• The Dark Night of the Soul: Effectively Dissolving Blockages and Dealing with the Doldrums

    An Article by Brian Kane 4/29/2012

    It is a popular spiritual metaphor of hope to believe that it is darkest before the dawn. About one year ago, I wrote a piece about how to become the Dark Knight of Your Soul (in order to be at peace during the Dark Night of the Soul). Today, as I write this, I am excited to tell the reader that Twilight is imminent, and this very trying part of my spiritual journey is close to an end. I am ready to start my new life. For about the past four years, I have made some major changes as a person—changes that could not have been accomplished without the aid of Yi Ren Qigong, which I learned primarily from Brendan Thorson at the Noble School of Qigong and Tai Chi Training. Yi Ren Qigong helped me exist healthily during the Dark Night of the Soul and also taught me how to constructively cope with the inner turmoil that is inevitable during this time. From my own personal experiences and observations, I have devised a basic, yet imperative and effective, survival plan for anyone who feels emotionally and spiritually stuck.

    The Resistance on the Soul: Strengthening the Spirit

    During the Dark Night of the Soul you will experience both negative and positive inner forces. The negative forces, although often intrusive and very uncomfortable, are analogous to weights used by weight trainers seeking to improve and/or refine muscle size. I have mentioned before that Yi Ren Qigong has helped me improve my physical strength tremendously as evidenced by my huge weightlifting increases. Just as importantly, Qigong has given me the strength to deal with the negative forces of the Universe.

    However, this is not to say that one should deal with the trying times of the Dark Night of the Soul solely with brute-force. Also, a person should not indulge in negative habits such as drug abuse or self-mutilation during this time. Just as there are positive and negative inner-forces that will be experienced within, there are also positive and negative ways to cope with what feels like the spiritual doldrums, where nothing is really happening in a person’s life. (In the Ocean, there are places known as the Doldrums where there is little wind, and sailing boats often get stranded.,). During the Doldrums of the Dark Night of the Soul, it might even feel like it is time to leave this existence, which is a fallacy that could lead to tragic results. So if this is not the end of the story, but the end of Part One, how does one move on?

    The Positive:

    Medical Yi Ren Qigong

    First off, try not to panic. This is not the time to feel despair, but to feel delight: You are about to emerge out of this time a much stronger, smarter and wiser person. When you are plagued by inner turmoil, counteract the negative, self-destructive thoughts with varying resistance—there is a time to advance and a time to retreat—but never give up. To me, the most symbolic Tai Chi exercise on how to deal with life’s stressors is the Pushing Hands Exercise, where you work with and not against both your friends and adversaries. Instead of trying to outright destroy your demons, learn to, as I wrote about in an earlier entry, dance with your demons. Often times your demons (which can be viewed as loosened blockages causing issues to surface) will be much too strong for you to handle by simple mind-over-matter. The most positive and powerful way to function when you are being attacked by dark forces is to take time to calm down, sit down, relax and meditate.

    Why meditate? It is common for people to think that they can merely think their way out of depression or just snap out of it. Unfortunately, this is often not effective. The underlying problem could actually be thinking way too much with the frontal lobe of the brain, what the Taoists refer to as the Intellectual Mind. This part of the mind is great at reasoning and logic, however oftentimes when answers to personal questions are not readily available, thinking too much with the frontal lobe can cause what Yi Ren Qigong instructor Brendan Thorson has referred to as the “broken record effect.” Trying to process too much information at once with the frontal lobe can lead to obsessive and intrusive thoughts that repeat over and over and over and over and over and over…

    This is not good. In fact, I have heard people who have been clinically diagnosed with Bipolar Disorder, describe symptoms of intrusive and repetitive thoughts that can lead to deep depression and even manic episodes.

    When you meditate, as I have many times at home and in class, you start to bring more attention to the back of the mind, the Parietal Lobe. This is what the Taoists refer to as the Self-awareness and Intuitive Mind. When you use this part of the mind, you become more conscious of your body and your emotions. From what I have experienced, when you begin to focus more on your body and inner feelings, you start to calm down and feel at ease. By turning down the Frontal Lobe chatter, you can collect your thoughts in a more organized and less chaotic manner. I often compare meditation to rebooting your brain. Like a computer, your brain can slow down, get stuck, freeze and become infected with spyware and pesky viruses. Meditation can be a way of defragging your mind (organizing it and getting rid of clutter) and purging detrimental programs.

    All in all, the goal is to integrate the Intellectual Mind with the Intuitive Mind. Too much use of either one is maladaptive. One of my personal experiences with this was after a six-hour day of Yi Ren Qigong meditation and exercising. After Brendan Thorson’s seminar, I went to get a haircut. I was definitely still in a meditative state when I arrived at the hair salon and I am sure much of my brain activity was in the Parietal Lobe. I went to sign in for my haircut, and asked for a pen. There was a jar full of pens close-by to my right, however it did not register in my brain: I was still too far within myself and not very aware of my surroundings. I am usually very astute and alert, and although I was very calm (the receptionist probably thought I had been prescribed Medicinal Marijuana) I was not very cerebral or calculating. In a sense I was a ship without a skipper. Recently, through Qigong, including deep meditation, my Intellectual and Intuitive Mind have begun to integrate, and when the two come together, it is the best feeling I have ever had. In this state I am best able to be rooted firmly to the earth, aware of the inner and outer forces of the Universe that affect me, and I am able to work with them, in a sense performing Pushing Hands with my mind.

    Your thoughts do not only affect your emotional state, but also your physical body. A very obvious example of this is when men and women have sexual thoughts; they can change the state and condition of their sex organs.  I do not mean to be crude, but this is something we can all relate to. This is the same as having what Thorson has coined junk or toxic thoughts. Sexual feelings are usually positive (as long as they are not obsessive or controlling) but what about negative thoughts such as feelings of inadequacy or blind anger? These too can change the condition of the body as well. You will notice that a person with low self-esteem will often walk around like he has a weight on his shoulders. He might appear slumped over as he stares at the ground while lazily dragging his feet. His face might look droopy and he might have dark circles under his eyes. When you are in the Dark Night of the Soul, it is not uncommon to feel useless and isolated. However, you will only exacerbate this condition by feeding yourself junk thoughts: “I’m a failure; I’m stupid and ugly; my life is over…” This can have very bad effects on your internal organs, especially your kidneys, which in the view of Yi Ren Qigong, are the body’s internal power house. The kidneys generate electricity for supporting the work of the internal body. You might also feel extremely angry during this time. An angry person might appear half-cocked all the time and sport a snide sneer on her face. When you are angry, it can have very ill effects on your liver, which in the view of Chinese Medicine and Yi Ren Qigong is the house of the soul. Your liver also affects the strength of your muscles and tendons.

    These junk thoughts can eventually lead to high levels of stress. Eventually, when you are over-stressed, the Adrenal Glands, which are located on top of the kidneys, become overactive. This can lead to Adrenal Fatigue that makes a person feel completely drained of energy. Moreover, your body will begin to produce too much of the stress hormone, Cortisol, which can be very damaging to the body and mind. High levels of Cortisol have been linked to obesity, increasing the overall process of aging and can disrupt productive thought patterns, which can lead to anxiety and depression.

    When an individual is in a state of high-stress and his or her mind is chaotic, racing to go nowhere, he or she will naturally seek relief. In American society, many people are not aware of the option of Qigong to bring the body and mind back into balance. Some believe you have two options to deal with stress-induced depression and other psychological disorders: Counseling (in particular psychiatric drugs) and street drugs such as heroin, cocaine and most popularly, marijuana and alcohol—which do not fix the problem at its root, but rather, merely numb the symptoms of the issue.

    To me, the options of legal psychiatric drugs and street drugs are negative ways to deal with the Dark Night of the Soul.


    The Negative:

    Harmful Drugs

    It is definitely true that some people’s minds are so disturbed that they need psychiatric drugs to prevent them from harming themselves or others.  However, in many cases, as I can attests to personally, Qigong, in particularly medical Qigong such as Yi Ren Qigong, can be very effective at curing psychological disorders. It is widely known that psychiatric drugs can have severe side-effects: One fellow Qigong practitioner recently wrote that being on psychiatric drugs felt like she had a chemical lobotomy. This might seem like an exaggeration, but, although I do believe that mood stabilizers such as Prozac, Xanax and Lithium can be effective in balancing and controlling moods, let us examine these drugs, including their side effects, by clicking on the following public health links:




    This is not to say that practicing Yi Ren Qigong will, be like a walk in the park.  The healing and development process at times can be physically and emotionally challenging.  But these challenges are part of the healing process and are not harmful to one’s body. For instance, Prozac has been reported by some users to cause kidney discomfort, which I believe (and some experts concur) is due to Prozac’s negative effect on the kidneys. However, any kidney discomfort a Yi Ren Qigong practitioner might experience is not indicative of his or her kidneys being destroyed but healing and getting stronger. You can liken this to the muscle pain you might feel after a hard physical workout. The pain might not even be experienced right after the workout, but maybe the next day or even two days later. I personally have experienced dull or sharp pains in my kidneys after practicing Medical Yi Ren Qigong, but instead of feeling fatigued afterwards, I feel energized and stronger.

    In a sense, although some patients might believe that psychiatric drugs are helping their minds, they could actually be destroying their bodies. The mind is being tended to but the body is being neglected.

    When you are in the Dark Night of the Soul you might be especially prone to depression and other mental maladies. My suggestion is to exhaust all spiritual-work options, including Yi Ren Qigong, before resorting to taking psychiatric drugs. Remember, you might not have a chemical imbalance where levels of neurotransmitters such as serotonin and dopamine are either too high or low, but actually an imbalance of the use of the Frontal and Parietal Lobes of your brain. Ideally, these two parts of your brain will work in conjunction with each other, creating balance in a person’s overall being.

    Street Drugs:

    In all my years of going to the doctor, when complaining about a mood disturbance, I was never told about the option of meditation or Medical Qigong. In fact, in my first entry, I wrote about one General Physician handing me a bag of the anti-depressant Zoloft and saying to me “It’s nothing to be ashamed about.” By that doctor, who is actually a very good and smart MD, saying that, he acknowledged that there is a social stigma against people who are on psychiatric drugs.

    Therefore, since Medical Qigong is not widely endorsed or touted by the majority of the medical community in the United States, and there is a social stigma against people on anti-psychotic drugs, to some, the only viable option might seem to be street drugs such as heroin and marijuana.

    Now I have nothing personally against the use of marijuana. In fact, I think that marijuana, used in moderation, can lead to some profound spiritual insights. Unfortunately, marijuana has also been shown to have negative impacts on short-term memory and linear cognitive functions such as mathematics. I have enjoyed marijuana before, and like I stated earlier, the feeling of being under the influence of marijuana is similar to being in a meditative state. However, whereas meditation is actually creating more connections in your mind, marijuana is merely shutting off parts of your brain and turning up others. One very clever Yi Ren Qigong student told me in class that he compares being high on marijuana to walking around with a telescope. You might be able to see deeper into the vastness of your mind and subsequently the universe while on it, but while walking around, you will surely bump into things unnoticed in your immediate surroundings.

    Heroin is a much different story: It is much more detrimental and even deadly. In the United States, including Washington State, heroin use is growing at an alarming rate, especially among young adults 18-35. There could be many reasons for this, including the over prescribing of pain medications such as Oxycontin and Percocet, which are Opioids or essentially synthetic heroin. An increasing trend is for abusers of Opioids to progress onto heroin, which has the same effect but is much cheaper.

    About seven years ago, I had a severe case of Strep Throat. Along with the Penicillin I was prescribed, I was also given a prescription for Percocet. I found this curious because I felt relief the next day after taking my first dose of Penicillin. I did not use the Percocet to treat the pain caused by my Strep Throat, since that had greatly subsided. However, I did take the Percocet recreationally since I was curious.

    Now I am sure that Opioids (and Opiates such as heroin) are very effective at treating physical pain, but additionally, they can help alleviate the pain caused by psychological issues. While high on Percocet, I noticed that every worry or anxiety I could muster to in my mind would not cause me to feel unbalanced or stressed. I felt like I was in a peaceful place of bliss. However, I only used Percocet a few times and thankfully did not get addicted. One of the things that prevented me from using it more was from what I had witnessed Opioids and heroin do to people physically, even leading to death. Again, this is a case of treating the symptom and not the underlying cause (which is often unresolved issues that the Taoists call blockages, popularly thought of in the West as unresolved psychological issues from childhood trauma or even further on into adulthood.) This is also a case of treating the mind, but neglecting the body, in turn, slowly destroying it.

    The ironic thing about the abuse of street drugs is that often times, addicts who seek help, end up on the path that they should have initially taken. They often end up on a spiritual path that can include studying Christianity, Islam, Hinduism, Buddhism, Taoism, et-cetera. Also, they often learn about spiritual exercises, including Yoga and Qigong. Sure these practices are much harder than popping a pill, taking a toke, or injecting yourself with heroin, but in the long run, they will lead you to a happy life. From my own experience, the more I practice Qigong, in particular Yi Ren Qigong, the easier it becomes. I do not view it as a chore (as a “have to do”) but as a delight (as a “get to do”).  Any pain that I experience from practicing Yi Ren Qigong is a good pain that is bettering my life, not bad pain that is slowly killing me.

    During the Dark Night of the Soul, you have the option of getting through this time by positive means, such as practicing Yi Ren Qigong, and negative means such as using harmful drugs. The choice is yours, but it is my view that opting for the second option will either lead to a lower quality of life, even death, or that you will eventually be guided to the option you should have opted for in the beginning: the first option, the positive one.

    Dealing with the Doldrums

    Picture yourself standing on the back porch of a vacant beach house, staring at a crystal lake on a warm, summer night. It is right after sunset and both the light of the vanished sun and a newly appeared moon illuminate the dusky sky. The few clouds that are left overhead actually appear to be red, as the sun’s light refracts off the atmosphere. Behind you all the lights of the large, two-story wooden beach house are off and the only sound you hear in the house is the faint hum of the refrigerator in the nearby kitchen. About 40 yards in the distance you see a large, 100-foot party, yacht skipping freely across the lake. You begin to feel isolated and desperately lonely as you hear the merry laughs of both familiar and unfamiliar people. It feels like you will forever inhabit the beach house, alone, and the yacht full of partiers, living happy and fulfilling lives, will float farther and farther away—never to return.

    This can be how the doldrums feel. This feeling of loneliness and inactivity can lead to either self-destruction or self-improvement. Contrary to what you might believe, the yacht will return to you, when the time is right. In the meantime, remember that this is not a time in your life to feel morose, but to celebrate. It might sound inane, but you are in a spiritual cocoon, preparing to emerge as a butterfly. How brilliant your colors shine depends on how well you nourish yourself during the Doldrums of the Dark Night of the Soul.

    One of the most common thoughts experienced during the Doldrums is suicide. They say that suicide is more-often-than-not a permanent solution to a temporary problem. Often times a surviving jumper will attests that during that despondent descent, he or she had a moment of clarity and regretted jumping. To me, the act of suicide is an example of the result of trying to fight inner turmoil with just the Frontal Lobe of the brain, the Intellectual Mind, and not bringing your thought energy to the back of your mind, the Parietal Lobe or Self-awareness, Intuitive Mind.

    The Doldrums are a time to think about improving yourself, and they are not at time to compare yourself to others. Success means something different to everyone and every person is on a different journey. There is no such thing as a universal time-line for when things are supposed to happen in your life. People who believe this end up in unhealthy marriages; working at jobs they detest and often feel that they are living their lives on someone else’s terms or on society’s terms. Self-approval is much more important than garnering approval in the eyes of your peers, elders and/or society-at-large.

    From my experience, your mind will seem to play tricks on you during the Doldrums of the Dark Night of the Soul. You will at times not act like your usual self and begin to worry about things you never used to worry about. With time, I guarantee you, as long as you continue to practice Medical Qigong, these worries will subside.  You might even feel that you need to learn new things, things you were never even interested in before. To me, this is the brain getting stronger and more curious. I remember that once in high school, during Trigonometry class, a kid shouted to the teacher, who was giving a lecture, “Who cares!” The kid could not figure out how Trigonometry applied to his life. It is true that he might not ever use it after high school, but Trigonometry was teaching the kid to use and exercise parts of his brain that he could apply to other activities such as Architecture or even music. Studies have shown that mathematics, including Trigonometry, can help people better understand music and vice-versa.

    During the last four years I have taken up many hobbies and learned to do many new things, exercising my mind in a positive way. Some of these new activities include, learning about Web Developing, working on electric guitars and vacuum tube amplifiers, learning to work on my car, and of course, practicing “Medical” Yi Ren Qigong. I have found that if I keep my mind occupied and stay active, often times the worries in my mind will lessen. Interestingly enough, in many cases, the things I used to obsess over and many of my bad habits (including feeding myself junk thoughts) have gradually disappeared, seemingly very abruptly. However, although I was not aware of it, my practice of Yi Ren Qigong, has helped my brain and body get healthier, even when I was not aware that any changes were taking place inside me.

    So here you are, in the Dark Night of the Soul, on your sailboat, floating freely in the Doldrums, just waiting for the wind to pick up. Again, do not panic, positive changes may be closer than you think. As long as you take this time to do positive things for yourself, you will emerge out of this phase a much more evolved and well-rounded person, both in the eyes of others but more importantly, yourself. Now that you have read through my advice about how to healthily survive during the Dark Night of the Soul, I think you deserve to take a deep breath, turn on some relaxing music, dim the lights (maybe even light some candles and incense), sit down, softly close your eyes and peacefully meditate. If you listen hard enough, you might even hear those on the party Yacht calling your name.

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    Transforming PMS & Neg Attitudes/ Emotions w/ Yi Ren Qigong

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  • Possessing Me– Overcoming Bipolar Disorder/ Manic Depression/ PTSD

    Possessing Me (A Story that Needed to be Told and Should Be Read by All)

    A blog by Brian Kane 3/31/2012

    It has been about two weeks since I finished reading Jane Alexander’s, “Possessing Me.” I waited this long to write a review because I wanted to see what aspects of this book left a lasting impression on me. First off, Jane Alexander wrote this book with passionate prose. You can feel the intensity in her writing style and earnest hysteria in her recollections of her tumultuous past: Her childhood was full of parental abuse and the frustration of dealing what with doctors told her she had—Bipolar Disorder.

    But the frustration started long before her initial diagnosis. I do not want to give too much of the story away, but when Jane seeks help from a social worker as young kid, you are certain she will get the help she needs to not only incriminate her parents for child abuse, but also find a way out of what can only non-hyperbolically be called a living hell. However, not only did the social worker deem her living situation healthy, she even described her parents’ domicile (which, being rather cluttered beforehand, had been thoroughly cleaned and organized in preparation for the social worker’s visit) as a good Christian home. Nothing could be further from the truth. That is  unless you believe spare the rod and spoil the child means it is okay to drag your sleeping kid out of her bed and across the floor by her hair and then box her senseless, merely for missing a few spots while cleaning the dishes. That is only one of many abusive incidents that left me both angry and heartbroken for the young protagonist.

    However, Jane’s story is not one of melancholic despair that will leave the reader feeling morose from learning of a tragic existence. Even as Jane is enduring living in mental hospitals, foster homes and alternative high schools for troubled teens, you know that there are two prophetic events that that will aide her in her recovery from Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder, which most likely lead to her diagnosis of Schizoaffective Disorder: a combination of Schizophrenia and Bipolar Disorder. These events are when she visited her biological father in China at age 13 and saw people practicing Tai Chi (a type of Chi Gung exercise) for the first time, and when she purchased a book about Chi Gung, also referred to as Qigong, as a kid as well.

    Even as you read about her being administered a plethora of psychiatric drugs that are meant to cure of her of her illness, but only harm her both physically and mentally—Jane refers to the feeling of being on psychiatric drugs as having a chemical lobotomy—or when you learn about her near tragic suicide attempt, you know that Alexander will cure herself.

    However, the road to her recovery is not an easy one and reading Jane’s recollections about her past is often not easy either. In fact, some of her actions might make the reader pass harsh judgment upon her, but perhaps one of Alexander’s intentions in writing this book was to show that even people that society has given up on and thrown away, can become stable, successful and productive human beings.

    As Jane begins to heal herself, the harshness of the story turns into an exhilarating tale of recovery. An analogy that Jane Alexander herself might use is that the pre-recovery segment of the story feels like you are reading a book underneath the harsh fluorescent lights of a sterile, stuffy, high school classroom in a poor town. During her recovery, you are transferred to a Buddhist monastery, and reading by bright and calming candlelight.

    Alexander’s book is certainly not the first about a young woman’s trials with mental illness. I was reminded of two other books while reading Jane’s memoir:  Elizabeth Wurtzel’s “Prozac Nation” and Sylvia Plath’s “The Bell Jar.” However, although both Wurtzel’s and Plath’s stories are excellent, it is hard to really take anything away from them except that mental illness is an arcane condition that no one really knows how to genuinely cure. One has to wonder: If Plath had learned about and practiced meditation and Chi Gung, would she have lived a full life and maybe even still be with us today (she would be nearly 80 years old) and conversely, if Jane Alexander had not become a practitioner of Chi Gung, would she have followed the same tragic path that Plath did? I think in both cases, the answer might surely be, yes.

    In summation, I highly recommend this book to anyone. Even if you yourself are not living with mental illness, chances are, someone that you care about is. This very candid and empowering book may help a person with psychological issues find the freedom that Jane Alexander found by curing herself of a supposedly incurable disease.

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  • Let Your Kidneys Be Your Winter Warmer

    A blog by Brian Kane 1/18/2011,

    It is officially winter in Seattle as the snow has begun falling on the meandering streets and in the murky back alleys. According to Traditional Chinese Medicine, this is the season where the kidneys, related to the element of water, are really affected. Since I have been studying Yi Ren QiGong, I have not felt the affect that the seasons have had on my internal organs. That is, until now. In fact, my organs seem to be communicating with me all the time. And yes, I have especially noticed the sensitivity of my kidneys.

    For instance, if I begin to think of a detrimental, self-destructive thought, I will usually get a sharp pain, mostly in my left kidney. That is my kidney warning me that my thoughts are harming that organ, draining it of vital Qi energy. I usually repeat to myself: confidence, courage and strength, when I get fearful, and those thoughts seem to be an antidote. This usually warms up my kidneys, If I begin to feel loneliness, my heart will begin to hurt and I will try to change that emotion to joy by thinking about Universal Love, generosity and kindness. My heart will then begin to feel less heavy and I can relax.

    Yi Ren QiGong instructor Brendan Thorson believes that our thoughts are just as important as food. Just like there is junk food, there are also junk thoughts. Those thoughts can create negative, toxic thinking patterns that can be very harmful to our internal organs, and in turn our ability to think clearly, undisturbed by blockages. Conversely, the condition of the organs also affect how the mind functions. I believe that once we repeatedly use positive words and ideas or emotions as antidotes then, along with regular QiGong practice, we can plunge internal blockages and reprogram our minds to think with productive, positive thinking patterns.

    Recently, I noticed that when I drink alcohol, I will get uncharacteristically angry or agitated. My liver area might also feel tight, I do not believe that this is because my liver, which is associated with the emotion of anger, is weak, but that since I have been studying Yi Ren QiGong, my body quickly warns me when I have drank too much. This has lead me to developing a rule about how many drinks are healthy and not harmful for me to consume: that rule is about two drinks a night. I was never a heavy drinker, but I really appreciate my liver communicating with me, letting me know when I have had too much. The same goes with caffeine. I have read that caffeine affects the adrenal glands, which are located above the kidneys. Recently, some internal and external stress has made my kidneys very vulnerable. As I write this, I am sitting in my favorite coffee shop, wishing that I had a nice warm mocha sitting in front of me. However, I know for a fact, that given my current state, that my kidneys would suffer. I therefore opted for a Jasmine Pearl Tea, which has significantly less caffeine. My kidneys are thanking me for my decision.

    I have also used the concept of the twelve organ meridians and the emotions and virtues attached to them to get a better feel for how attracted I am to a woman. Yes! That is right you lonely men out there. I have begun to see more clearly the arcane nature of a woman, by feeling how my organs are affected when I am near a lady and/or conversing with her. This might sound far-fetched, but I have tested the concept a few times with a particular female at a particular grocery store that I frequent. The first time I went through her checkout line, my kidneys were very strong and my mood was very upbeat. I knew I was attracted to her physically, but I did not know or could not tell if her energy would complement mine in a healthy way. My kidneys, when energized, are extremely strong, however, fear or stress is like kryptonite to my kidneys, and they leak Qi very fast if I do not alleviate my stress—often with Yi Ren Qigong exercises such as the Level Two, Kidney/Urinary Tract exercise.

    One day I was feeling very stressed, and my kidneys were cold. I went into the grocery store and there she was, in all her beauty, smiling with grace and confidence. Immediately after looking at this lady, my mood heightened and my kidneys began to warm up! My legs got stronger and my mind began to calm down, with less racing thoughts.

    Traditional Chinese Medicine also teaches us that there are five main body-types that correspond with the elements of wood, water, fire, earth and metal. I am mostly a fire body-type, with broad shoulders, a long neck, narrow hips and long limbs. Personality wise, I do share some of the fire body-type characteristics including being passionate and caring, but I am also very affected by the kidney emotions and virtues such as wisdom, confidence, hate and paranoia.

    When looking at the Production Cycle of the five elements and when considering my type and temperament of Fire and Water (Heart and Kidney) it would seem that my ideal woman would be either a Lung lady (long and lean with small joints and narrow hips.) or a fire body type, as fire naturally interacts with water. From my understanding, this type of woman would have the kind of the build that is a bit more voluptuous, being slender and fit. Although Traditional Chinese Medicine teaches that height is not a factor when dealing with body types, I kind of look at the water bodies as being long and lean and fire body-types as being more average in height and with more defined or larger muscles. (Again I am not well-studied in the concept of Traditional Chinese Medicine body-types, but this is what I feel from my own personal experience as will be explained later).

    From my understanding, a person with a lung body type would help build the strength of my kidneys as lung, metal, is the mother of the kidneys, water. A woman with a fire body-type would build the endurance of my kidneys as fire naturally interacts with water and if the water element, which is a yin element, gets too cold then the fire element, which is more yang, would balance it out and vice-versa. If a person of my body-type were to date a lung woman, our energy would be like me lifting heavy weights to build my muscles, but in this case, building the strength of my kidneys.  If I dated a fire woman, it would be like me lifting less weight, but it would build the endurance or stamina of my kidneys. Of course, my fire energy would be beneficial to both body-types of women and we would make each other happy. Thinking back in my past, and I do not believe this is a coincidence, I have had the best luck with lung and fire body-types, and we have made each other the happiest.

    Body types are one thing, and physical attractiveness is another. However it is no longer as simple to me anymore as seeing a woman and judging her beauty simply by looks. For instance, just today a woman on Facebook, who I do not think I have ever met in person, randomly Instant Messaged me and wrote “Hi.” She did not respond to my response of hello and signed off. I immediately felt pains in my stomach although I was not nervous at all. I believe I was feeling negative, anxiety from her. This is also why I do not believe that when you really open up your energy body, that proximity is important to feeling vibes from other people.

    There have been other times, say at a bar or coffee shop, when I meet a woman—including lung and heart body-types—that I think has an attractive face, but her energy body makes me feel tired and unbalanced. For instance, if I were to see the girl that I mentioned from the grocery store from a distance in a public place, I might not give her a second look. However, once she communicated with me either non-verbally or verbally, I would feel extremely energized and upbeat. I truly believe that a great deal of what we consider beauty is sort of programmed in our minds and changes like fashion styles. For instance, as a kid I had a huge crush on super model Cindy Crawford just because of her looks, but today I do not get as excited when I see a picture of her. Sure she is beautiful, but I understand now that outer beauty is so subjective and only part of the overall equation that makes up a woman. During my senior year in high school, my Intensive English teacher once commented that he is more attracted to Whoopi Goldberg than Cindy Crawford. I thought he was sort of nuts when I was 18, but as I have matured, I can totally understand what he was talking about: The vibes he gets from Goldberg are much deeper and meaningful to him than how he feels about Crawford.

    Again, I am not completely clear about the theory behind all of this, but I am certain that I can now more quickly identify if the chemistry between me and a woman will work. I would not yet, or probably ever, go as far as to ask a woman what element/s her body-type she is, but I will definitely listen to my organs in the realm of relationships and also in other affairs.

    To me, the phenomenon that I have been experiencing with regards to my organs, is just another indication that the mind and the body are directly connected and that as we feed our body food, which affects our organs and mind, we also feed it thoughts, which also affect our organs and mind, and in turn, our overall quality of life. Moreover, when considering a relationship, it is very beneficial to consider how a man or woman affects your internal organs. That way, ideally, you can both make each other happy and grow together.






  • Student Experiences Real Microcosmic Orbit (Small Universe)

    By Brendan Thorson 1/17/2012,

    This past weekend at the level-1 weekend seminar a student who has been taking classes regulary for the past couple of years began to feel the Small Universe Circulation reach a deeper level than he had ever felt before hand.  After we completed the Small Universe Enhancing Exercise, the gentleman told the class that he felt the ciculation of his small universe deep inside his body and he could follow a flow of energy up his back and then down the front and that circulation continued the same path…

    Microcosmic Orbit

    Prior to this past Sunday he had felt the Microcosmic Orbit–(name used by Mantak Chia to describe the circulation of the energy flow of the combination of the Du and Ren Meridians) before, but it was much more superficial.  This time he could actually feel/ follow a warm sensation travel/ circulate inside of his body (the circuit of the small universe).

    1. Benefits of the Small Universe Circulation:
    2. Create Internal Energy
    3. Create balance between all the different energy centers
    4. Balance the Yin and Yang Energies
    5. Circulate the refined reproductive energies from the reproductive area up the spine to nourish:
      • the brain, energy centers, organs, or other areas of the body where the energy can enhance health and vitality


    Qigong and Taichi classes and seminars taught in Seattle, WA and throughout the Puget Sound and the Pacific Northwest.

  • Find the Hero or Heroine Within: Helping a Friend Deal with Addiction

    A Blog by Brian Kane 1/14/2012,

    (The first time I became aware that martial arts, both internal and external, could help someone kick a heroin addiction was when the famous rock musician Duff McKagan told then heroin-addicted singer Scott Wieland that he should try martial arts to help stop using. It seemed to work for Scott Weiland, and I thought that if I ever had a close friend or family member that was addicted to heroin, I would suggest martial arts. I never thought I would actually have to share this advice, however. Unfortunately, a person close to me has recently developed a heroin habit.  When the time is right, I will definitely make sure I tell this person about how Yi Ren QiGong could be part of what helps him kick his habit and stay drug-free. His story has also helped me realize that drug addiction is not a moral issue or even a choice. It is a health issue. And it could happen to all of us.)

    I cannot remember what time of year it was. It might have been summer or late spring. I cannot even remember the exact reason we were there, Hugh and I, outside of Aaron’s mom’s house: Aaron was a close friend of Hugh and was deeply troubled. I just remember that Hugh had to tell Aaron’s mom something about her son’s heroin addiction.  Now that I reach back into the recesses of my mind, where most of us hide painful memories, I remember it was just that: Aaron had been caught trying to steal some lady’s purse at a bar the night before in order to feed his heroin addiction, and had landed himself in jail.  I kept thinking to myself: what a waste, man. Aaron was a very talented chef and loved his job, but he was throwing his future away on some stupid drug. I also kept thinking how amazed I was at Hugh’s composure: Here he was, about to go into his good friend’s mom’s house to break to her the bad news about the vice grip that heroin had on her son, enough to make him turn into a petty thief, and he just had this kind of calm and strong smile on his face. I knew that inside he was pretty nervous and sad, but I also knew that whenever you were in a jam, Hugh—being tough as nails—would always be there for you.

    But I must confess. Hugh is not his real name, and he is much more than just an acquaintance or casual confidant of mine. But I cannot divulge his identity, because he would rough me up a bit if I did.  Although, unfortunately, I don’t think he would be capable of muscling me around at all anymore. You see, the tough as nails dude that I looked at with admiration as he was about to go tell his good friend’s mom about her son’s heroin addiction–a mere two years after we sat in that car looking at that sullen house–would sadly succumb to  heroin himself—becoming a full-on addict. As I write these words, I simply cannot believe that this is true.

    Oh I have had my suspicions for about eight months now. I just knew that there was something wrong with the man. He had lost about 40 pounds in a mere few months, it looked like. His face looked droopy and his eyes had lost the playful wit that they once had. However, he had not lost his stubbornness or uncanny ability to thwart you from making him tell you the truth about the trouble he was in. As soon as I would insinuate that I knew he was on something, possibly addicted, his eyes would get that old fire back in them. Although he did not have the physical presence that he once did (I could probably beat him senseless at this point) that look of detest, anger, and violence (all in one look) could still be intimidating. It could still shake the walls.

    However, even Hugh, Mr. Tough Guy, could not sustain his façade forever, as no human is tougher than heroin: I have been watching the drug literally suck the life-force out of him to the point where at times his speech is barely intelligible and his gate is shaky as he often saunters in an opiate induced stupor. Since I have seen Hugh begin to deteriorate, I have become extremely angry: livid, fumid, vexed and frustrated. This was a person close to me, and at certain get-togethers, I would watch him nod off while eating food. I would watch him sit in his car and see his eyes roll back in his head as he peaked on heroin. I never saw him shoot up. But I did see the aftermath. Hugh was in bad shape, to say the least. So bad, that one day I decided his death was inevitable. Even though he is still alive as I write these words, I am still prepared for the worse.

    You might wonder: Why don’t you help your friend? Thankfully, his family is in the process of getting him help, although Hugh has yet to admit he has a serious problem.  Even though about six months or so ago I was certain Mr. Hugh would die from his addiction, I now have faith that if those close to him continue to push him in the right direction, he will make a full recovery. He will be the same person that I sat in that car with two years ago, with the same strong smile and lively eyes. He will have defeated heroin just like his friend Aaron, who he helped out, had done.

    The question remains: What do I do now? How can I help my friend Hugh the same way he helped his friend Aaron, and perhaps even sport the same strong smile on my face while in the midst of this mess? I have written before how the Taoist text, the “Tao Te Ching” tells us in Verse 15 to remain “As chaotic as a muddy torrent. Because clarity is learned by being patient in the presence of chaos…”

    This is definitely a Verse that I reference often with regards to how to deal with Hugh’s situation. Oftentimes in deep Yi Ren Qigong mediation, I also see visions of my younger days and how happy Hugh (who I have known most of my life) once was. Despite his recent unsavory disposition, it helps me realize that Hugh is just sick. Drugs are not a moral issue or in my opinion, even a choice at times. Like Neil Young crooned in his hit “The Needle and the Damage Done” there is a little bit of it in everyone. We all, depending on what has happened to us in our lives, have potential to fall victim to drug abuse and addiction.

    Probably the most amazing advice I have read about comes from the Buddhist Monk, Thich Nhat Hanh. In a recent issue of the “Shambhala Sun” he said this about helping a person fight addiction without feeling overwhelmed:

    When you feel overwhelmed, you are trying too hard. That kind of energy does not help the other person, and it does not help you. You should not be too eager to help right away. There are two things: to be and to do. Don’t think too much about to do–to be is first. To be peace. To be joy. To be happiness. And then to do joy, to do happiness—on the basis of being. So first you have to focus on the practice of being. Being fresh. Being peaceful. Being attentive. Being generous. Being compassionate, This is the basic practice. It’s like the other person is sitting at the foot of a tree. The tree does not do anything, but the tree is fresh and alive. When you are like the tree, sending out waves of freshness, you help to calm down the suffering in the other person.

    Your presence should be pleasant, it should be calm and you should be there for him or her. That is a lot already. When children like to come and sit close to you, it’s not because you have a lot of cookies to give, but because sitting close to you is nice. It’s refreshing. So sit next to the person who is suffering and try your best to be your best—pleasant, attentive, fresh. (Andrea Miller, January, 2012, Shambhala Sun, Be Beautiful, Be Yourself, Volume 20, Number 3, page 47.)

    The best thing I have done for myself in order to cope with my friend’s illness is to practice Yi Ren Qigong, without a doubt. The reason being is basically because YiRen QiGong has helped me be and remain happy, fresh and pleasant. When I first started dealing with Hugh’s state, it was like I felt like an addict: I could not sleep, I was tired and weak, and my mind was racing all the time—feeling helpless. I was surely more of a wounded tree than the fresh kind that Thich Nhat Hanh spoke of.

    However, I have learned to turn my anger into hope and joy. I have learned to remember the person that Hugh was and has the potential to be again. In essence, through peaceful QiGong exercises, including meditation, I have been able to remember that this is not the tough guy Hugh: the real Hugh. This is the sick Hugh. I also believe that when we are sick, we develop toxic thinking patterns that are hard to stop once they spin out of control. I have mentioned many times in my blogs that I used to suffer from chronic, morbid depression: the type that would make it hard to get out of bed in the morning and face the day. However, since practicing Yi Ren QiGong, my bouts of depression never last longer than a week. I believe that the root of Hugh’s addiction, the cause of it, is depression and a general unbalance of his mind, body and spirit.  Depression can be caused by being addicted to the toxic thought patterns that I mentioned, if you will. I often think that in strange way, I used depression as an excuse to not face my fears with courage and strength. In a way, my “drug” of choice was to feel better about my life by blaming other people for my problems and deeming the world an awful place. By doing this, I had an excuse to not make an effort to attain self-betterment, since my fatalistic view was that I would always be a mess because the world is a mess. There is an old saying that I heard when I was young; “Life’s a bitch and then you die, so forget it all and let’s get high.”  I believe that this is a foolish man’s way of thinking. I am not saying that all drug use is detrimental to self-discovery (I have heard of people gaining higher levels of awareness through LSD and Psilocybin usage) but I am saying that it is possible to be happy without depending on a substance to bring you joy.

    So in closing, I would like anyone that is dealing with a close friend and/or loved one who is afflicted by addiction of any kind, to consider my story and attitude with my own situation. I would also graciously ask that you send good energy into the Universe by sending good vibes to me, which I can share with Hugh. I don’t have any clever quip to end this blog with except, may we all realize that most unhappiness is caused by delusions of the mind.



  • Gratitude to Master Bruce Frantzis. The power of counseling/ therapy w/ Yi Ren® Qigong

    By Brendan Thorson 1/12/2012,

    One of my most dedicated students began searching for ways to improve the quality of his life and originally learned about Tai chi from books by the Famous Tai chi and Qigong teacher Bruce Frantzis.  I would like to thank Bruce Frantzis and all the other Qigong and Tai chi instructors for helping to spread the word about this type of training to the general public for the betterment of humanity.

    The gentleman noted above has now been studying Yi Ren Qigong for the past 2+ years and has made remarkable upgrades with his health and a clearer understanding how to manage his mind- body-emotions.  This has been accomplished as a result of his internal “Qi” practice-resulting in Self-Understanding/ Realization, Self-Acceptance, (little steps of enlightenment) on his path towards Greater-Enlightenment and Complete Self-Actualization.

    At this stage in American culture Counseling and Therapy is an accepted and credible form of Therapy for many people and issues.  I have personally witnessed how powerful the combination of Yi Ren Qigong can have with people who have been involved with therapy for months and years…. once they begin a combination of both Yi Ren Qigong and Therapy/Counseling change can occur at a fast rate.  While others focus on the Yi Ren Qigong and seek advice from friends, associates and family during there healing and transformation process.  You may be asking your self why is the integration of both therapy and Yi Ren Qigong so powerful?

    I see an amazing future of Therapy/ Counseling in conjunction with Yi Ren Qigong.

    Through the training process of Yi Ren Qigong we make much greater connection between our mind and body and with time are able to realize what truly nourishes us and what does not, appropriate and not appropriate and redirect our energies to areas that help us grow with our internal depth not ego and then we can begin to find much more internal peace and intention of how to live our life in accordance with the Tao.



  • Let the Pain Explain

    By Brian Kane 12/31/2011,

    While studying and practicing Yi Ren QiGong, as with any practice or exercise that can potentially improve your health, you will gain insight not only into past physical injuries, but also emotional. This insight, at first, can be rather alarming. The practitioner might feel like decreasing his or her intensity of workout, or even ceasing to practice Yi Ren QiGong altogether. If you seek self-improvement, the latter is a mistake.


    First of all, it is often held true that others see us better than we see ourselves. This is true because so many of our actions are programmed—sometimes as early as childhood. We act at a subconscious level, often to our detriment and not benefit. We might not be aware of our actions because they have become intuitive and or instinctual.  But why is this so?


    To me, it is because as humans, we often internalize both positive and negative ways to deal with pain. For instance, let us say a person gets depressed after a recent romantic breakup or a death in the family. In popular American culture, the surest way to forget the pain is to turn to drugs and alcohol–in moderation ideally–in order to alleviate the emotional pain. Likewise, the athlete who has an injured knee, might turn to painkillers and ice to numb the pain, yet the injury remains.


    At two recent Yi Ren QiGong seminars (one Jing & Rou and the other Level II, or Zang Fu), hosted by Brendan Thorson, one of the attendees, a very healthy woman of middle age (I will call her Rosemary), said that by the second day of the Jing & Rou seminar, she began to feel old injuries in her knees and ankles—injuries she had not felt in years. Brendan assured her that although she had not felt the pain in these areas for a long time, her joints had not fully healed in these areas. The Qi energy was directing its healing properties to both injured locations in her body. Although the process of physical healing can be very painful, the benefit of having fully healed muscles and tendons–which is what Yi Ren Jing(muscles) & Rou (tendons) concentrates on–can be very profound and rewarding. Rosemary persevered through the seminar and is happy she did: Her ankles and knees are feeling much better.


    A week later at the Yi Ren QiGong Level II seminar, Rosemary practiced the Zang Fu program of QiGong developed my Dr. Guan Cheng-Sun. In Zang Fu, the QiGong exercises concentrate on the twelve major organ meridians which correspond to different emotions. These are emotions that might be trapped in the organs and not consciously felt by the practitioner. Some of these emotions can even be stored as sympathy pains, as experienced by Rosemary. Rosemary had lost her husband to colon cancer, which affects the large intestine, and also her recently deceased mother, who had an inflamed large intestine due to years of drinking, smoking and other detrimental health habits.


    While practicing the Lung/Large Intestine exercise, Rosemary began to cry and looked sad. She began to remember massaging her husband’s liver, where the cancer had spread to, in order to help him through the cancer treatment process. I noticed that the usually very calm and collected Rosemary seemed very distraught after the first day of the Yi Ren Level II seminar. However, on the Monday following the two-day seminar, during one of Brendan Thorson’s regular two-hour classes (In this case, coincidentally it was a Level II class), through her words and body posture, I could tell that Rosemary had less unrest about her husband and mother’s deaths: She seemed like she was more satisfied knowing she did all she could to help them during their last days, and dying hours.


    I personally observed this all, thinking I had been spared from any potential physical or emotional pain induced by the two seminars. I was wrong.


    Lucky for me, I do not have any past serious, chronic physical injuries. The only physical discomfort I have felt from Yi Ren QiGong is in my knees, but I have not felt any of that pain for about six months. Since then, physically, I feel fine. Emotionally, I have some major things to work on.


    One thing that this practice has done is made me much more aware of myself and other’s defense mechanisms. I am not writing about defending yourself from things that are negative, but oftentimes, out of fear and blockages, people build all sorts of negative programs that preclude them from realizing their full potential.


    Lately I have become aware of what sorts of things cause me to act negatively and also what I do in order to potentially sabotage things in my life that have the potential to lead to failure—and in turn, pain. On the Tuesday that followed practicing Level II Yi Ren Qigong for 14 hours over three days, every fear, guilt, delusion and other emotional pain that I could imagine having over the last 10 years or so, came rushing into my conscious like a Tsunami. It was staggering. I did not know what to do. I felt so much despair that I lashed out at my friends, family, people at work. I felt like there was no hope and that I should just end it all. Luckily, I had Brendan Thorson and my closest friends to talk to. (And of course my mom, who I said some pretty mean things to. I have asked for forgiveness for my words. Thankfully she understands and all is forgiven.)


    As I lay on my bed after talking to a few friends, I felt somewhat better, but physically exhausted. I said some things that were very dramatic and alarming, but I knew while I was saying them that I did not mean them. It was as if I had given my soul a spiritual colon cleanse and much of the emotional gunk that had built up in my mind, body and spirit had been expunged.


    I woke up the next morning feeling much lighter and grounded. I could not believe the way I had acted the night before. When I was driving to work the next day, I could tell that I had made some progress in returning to what I like to call the “Real Brian Kidd.” The person that inside that I know I am, however, that does not always make an appearance. I now have a greater understanding as to why this is. I suppose that I should write more about that at a later time. For now, I am just grateful to Brendan Thorson, Dr. Sun and his Teacher Master Zhang, for giving me the opportunity to experience the amazing Power of Internal Martial Arts, specifically Yi Ren Qigong, and for helping me find my own Tao, or way, to the personal freedom that I know, with perseverance, I will eventually find. Happy Holidays and many blessings.






    *You might remember when I wrote of the story of the master that told his student that any type of meditation or QiGOng practice can potentially stir up old, uncomfortable memories. QiGong can make you strong enough to face these memories and become at peace with them. This in turn can make those memories have less of a negative impact on your actions by dissolving emotional blockages, or what in the West is commonly referred to as

  • Qigong Healing Sessions… Qigong vs. Reiki

    People ask me how qigong healing is different than Reiki?

    By Brendan Thorson, 12/11/2012

    Energy Healing (

    I recall about 15 years ago when I was in massage school taking a weekend class in Reiki.  During that weekend training we spent almost all of the time either giving or recieving Reiki to the other participants of the class.  Based on what I recall today,  it was a very relaxing class and experience for me, I do not remember feeling anything that really jumped out at me and made me feel like I wanted to either learn more Reiki or offer it to any of my Massage clients.  But if I recall correclty I remember, while we were giving reiki to another person, we would set out hands on certain areas of their body related to the location of the Chakras with the intention of allowing energy from the universe to pass through our body into the person we were working on.

    Now far removed from that first and only Reiki class 15 years ago, I have now spent the past 12+ years practicing and teaching Yi Ren® Qigong and offering occasional Qigong Healing Sessions.  Even though I did not have a profound experience during my one and only Reiki experince I know it can be a very powerful form of healing and has helped many people, and I have heard personal experiences from a few people that have impressed me too.

    Before writing this article I took a peak at couple of Reiki Schools and practitioners websites to see what they said about their healing sessions…  What I learned from my short investigation is that there are many different styles and levels of Reiki healers.  Some integrate many different styles of healing including Reiki and others appear to only use REiki.

    From what I read, the one thing that still stands out to me that is completely different between the qigong healing I have learned from my personal Qigong practice and training is that we/ I, from my energy body development, have the ability to activate the specific area/s on my body that I want to work with on another person (client) and then from there I can send the universal energies.  [from my experience there are many different kinds of universal energies, Heaven (stars, planets, spirit world…), Earth (lakes, oceans, rivers, waterfalls, mountains…), Plants ( trees, flowers, herbs…)  the list goes on and on].  I will also use different hand Mudras to activate and focus on different internal energies too like the Liver/Gallbladder, Lymphatic (Spleen)/Reproductive, Heart/Small Intestine, Pancreas/Stomach, Lungs/Large Intestine, Kidney/Urinary Bladder, Extraordinary Meridians etc.

    During my healing sessions I listen to my bodies internal feelings for guidance and begin to guide the energy/ies to the areas where my feedback system tells me to send the energies to, like the energy centers, chakras, organs, energy pathways, bones, joints, muscles, tendons…  and while sending energy to specific areas I will connect to specific universal energies that have abundant energies to the area of the body I want to upgrade, for instance Bears have incredible kidney energy so I can request help from the Bear energy to help out someone with low kidney energies and this would apply to all different levels of spirit and universal energies too.  In addition, I would not directly call upon the assistance of Guan Yin the bodhisattva of Compassion for someone with low kidney energy who have low internal Will, Confidence and Courage, but instead stick with the bear energy and call upon the Virtues of the Kidneys like Confidence, Courage, Will and Wisdom to directly assist the person with what I see as there highest need at that time (transformation of excess negative kidney emotions like low Self-Esteem, excess Fear, and Paranoia’s into Virtues of the Kidneys, similar to deleting spam from your computer so it can function at a higher level).   Also, during my healing session I use my knowledge and understanding of the Yin/Yang and the 5-elements knowledge for healing too.  I hope that gives you a better idea of how the qigong healing I do is different than Reiki.  

    Ideally after doing some healing sessions the client will choose to sign up for my Yi Ren Qigong classes then they will be able to truly work on their personal healing and transformation prsocess, learn about them-self, and take higher accountability for their life.  As the saying goes:

    “Give someone a fish and they eat for a day.
    Teach someone to fish and they eat for a lifetime.”

    – Chinese Proverb

                 Energy Centers                                (close to the surface of the body)


    Chakras (deep inside the body)

    Organ energy pathways:












    Qigong and Taichi classes and seminars taught in Seattle, WA and throughout the Puget Sound and the Pacific Northwest.

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