definitely help me. I was right, finally.

    After playing guitar for hours, I would then meditative for hours as well and practice some of the rudimentary TaiChi exercises taught in the book. After a few months of this, I was feeling better. I abstained from marijuana and coffee (which I am neither a proponent or opponent of) slept better and was more in control of my impulses. I even began to participate in two of my favorite physical hobbies, working out and playing basketball. To me, the only thing that feels as good as a guitar in my hands is the old pig skin.

    Although I was feeling better, there still was that dreaded sand, encrusted upon the glass of my ailing soul. All the things that humans, especially men, bottle up and hide away were there. They were beginning to surface and my issues with anything from intimate relationships to fear of failure were rising at an alarming rate. But the gods weren’t leaving me to fend for myself. Soon I would meet my teacher, Brendan Thorson.

    Actually, I had met Brendan on several occasions back in the mid-2000s while working out at 24-Hour Fitness. The first time I met him, he was clad in just a white T-shirt and sweatpants, sporting generic tennis shoes, and he had a semi-distant and enlightened look in his eye. Honestly, I thought he was a very peculiar eccentric who would practice foreign forms of martial arts in front of the club mirror, after methodically lifting weights.  I even tried to avoid him, because I wasn’t used to friendly people in Seattle, especially at a gym. Many times in the past, I had been affected by the so-called “Seattle Freeze” in which people seemed a bit off-puttish (which could be a myth), but this cat seemed like he was from a different planet.

    I would make small talk with him for about four years when I’d see him at the health club, never really knowing the significance of the movements he made during his workout.  It was on one occasion that I asked him what he was doing now. He casually told me he was actually now a QiGong instructor. QiGong, where had I heard of that word before? Oh yeah, Bruce Frantizis (who wrote it as Chi Gung—a different English translation) mentioned it in his book. However, my mind had visions of David Carradine and his TaiChi videos, and I thought QiGong was probably just an easier, inferior form of TaiChi. It was for old people.

    I half-skeptically took Brendan’s business card and tucked it way in my wallet.  After about a month I decided to go to one of his intro classes.  The morning before my first intro class, I was writing a song and was running behind. I showed up to his class about 15 minutes late and was a bit flustered.  I managed to catch up to the class and began the exercises.

    Because of my prejudices, Qigong seemed to me kind of like bull shit at first. My internal dialogue was “What, I stand here and move my friggin’ hands around, bend my knees a lil’ bit and this is supposed to help me? Get real.” At the time I thought Chi or Qi, was energy in the sense that I had known it before, like feeling energetic. I had no concept of it being an actual life force that you could feel circulating on the surface of your skin and inside your body.

    Despite my skepticism, I went to two more intro classes. It was on the third intro class that I finally felt a sensation I had never felt before. It was like static electricity flowing between my hands and down my arms. I first I thought I must have pinched a nerve and was just experiencing the pins and needles sensation. But this was much stronger. I could not deny that I had somehow created an energy field around myself and was moving it around my body. The rest of the day I was elated by discovering Qi. I wanted to tell the world. But I thought the world would think I was nuts.

    One friend even suggested that it was all in my head. I wanted to convince him that it wasn’t, but the only way you can prove to a person that Qi is real, is for him to conscientiously do the exercises and discover it for him or herself.

    Since October of 2009 I have been taking classes from Brendan Thorson. Brendan is carrying on the teaching lineage of Master Dr. Guan-Cheng Sun (Leader and developer of Yi Ren® Qigong), who is a native of China (he now resides in Seattle) where he learned QiGong, QiGong that has been passed down for thousands of years.  During the past year and one half, I have had times where I felt that I was slipping into another downward spiral, but Qigong, TaiChi and Meditation have kept me from bottoming out. Change of any kind is not easy. QiGong will not cure you of any physical or psychological ailment overnight. It takes work. However, from my experience, the time you invest into QiGong ( the umbrella that includes, Tai Chi and meditation) will pay off, especially in a society where time is very precious. Not only has QiGong helped control my moods, it has also brought me back from a very dark place that I thought I would never get out of. The reader might think I should be livid bout the FDA approving a drug such as Finasteride, or even letting general practitioners prescribe psychiatric medication, but I’m not. I am grateful that I had to go through trying times because they made me examine myself more closely and seek out what is truly valuable in life.

    Recently a friend of mine, a very intelligent young lady, wrote me a text message that read “That is why the Buddhists believe that all life is suffering.”  I wrote her back that only some of life is suffering.  The amount of suffering we experience is greatly affected by our habits and attitudes. The suffering that I endure today is significantly less than in my past and most of it is the result of boring through the residual sand of hang-ups and fears. Yi Ren QiGong is greatly aiding me in this journey and I am very grateful to be able to share my experiences with you in this blog. Of course some of the details of my life and trials of seeking balance have been left out of this entry, but I hope to touch on those details later on, while documenting my progress.

    It is true that we do live in a point-and-click society. But that is not to say that QiGong is an antiquated way of thinking. In fact. with the help of Yi Ren QiGong and Tai Chi, I have experienced greater confidence to adapt to the modern age and to be a contributing member of society.  Just as importantly, I now have the confidence to be a contributing member to my well being.

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