Breathing is the rhythm of life: breathing into Autumn

The following article is adapted from the book Qigong Through the Seasons by Ronald H. Davis.

The practice of Qigong Through the Seasons is designed to harmonize the health of your internal organs with the seasonal energetic changes of nature.
Autumn is the time to give special attention to the Lungs. Breathing is the most important thing you do from moment to moment and yet most of us are unaware of how we breathe and have lost our innate connection to the breath cycle. We, therefore, often fail to completely benefit from the power of correct breathing.

The Source of Qi
Breathing stands out as our quintessential rhythmic interaction with the world; lungs function as a permeable interface between each of us and everything else. The lungs are yin organs that receive air from the outside world, extract its healthy components and send them downward to the lower dan tian, the primary energy center of the abdomen, to be combined with the nutrients of food. That fusion of air’s vitality and food’s energy produces our greatest quantity of qi. In ancient times, the word ‘qi’ primarily had the meaning of ‘vital breath’ emphasizing that our indispensable energy comes from breathing.

Astonishingly, the lungs eliminate seventy percent of the body’s waste products. This makes exhalation a hugely significant detoxifying activity. We must completely exhale so that the respiratory system can flush out toxins and debris; only then can we receive a full complement of fresh air on the next inhalation. Stress, fear, anger, and doubt are the main emotional states that interfere with a healthy exhalation. Many people subconsciously don’t let go of the breath—they feel like they must hold on to that last bit of air, otherwise they may expire. The ability to completely let go of the breath often relates to issues of trust and relaxation.

The correct practice of qigong creates mental tranquility and thus will profoundly enhance healthy breathing by relaxing the lungs and allowing them to freely function. The following exercise, White Healing Mist, is the most important qigong exercise to do during the autumn season. It uses mental intention, body movement, and regulated breathing to purify and strengthen the lungs.

White Healing Mist Exercise
This graceful neigong (internal qigong) exercise fills the lungs with fresh qi while cleansing them of turbid qi. The intent of the mind uses detailed imagery of pure and impure qi. The movement of the hands leads the qi into and out of each lung. The ‘white healing mist’ can be any personal image that conveys a sense of purity, freshness, tranquility and healing. The ‘toxins’ can be not only respiratory debris but also cloudy, unhealthy thoughts. As the interface between internal and external worlds, the lungs command our self-defense system. When doing this practice, you may want to identify those healthy and unhealthy aspects of your life. Then you can nurture the good with the white mist, and purge the bad along with the toxins. Do this exercise slowly with focused concentration on one lung at a time. The unilateral emphasis is unusual since most qigong exercises are done for both lungs simultaneously, but that special concentration on one lung at a time increases the concentration of qi, which makes this a very powerful healing exercise. You can do this for the common chest cold and for all serious diseases of the lungs.
Begin with feet close together, hands crossed and touching the chest over the lungs. The right hand is over the left lung and the left hand is over the right lung.

Take a slow, relaxed breath and think of your lungs there under your hands. Make a mental connection between your hands and your lungs.

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Step to the side with the left foot.

Inhale, shift weight to the left leg so that the left lung is lined up over the left knee. At the same time, open the arms and slowly, swing the hands forward and then laterally out until the arms are extended to the side with fingers up and the palms facing away from the body. Left knee is bent, right knee is straight.

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Think of inhaling a white healing mist into the left lung only.

Exhale, step back to center with the left foot, straighten knees, the hands return to the chest, cross them so that the right hand is touching over the left lung. The left hand touches over the right lung.

Think of exhaling grey smoky toxins from the left lung only. Although both hands are touching your chest, your focused intention goes to the left lung only.

Repeat for the right lung by stepping to the right, etc. Do 8 repetitions, alternating left and right.

The complete set of Autumn Qigong exercises, along with suggested foods and herbs for seasonal health, are fully described and illustrated in chapter 8 of Qigong Through The Seasons.

Ronald H. Davis is an acupuncturist and chiropractor. He has been practicing Qigong since 1986 and is the founder of The Health Movement, a group of classes and educational materials designed to improve a person’s wellbeing through the use of traditional and complementary healthcare methods. Ronald offers classes in Qigong, Taiji and spinal healthcare and lives in Bozeman, Montana, USA.

 

Summer energy urges us to get moving

Summer begins in early May according to the lunisolar calendar. Both the lunar phases and the solar year are combined in this traditional calendar used in many Asian cultures. Seasons are determined by the amount of sunlight striking a particular region of the earth. The months of May, June and July have the greatest amount of solar radiation in the northern hemisphere with the summer solstice being the midpoint of the season. Therefore, to get maximum benefit, we should begin our summer qigong practice in early May 2015.

Excerpt from Qigong Through The Seasons by Ronald H. Davis:

“Summer energy urges us to get moving. We want to be outside more often, we wear fewer clothes, and are in closer contact with nature. We like to spend time in joyful physical recreation and gatherings with friends. Summer stimulates creativity, which we may express with building projects, designing gardens, making music, art objects, and party decorations—anything that gives us warm pleasurable connections to people and outdoors adventures. During this season of splendor and shining fire, the energy of nature grows outward with color, warmth, and radiance. Now our Spirit comes alive with expansive awareness; it wants to make intimate contact with all the elements of heaven and Earth.

During the Fire Phase we feel that our Heart Qi, which was fueled by the Rising Yang Qi of spring, has come into full bloom with expressions of joy, compassion and a mysterious yearning for divine contact. The exuberance of fire, when controlled and cultivated, can be refined and directed toward the ultimate purpose of being human: spiritual awakening. However—if not properly harnessed—the great blazing of summer’s Supreme Yang Qi can scorch our Heart and mind. Summer Qigong practice will show you how to feed the Heart Network without getting burned.”

Qigong Through The Seasons presents a complete program of qigong exercises, specific meditations, foods, and tonic herbs that will keep you naturally healthy during the exciting summer season. Based on the author’s thirty years of clinical practice, personal training, and public teaching, this fully illustrated book will show you how to harmonize with the ever-changing energy of the natural world.

Yiquan General Standard Requirements

In this extract from Tang_Complete-Book-o_978-1-84819-225-6_colourjpg-webThe Complete Book of Yiquan, Master C S Tang outlines the essential requirements of the Yiquan stance. Detailed images of hand shapes, leg shapes and body shapes illustrate the how to practice the static stance as a whole. Training involves not only poses, but also controlling the joints and muscles, utilizing the tension and relaxation of weights.

Read the extract…

The book is the first complete guide to the rarely taught martial art, Yiquan, still shrouded in mystery. With clear photographs and explanations, this comprehensive illustrated book fully describes the postures and movements of Yiquan and provides information on Yiquan’s origin, weapons, programs, grading, and more.

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 have an idea that you think would work well as a graphic book, or are an artist interested in working with us, 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

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.