Mountain Qigong and Meditation (Da Shan Qigong) Sunday 3rd November 2013

Da Shan Meditation is a powerful, accessible meditation set that uses posture, breath and intent to calm the mind and strengthen the body to develop self awareness, discipline and inner calm.

Rest, relax and rejuvenate. This Meditation and gentle Qi Gong day will enable you to connect with your body, relax your mind and strengthen the flow of energy through your body.

Sunday’s seminar will look in more detail at the sitting and standing elements of the meditation. Exploring the physical structure and foundation of the body whilst further developing visualisation exercises to gain the most from the practice.

Running from 10am-1pm, in the beautiful Lakes, means we get to meditate at a key part of the day and allows you to go and explore a little as well.

Look forward to seeing you there. 

Songs of the Eight Postures

The Song of Peng

What is the meaning of Peng energy?
It is like the water supporting a moving boat.
First sink the ch’i to the tan-t’ien,
then hold the head as if suspended from above.
The entire body is filled with springlike energy,
opening and closing in a very quick moment.
Even if the opponent uses a thousand pounds of force,
he can be uprooted and made to float without difficulty.

The Song of Lu

What is the meaning of Lu energy?
Entice the opponent toward you by allowing him to advance,
lightly and nimbly follow his incoming force
without disconnecting and without resisting.
When his force reaches its farthest extent,
it will naturally become empty.
The opponent can then be let go or countered at will.
Maintain your central equilibrium
and your opponent cannot gain an advantage.

The Song of Chi

What is the meaning of Chi energy?
There are two aspects to its functional use:
The direct way is to go to meet the opponent
and attach gently in one movement.
The indirect way is to use the reaction force
like the rebound of a ball bouncing off a wall, or
a coin thrown on a drumhead,
bouncing off with a ringing sound.

The Song of An

What is the meaning of An energy?
When applied it is like flowing water.
The substantial is concealed in the insubstantial.
When the flow is swift it is difficult to resist.
Coming to a high place, it swells and fills the place up;
meeting a hollow it dives downward.
The waves rise and fall,
finding a hole they will surely surge in.

The Song of Ts’ai

What is the meaning of Ts’ai energy?
It is like the weight attached to the beam of a balance scale.
Give free play to the opponent’s force
no matter how heavy or light,
you will know how heavy or light it is after weighing it.
To push or pull requires only four ounces,
one thousand pounds can also be balanced.
If you ask what the principle is,
the answer is the function of the lever.

The Song of Lieh

What is the meaning of Lieh energy?
It revolves like a spinning disc.
If something is thrown onto it,
it will immediately be cast more than ten feet away.
Have you not seen a whirlpool form in a swift flowing stream?
The waves roll in spiraling currents.
If a falling leaf drops into it,
it will suddenly sink from sight.

The Song of Chou

What is the meaning of Chou energy?
Its method relates to the Five Elements.
Yin and Yang are divided above and below.
Insubstantiality and substantiality must be clearly distinguished.
Joined in unbroken continuity,
the opponent cannot resist the posture.
Its explosive pounding is especially fearsome.
When one has mastered the six kinds of energy,
the applications become unlimited.

The Song of K’ao

What is the meaning of K’ao energy?
Its method is divided into the shoulder and back technique.
In Diagonal Flying Posture use shoulder,
but within the shoulder technique
there is also some use of the back.
Once you have the opportunity and can take advantage of the posture,
the technique explodes like pounding a pestle.
Carefully maintain your own center.
Those who lose it will have no achievement.

Attributed to T’an Meng – Hsien as researched by Lee. N. Scheele

The logic of foundation.

With knowledge of the fundamentals and a logical application we can build a solid accessible foundation. From this place we can develop key skills, tools and awareness to harness and develop our energy, discipline, intent and health.

Our foundation feeds into our understanding of exercise and the basic fundamental benefits that we can experience from meditation. Enabling practitioners to access a starting point, an anchor for initial study and for some a much needed justification for practice.

A solid foundation helps formulate a direction for progression, building step by step, block by block . Ensuring the ground work is laid for a healthy progression, whilst giving check points to help stabilise and reinforce development.

Simple exercises and datum points are always useful, not only in the initial stages of learning to meditate but also many years down the line. Both comforting and reassuring a practitioner in times of need.

Foundation building blocks and foundation exercises should by no means be considered basic. These skills are the most advanced you will learn, your context, understanding and interpretation will evolve, shaping, informing and facilitating practice for years to come.

Mountain Meditation (Da Shan Qigong)

Saturday 14th September

Sitting and standing Qi Gong and Meditation exercises to help build inner strength and encourage the healthy flow of energy throughout your body.

A gentle days exercise combining philosophical, academic and physical principles of traditional Chinese health practices developed over many years to regulate breath, enhance calmness and establish self connection.

Rest, relax and rejuvenate. This moving meditation seminar will enable you to connect with your body, relax your mind and take time to rejuvenate.

For those visiting from afar Kendal is a lovely town on the edge of the Lake District National Park with accommodation aplenty. For more details email gavin@empoweringmovement.co or call 07508210176.

Marital arts should be relevant to real life not ‘the street’.

More and more I see adverts for martial arts classes making reference to ‘the street’ and how this or that art is the best as a result. I appreciate real life plays out on not just one but many streets but it is the essence of the issue with which I I have a problem. A Martial Art should contribute to the development of a person to better help humanity, a vehicle for health, happiness, understanding and contentment.  

There is a key role of martial arts in history that should not be overlooked, but its’ physical relevance in todays society has evolved. A basic interpretation of an arts practicality ‘on the street’ is, I hope, one of self-defence. Interpreting, transferring and evolving a technique learnt from a form, or in a dojo, to be effective in a real life self-defence situation.

Many a martial artist seem obsessed with an Arts’ relevance on ‘the street’. What street? There are some extremely proficient martial artists who would be able to make most things work on most streets, however, the times I have heard a teacher pronounce ‘this is how it happens on ‘the street’ it has been clear they have never been on the street they are making reference to in anything other than a fantasy world they created in their head.

Everything in Martial Arts comes down to context and interpretation. The application of the physical self-defence element focuses on one small element of an art, which in many respects signifies the failure of all other aspects of a practitioners martial arts training.

Creating a relevant context for martial practice that facilitates intelligent thinking, feel, decision-making, contextual awareness and the application of relevant techniques poses a challenge. Life and times have changed, for some practitioners their lives still require and facilitate the application of martial physical skill but for most that is not the case. Teachers need a ‘hook’ to attract students. The biggest problem this creates is not weather or not a technique is relevant or ‘would work on the street’ but the creation of a fantasy world in which these martial arts practitioners reside and the resulting self doubt that dogs the few who question their Arts’ relevance.  

The idea of the ‘street’ and the way it is marketed is quite brutal. As a Martial Artist I went looking for the ‘street’, I found people of all backgrounds and outlooks, on the whole I didn’t find martial artists. Mostly, real proficiency on the street came from a type of person most would not like to associate with or be compared to. Fuelled by anger, drink, drugs, hate, a love of fighting and hurting others. These are not attributes of a martial artist.

The street can be organized, clumsy, inconsistent, unreliable, violent, friendly, cold, wet, hot busy, quiet, full of individuals or groups…

The safe navigation of which is all down to a healthy awareness, interpretation of context and knowledge of self. A full martial arts system can help you achieve this and become a better person. If you want to become proficient on the street you don’t need martial arts, the street is no different to any other arena; to be proficient takes time, experience and practice. As an individual you need to ask what you are looking for and as a teacher you have a responsibility to ask what it is you are imparting and advocating. 

Martial Arts are a powerful tool. Used for good or bad all falls within the realm of the Tao, but it is up to us to make a decision we believe to be in the interest of humanity. 

Practice: It’s not easy, if it was we’d all be doing it.

Our lives are busy and the constant gaze of society means it’s not even on the horizon of our thought process when we get up in the morning. For some an urge to do it makes a brief apparition before they snuggle in for another five minutes of warmth and rest, there are a select few obsessive compulsives who jump out of bed filled with a an overwhelming desire to practice. For most it’s buried so far behind the myriad of other things they need to do once they’ve had a coffee that it seems irrelevant.

For most of us we need structure and guidance to practice.

Despite much rhetoric, practice in meditation is neither easy or natural, but once it gets hold of us we want it in our lives. Like most forms of activity when we’re doing it we love it and appreciate how much we need it. It’s the doing it that’s hard.

I trained with a lot of people who, if their teacher was in residence, would fight to be the first out of bed to show how diligently they practiced. Their insecurity, form and application told the real story of their day to day, week to week training and development. The internal arts are so full of contradictions it is difficult for a student who has a goal of “improvement” to know what to do. The classics of Chinese Martial and Meditative Arts pave the way to more questions than answers.

You know you’ve cracked it when your art it is part of who you are, part of your essence, a feeling that moves with you, positively supportive. Different for everyone and evolving with time. Wanting but not needing, looking forward to but not feeling pressured, embracing and letting go of inner pressure. I’m guessing it’s nice, but it’s not easy. 

Walk the Walk, Talk the Talk!

I once signed a sponsorship contract with a leading energy drink manufacturer. The representative kept saying “we want you to walk the walk and talk the talk”. His incessant use of a somewhat dated and cheesy line made him look all the more like the stimulant fuelled, career motivated, slightly confused individual he was, but all these years later his words still give me pause for thought.

In Tai Chi circles there is always talk of Yin and Yang. Awareness, sensitivity and change are the bedrock of the Classics. In business people recognise the need to evolve, develop and change to stay in touch with the market place. Yet when it comes to ourselves we invariably pay little heed to our behaviour and how it affects those around us.  We may be willing to talk the talk but more often than not we are reluctant to walk the walk.

The problem with walking the walk is that it is more tangible than the talking bit, it requires self-connection, introspection and regular reviews. Change has to come from within, the adage relating to a horse and water is always relevant to people. I can clearly remember things people have said to me in the past that have made me think about my behaviour on a deeper level:

You only ever practice what your good at – my sister when I was ten ish.

You’re always looking for the quick win – A friend/acquaintance when I was 21 ish

Your behaviour is not addressing the real issue – my wife when I was 28 ish

Strangely enough my current life circumstances seem informed by the above. I practice Judo, despite being in the GB Squad there is still an huge room for improvement. There are no short cuts to be had, marriage, kids and Judo all reflect clearly that you reap what you sow. As a family we have made life style decisions that are in line with our aspirations, the health and happiness of our children, enjoying our day to day lives which in turn creates a happy future.

I meditate, I listen and make decisions from the heart and gut. Listening and acting on what you hear are different things of course but if you listen you can then decide.

Life is constantly evolving, for some a challenge, distraction, stress or opportunity. Listening and acting are as easy or difficult as we wish to make them. The key thing to remember is that it is your life, if you learn to listen, trust and have confidence in your beliefs the world might become a happier place full of opportunity and wonder.  

Why the rush?

All in good time. We all seem to be in a rush to impress or impress upon others. Forgetting it is not the destination but the journey that is important.

Provide a framework for development built on support, trust and confidence building. Providing an environment for experimentation where actions and consequences can be explored in a positive manner. Overcoming challenges, embracing solutions and providing a context where there is no such thing as failure; just steps to a greater understanding of self and the world around us.

Such a foundation will create happy, confident and resilient individuals who when the time comes will be able to deal with most things thrown at them and when those things seem a little overwhelming they’ll find a solution that helps everyone.

This approach applies to adults, children, babies and animals. From CEO’s to Prefects, nappy wearers and Crufts winners, all of whom at some point realise shitting in the toilet is preferable to shitting on the rug.   

We’ll all get there. When we’re dead others can speculate, in the mean time let’s make it enjoyable. 

Reluctance

Reluctance in one part of your life will often reflect issues in other areas. It is the people who would benefit from meditation and Qi Gong that find themselves repulsing it.

There is a fine line between love and hate, yin and yang. Sometimes the effort it takes to repulse health and change is what pushes us over the edge to physical or psychological breakdown. For some it is breakdown that forces the change, but surely it makes more sense to embrace a positive change without flicking the self destruct button and causing the body immeasurable distress.

We all have things that ordinarily we would never consider doing but if the opportunity presents itself it seems a shame not to give it a go. A belief that something does not work, or will make you look silly may seem relevant but there is nothing lost in making your outlook a little more informed. We all realise pretty quickly that the considerations of others tend not to venture too far from themselves in such matters.

The beauty of a relaxed guided meditation is the creation of space and opportunity, the chance for you to connect with your body and open your mind on a deeper level or through different means. Positive change is not always initiated by something tangible, it is funny what can resonate with the body once given a chance.

Our reluctance to embark on something new often reflects our need to control our immediate context. That same need for control can harbour or be be the route of stress or other health conditions in your body and mind. When be become detached from our body it can be difficult for us to accept there is a problem. From the outside looking in it can be more apparent, but ultimately only you can make the decision.

It might not be the meditation that makes the difference but the fact you were open to change and took that step into the unknown, opening the mind and body to something new. 

If not now then when? All in good time :)

The root of most illness lies with us, we have the ability to address the underlying cause of our problems, to make decisions to empower ourselves if we so wish.

This is by no means easy, there are lots of reasons why addressing anything to do with ourselves is difficult. The main obstacle being ourselves and that strange feeling that overcomes us when we start to relax, think and give ourselves the freedom to connect with out innermost feelings. In the first instance the questions we ask ourselves often create more confusion than clarity, but with an open mind it can be an amazing process of self discovery. We just need to lose the fear of the unknown.

I am a believer in the ethos that what is meant to be will be, when I’m ready I will engage. Stimuli for such engagement lie in the strangest places but I happily accept that the way life is. For the most part, I like most, carry on with life content with a general plan and the day to day busyness that life throws at me until it overwhelms me to the point I need to take a bit of time to refresh. I’m a firm believer in engaging with the non-conscious, non logical part of our being, but appreciate that in the short term it can often seem easier to ignore it and to carry on.

Addressing any physical or psychological issue takes time and is not always a tangible process. Sometimes when injured physically I rest, sometimes not, I find it a lot easier to overcome a physical issue than when I feel close to being psychologically broken. When this feeling is present in my life I know I need to rest, my mind keeps my body and everything else together. My psychological and physical existence go hand in hand, you can only ‘dig in’ so many times, pushing that extra mile can be like going a bridge too far. Context, relevance and the bigger picture are all key in making any decision that is right for you.

Seminars are good because they enable you to take a time out, if for nothing more than yourself. You may rest, relax, rejuvenate, learn something new, meet new people or just have a new experience. Everybody takes something different from a seminar or teaching and sharing interaction of any kind.

All I do as a person and a teacher is look for ways for me to better connect with my body and mind thus enriching my health, sustainability and life decision making processes. The Chinese Health Arts have some really powerful tools to help achieve such a basic but complex goal, Qi Gong Tai Chi and meditation provide a wonderfully powerful tool for self engagement and development if given the chance.

I am a believer in doing things you enjoy a walk, bike ride, dance or song are all good ways of connecting with yourself on a deeper level. I love the balance that the physicality of Judo provides in my life but relish the chance to focus on the simple things from time to time; breathing, me and my surroundings.

Most of us have reflected that we’ll do x or y or make changes and never did. That’s life, all in good time, but it’s worth remembering that the power for change lies with you. I read this quote today and thought it apt for so many things.

“There are many wonderful things that will never be done if you do not do them.” – Charles D. Gill

From this point we should all move on.