Behind the Scenes of: ‘The Yellow Monkey Emperor’s Classic of Chinese Medicine’ with Spencer Hill

In this blog post, Spencer Hill recalls the process of drawing the cartoons for The Yellow Monkey Emperor’s Classic of Chinese Medicine and how he met and came to work with Damo Mitchell.

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Facial Torment – and resolution

In this second blog post by Thomas Attlee, author of Face to Face with the Face, Attlee expands on his previous blog post ‘Essentials of Cranio-Sacral Integration‘, by expanding on the key points, and again providing the following three case studies: Tooth, Jaw and TMJ Pain; Hearing Loss and  Trigeminal Neuralgia. 

Fiona was forty-seven and had suffered a lifetime of countless recurrent ear infections, glue ear, severe deafness, extreme pain, burst ear drums, and inability to travel by air. She had been through countless courses of antibiotics, grommets, operations and other treatments without benefit – until she discovered cranio-sacral integration, and her life was transformed – able to hear again, free of pain, able to fly (by aeroplane, that is, not independently – cranio-sacral integration is not quite that miraculous).

Ninety percent of babies and children suffer middle ear infections¹, often leading to glue ear, with potential repercussions on speech and language. Like Fiona, they may receive frequent prescriptions of antibiotics, sometimes grommets and possibly operations, none of which addresses the underlying cause and which may consequently lead to repeated episodes of the condition.

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Women’s Nei Gong for Health and Transformation of Spirit

#QigongFestival2016

by Roni Edlund

The energetic make up of male and female bodies varies, hence there are different elements in Nei Gong practice that women can use to ensure a steady progression in their internal cultivation process. There are also specific energy centres, areas and Qi circulations that women benefit from spending more time cultivating than men, as well as focusing on their connection to the moon. During the first couple of years of Nei Gong practice, you can add the female specific aspects; however, it is not essential to, because the first stages are the same for both men and women.

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When you first start, you need to begin to re-activate the energy system towards the healthy, free flowing state you were at as a child, via an energetic field called the lower Dan Tien. You begin to bring the right focus, gravity, and energy towards this point. After some time the energy begins to flow more strongly. The beauty of this process is that once the energetic engine has restarted, you do not have to actively focus on blockages that needs to be let go of. It will start to re-open and rebalance your body, energy and mind naturally by itself; pushing through blockages of the meridians, physical tensions, emotional hurts, mental hang-ups etc. They all start to shift and free up. It is a surprisingly strong process, which is good because you can be very sure that the re-awakening of the energy system is not happening in your imagination. After you have started to activate the lower Dan Tien you will notice that Qi gong exercises become much stronger and you will begin to be able to tune into your own energy. It is very fascinating coming into contact with this dimension! If you were to practice the Qi Gong exercises in our system without first activating the lower Dan Tien, the effect would not be as strong, as you would not have started the energetic engine prior to trying to drive it, though the slow relaxing movements would still move some energy and undoubtedly be beneficial for your health.

Later on in the Nei Gong practice, women need to use some different exercises to ensure that they move on as efficiently as they can in the process. There are several women-specific exercises that work with the various energetic cycles which are important for the female body and psyche. There is a bigger emphasis on rebalancing the middle Dan Tien and consolidating the Jing storage within this region and the breasts for better emotional health and stability, and a deeper spiritual connection. This is why later on in women’s practice, there is more of an emphasis on the reverse flow of the small waterwheel, which strengthens the natural extraction of essence from the uterus and the menses towards the breasts and the chest region. You do not want to move onto this stage too early, before you have gone through the first stages of the Nei Gong process and started to let go of emotional blockages and been able to start to open the heart. If you do this too early, you would just end up adding to the emotional imbalance and distortions and hinder the process. Men benefit more from spending more time on re-balancing the physical, energetic and mental aspects connected to the lower Dan Tien.

One major difference between female and male bodies is the storage of Jing. Jing is our essence of life; the substance that is responsible for all physiological processes and development, when it runs out you die. In men Jing is stored in the lower back region of the Kidneys. Women store Jing here too, but also in the chest and the breasts. This is why women’s practice often includes exercises that work on the breasts. Doing breast Qi Gong and massage firstly moves the Qi and the blood within the region, preventing pain, stagnation and lumps building up. Secondly it stimulates the Jing and consolidates it within this region. This makes the breasts firmer, stops them from sagging and ensures less Jing leaks out with the menses. Through consolidating the Jing around the middle Dan Tien, heart  and emotional center, less Qi and Jing will also be lost through emotions resulting in more Qi rising to nourish the Shen for spiritual work.

Another major aspect for women’s practice is to connect with the energy of the moon. The moon is the most Yin body in our solar system. Women vibrate at a frequency closer to Yin, compared to men who are more Yang. This means that women’s energy resonates more with the energy of the moon and therefore is more affected by it. The moon waxes and wanes on a monthly basis, just like the menstrual cycle. During the dark moon, it has reached its most Yin state; the energy in both the environment and in the central channel of our bodies descends. Another term for the central channel in Chinese medicine is the “sea of blood”. It has a strong influence on our menstrual blood and the uterus. If you are in sync with the energy of the moon, your menstruation should start when the descending of Qi reaches its strongest time. If it does not start during this period there are certain exercises you can do to influence the flow in the central channel, such as Dark Moon Qi Gong, shown in the video at the end of this article and explained in detail in the book, Daoist Nei Gong for Women: The Art of the Lotus and the Moon. Dark Moon Qi Gong should only be practiced around the dark moon. Once you manage to connect with the flow of the moon, menstruation will become regulated and the health of the uterus will increase. Its psychological aspects will also become more balanced such as a woman’s ability to express herself creatively.

For me, good and strong health is important because it means we will have a more solid base to build our spiritual work on. Health is not the end goal of women’s practices; it can go a lot further and have a deeper effect on the spirit and transform the mind. We should start to see health as a platform for spirituality rather than the end goal.

The healthier our physical body is, the easier the energy will flow in the meridians, and the more nourished the Shen becomes. This makes sure we get an easier entry point to work on the deeper aspects of Nei Gong. The deep internal work of internal alchemy (meditation) becomes much more efficient with a strong balanced mind. Doing the first stages of internal work through Nei Gong is a lot easier for most, than going directly from everyday life, where the mind is scattered on so many things, into trying to quieten the mind. It can be very tricky.

I love Nei Gong practice because you can get so much more out of life and yourself through it. Your body, mind and being begins to feel lighter and freer than you can ever remember experiencing before, you feel vibrations in your environment and inside your body, you feel your mind go through big transformational shifts, you come in contact with congenital consciousness instead of the acquired mind, you feel how things influence you and this gives you the internal tools to work with them to help balance and transform yourself. It is very interesting; there is always another subtle layer to find and experience. It adds another dimension to life and enables you to work with a lot more than just the physical world. It is fascinating!


Find out more about Daoist Nei Gong for Women by Roni Edlund and Damo Mitchell below.

9781848192973

Qigong: Keep it Simple

#QigongFestival2016

By Noel Plaugher

As I get older I strive for more simplicity in all areas of my life. I think that it is natural to want to boil things down to their essence as we age. In keeping with this theme I have made it my personal quest to try and simplify what I feel is often made too complicated: Qigong. I am really excited that Qigong has become more popular, but I hope that the overall message of a quiet meditative exercise for the mind and body does not get lost in the intricacies of explanation.

Qigong was always taught to me very simply. Over the years I learned from many great teachers, but the one thing that struck me the most was from a teacher who was able to reduce all of the seemingly complex ideas of studying Qigong down to a few essential points. During a seminar I spoke to the teacher and asked about the specifics of a Qigong exercise. He answered my question, and then he added in broken English, “Just remember that as long as you are shifting your weight, breathing with your diaphragm and making circles with your arms, that is all you need to do.” I was really surprised. I thought he would emphasize some point of technique or something more specific to a form, but he didn’t. He was really focused on those three things. In that context I think most readers will recognize that all Qigong in one way or another includes these elements, and that when practicing, these areas should be of utmost concern over anything else.

I do not wish to imply that form doesn’t matter, it does, but not to the exclusion of the overall objective of practicing Qigong: improving body, mind and spirit. To this day when I teach, especially with beginners, I teach students diaphragmatic breathing, show them how to shift their weight while in specific stances, and I reinforce relaxed circular movement of their arms as it applies to the specific form they are learning. Almost all moving Qigong forms are helped by this concept. Beginners tend to be more relaxed and learn faster.

Only after an introduction of these concepts do I then talk about the specifics of the form they are working on. When students are freely and confidently moving it is easier to make corrections. And the corrections should always be small:  a little at a time. As people study, they get familiar with their bodies and with the material that they are studying and then it can be refined. Ultimately, Qigong is about how it makes the practitioner feel. I have never had anyone ask to learn Qigong, because they want to execute a perfect form. Most people tend to want to study because they have mobility issues, anxiety, stress, medical issues, or they feel that they are out of touch with their bodies.

Most students are usually fearful of “doing it wrong.” I have found that this prevents many students from even attempting learning or practicing what they have learned. Students have also expressed that “there is a lot they need to know” as they know a little about Qigong and perhaps have heard of some concepts from Traditional Chinese Medicine. Students often think they need to know specifics to start. I like to tell them that there is a secret handshake, but I won’t show it to them until the end. I believe that when a person leaves a class they should feel better than when they started. Isn’t that why they are studying Qigong?

I have studied with some great teachers and the information was conveyed in a simple, effective and easy to understand manner. That is not to say it was easy to do. As I spoke about in my book there is a difference between simple and easy. The concept of climbing Everest is simple but the execution of it is far from easy. In fact, the information I was taught was profound. So profound that I am still practicing what I was taught so simply many years ago. It wasn’t a vast amount of information, but it was a wealth of knowledge that I count on and credit as keeping me healthy in many ways even now.

Qigong is a great way to enhance anyone’s life. It provides a meditative form of exercise that benefits the mind, body and spirit. Qigong can enhance martial power, and make you feel great by having vigorous health. There is so much information available about Qigong that I hope people are not frightened away by the idea that they need special clothes, a special place to practice, to learn strange names, etc. The most important thing is to just do it. Breathe, move, find the circle. Keep it simple.

The following is a free-form exercise that anyone can try.

  • Stand the same way you do at the checkout line of the grocery store. (feet parallel)
  • Inhale deeply, and let your arms float up as if they are lighter than air take a step forward with your right foot.
  • As you exhale, let your hands float down and make a circle slowly in front of your chest.
  • Inhale deeply, and let your arms float up as if they are lighter than air take a step forward with your left foot.
  • As you exhale, let your hands float down and make a circle slowly in front of your chest.
  • Repeat as far as space will allow, and then turn and go back to where you started.

 

 

 

 

Gateways to Greater Health

Available 21st November 2015

Available 21st November 2015

In The Way of the Five Elements, John Kirkwood references a category of acupoints known as entry and exit points. Here, he elaborates on these points, the timely use of which can make big differences to treatment outcomes.

Qi flows through the 12 organ meridians in a continuous circuit. It flows out of the exit point of one meridian and into the entry point of the next meridian in the Wei Qi cycle. For most of the meridians the entry point is the first point of the meridian. The exit point is either the last point or one close to the end of the meridian.

 

Entry-Exit Blocks

If work with a client is not holding, there may be a block to treatment and it is worth looking for a possible entry-exit block since these are the most frequently encountered blocks and the most easily treated. Acupressure is well suited to working with these blocks.

An entry-exit block arises when Qi is not flowing freely from one meridian to the next. The blockage of Qi flow between exit and entry point may be partial or complete.

Sometimes a block becomes evident early in treatment, but more commonly, the block occurs during the course of treatment and needs to be addressed in order for the treatment to proceed successfully.

Diagnosing Blocks

The most reliable way to detect blocks is on the pulse where there is a relatively full pulse on one meridian and a relatively deficient pulse on the following meridian. If the pulse is not used, signs and symptoms such as skin eruptions, swelling, pain, constriction, feelings of congestion, fullness or emptiness at the entry-exit points are all suggestive of a block.

In addition, if treatment suddenly becomes less effective or stops working altogether, an entry-exit block may be suspected. An unexpectedly strong reaction during the course of treatment can also indicate a block. This kind of block is caused when an existing block manifests itself as a result of the extra Qi that is made available.

Treating Blocks

When a block is suspected, palpation of the points can confirm the diagnosis. Holding the points, the practitioner may sense a numbness, deadness, emptiness and/or lack of movement either at the entry point, the exit point, or both.

Blocks may be bi-lateral or unilateral. To focus your intention, it is best to work on one side at a time. Begin by holding both the entry and the exit point. Stay with both if both are blocked. If only one is blocked, then hold the one blocked point.

Some points can take a long time to open, and even then reluctantly. When both practitioner and client visualise pulling Qi through, this can aid the process.

More than one treatment may by necessary to resolve a block. Even when the block appears to be resolved, it may reappear later in treatment.

Two Kinds of Blocks

Since there are 12 organ meridians, there are 12 possible blocks. Six of these flow from a meridian into its partner meridian (e.g. Gall Bladder to Liver). The other six flow from a meridian of one Element to a meridian of another Element (e.g. Triple Heater to Gall Bladder).

It is this second kind of block that I want to focus on here since it occurs more frequently, is the greater block to treatment and tends to produce the more serious symptoms.

Large Intestine to Stomach

LI 20 is slightly lateral and superior to the outside base of the nose. Qi flows to ST 1 which lies below the pupil at the orbital ridge. Signs and symptoms can include spots or rashes at LI 20, nasal congestion, sinusitis, difficulty smelling, spots or rashes below the eye, eye spasms, pain or congestion at the eye.

Spleen to Heart

This is one of the more common entry-exit blocks. SP 21 lies on the side of the body, below the armpit in the 7th intercostal space and roughly at the level of the xiphoid process. Qi flows from there to HT 1 which is in the depression at the centre of the armpit. Symptoms can include fullness of the chest, palpitations, pain in the ribcage, depression, fatigue, pain in the armpit, appetite disorders, and spots or rashes at the site of the points.

Small Intestine to Bladder

SI 19 is at the tragus of the ear, in a depression that appears with the mouth open. Qi flows from there to BL 1 which is located at the inner corner of the eye, just above the tear duct. Symptoms can include jaw tension, eye problems, tear duct issues, eye pain and headaches.

Kidney to Heart Protector

K 22 lies in the 5th intercostal space, 2 cun lateral to the midline, flowing to HP 1 which is 1 cun lateral and slightly superior to the nipple in the 4th intercostal space. On women, use HP 2 which is between the heads of the biceps 2 cun below the fold of the armpit. Symptoms can include tension or pain at the side of the sternum or in the breast; rashes, spots or lumps at site of points or in the intervening space; depression, fear and lack of joy for life.

Triple Heater to Gall Bladder

TH 22 is 0.5 cun anterior to the upper border of the root of the ear, on the posterior border of the hairline of the temple, flowing to GB 1 in a depression 0.5 cun lateral to outer canthus of the eye. Symptoms of this block may be frontal and temporal headaches, vision problems, tics and an inability to see the way forward or take action.

Liver to Lung

LV 14 is on the nipple line, in the 6th intercostal space, usually slightly above the level of the xiphoid process. Qi moves from there to LU 1 which is 6 cun lateral to the midline in the 1st intercostal space. Symptoms can be breathing difficulty or constriction, fullness of the ribcage, emotions of grief and anger (often suppressed) and a feeling of being tired and wired.

By becoming aware of the potential for these blocks and clearing them as they arise, practitioners can greatly support their clients’ treatment processes and promote swifter healing.

Learn more about John Kirkwood’s new book The Way of the Five Elements HERE.

A Day in the Life of… an Assistant Editor at Singing Dragon

Here at Singing Dragon, we’ve asked Assistant Editor, Jane Evans if she wouldn’t mind us jumping into her shoes for a day. Luckily, she agreed, and below is the result: a day in the life of an Assistant Editor at Singing Dragon, by Jane Evans. We hope you enjoy it! Next, we’ll be jumping into the shoes of Production Designer, Emma Carroll, so keep a look out!

Jane Evans, 16th October 2015

Many of my friends and family are under the impression that being an Assistant Editor means I get to sit around reading all day. While that (unfortunately!) isn’t the case, the reality can be just as much fun – quickly getting my head around a new topic to write attention-grabbing blurbs, searching for potential cover artwork, or helping an Editor brainstorm title ideas.

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I get into the office at 9.30am and, with an obligatory cup of tea in hand, start reading emails received overnight. I respond to anything urgent immediately and flag others to reply to later in the day. Handling priorities is the key to your survival as an assistant, and I usually have at least two to-do lists on the go – one for long-terms tasks and another for that day’s particular priorities.

Peacock-Chissic_Seahorses-Magic_978-1-84819-283-6_colourjpg-web

We are currently preparing for a sales conference in December, so I am in the midst of working with the rest of the assistant team to draft AI (Advance Information) sheets for all of our Spring and Summer 2016 titles. This includes writing blurbs, highlighting key sales points and ensuring our author biographies are up to date. For me, it is one of the best parts of the job and a chance to be creative, especially with our children’s books. I recently had great fun writing the blurb for Michael Chissick and Sarah Peacock’s Seahorse’s Magical Sun Sequences, which teaches yoga to children of all abilities and features an octopus on crutches and a starfish with a bad back!

Haines-Standing_Pain-is-Really_978-1-84819-264-5_colourjpg-webHaines-Standing_Trauma-is-Reall_978-1-84819-293-5_colourjpg-webSinging Dragon is constantly evolving and growing in new directions and I love working on our new list of comics. As I write, I am eagerly awaiting the final files for Steve Haines and Sophie Standing’s Trauma is Really Strange, which follows the success of Pain is Really Strange and promises to be just as informative, witty and beautifully illustrated. Once the files arrive, I will help with the handover to our production department. This process varies from book to book, but includes meticulous checking of our database records against the final manuscript and applying for permission to use any copyright material taken from other sources.

I attend a number of weekly meetings, including our Covers and Titles Mitchell_White-Moon-on-t_978-1-84819-256-0_colourjpg-webmeeting. This is an opportunity for the Editors to discuss any potential changes to a book’s title and present draft cover designs for feedback from our Sales and Marketing teams. We consider everything from whether the design is appropriate for the market through to whether the title will be legible when the cover appears as a thumbnail image online. Some of our covers go through several rounds of draft designs until they are perfected, whereas others get it right first time. Damo Mitchell’s White Moon on the Mountain Peak, a comprehensive explanation of Daoist internal alchemy for Western practitioners, was one such cover. It is atmospheric and resonates with both the title and the book’s content perfectly. We all loved it immediately.

Finally, I have recently started to acquire my own titles so whenever I have a free moment in the day, I read and comment on new proposals. It is always exciting to have a rummage through our submissions pile to see what hidden gems I can find! If you are interested in submitting a proposal to us, you can do so here.

My day usually ends by writing a to-do list for the next morning to give me focus as soon as I get into the office. However, after two and a half years at Singing Dragon and JKP, I have learnt that I can never really know what the next day will have in store!

Ten Reasons to read ‘Principles of EFT (Emotional Freedom Techniques)’

Ten reasons why authors Lawrence Pagett and Paul Millward want you to read this book…

When Singing Dragon agreed to publish our book on EFT, Principles of EFT, we were excited.  And here’s why:

  • For a start, it was an opportunity for us to spread the word that a simple tapping process is now out there – freely accessible and freely available to everyone -and that EFT could dramatically change your life in all sorts of amazing ways.
  • In this book, we invite readers on a magical EFT adventure. You will not only learn all about how to use EFT first hand to bring about wonderful shifts and changes in body, mind and spirit, you will also be taken on an historical and mystical journey into the ancient Chinese origins of this wonderful tapping modality.

Principles of EFT

  • Before EFT came along, there was nothing really on offer that could powerfully and rapidly shift phobias and traumas. Now, in learning about EFT, a lifelong phobia can often be removed within a matter of minutes, or even seconds. It’s hard to put a value on such a life changing transformation.
  • EFT’s outstanding ability to quickly eradicate emotional issues such as anger, anxiety, fear, or sadness, is hard to imagine. Unless you have first-hand experience of the power of EFT, then it is almost impossible to comprehend its effectiveness – but, with the help of this book, you can quickly come to understand the power of this treatment.
  • Principles of EFT is an excellent book for newcomers to energy work and experts alike. It has been hailed as being essential reading for the professional alternative practitioner.
  • Faith Waude founder of Hypnotic World highly recommends the book:

It’s not easy to find the words to do justice to this work. This book is a must for anyone in the healing profession who wants to provide their clients with an easy but effective method of helping themselves in-between sessions and also for those wishing to take action to restore their own sense of wellbeing or equilibrium.

  • The Forward was penned by none other than International author energy empress Dr Silvia Hartmann (Chair, The Association For Meridian and Energy Therapies). In her own words:

 EFT – Emotional Freedom Techniques – is a huge breakthrough for humanity.  Before EFT, we were afraid of emotions – of other’s and, most of all, of our own own…I would lay these pages to follow close to your heart and invite you to an exploration and an adventure like no other – to find out what life can be like when we live in emotional freedom.

That’s nine reasons for you getting Principles of EFT. What about the “tenth” reason?

  • We are confident that when you do read it, like us, you will fall in love with EFT and want to recommend it to your family, friends, professional colleagues and loved ones.  It is our expressed desire, hope, and prayer that by reading this book you gain emotional freedom, and in so doing help create a better future for yourself and those you love.

If you’re still not sure, why not check out these FREE extracts and find out for yourself:

Foreword from Dr Silvia Harmann (Chair, The Association For Meridian and Energy Therapies).

The Emergence of EFT – an extract

You can find out more about the book, read reviews or order your copy here.