Gasping

sometimes i feel i can’t breathe and am left gasping for air.  

sometimes it feels really scary.  

like when i was a kid and forgot my inhaler on a sleepover that ended up with me at the hospital; or like when a big wave gobbles you up and spits you out at its leisure; or like when my mind takes me places i’d rather not go and fills my heart with fears.  

other times it feels amazing.  

like when climbing a high mountain peak where the air is thin and you’ve already given all your oxygen to the muscles that got you there; or like when taking in the view from such a height; or like when looking into my boy’s eyes in a silent appreciation for the love that we share.

squirming bee

My words have no relevance or meaning unless strung together.  They do not stand (or sit) on their own.  Nothing does.  Our words, thoughts, actions are only relevant in relationship and their meaning only applicable to the apparatus receiving them.  To each their own.

To the struggling bee I offer my condolences which fall on deaf ears.  My actions too seem irrelevent, even harmful, despite my best attempts.  What am I to do?  Just watch it struggle?  End its misery?  Pretend not to care?

Why do I care?  What is my care made up of?  Kindness, compassion, empathy… these are just words.  What if my care is made up of a sense of superiority?  What if its all worry, doubt, and fear?

Why do I care?

For the Unheard- A New Poem

I love this poem!

The Sister Hawk Blog

water runs-3

This poem has been working it’s way through me for days now and finally it has arrived.

For the Unheard

by Beth Farrell

(Un)heard

Voice(less)

We become

We are photo-shopped

Sculpted

Painted

Sexualized

Bronzed

Anti-aged

(for your delight)

Quieted

(for generations)

in a man’s story

told to

stay quiet

told that

our power is (less)

told to say yes

and never no

 

Our voice

Heard

Rages in streams

In rivers

In oceans

In rain

In rivers

Our voices

Rage together

And Together

We

Soften stone

Inscribe wisdom onto riverbanks

Forge new waterways

For our daughters who will

Demand to be

heard.

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THE PHYSICS OF TAI JI CHUAN

master-kuo

In physics, Power is measured as the rate at which Energy is transferred or transmitted.  The energy transfer may be expressed in one of three forms:  Kinetic, exerting a physical force; Thermal, creating heat; and/or Electromagnetic in nature. Taijiquan (Grand Ultimate Boxing) is an ancient martial art based on principles of utilizing the opponent’s energy to your advantage and maximizing power with minimal effort.   The martial application of Taiji is mostly felt through Kinetic Energy transfer.  The mass of our physical body may be put into motion to produce Kinetic Energy that is very tangible in nature as one can ‘see and feel’ the bodies in motion and resulting damage*.

Mechanical systems are designed to transfer energy and what is known as an ideal mechanism is one that transmits Power without subtracting from it and without adding any additional Energy of it’s own all with minimal wear-and-tear on the device.  Some devices not only preserve the input power, but may obtain an amplification in the output based on proper deflection and redirection of trajectories, as in levers and pulleys.

The practice of Taiji teaches us to be that ideal mechanism that deflects and redirects the power from another to do our biding.  As an ideal mechanism doesn’t add power (or lose power), instead relying on an external source, the Taiji practitioner remains a master of self-defense rather than combative martial artist.  

Prior to being released, energy may be stored in what is known as Potential Energy.  This can be demonstrated by a compressed spring or a roller-coaster at the height of it’s climb. The more developed Taiji practitioners have learned to cultivate their Potential Energy, as well as activate and transfer that energy, leading to surprising Power that goes beyond the mechanical capabilities of our bodies.  The Eastern sciences refer to this phenomenon as Qi (‘chee’), a universal life-force that accounts for much of the unaccountable forces of nature that our Quantum Physics have been steadily uncovering.In modern day, Taiji is known as a healing exercise.  It is practiced slowly with coordinated movements requiring excellent focus and balance to perform correctly.

Taiji teaches correct alignment throughout a myriad of movements training the student to move with a grace and power that far out-performs and out-lasts strength and determination alone.   In promoting health, Taiji improves the flow of Qi or energy by reducing resistance from muscular tension and other misalignments.  This is especially important to prevent and speed the recovery from injuries, as well as promote optimal performance for the long-haul!

 

*Note: Tai Ji aims to turn one’s enemy into a friend, which is best accomplished by controlling the situation without injuring the opponent until more diplomatic measures may be used.  This requires great strength of character and conditioning of the body to be both firm and formidable while remaining sensitive and compassionate.

WHAT EXACTLY IS TAI CHI?

yin-yang1

First of all it’s not Tai Chi, there is no “Chi” in Taiji! Taijiquan (Tie-Jee-Chuan, translated as Supreme Ultimate Fighting) is a martial art from China that dates back to antiquity. It is said that it was first conceived by watching a crane and snake fight in the wild. The balance and upright fullness of the crane was well-matched by the softness, agility and speed of the snake. Many of the names given to the various movements speak of the crane and snake, but it does not stop there. Other animals, forces of nature, and even everyday activities are reflected in specific movements.

The practice of Taiji helps connect us with the very essence of nature and all it’s wonders as represented by Yin-Yang theory. In fact the symbol above representing the interplay and connectedness of Yin and Yang is actually the “Taiji” symbol.

At the extremity of one, begins the other.

It is the hope that the study of Taijiquan will help the student to overcome obstacles with grace rather than brute force as they cultivate an Internal Power (Qi / Chi) that turns adversity into opportunity transforming a negative / harmful energy into positive / supportive one.  More bang for your buck that way, and hopefully everyone wins.

The only way to defeat an enemy is to turn them into a friend.

The Taiji master controls without injuring their opponent.  They meet their opponent with softness, learning to “yield” to opposing energy rather than meet it with force.  Bruce Lee told us to, “be like water my friend.”  Practicing Taiji teaches your body and mind to be soft and yielding, like water.

Softness overcomes hardness.

Still, have you ever tried to move a bucket of water. Heavy!  The Taiji master is able to be yielding without giving up her roots.  Deep roots are reflected in one’s stance as well as one’s character wanting to cultivate love and uproot fear. Today we may not have many enemies aimed at doing us physical harm and it is true that advanced weapons have proved superior in battle. So why practice a martial art?

Practice is perfect

Success in the martial arts requires excellent fitness and focus that can only come from practice. Practice puts us on the path of mastery. Of things that one might aim to master, Taiji enables the student to protect their body and defend their rights. It does so in a harmonious way as the Taiji master is “full without tension”, needing nothing and able to give a lot!  Conflicts are avoided and otherwise more peacefully resolved.

It’s not what you do that matters, but how you do it.

Taijiquan has a very long and diverse history, leading to the many various forms and techniques, as well as unique ways of teaching and practicing found across the world today. All of them have their advantages and potential disadvantages. Finding one that you like and will practice is all that matters.

Taiji is known as an ‘Internal’ martial art, in that the focus is on the internal environment more than the external — that which lies outside of ourselves. It is believed that if you are so full and without tension (like an airbag) that no attacker or other harmful energy will be able to penetrate your defenses, nor would they even want to! Importantly, Taiji also teaches us to utilize our bodies better. Improved balance and coordination results in more efficiency of movement and less unnecessary strain. This is a very good thing as it leads us toward accomplishing more with less effort and down the path of giving more than we take.

To become a master, one must first be the fool!

Practice at least a little bit, everyday. If you are weak or injured practice in your mind and only moderately with your body. If you are strong and healthy, take advantage of the opportunity to learn rapidly. That said, maturation takes time. Be patient, be present, and have a sense of humor. The path of mastery is rarely a smooth one.

Please enjoy this video of one of the Grandmasters of the Chen style, Chen Zhenglei demonstrating the 18 movement short form that I practice and will teach you if you promise to practice…

THE YIN AND YANG OF POLITICS, OCT. 2008

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 Striving to be inspiring – and timely – I’d like to present The Yin and Yang of Politics!  As a follow-up to our prior more academic discussion, this posting demonstrates the dynamics of Yin and Yang at work on a broad scale that we are all engaged in, the Presidential Election.
In Chinese medicine, health is found by balancing and correcting any disharmony between Yin and Yang. Yin-Yang theory is universal, not limited to medical applications, and politics are no exception. The fact that there are 2 major parties with such opposing views fits right into Yin and Yang. Republican vs. Democrat; Conservative vs. Liberal; Trickle-down vs. Bottom-up; Corporations vs. Labor; Pro-Choice vs. Pro-Life; Militarism vs. Pacifism; Spend and Borrow vs. Tax and Spend.We the people have become polarized and strongly believe that we are right and they are wrong. This is not good for anybody. We are not right and they are not wrong. We must learn to see and hear both sides of the issue before we make a decision that may or may not turn out to be right or wrong.In Yin-Yang theory, we know that no issue is as simple as black or white; they are shades of gray that mix and blend into each other with great complexity and variability. We the people need to listen and try to understand each other. We will find that we want the same things, but have opposing views on how to best accomplish it. Where there are disagreements, there are compromises. We can all do a better job compromising for the better of humanity versus any one human. Yet, we do not want to compromise our core values. There is a balance that brings harmony rather than conflict.

Yeah, yeah, that’s all fine and good, but do we the people actually have any say in our government? This question concerns me very much. These are elected officials, people not machine, that have been offered a great power over their constituents. As Uncle Ben told Peter Parker (aka Spiderman), “with great power comes great responsibility”. It is the responsibility of the elected officials to vote and act in accordance with the people they represent. This is where the trouble lies… there is a preceding factor to most, if not all, the votes that are cast for any elected official. Yes you guessed it, money. It is not likely that anyone seeking office can do so without adequate financial resources. The bigger the office, the more substantial the financial requirement.

So is it ‘the people’ they represent or is it ‘the source’ of the money that attracted the people whom they represent? This presents a severe obstruction to the smooth flow of people, resources, ideas, and actions through our government. We have a saying in Chinese medicine that goes like this, “where there is obstruction, there is pain; remove the obstruction, remove the pain.” Money is obstructing the Yin (resources and people) and Yang (ideas and actions) of government and we are in pain.

Republicans are Red, Democrats Blue, and Money is Green. Politics in America has lost its balance in duality and opposition… both sides are seeing Green. Green is good in a free-market with equal opportunity for all. While equal opportunity is the domain of the government, free-markets are not. Now one party, the ‘Green’ party is dominant. Balance has been lost. Washington looks more like Wall Street. Elections are like Quarterly Earnings; Foreign Policy like some Sketchy Accounting; and our rising Deficit like our sinking Stock Market.

In Chinese medical terms, money is the external pathogenic factor that has caused disease within the organism. It needs to be expelled and our ‘Righteous Qi’ restored. Health of any system in the universe means balance, aiming for the middle, and long-term moderation with the occasional short-term burst. Once found it is not static or fixed in time and space. To maintain a state of health requires constant observation and correction. Money in government has gone too long without proper observation and correction.

Every illness has both an external pathogenic factor and internal weakness that makes one susceptible. We have been lazy voters and poor participants in our government. It is easy to get lazy when we have it so good. Whether a teacher, lawyer, CEO, lobbyist or politician, it is we the people that make the decisions. It is up to each and every one of us to act morally and ethically with humanity’s long-term survival and prosperity in mind. Moral behavior and good deeds are contagious. Whether you believe in trickle-down or bottom-up, do good for yourself by doing good for others. We are all connected. All of humanity. All living things. It is only good for us if it is also good for others and the Earth. What is good for others and the Earth is also good for us.

Yin-Yang theory states that Yin and Yang are infinitely divisible and at the root of one lies the other. They are mutually dependent opposites that dwell in relativity not absolutes. Simply said, you cannot have good without bad; sweet without sour; or the Left without the Right. Those on the other side of the aisle help balance you. The more that you take a side and define your position, the further your opponents seem. You see yourself as ‘good’ and them as ‘bad’. They see the opposite. This is a separation of Yin and Yang and a sign of ill health. The voting citizens of America are all in this together as there is very likely a third party in the political process that does not have our best interests in mind. Only by working together can we rid our government of this pernicious influence and restore balance to our great country’s leadership.

Thanks for listening. Now get out and vote!

ABOUT THAT YIN / YANG THING…

yinyangYin-Yang theory developed many thousands of years ago in China and has been a mainstay of Chinese thought and culture ever since. In a nutshell, Yin-Yang represents the duality of all things in the natural world. The theory can be used to describe and philosophize on everything since the Big Bang. To clarify further, there are 5 basic tenets to Yin-Yang theory:


  1. Opposition – This is the idea that something cannot exist without it’s opposite or counterpart existing as well. For example, you cannot have good without bad; day without night; left without right; up without down; in without out.
  2. Relativity – Einstein’s theory of relativity was uncovered in Yin-Yang theory thousands of years prior – and without all that math! While I am big relative to my 5-year old son, I am small relative to Michael Jordan. My 3-year old daughter is small relative to my son, and big relative to her favorite doll. Get my point? It is all relative.
  3. Infinitely divisible – Depending on the specific topic, one can break down the Yin-Yang nature of things infinitely. Someone or something will always be bigger or smaller, higher or lower, further in or further out than the next. Science continues to unveil smaller and smaller particles that make the foundation of all things in the universe and at the same time the universe continues to expand and grow beyond our imaginations.
  4. Mutual consumption – The two aspects of Yin and Yang are never fixed or static, instead they are continuously transforming and consuming one-another. For example, day does not suddenly become night. It constantly moves toward the night from it’s brightest point at high noon. And night gradually becomes the day from it’s darkest point at midnight.
  5. Transformation – At the extremity of one begins the other. So the end of Yin marks the beginning of Yang and so on. For example, at the end of the day (dusk) begins the night and at the end of the night (dawn) begins the day.


So here’s a quick list of what would qualify as Yin vs. Yang. Remember that all things in nature can be separated into Yin-Yang pairs!

YIN ——— YANG
Feminine — Masculine
Curved/Round – Straight/Square

Dark/Night/Moon — Bright/Day/Sun
Material — Immaterial

Emotional — Logical
Nourishing — Energetic

Yin-Yang theory is at the basis of Chinese medical diagnosis and treatment. We say that health is balancing or harmonizing Yin and Yang. One can suffer from excess Yang energy, deficient Yin energy; excess Yin energy and/or deficient Yang energy. Treatment plans aim to supplement deficiencies while sedating excesses. It sounds simple, but can be very complex as the practitioner factors in all aspects of one’s health. However, if you cannot break it down into Yin-Yang pairs, diagnosis and subsequent treatment will fail.

Any questions?

 Here’s one: How would you describe a career woman vs. a stay-at-home dad in terms of Yin and Yang?