Monthly Archive for: ‘May, 2014’

  • Face it, You’re Toe-rrific!

    I am going to get personal this week: well, more personal than usual. I am also going to get random: well, more random than usual.

    I suffer from toenail fungus. Yes, it’s kind of gross. I have had the fungus for about ten years now. I wonder, how did it get there? I thought only older people are afflicted with such a condition. Well, I was wrong.

    What I believe caused my toenail fungus is bad habits. I would go to the gym and wear the same sweaty socks all day. When I got out of the shower, I did not dry my feet off with a blow dryer or towel. The toe fungus was a definite problem that I became aware of. It was not until this fall, about 10 years after it started accumulating, that I decided to do something about it, and be vigilant in my quest to cure my nails.

    I went to the store and bought an antifungal cream. Now, every single day, I get out of the shower, towel off, and then thoroughly blow dry my feet, take a toenail file and file my nails that have fungus to make them more porous, and then apply the antifungal cream. Then I place a Bandaid over the afflicted toes.

    Just this month, I have noticed that my nails are clearing up and most of them are devoid of fungus. Only a few still have a little bit left. Both my big toenails actually fell off and underneath them, the fungus is completely gone. New clear nails are growing in their places. I feel victorious.

    Now, there are other methods to cure toenail fungus, some of which include a pill and some even include using bleach and water. But I discovered what worked for me. I did not see any results for more than six months, but I knew that eventually my vigilance would pay off. It has.

    To me, toenail fungus can be like bad trapped energy in our body, including our organs. Yi Ren Qigong can help clear that pesky energy fungus out of our system and bring in more nourishing energy. However, this task could take a day, a week, a month, a year or even decades. The trick is to make Yi Ren Qigong a part of your daily routine. Many of us have seen or heard about people living in China who every morning, practice qigong and/or tai chi to help prepare them for their day. They might be on to something.

    So now I have confessed something unattractive about myself. In the past, it would be hard for me to divulge such things, which seems strange to me now. For instance, if my car had something wrong with it that I had the power to fix, why would I not fix it, or at least get a mechanic to fix it? From my experience, Yi Ren Qigong gives you the tools to fix things that are wrong with your body and also your spirit, psyche and mind.

    On a different note: Another thing I discovered this week is that one of the best ways to become happier is to not seek adulation or adoration from others, to not care too much what people think. Ultimately, you have to lose yourself in human form and find yourself in being form. You will never be happy if all you do is seek to fulfill the ego’s need to get approval from others. More and more I am losing my old self, and discovering my new self. This can be a scary process and I have had to endure some hardships along the way. One of our greatest fears can be of the unknown. This week, I will continue to repeat this mantra to myself when garbage thoughts come into my mind: Courage, Confidence, Strength and Faith. With dedication and vigilance, just like I whipped what seemed to be an impossible problem of curing my toenail fungus (some people live their entire lives with an unsightly yellow big toe, just as some people never get rid of bad, fungal, energy) I also have faith that I will cure myself of old, bad habits and negative behavior patterns, bringing myself back to my true self, unfettered by bad foreign energies.

  • How I became Captain America (sort of)


    What is a hero? To me a hero is many things. A hero can be anybody. This is because a hero is a person who overcomes his or her fears, works on weaknesses and optimizes his or her strengths in order to be the best person possible.

    During the last couple months, I have been watching a great deal of movies about fictitious comic-book heroes such as Iron Man, Spiderman, the Avengers and my favorite, Captain America. Why is he my favorite? It could be because I relate to him.

    No, I never was in the military, or even had a remote interest in being in the military. However, I was at one time energetically weak with a slight stature. I was not as scrawny as Captain America was before he became the subject of a military experiment to turn him into the ultimate American soldier. But I was skinny. I was about six feet tall and 140 pounds in high school (I even got down to almost 130 pounds at one point.) My basketball coaches and peers used to tease me all the time about my weight. Even though I ate like a horse and worked out, I could not gain weight very easily. So I quit sports out of frustration, and turned to other hobbies, such as music and writing.

    About that time, I was diagnosed with having a heart condition called Mitral Valve Prolapse (MVP), in which the heart’s mitral valve does not always close properly. In my case, as in most cases, MVP is not life threatening. Although, coincidentally, when I was diagnosed with it at 16, Reggie Lewis of the Boston Celtics, who had the same condition, ended up dying from it. I was even in Boston on a family vacation at the time Lewis passed away. Sitting in a Boston Hotel room, watching the news about Lewis on television, I decided then I had to quit the game I loved. Although I had played in my high school’s select basketball program for four years and would probably have been on the junior varsity team and eventually varsity as a backup shooting guard (I was good, but not a star player) I just had a feeling I needed to stop playing. Sometimes I regret that decision, but it allowed me to spend more time concentrating on my other passions.

    Another basketball player, “Pistol” Pete Maravich (who I believe had he not injured his knee fairly early in his NBA career, would be more of a household name) was actually missing the left coronary artery of his heart. To me, it is amazing that he could even play basketball, let alone be a star player in college at LSU and in the NBA at Atlanta, New Orleans and Boston. Despite his rare heart defect, he became an incredible player and a true hero. Unfortunately, Maravich died young, at age 40, of heart failure, right after playing a pickup game.

    Despite my energetic and physical musculature shortcomings, I still worked out through college and after graduating in 2003 got up to a solid 165 lbs. with around 10 percent body fat. I was making progress with getting my muscles bigger and stronger, however, as was curious to me, I did not feel major improvements in my overall energetic levels and stamina. I thought I was just out of cardiovascular shape. However, it would not be until 2009, when I met Brendan Thorson, owner and instructor of the Noble School of Tai Chi and Qigong Training here in Seattle, Wa., that I would soon discover that weight training and cardio fitness were only part of the equation to becoming physically (and mentally) healthy. When I started taking classes from Thorson, I was fairly physically fit, but my stamina was not what I felt it could be.

    About a year after starting my Yi Ren Qigong training with Thorson, my energy levels increased dramatically, and my weight lifting performance improved as well. I gained more muscle mass and just as importantly my body began to feel less stiff and more flexible. I was integrating the physical body with the qi body and it felt amazing!

    This is not to say that muscle size is an indication of strength. In fact, in the world of Traditional Chinese Medicine, tendon health and vitality is given more consideration for developing strength. However, in my case, I set goals for what I wanted to look like physically, and those goals were not necessarily to look like a body builder, but to look physically fit with lean (cut) muscles which would allow me to live an active and healthy lifestyle. I finally went from being Steve Rogers (Captain America’s real name) to Captain America. I was not injected with some scientific serum, but with qi (chi), harnessed and channeled into not only my muscles, but my body’s organs, tendons and endocrine glands, all by practicing this powerful form of Qigong called Yi Ren Qigong.

    So whether you are a comic fan, a sports fan or just a fan of successful people, remember those who are touted as heroes—or those we admire—often had to overcome many obstacles in life to achieve their high stature. We often only see the end results of their hard work, and not what it took to get those results. Speaking of which, I have to get back to working on myself right now…Until the next time, this is your peaceful warrior signing off…Be well…

  • Integrating Thinking and Feeling = Productive Time


    I have been doing a lot of reading this week. Not all of the books I have been reading are related directly to Qigong—Yi Ren or other styles—but rather books about learning and design. In one book titled “The Design of Everyday Things” by Donald Norman, the author brings up an interesting point about learning.

    [People develop math phobias] not because the material is difficult, but because it is taught so that the difficulty in one stage hinders further progress The problem is that once failure starts, it soon generalizes by self-blame to all of mathematics. …The viscous cycle starts: if you fail at something, you think it is your fault. Therefore you think you can’t do that task. As a result, next time you have to do the task, you believe you can’t so you don’t even try. The result is that you can’t, just as you thought. You’re trapped in a self-fulfilling prophecy. (Norman, 1988).

    This excerpt got me thinking about how that concept applies to Yi Ren Qigong and the concept of worrying: worrying that I will fail, worrying that I will not make any progress, worrying that I will not be able to memorize or do the exercises correctly, and—worrying that I don’t have enough time!

    I don’t have enough time to practice Qigong because I have to (fill in the blank). But actually, what I find is that when I am not practicing Yi Ren Qigong I spend most of my free time worrying. Instead of worrying for almost an hour a day that I am not going to the gym, eating right, practicing Qigong, meditating enough and doing other healthy lifestyle habits, I have found that I should just practice these habits.

    For instance, for the next three months or so, I will be busier than the previous three months. However, in the previous three months, I fell behind in my Yi Ren Qigong practice. As a result, my overall well-being was not as balanced and I began to feel extremely stressed. Part of that stress was caused by knowing that I was not doing the things that keep me healthy. The thing is, balance is the key. Intellectual and business endeavors are important, however, as other Yi Ren Qigong practitioners have discovered, it is important to keep a balance between the mind, body and spirit: They all influence each other. And all of us have different needs. Take for instance this passage from the “Bhagavad Gita” Chapter 14 Text 5. “Because living entities have different kinds of bodies, in terms of the different aspects of nature, they are induced to act according to that nature. This is the cause of the varieties of happiness and distress.”

    All in all, we can think with our brains, but we have to remember that we can also think with our bodies. Our bodies can communicate a great deal of information to us. Some might call this kind of thinking “feeling” or “sensing.” This type of thinking is not considered intellectual, but it is just as import in your Yi Ren Qigong Practice. But don’t take my word for it: here is what renowned martial artist and Taoist Lineage Master Bruce Frantzis has to say about it in his book “Relaxing Into Your Being: The Water Method of Taoist Meditation.” Here he is discussing the Teacher/Student relationship and how a teacher can communicate knowledge to a student.

    “Although words and symbolic representations or images can allude to mind/body/spirit knowledge, the words themselves are rather like the shadow of the thing, rather than the thing itself….”(Frantzis, 1998).

    Frantzis goes on to say (and this is my own summation in my own words) that a teacher’s energy that resides in his or her body and ultimately mind (not non-verbal cues, but rather feelings of knowledge—knowledge energy if you will) can be transferred to a student and implanted in his or her subconscious as a sort of seed of knowledge. These seeds sprout knowledge that is often more clear than what can be described with words and usually appears to the student when he or she is ready.

    I bring this up because I, like many practitioners, have made the mistake of thinking that I can learn the concepts of Yi Ren Qigong much like, say, Mathematics (ie. I can read the concepts and do the exercises and therefore gain full knowledge). However, in my experience, much more knowledge is gained not by letting the intellectual material teach me about the exercises but rather the exercises leading me to knowledge about the intellectual material—the written words.

    So this week, I thought about worry and how useless it is in my life. Of course we all have our worries and concerns. However, I have found that the answers to some of my questions are often discovered by taking time away from the task at hand to practice Yi Ren Qigong. This can often lead to more clarity in my mind, and more clarity leads to being more productive.

    Norman, Donald A (1988). The Design of Everyday Things. New York, NY Basic Books.

    Frantzis, B.K. (1998). Relaxing Into Your Being: The Water Method of Taoist Meditatio Volume1, Berkeley, CA: North Atlantic Books.