Call for Comic and Graphic novel submissions

Singing Dragon and Jessica Kingsley Publishers have recently started developing an exciting new line of comics and graphics novels and we are now open for submissions.

Singing Dragon publishes authoritative books on all aspects of Chinese medicine, yoga therapy, aromatherapy, massage, Qigong and complementary and alternative health more generally, as well as Oriental martial arts. Find out more on www.singingdragon.com

JKP are committed to publishing books that make a difference. The range of subjects includes autism, dementia, social work, art therapies, mental health, counselling, palliative care and practical theology. Have a look on www.jkp.com for the full range of titles.

If you are a comics artist or writer and have an idea for a comic or graphic novel, here is what we are looking for:

Graphic novel or comic – Long form

We are looking for book proposals that are between 100 and 200 pages, black and white or colour, and explore the topics listed above or another subject that would fit into the JKP/Singing Dragon list. Specifically we are hoping to develop more personal autobiographical stories.

Here are the guidelines for submission:

  1. A one-page written synopsis detailing the plot/outline of the book, as well as short bios of all the creators involved.
  2. Character sketches of the main characters with descriptions.
  3. Solo artist/writers or writer and artist teams should submit 5 to 10 completed pages to allow us to get a sense of the pace, art style and writing.
  4. Solo writers will need to submit 10 to 20 pages of script as well as the one-page synopsis from point 1.

Comic – Short form

We have some shorter comic projects underway and are looking to expand the range of topics covered. These books can run from 20 to 40 pages, black and white or colour, with dimensions of 170x230mm. We are mainly looking for comics that provide ideas and information for both professionals and general readers.

For example, the first in this series, published by Singing Dragon, is a book exploring the latest developments in chronic pain research.

Here are the guidelines for submission:

  1. A one-page written synopsis detailing the narrative style and subject matter to be explored in the book. Also include short bios of all the creators involved.
  2. Solo artist/writers or writer and artist teams should submit 3 to 5 completed pages to allow us to get a sense of the pace, art style and writing.
  3. Solo writers will need to submit 5 to 10 pages of script as well as the one-page synopsis from point 1.

When submitting please provide low-res images and send them, along with everything else, to Mike Medaglia at mike.medaglia@jkp.com

If you have any other ideas that don’t directly relate to the subjects described above but you feel might still fit into the Singing Dragon or JKP list, please feel free to get in touch with ideas and enquiries on the email above.

Three New Years Greetings from Master Wu

Master Wu new year blog image

Greetings from sunny Stockholm! Unlike the record warm winter we had last year, we are finally experiencing some snow and freezing temperatures this winter. My wife Karin and I are enjoying this winter-Qi – the greatest source for rejuvenating all new life energy. We will continue to take advantage of the winter feeling and maintain our focus on our annual winter personal retreat. I am sending this seasonal greeting a little early this year because I would like to share some special cultivation ideas for the coming new energetic year with you all.

Utilize the rhythm of Nature

According to ZhouYiCanTongQi 周易參同契, one of the most important Daoist internal alchemy classics, the rhythm of nature has great influence on human beings, and it is therefore important to understand the rhythms of nature and know how to cultivate with the changing rhythms.

By doing so, you will optimize your potential for inner transformation and for deep healing to occur.

Three New Years!

There will be three important shifts in the rhythm of Qi as we move from the current JiaWu 甲午 Year to the coming YiWei 乙未 Year:

  • Cosmological New Year – Alchemical Qi
  • Animal New Year – Yang (Solar) Qi
  • Chinese New Year – Yin (Lunar) Qi

Cosmological New Year – Alchemical Qi

This YiWei 乙未 Cosmological Year will start January 20, 2015

The Heavenly Stem Yi  represents Yin Wood and the Earthly Branch Wei  represents the Earth and carries the Goat as its spiritual animal.  According to Chinese cosmology, I expect that the coming year’s climatic pattern to be influenced by Revenge Fire, Damp Earth, and Cold Water energies.

This means that I predict more rainstorms than average this year, with hail in the summer and snow storms in the winter.

I also expect that there will be strong windstorms in the coming months, especially on west coast area of your region.

Animal New Year – Yang (Solar) Qi

Spring season will begin on February 4, 2015

The next animal sign begins on LiChun 立春, which marks the beginning of spring. LiChun is one of the 24 15-day segments in the annual solar cycle.  According to WanNianLi 萬年曆, the Chinese Ten-Thousand Year Calender, spring season will begin on February 4, 2015.

In my tradition, the coming of spring correlates with the start of a new annual animal sign – and this year it will be YiWei, the Year of Yin Wood Goat. In Chinese astrology, one of the four pillars that make up the basic chart is the animal which correlates to the Solar year of birth.

For example, all babies who are born between February 4, 2015-February 4, 2016 will have the Yin Wood Goat as their yearly animal sign.

Whether you have a goat in your chart or not, we will all be affected by the Goat energy this year.

Here is a brief synopsis of the symbolism of the Goat, as extracted from my book The 12 Chinese Animals:

“Goats give you gentle and peaceful feelings when they chew grass with a slow, grinding motion. Yet they move with great speed and agility when navigating their way through rough, rocky, mountainous areas. They have strong horns and are always ready to defeat their enemies.

Goat is the eighth animal symbol in the 12 Chinese Animals System.

We use Wei 未 to represent the Goat symbol in the 12 Earthly Branches.

Wei is a symbol for the 13:00–14:59 time of day, and for the sixth month in the Chinese Lunar-Solar calendar (which is approximately July 7 to August 8 in the Gregorian solar calendar).

Wei represents the napping time of day and the third summer month when nature is in its ripest season. It is a time or a place where Yang energy (life energy) continues its decline and when the life cycle becomes more mellow. We use the tidal hexagram Dun  ䷠ to symbolize the Goat.”

Chinese (Lunar) New Year – Yin (Lunar) Qi

This year we will celebrate the New Year on February 19, 2015

The Chinese New Year falls on the second new moon after the Winter solstice each year. This year we will celebrate the New Year on February 19, 2015. In China, we also call the New Year ChunJie 春節, or Spring Festival.

The Spring Festival is the most important and longest holiday of the year in China, the one in which we all prioritize spending time with family and friends. Traditionally, the celebration begins new year’s eve and lasts for almost an entire month.

YiWei and your Health

While the combination of YiWei energies will be good for those of you who need support from the Wood elements, it will also possibly cause added difficulties for those of you who have weak lung Qi, poor digestive function, and/or a lower sexual drive.

Some people will suffer more pain in their joints and tendons over the next couple of months.

I will go into more detail about how the seasonal cosmological influences will effect us in my coming seasonal greetings.

YiWei New Years Qigong – Goat Internal Alchemy

As I always emphasise, Qigong practice is a great medicine that will help you maintain balance and a sense of well being in your life.

The special Goat internal alchemy qigong form will be a powerful addition to your daily Qigong practice during this YiWei year.

This year, I will teach the entire 12 Chinese Animals Internal Alchemy form in Anchorage, Alaska on Sunday April 19th. In the workshop, I will explain the form in relation to the twelve Tidal Hexagrams – the spirit of Yijing (I Ching), and cover healing and spiritual transformation applications of the form.

For those of you who will be unable to join us in Anchorage, here is one of the Goat internal alchemy practices for you:

Tidal Hexagram Dun Meditation

With a lit candle in front of you, start the meditation by straightening your back and feeling that your body is as stable as a mountain.

Make the Dun mudra by placing each thumb on the tip of the ring finger. The tip of the ring finger is related to the hexagram Dun.

With open and relaxed fingers, place your right mudra on your right knee, palm facing up and raise your left mudra to the level of your left shoulder, palm facing forward.

Adjust your breathing to be slow, smooth, deep, and even.

Feel each breath connect with your spleen, heart, and liver.

Meditate in this position for as long as you can.

At the close of your meditation, please cite this little prayer:

May the Spiritual Lights shine on my unwavering mind

May the Spiritual Lights shine on my unbroken breath

May the Spiritual Lights shine on my unpolluted body

 


 

Spring Courses in the US!

Below please find a brief summary of my upcoming courses in the US.

Events with a special early registration price are noted.

QiDao ChaDao: Qigong and the Dao of Tea

Qigong is an ancient technique for healing and inner cultivation. For thousands of years, sages have used the tea ceremony as a gateway to understand the Dao. Please join us for a sampling of special Chinese tea and demonstration of traditional Qigong.

Offerings: 

March 13 2015 in Baltimore, MD (click for further details)

April 17 2015 in Anchorage, AK (click for further details)

Dragon Body: The Secret of Daoist Internal Alchemy

In Chinese culture, the dragon represents shifting, changing, invisible, mystery, flexibility, transformation, high spirituality, supernatural, and power.

The Dragon Body practice is a way to express all the characteristics of the dragon in your cultivation practice.

This practice strengthens the vital link between the governing meridian and conception meridian and is one of the most important ZhouTian 周天 (Cosmic Orbit) methods to transform your Qi and nourish your spirit.

Offering:

March 14-15, 2015 in Baltimore, MD (click for further details)

*Please take advantage of the discounted early registration price and register before February 6!

Daoist Internal Alchemy – BaGuaXinJing 八卦心鏡

In this BaGua XinJing (Eight Trigrams Heart-Mirror) training, we will review HunYuanZhuang 混元樁the fundamental Heart-Mind standing posture, and the XinJing – the eight gentle movements designed to increase physical strength, nourish the joints and balance the mind. This practice represents the very foundation of YiJing (I Ching) philosophy.

Offerings:

March 15, 2015 in Baltimore, MD (click for further details)

April 18, 2015 in Anchorage, AK (click for further details)

*Alaskans, please take advantage of the discounted early registration price and register before February 17!

Daoist Internal Alchemy – ShengXiaoGong 生肖功

The twelve rhythms of nature are represented by ShengXiaoGong (Twelve Animals Qigong), from China’s esoteric Mt. EMei shamanic Qigong lineage, and give us access to the deepest spirit of the Yijing (I Ching).

April 19, 2015 in Anchorage, AK (click for further details)

*Alaskans, please take advantage of the discounted early registration price and register before February 17!

 

 

Karin and I are wishing you and your families a healthy and happy year of the Goat!

 

Master Zhongxian Wu

Warm up games for any group

Rutherford_Book-of-Games-a_978-1-84819-235-5_colourjpg-webThis extract from Leo Rutherford’s The Book of Games and Warm Ups for Group Leaders features games and exercises to get any group energised, comfortable with each other, and ready to work together. Many of the exercises are based on Shamanic principles and are suitable for workshops, martial arts groups, classes or any gathering of people looking to feel connected to each other.

Read the extract here…

Leo Rutherford has an MA in Holistic Psychology and runs Eagle’s Wing, a centre for contemporary Shamanism. He teaches Shamanic practice including the wisdom of the medicine wheel, Shamanic journeying and trance-dance, healing the inner child, sweatlodge, visionquest and other ceremonies, dance and playfulness. The Book of Games and Warm Ups for Group Leaders is available from the Singing Dragon website now.

‘This slim volume deserves savoring’—One reader’s review of Archetypal Imagery and the Spiritual Self

One reader’s review of Archetypal Imagery and the Spiritual Self: Techniques for Coaches and Therapists by Annabelle Nelson.

“This slim volume deserves savoring. What I mean is captured by these cherished words of a dying friend: ‘Must be present to win.’ Nelson’s book demands attention and rewards re-reading. She writes about intentionally seeking an expansive, wise mind. That search and its prize, she says, brings a fuller, quieting outlook on reality, access to previously locked energy, and greater capacity to perceive and achieve one’s highest goals. The method she advances is to thoughtfully select an archetype whose attributes or deeds appear somehow relevant to one’s current situation (a dilemma, perhaps, or a crisis). The next step is to bring the archetype to mind through imagination, using all of one’s senses and the guidance of a coach or therapist, the book’s intended readers as mentioned on the cover.

Our thoughts, feelings, judgments, and actions are already influenced by archetypes, Nelson says, but subconsciously, out of our awareness. They are denizens, one might say, of our hidden mind. Images and emotions are the language of this unconscious realm. When one engages the skills of imagining an archetype, that larger-than-life, mysterious, and possibly mythic being can become a focusing device to override the ego’s control of one’s rationality and open access to non-rational, even counterintuitive and frightening features of one’s psyche.

This coaching model assumes that humans have four bodies, the spiritual, physical, emotional, and mental, which is usually controlled by the ego. The ego is a positive part of human psychology, giving stability, organizing the personality and establishing a sense of self. But over time it becomes rigid, skewing perceptions and relegating uncomfortable thoughts and sensations to the unconscious. This is accomplished by eating up mental energy, and restricting both rational and intuitive thinking and emotional awareness. However, if one softens the ego and thereby the barrier to the other bodies, this in effect creates a more spacious mind. Information from the other bodies, emotional, physical and spiritual, can enter conscious awareness. (p. 182)

The tone of the book is both professional and personal; its material is presented as a synthesis of the understanding Nelson has derived from four decades as a psychologist, teacher, coach and spiritual seeker.

‘Looking at models of the mind both from Western psychology and Eastern religious philosophy gives some guideposts for understanding what happens when the conscious mind opens to the unconscious.’ (p. 28)

The result is a tapestry that shows as sometimes parallel, often coextensive, the paths to emotional health and to spiritual awakening. Nelson ignores conventions against treating in the same conversation these two subjects: one known through logic and the other through intuition. That is the power of this book. It is but an introduction—a handbook, even, for busy practitioners with clients to serve—to the idea that these knowledge fields share common ends and means.

Although I am interested in these subjects, I am unacquainted with present-day thinking and writing about them and am neither coach nor therapist. Nonetheless, I have gained greatly from the insights this book offers. It must be taken on its own terms. It abounds in metaphors. The proof is in the pudding. I have followed to surprisingly good effect the exercises and other aids Nelson provides. She makes no claims that her techniques produce overnight transformation. Anything but, really. As the stories she tells from her own life and the experiences of her clients illustrate, she’s all about the long term, about initially faint apprehensions ripening with familiarity into a new knowing.

In the creative process, the intuitive and rational are intertwined… The wise mind is spacious, allowing opposites to coexist. When logic is needed it can come to the foreground while intuition is in the background, or vice versa. Awareness keeps the space open for the interplay to happen. (p. 177)

Certainly, I carry from this reading a deeper respect for intuition and for using imagery to develop it. Another thing sure to be remembered from this book is the rich possibility of archetypes to reveal otherwise inexpressible truths.

The ‘spiritual self’ of the title has nothing to do with organized religion and none of the archetypes described are drawn from the Abrahamic traditions. Rather most of the illustrative archetypes pre-date and no doubt contributed to these traditions. Nelson invokes the Major Arcana from the Tarot (e.g., Fool, Magician, Chariot, Justice, Hermit) to speak of emotional development and ancient deities from Eastern mythology (e.g., Lilith, Isis, Gaia, Ganesha, Avalokiteshara) to explore spiritual development.

My favorite chapter is the final one, ‘What if Life Were Sweet?’ Of course its impact depends upon everything conveyed in the preceding chapters. Here is a brief excerpt:

Opening the mind to wisdom is not an easy task. It is a complex and simultaneously subtle endeavor. The ego’s hold on stability is sacrificed for the connection to spirit that brings peace and joy. The delusion of control and separation erodes to a softer, warmer and friendlier awareness. The sense of Self is not constricted to fragmented thoughts or overwhelming emotions. Trust doesn’t rest with control of the inner world, but with the sense of interconnection. Stability comes from a focus of attention, not from a defensive posture.

There is a theme in both the deity and tarot archetypes. Almost all of them face a crisis. Lilith is thrown out of Eden. Isis’ husband is taken and murdered. Avalokiteshvara loses his faith and his brain is shattered, while Ganesha’s head is cut off. These deities became powerful in the face of despair, pain, grief and rejection. The world they inhabited ended in some way, and survival depended on adaptation to tap the power inside to become wise. The unconscious not only contained their fears, but also hid their strengths. When the unconscious is opened, hidden strengths are apparent. An individual is essentially changed from the inside out since there is more energy and power. (p. 181)”—Michele Minnis, PhD

Michele Minnis, PhD, is retired from a career at the University of New Mexico, where she of taught legal and expository writing, did research on cross-disciplinary collaboration, and served on the founding faculty of a master’s degree program in water resources management. She and Annabelle went to graduate school together at the University of Kansas, Department of Human Development.

For more information or to purchase a copy of Archetypal Imagery and the Spiritual Self, click here.

Have all of Chinese Medicine in your pocket – interview with Richard Bertschinger

VLUU L100, M100  / Samsung L100, M100 Richard Bertschinger is a practising acupuncturist, teacher of the healing arts, and translator of ancient Chinese texts. He studied for ten years with the Taoist sage and Master, Gia-fu Feng. He talks to Singing Dragon about his groundbreaking translation work, ‘the oldest book in the world’, and having all of Chinese medicine in your pocket.

Thanks for agreeing to talk to us, Richard, about your five books.  I wondered if you could tell our readers something briefly about each and how they came about?

Well these books are really a summation of my Taoist studies over the last thirty years.  The titles are worth repeating:  The Secret of Everlasting Life, Yijing: Shamanic Oracle of China, Everyday Qigong Practice, The Great Intent and Essential Texts in Chinese Medicine.  I was fortunate to meet a Chinese-American Giafu Feng in the ‘seventies who introduced me to the Chinese world of the Tao – really it was from Giafu that I got the inspiration for this work.  He was brought up in Shanghai during tumultuous 1920’s in China.  In his last few days (he died in 1986) he spoke to me about alchemy – in fact it was his overwhelming concern that I should work on making the idea of alchemical practice available to the West.  And I knew nothing about it!  So I dived into what was in translation at that time.  There was actually very little.  The oldest work, written in the 2nd century AD was this text – which I have presented asBertschinger_Secret-of-Everl_978-1-84819-048-1_colourjpg-web The Secret of Everlasting Life. It is primarily a Qigong manual, in fact the very first to be written, anywhere in the world!  So I cut my teeth on this and its Chinese commentaries.  All my work is based upon my reading of the Chinese commentaries – and on how they were explained to me by Giafu.  In this I think I was blessed, in having the ‘key’, as it were – his oral instruction – to unlock this extremely intricate puzzle.

What do you mean, then, by this ‘intricate puzzle’?

Actually this puzzle is just the Chinese Mind!  I feel strongly that the Chinese ideas and skills, knowledge and techniques (including acupuncture) should be taken within their own context – you cannot just import techniques and not understand the background teaching and philosophy.  It really will not work.

You are referring to acupuncture perhaps?  Where more ‘medical’ acupuncturists, such as doctors and nurses use acupuncture without a full apprenticeship?

Bertschinger_Great-Intent-Ac_978-1-84819-132-7_colourjpg-webNot really, I think that acupuncture can survive any usage.  It is resilient enough!  But certainly without the dedication of a three year training you are not going to be using its full potential. And you are not giving patients the best either! Anyway, this leads on to The Great Intent, which is actually a re-working of The Golden Needle, a book published earlier in 1991.  Singing Dragon was quite keen to reprint this, so I expanded and rewrote the introduction.  This is a first translation of many of the odes, song and poems which have, for centuries, been used in teaching acupuncture theory and technique.  Again I was keen to get all these ideas out to medical practitioners, who wanted to begin exploring some of the greater subtleties of needling – as well as brush up their theoretical knowledge.  I know these poems have proved an inspiration to many.

Now tell us a little about Yijing: Shamanic Oracle of China.  I understand the Yijing has been referred to as ‘the oldest book in the world’.  How can you justify such a statement!

Bertschinger_Yijing-Shamanic_978-1-84819-083-2_colourjpg-webBecause the Yijing has its origins, and no one would deny this, in the oracle bones, the scapula of oxen, tortoise shells and the like, which have been unearthed recently in China.  These prove that an oracle much like the Yijing (or ‘Book of Change’) was in use some 3000 years ago, in Bronze Age China.  The Yijing is all about communicating with the unseen and unsaid.  It is an oracle, yes, but also has a philosophy around it of Yin and Yang, the flux within the universe, light and dark, day and night, winter and summer, and the life and death of all living things.  It is thus at the threshold of putting an understanding of these things into words – it uses images to communicate ideas, on the borderline of thought, as it were.  And this was all happening 3000 years ago, before there were any books!  So unlike the Dead Sea Scrolls or Egyptian Scriptures, the Yijing was trying to be useful – not trying to hand down a received wisdom, or deal of concepts.  It was about meaning.  About the meaning of life, about greatness – about what it is to be human!  Like so much of Chinese philosophy, it told us how to live.

Bertschinger_Everyday-Qigong_978-1-84819-117-4_colourjpg-webWell, that is quite a topic.  The last two books you mentioned about are Everyday Qigong Practice

That one ‘does what it says on the tin’.  It is a simple introduction to Qigong exercises, with brilliant diagrams by Harriet Lewars – you can pick it up, and seconds later be practicing qigong, and circulating the Qi.

And the last, Essential Texts in Chinese Medicine: The Single Idea in the Mind of the Yellow Emperor?

Bertschinger_Essential-Texts_978-1-84819-162-4_colourjpg-webThis is my latest book. It is a digest of the medical writings contained in the Huangdi Neijing, or Yellow Emperor’s Book of Medicine, the great compendium of medical studies produced during the Han, and which has provided the backbone of all traditional medicine in the East for the last two-thousand years.  I was fortunate, again, to pick up a copy of a condensed version of this book in 1981 at Stillpoint, Colorado, where I was studying with Giafu Feng – and he started me off with some tape recordings, he would get up 4 am, make a large pot of Earl Grey tea, which we  would share and off he would go, extemporising a translation ‘on the hoof’ as it were of this book.  Page One, Chapter One.  It took him perhaps three months to finish, and I had to leave before it was done, but the next spring I remember him arriving at Heathrow airport with a large carrier bag in his hand, ‘here you are Richard the Book of Medicine, finished!’  There was no way I could turn down a commission such as this!  So I have been working at producing a readable version of this text.  Firstly I translated the Chinese commentaries, most from the Ming and Qing, then I collated them with his version.  Then I also interleaved my own acupunc­ture studies and notes from Jack Worsley’s teachings and finally, after many years work, I have a version which I think is just about ready to go to press.  It grew in the making, but from quite early on I saw that there was one thread running through the whole – this is obvious to anyone who begins to read the book.  This one thread I rather grandly name ‘the single idea’ – really it describes the workings of Yin and Yang and the Five Elements.  Once you can get a handle of what they are talking about and how they work, you really do have Chinese medicine ‘in your pocket’, as it were.

Meditation for midwinter

by Jennifer Rhind, taken from A Sensory Journey: Meditations on Scent for Wellbeing

rhind midwinter meditation imageIt is midwinter. It is cold, water has crystallised into ice, the land has frozen over and the power of the sun has diminished. Nature is dormant – the animals are hibernating, everything has slowed down, conserving energy for future survival.

You are standing at the edge of a forest. It has been snowing; the landscape has been covered with a blanket of snow. Focus on your ears, and sense of hearing. All sound has been deadened – this is as close to silence as you have ever felt.

It is almost sunset. You slowly emerge from the wood and stand at the edge of a wide, sandy bay. The sea is dark blue, reflecting the late afternoon sky, and the wind is capping the waves with white foam. The tide is coming in, and you walk up to the edge of the sea where the waves crash on to the shore. The roaring of the sea as it drags on the sand fills your head.

You breathe deeply, drinking in the salty air, with its tang of seaweed. You become aware of the power of the sea – and feel a strange combination of fear and excitement, an overwhelming exhilaration.

You watch the waves that break on the shore at your feet, and become one with their rhythms and patterns.

Now look to the horizon. The fading sun, now a dull red, is low in the sky, its light turning the sea foam to pink. You notice that some of the waves are becoming larger, rising above the water; these are the mythical white horses. As you watch, you wonder what it would be like to ride the waves.

As the white horses draw closer to the shore, you merge with the illusion, and find yourself riding the waves. The roar of the sea is all encompassing, white foam blows all around, and you are moving with the swell of the ocean, diving into the troughs, and rising over the crests… the experience is exhilarating, natural and flowing. You notice dolphins and porpoises all around, and then you too become a creature of the sea.

Your white horse carries you back to the shore, and you watch as it disappears into the sea foam. You are standing, looking out over the sea, which is now very calm and quiet, little ripples caressing the sand at your feet. The sun is now very low in the sky; you watch the red disc slip over the horizon, its light reflected in the calm water.

Now your senses are anchored. Your experience has allowed you to realise that you have abundant courage, judgement and will. You now turn and head back to the forest. Ahead, the snow brightens the scene, and your pace quickens. You reach the forest and, in the fading light, retrace your tracks back through the trees.

You are heading back to your log cabin, where the fire will be burning. The fragrance of wood smoke lingers in the still air. This is your midwinter haven. As you walk, you reflect and review. This is the season to rest, be still, and listen to the wise person within. You are your own catalyst for growth in the coming spring. Now is the time to plant the seeds of your dreams. It is a time for being, not doing.

 

Jennifer Peace RhindJennifer Peace Rhind is a Chartered Biologist with a Ph.D. in Mycotoxicology. For thirteen years she worked as a therapist and partner in a multidisciplinary complementary healthcare clinic.. She was a lecturer on the B.A. Complementary Healthcare programme at Edinburgh Napier University for fourteen years, and remains involved in scent education. A Sensory Journey is a set of cards and booklet exploring different fragrances and giving guided meditations on scent for wellbeing and spiritual growth.

Silk-reeling exercises for the upper body

Fengming_Essence-of-Taij_978-1-84819-245-4_colourjpg-webThis extract from The Essence of Taijiquan Push-Hands and Fighting Technique by Wang Fengming features unique silk-reeling exercises from Chen-style Taijiquan. This coprehensive training manual has never been available in English before and the practices are traditionally shrouded in secrecy.

Read the extract…

In The Essence of Taijiquan Push-Hands and Fighting Technique Master Wang Fengming, an eleventh generation practitioner of Chen-style Taijiquan, provides detailed information about the famous internal fighting techniques and reveals inside knowledge essential to the remarkable results achieved by the Chinese masters. The book features:

  • effective ways of cultivating Taiji internal power
  • variety of joint-locking techniques and counter techniques
  • 13 postures of Taiji explained
  • leg work, including stances and kicking techniques
  • unique silk-reeling exercises
  • rarely revealed vital point striking
  • 7 styles of push-hands training
  • 20 kinds of Taiji energy explained and demonstrated.

This comprehensive book is a major contribution to the literature on push-hands techniques in the West and is available from the Singing Dragon website.

Winter Water Element Activities for Children

Welcome back to the monthly series of stimulating Five Element activities that can support development of children in all ages!   If this is your first time reading our blog, you can go back to our first entry in May to view the WOOD Element activities.  All of the blogs can be downloaded in a pdf format by clicking on the link at the end of this article so that you can enjoy making your own notebook of Five Element exercises for each month and season of the year. 

winter waterBrrrr… Winter winds and frosty mornings bring the natural contraction of our muscles and bodies to conserve our energy and find a warm cozy place to warm our hands and feet.  Winter represents the Element of Water, the source of our life energy and keeper of our reservoirs.  All around us nature shows us that earth has her natural cycle of decline and rest in the winter season, with the hibernation of the animals and foliage in snowy lands, and the decline of growth and fruits in the tropical regions.  Winter shows us the two sides of the life force through its pure, silencing, stillness that takes us deep into our unconscious minds and souls, to the raging power of a glacier or iceberg cutting through the earth and leaving its imprint for all of life to spring forth from.

The Water Element provides the same instincts to our bodies, minds, and spirit as it gives expression to our need and capacity for rest, relaxation and rejuvenation. This inward movement is what cultivates the resources of our energy and reserves for all growth and development in our lives.    In children, the Water Element is most obvious when they express a whiny, cranky hour where we know they need a nap, or quiet time to allow their bodies to integrate a busy or exciting day.  Some children will just quietly disappear to a resting spot or activity on their own, while others might show bursts of energy until they drop suddenly into a sleep.  And then there are those children that seem to have an endless, steadfast flow of energy, with no peaks or valleys, just a consistent capacity to move from one activity to another…

Respecting and sensing the natural rhythm of our children’s life force and need for rest is important, as it builds the foundation of one’s ability to relax and rest in life.  The following exercises are examples of some winter/Water Element activities that can be enjoyed with a family, group, or one on one with a child.

Calm Water

Supplies:  a lot of newspaper and a little bell (or jingle bells found at Christmas time)

If working with a group or family, everyone but one person lays down on their stomach, while the person/child left standing covers everyone with newspaper sheets from head to toe.  The individuals lying down have to remain perfectly still, not moving the paper or making a sound. The person left standing silently walks around trying to surprise the quiet still ones with a sound or stomp, giving lots of room for those lying down to listen sharply and be very still for the approaching noise maker!    After this fun and anticipating game, the person left standing rings the bell and everyone jumps up shaking the paper sheets off their bodies.  The person with the bell chooses the next person to be the bell keeper and the game can begin again.

Getting Taller

Divide everyone in the group into pairs, and have one partner face the back of the other partner.   The person facing the back of their partner asks them, what kind of rain they want to fall on their back; a soft spring rain, powerful summer thunder storm, or gentle snow falling down. The rain maker then makes a soft, loose fist, or flexible fingertips, and taps down the back on the right and left side of the spine, all the way down to the feet (the Bladder Meridian in the Water Element).  It is important to always start from the top and tap down toward the feet, like the rain or snow falling down the body. Repeat 2 times, and always start from the top again.  When done raining, “dry” the back with flat hands down the back from shoulders to feet, and then change roles.

This is also fun, if a group stands in a line and everyone behind the other in the line tries to do this at the same time, then reverse the direction of the line.

Click this link to download this article.

For more information about the Five Elements and the way they can support child development, read Children at Their Best: Understanding and Using the Five Elements to Develop Children’s Full Potential for Parents, Teachers, and Therapists released in 2014 with Singing Dragon.

Putting life first and CRPS second

Karen Rodham is a health psychologist who has spent seven years working exclusively with people who are living with Complex Regional Pain Syndrome (sometimes known as Reflex Sympathetic Dystrophy or RSD).

Karen 2aImagine your loved one has developed a pain condition. Medicine does not reduce the pain, they can’t tolerate being touched in the area affected by the pain; they find it difficult to leave the house because they are afraid that someone might accidentally bump into them;  they are less tolerant than they used to be and they can no longer do the things they used to do. You are desperate to help them, but nothing seems to work. You can’t even give them a hug because this makes their pain worse. How might you feel?

 

Complex Regional Pain Syndrome (CRPS) is a pain condition. Most people who experience it improve in the first year, but for a significant minority (up to 20%); CRPS becomes a chronic long term condition. The key symptom is burning pain, but this is a kind of pain that medication barely affects and because of this chronic CRPS is a very difficult condition to live with. Other symptoms include: swelling, colour and temperature changes, hypersensitivity, as well as increased sweat and hair growth in the affected area(s).  Although the symptoms are usually experienced in a single limb, it is possible for CRPS to occur in more than one limb, and indeed in other body regions. In addition to all of this, it can take a long time for CRPS to be diagnosed because the symptoms could also be a sign that other serious conditions are developing. These other serious conditions need to be ruled out first which can be a frustrating process, not just for the person who is in pain, but for their loved ones and for the health professional who is trying to work out what is going on. For the person who is diagnosed with CRPS, coping and learning to live with CRPS is not easy, but in the same way that the person with CRPS is learning to live with and cope with the condition, so too are friends, family and loved ones. So what can you do if a loved one is living with CRPS?

 

Things to do together:

  • Communication: First, find a way to talk openly and honestly about how CRPS is impacting on both your lives. It is very likely that your loved one is not only trying to come to terms with their CRPS, they are probably also afraid that they are becoming a burden. If this is how they are thinking, the chances are they will be working very hard to keep their feelings to themselves. You will also be likely to be skirting around the issue because you don’t know how to help them. This is a recipe for upset and misunderstanding for everyone concerned. Without open and honest communication you won’t be able to work out what the problems and issues are, and without identifying the problems, you won’t be able to think about how to solve them.
  • Seek external help: Many people find that those first few conversations can be easier if they use a couple counsellor. Couple counsellors can help you to find a new and non-threatening way of telling each other how you really feel in a safe and constructive way.

 

Things the person living with CRPS can do:

  • Stock Story: Many people with CRPS say that when someone asks what is wrong with them, they feel they should explain CRPS in detail. It is fine to do this, especially when you are talking with close friends and family, but it can be exhausting going over and over what CRPS is and how it affects you. One solution is to develop a stock story that gives enough information to give them the gist, without going into minute detail. Something along the lines of “I have a rare form of arthritis” works well, because people have heard of arthritis, know that it is painful and that it is a long term condition, but you can make your own stock story and find something that works for you.
  • Crisis Card: Sometimes things can get very difficult and it can be hard to know which way to turn. Rather than wait for the next crisis, it is a good idea to make a note of the coping strategies that work for you (e.g. go for a walk, phone my sister, take a bath). You could put them on a credit card sized piece of self-laminating card and carry it in your purse or wallet – that way the next time you feel thoroughly fed up, all you need to remember is to read your crisis card and be reminded of what works for you.
  • Pacing: A key aim of pacing is to make our daily activities and rest patterns more consistent. It can be tempting when you have CRPS to overdo things on your good days, but this can impact on how you feel on the following days. Doing things at a steadier pace actually helps you to achieve more in a more balanced way.
  • Building a support network: It is important to have the right kind of people around you. Some of this is to do with you being able to communicate your needs so that other people know and understand how to support you, but it is also about you growing your network and finding positive and like-minded people.
  • Change your focus: Allow yourself time to effectively grieve for what you can no longer do and then turn your attention to things you can do, or new things you can try. It is normal to feel sad and frustrated about the things you can no longer do when you are diagnosed with a chronic condition. Allow yourself time to process this and to come to terms with the idea that this is how things are for now. No-one knows the future, so you cannot predict whether you will improve or get worse. What you can do is to proactively focus on the positive. Don’t be fooled by how simple this sounds, it is not an easy thing to do, but it is a positive way of dealing with the changes enforced on you.
  • Relaxation: Stress makes pain worse. Finding different ways to cope when you feel stressed, and learning to head off stress before it takes hold can help reduce the tension you feel in your body, which in turn could reduce the likelihood of stress-related pain flares.

 

Things the family can do:

  • Keep your own hobbies going: If you can keep your interests and hobbies going, you will be able to maintain a level of normality. This will ensure that you have an external focus and will go some way to reducing the fear often voiced to me by people living with CRPS that their condition has had such an impact on their loved one’s lives that they are now a burden to them.
  • Learn about CRPS: This last point is one for the family and the person living with CRPS. Ask the health professionals who work with you for their recommendations about where to get good and accurate information about CRPS. The better informed you are, the better understanding you will have as a family about how to work together.

 

With all of these points in mind, I wrote the book Learning to Cope with CRPS / RSD: Putting life first and pain second. I share coping strategies that people who live with CRPS find work well. I have also included a chapter focusing attention Rodham_Learning-to-Cop_978-1-84819-240-9_colourjpg-webon loved ones (friends and family of people living with CRPS) who often feel bewildered, frustrated and neglected by the health profession and worry that no-one realises that CRPS impacts on them too.  It is important to remember that everyone’s CRPS journey is unique – we are all human beings with different backgrounds and experiences, but it can be helpful to know that there are a range of different strategies you can try that might make coping with CRPS a little easier. Whether you are a person living with CRPS or a person who cares about someone living with CRPS, this book should highlight how you too can move towards putting life first and CRPS second.

Last post dates for Christmas 2014

If you would like to receive your purchases in time for Christmas 2014 we recommend placing your order before midnight on the following dates (depending on which country you want to ship to)

USA – 12th December 2014

UK – 15th December 2014

Australia – 15th December 2014

New Zealand – 5th December 2014

We regret that we cannot provide accurate dates for other countries but if you email hello@singingdragon.com or call +1 215 922 1161 (USA) or +44 (0)20 7833 2307 (UK and rest of world) we will do our best to find out for you. If you miss the last post dates it may be possible to express deliver your order, please call or email to find out.

Have a merry Christmas and a happy New Year from everyone at Singing Dragon!