Guy-Wire Grounding for Snowman and Me

inflatablesnowman2Though you might not have guessed it from reading this blog of late, I’m still practicing qigong—pretty faithfully, actually. Most days I do an hour of Yi Ren Qigong, give or take, plus several days a week I do Taiji Qigong and another several, just plain taiji.

I have felt subtle change—a deepening of my energetic experience and perhaps greater emotional strength and stability—but there’s been nothing specific worth writing home about. Or blogging about.

Except now, maybe this:

Several days ago, I discovered that if I stand with my arms at my sides and point sword fingers to earth (the thumb holds ring and pinky fingers down as the index and middle fingers extend), I feel energy welling up through my legs into my body. It’s a bit like being one of those inflatable snowmen people put in their yards at Christmas; when the snowman fills with air it swells and stands tall, yet its guy-wires keep it tethered to the ground, just as the energy from my sword fingers keeps me connected to earth.

I don’t really know what this new experience is, but when it happens and I let myself sink into it, I feel very grounded and strong.

I think this is something that will come in handy.

Dr. Sun (Dr. Guan-Cheng Sun, my qigong teacher and the man who developed the Yi Ren Qigong system) talks about not letting other people’s energies lead your energy—certainly not when you’re teaching but as well in other situations where letting it happen would be to your detriment.

I must lead a pretty sheltered life, because the notion of other people’s energies leading mine hasn’t meant much to me. But a day or so after I began feeling my guy-wire grounding, I had an experience with two men, neither of whom I’d met before, who both threw me way off balance, albeit in opposite directions.

To be fair, I am in the process of selling my house and buying a condo, and my life and I are in such upheaval that it doesn’t take much to throw me off balance, but still it happened, and I did not like it.

I experienced the first man as something like a black hole—very intense and self-contained. I don’t know if he was striving to suck energy in, but he certainly wasn’t giving any out. My response was to try to fill the vacuum, which was hard work—as it always is.

As we were working together, the second man burst upon the scene with something he wanted to tell me about. I experienced him as extremely anxious, and as my own anxiety rose in tandem with his, all I could think was “please go now”—which thankfully he soon did, leaving me with the black hole.

I will work with both of these men again, but next time I will be prepared.

There are other ways to build groundedness and energetic self-protection, but I like the handiness of my guy-wire technique. I just point my index and middle fingers towards the ground and fold the other fingers together—and this can be very subtle—and I let it happen.

I’d say I can hardly wait to try my new technique with these men, but I wouldn’t want to appear childish….

I don’t wish either of them ill; nor do I wish to “mess” with them, for lack of a better term. But I don’t wish myself ill either. I just want energetic integrity and stability, and that is my responsibility, not theirs.

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Hope and Everything

hopeI’ve read another awesome book—this one written by a woman who survived stage 4 lung cancer quite possibly because she harnessed the healing power of love and followed the guidance of meditations where goddesses acted as healers and dancers did the likes of popping bubble wrap on the surface of her lung.

The book, published this fall, is actually two books.

everythingPick it up one way and the cover reads: “Something More Than Hope: Surviving despite the odds, thriving because of them,” by Diana Lindsay.

Turn it upside down and end-for-end, and the cover reads: “Something More Than Everything: A caregiver’s commentary on what went right when life went wrong,” by Diana’s husband Kelly Lindsay, who, she says in her portion of the book, “transformed his love into healing power and saved me.”

Diana was 52 in 2006 when she went to the doctor because of a bad cough, learned she had stage 4 lung cancer,  and was told that 1% of people diagnosed with stage 4 lung cancer survive 5 years. However, she was determined to live, and she threw herself into healing her body with mind and heart wide open.

Shortly afterwards, a friend recommended a technique from Jin Shin Jyutsu, a Japanese healing touch system, that involved the treatment-giver holding a finger from one of Diana’s hands and a toe from her opposite foot until her pulses synched up, and then moving on to the next pair of fingers and toes. Jin Shin started out as a bit of a lark, as something people could do when there didn’t seem to be anything else they could do to help—and then someone noticed that when she was receiving a Jin Shin treatment, Diana stopped coughing. This got everyone’s attention.

Diana decided to let her intuition about the needs of her body be her guide in deciding which alternative healing avenues to pursue, and which western medical treatments to choose. (Among the alternative avenues was Yi Ren Qigong, which is how I met her.)

In “Something More Than Hope,” she shares her journey—the visual-imagery-packed meditations, the summoning of the support of family and friends who were many and willing, the canoe trips and visits to waterfalls when water became prominent in her dreams and meditations, the visit with the Muckleshoot tribal shaman, and on and on—the “everything” to which Kelly refers. Continue reading

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The Plastic Brain

brain bookJust a few decades ago, using the word “neuroplasticity” could get a brain scientist into trouble.

The concept ran counter to the dominant belief that the adult brain was “hard wired,” and that major change did not and could not occur. If you lost a portion of your brain to accident or stroke, you were out of luck: Whatever processes that section of your brain handled were lost to you forever.

Now neuroplasticity is practically a buzz word. A friend of mine recently suffered a small stroke; he says his therapists are all about neuroplasticity and how its principles can be used to train other parts of his brain to take over functions once handled by the damaged area.

In chapter after fascinating chapter of “The Brain That Changes Itself,” Norman Doidge relates how this shift occurred—how pioneering neuroscientists, aided by new technology, broke through the old belief to prove that our brains are constantly remodeling themselves, even as we grow old, and how the right therapeutic techniques can facilitate that process. Continue reading

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A Stroke of Insight–and a Message

stroke bookOne morning when she was 37 years old, Jill Bolte Taylor lost much of her mind. A malformed artery-vein junction in the left hemisphere of her brain burst open, flooding surrounding brain cells with blood that is toxic when not where it’s supposed to be.

Over the next few hours, as various left-hemisphere functions faded in and out and then shut down, it became quiet inside her head. No more chattering voice-of-me analyzing, judging, building anxiety, anger and fear. No more awareness, as well, of being separate. Just right-hemisphere peace and the bliss of being one with the energy of the universe.

However, Taylor was a PhD brain scientist, and she realized she was having a major stroke; bliss or no bliss, she was in serious difficulty. She managed to summon help—and then she spent the next eight years rebuilding her left-brain functions, including the “self” that had words and boundaries and could function in a world where past and future and other linear concepts matter.

She did quite a good job. In 2006, she published a book that became a bestseller, “My stroke of Insight.” In it, she offered hope and advice to stroke patients and their caregivers. However, she had a message for the rest of us, too: We can all get a taste of the bliss she experienced during her stroke by learning to “step to the right”—by choosing to cut off the negative chatter that our highly trained logical, analytical left hemispheres are so good at coming up with and accessing the deep peace that she says is the nature of the here-and-now, non-verbal right hemisphere. Continue reading

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Reshaping Weight Issues

Fat dust?

Fat dust?

NOTE: This post is actually a talk I gave at the Institute of Qigong and Integrative Medicine gathering “Tea and Chi” this past weekend. “Ryan” is IQIM acupuncturist Ryan Lilly, and the full name of his class is “Weight Management and Healthy Living Through Chinese Medicine.”

When I saw the flyer for Ryan’s class on weight management at the Institute’s picnic this summer, I was taken aback.

Weight management? Wasn’t that a little frivolous for the Institute? I mean, we’re serious people. We’re not about sculpting svelte silhouettes; we’re about curing major diseases and striving to attain enlightenment and immortality.

If you become an immortal, what does it matter if you’re a little chubby? The robes those guys wear hide quite a lot.

Anyway, those were my first thoughts.

My next thought was, so where’s the sign-up sheet.

Because there wasn’t one. You had to e-mail Ryan to register. Which I did that evening.

For me it wasn’t just about the 10 or 15 pounds that seem to love me more than I love them. It was about 60 years of spending an enormous amount of energy fighting food and fat.

Few days have gone by when I haven’t stressed about my weight or about eating too much, except, of course, the days when I decided it was OK to eat anything and everything because I’d be starting a diet in the morning.

Since I’ve generally weighed 5 to 25 pounds more than I‘ve thought I should, I’ve engaged in a whole lot of negative self-talk around food.

It gets old. I sometimes think that if I’d spent the energy I’ve spent fighting fat doing something more constructive, I might have achieved something really amazing. Maybe not world peace, but something worthwhile enough to be mentioned in my obituary.

But let me tell you a little about the class. Continue reading

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A Rash Is a Rash Is a ???

When is itching, plus a rash, merely the releasing of toxins and negative energies from the body—and when is it shingles?

On a Friday, I had a headache—I called it a sinus headache—and then Saturday, my shoulder began itching fiercely. Actually, it was the outer portion of my back on my left side at about armpit level—one of those places it’s darned tough to see, even in the mirror.

On Sunday morning, it looked liked I might have a rash. By Sunday evening, the itching had abated, I could see several red spots, and the area felt vaguely numb, vaguely uncomfortable, vaguely shinglesque. (And I do know shingles because I had a mild case 20 years ago.)

So what was it?

On the one hand, rashes and itching can result from energy work—or at least so I’ve read and heard from other people.

On the other hand, because I had chickenpox as a child, I am always eligible for shingles, even though I presumably have some immunity from my long-ago case of shingles and more recent shot of shingles vaccine.

I didn’t know whether to view my itching and rash as a qigong phenomenon or an issue I should address via western medicine. Continue reading

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Tea & Qi: A Community Celebration

Tea & Qi

Tea & Qi

On Sunday, Nov. 9, the Institute of Qigong and Integrative Medicine is holding a “Community Tea & Qi” in Bellevue.

It will be a celebration of things IQIM has accomplished over the past year and its plans for the future, as well as an opportunity to meet the people behind the organization plus a lot of Yi Ren Qigong practitioners.

Tea & Qi will be from 1 to 4 p.m. on the 9th at the South Bellevue Community Center, 14509 SE Newport Way, Bellevue. The cost is $25.

To register, go to http://www.iqim.org/tea-qi/.

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