Monthly Archives: December 2013

Imagery As the Body’s Guide

A Tai Chi Imagery Workbook by Martin Mellish

A Tai Chi Imagery Workbook by Martin Mellish

It’s been more than three years since I studied Yang-style taiji with Martin Mellish at Anderson Park, a wonderful City-of-Redmond park with very old, very tall evergreen trees and a couple of restored log cabins.

However, I’ve been with him again these past several weeks as I’ve reread his book, “A Tai Chi Imagery Workbook: Spirit, Intent, and Motion,” published shortly after he left the States to live in China.

Martin used to say that doing taiji involves far too many variables for you to rely on your conceptual mind to manage the process, because the logical, linear conceptual mind just isn’t very good at multi-tasking. It’s better to turn the process over to your non-verbal, intuitive faculties and let images be your body’s guide.

Martin used many images when he taught, but my favorite was mini-Martin:

Martin would say that instead of struggling to do the form perfectly, which he couldn’t possibly do, he would imagine that there was a mini-Martin at his dantian who WAS able to do the form perfectly, and he would rest his mind at his dantian and let this mini-Martin do the rest.

I loved that image—but I could never really get it or a lot of Martin’s other images to work for me, even though they seemed to work for other students.

At the time, I thought it was my inability to visualize that made it difficult for me to utilize Martin’s imagery suggestions.

Now I know that wasn’t it. As Martin points out in “A Tai Chi Imagery Workbook,” you can hold images in your awareness without “seeing” anything; what you can and indeed must do is feel them in your body. Continue reading

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Coming Tomorrow to Skies Near You…

candle5Few of us pay much attention to the cycles of sunrise and sunset, other than to grumble about how dark it is when we get up to go to work and how little afternoon there is when winter sets in.

We don’t have to pay attention because we have electric lights and sources of heat that don’t need regular stoking, and it doesn’t matter that plants have stopped growing because we get our food from the grocery store.

But perhaps we miss something in our disconnection from what our life-giving sun is doing.

The northern hemisphere’s Winter Solstice will occur tomorrow, Saturday, Dec. 21, at 9:11 a.m. Seattle time. At that moment, the moment when the sun is at its southernmost position in the sky, the days will stop getting shorter and begin getting longer again. Today is going to be 2 seconds longer than tomorrow, which will be the shortest day of the year, and the day after tomorrow will be 3 seconds longer than tomorrow, with more and more daylight to come as the days unfold.

Of course, this will happen whether or not you and I take any notice of it, but I’m thinking I’d like to.

So here’s my plan: Continue reading

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Qigong With a Dash of Salt…

In the Salt Mine Arium

In the Salt Mine Arium

NOTE: I’ve added new classes to “Upcoming Classes,” at right under “Links.”

I’ve done qigong to music many a time, but last week I did qigong to music plus a kaleidoscopic light show, plus the burbles of a fountain—plus salt.

These elements came together in a treatment room at the Salt Mine Arium in Bellevue, WA, a spa which specializes in halotherapy—“halo” being the Greek word for salt.

Halotherapy attempts to duplicate the conditions found in salt caves in Eastern Europe, where many people with asthma and other respiratory ailments say they find relief. At the Salt Mine Arium, a “halo generator” pumps negatively ionized micro particles of salt into the treatment rooms, whose walls are lined with blocks of Himalayan salt.

I don’t know how or if the salt really works. I don’t have asthma, just chronic post nasal drip which didn’t seem to be changed by my 45-minute session at the Salt Mine Arium—but oh, it was a lovely session. Continue reading

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Meridians: The Sequel

Even as I was posting “In Search of My Meridians,” I had the feeling that I’d have to write a sequel—and that it wouldn’t be titled “I Found Them!!!”

And, indeed, I soon concluded that I simply could not do the process I was attempting, which involved standing for up to 45 minutes with hands at shoulder level, facing the chest, and elbows a bit lower.

In his book “Heavenly Streams: Meridian Theory in Nei Gong,” Damo Mitchell says that if you stand like this enough times with your awareness resting gently on a particular meridian’s “source point” either at the wrists or the feet, you will become aware of the path of that meridian as a narrow tube beneath your skin.

I had hoped that this technique would enable me to feel my 12 organ meridians more precisely than I do now when I do the Yi Ren Qigong exercises that target organ meridian pairs.

However, as I have aged, I have spiraled down around a curve in my spine, and my body is now too far out of alignment for standing in the manner prescribed to be anything other than an ongoing struggle with muscles that want to resume doing what they’re accustomed to doing.

I don’t think it’s possible to hold a meridian source point in awareness with any sort of equanimity when one is engaged in combat with one’s body. At least I was not able to do it, and I was beginning to dread my qigong practices. Continue reading

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