Singing Dragon at the National Qigong Association’s 18th Annual Conference

 

The National Qigong Association held its 18th annual conference in Valley Forge, PA, last weekend. This is always a fun conference to attend, and Singing Dragon got a great welcome, not least because Damo Mitchell (author of Daoist Nei Gong, and the new Heavenly Streams) was Saturday night’s keynote speaker, and he spent a lot of time hanging out with the attendees on the Singing Dragon stand over the weekend.

Damo Mitchell speech panorama

Damo’s keynote on the fundamentals of Nei Gong

There were lots of interesting things going on. Damo’s keynote on the fundamentals of Nei Gong (simple but not so simple) was extremely well received, and followed up by an excellent workshop the next morning which took attendees through the first principles of Nei Gong – learning by doing and giving a strong grounding in how to take the first steps towards enlightenment…

Damo Mitchell and NQA President Mark R. Reinhart holding a copy of Damo's book, Daoist Nei Gong

Damo Mitchell and NQA President Mark R. Reinhart holding a copy of Damo’s book, Daoist Nei Gong

The conference workshops always offer a vast range of approaches and styles, so attendees were as usual spoilt for choice. Old hands know that Daisy Lee (Friday’s keynote) always does a wonderful workshop, and this year it was open to men as well as women. Amongst many other highlights, Solala Towler, author of Cha Dao, and editor of The Empty Vessel, taught the Great Spiraling Dragon Qigong from Wudang, while NQA Chair Mark Reinhart ran a workshop on Qigong for addiction. Singing Dragon publisher Jessica Kingsley flew over from London for the conference, and had a great time trying to learn how to paint bamboo in Maryann Charmoz’s excellent workshop on Chinese Brush Painting, and refreshing a dim memory of the fan form in Mary Sturtevant’s popular workshop.

Attendees ranged from Masters with decades of learning under their belts to the newest of practitioners, and as we’ve seen from previous conferences, the emphasis is always on openness and enthusiasm.

Damo Mitchell speaking with a NQA conference attendee during his book signing

Damo Mitchell speaking with a NQA conference attendee during his book signing

The Singing Dragon reception (any excuse for a party) on Saturday evening following Damo’s keynote allowed everyone to let their hair down and chat informally to the conference big names, who are always generous with information and advice – good fun. In summing up at the end of the conference, Mark encouraged everyone to bring a friend new to Qigong next time. It certainly seems they would have a good time if they came.

All five of the sales and marketing staff from the Singing Dragon Philadelphia office made it out to the conference at various times over the weekend and really enjoyed it.

 

Copyright © Singing Dragon 2013.

 

 

 

Japanese Holistic Face Massage – More than a facial, by Rosemary Patten

Patten, RosemaryThe face reflects who we are, reflects our personality, state of health and our spiritual balance. We pick up a lot of information about a person just by looking at their face. To the ancient Japanese and Chinese, a beautiful face was the ultimate prize as it was a reflection of optimum health and of course with good health comes a long life. Longevity achieved through preventing ill health was, and still is, the aim of traditional Chinese medicine.

Japanese face massage became popular in the Far East during the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, especially among the Geisha, for its health-giving benefits and its ability to reflect inner calm on their porcelain-like faces. Not much was known of this unique massage in the West until after the Second World War but today it is practised all over the world.

Many facial routines focus on cleansing and may include a basic massage designed to relax the recipient. The Japanese face massage is much more than a massage or facial. From the very beginning of the routine, the recipient experiences a glorious sense of release within the first two movements as the flowing but firm touch sets the scene for an experience of peaceful tranquillity and healing. There is a feeling of liberation as the neck and shoulders are massaged, lifting tension and allowing calm to descend. These opening movements pave the way for the deep healing experience you get from the Japanese face massage.

Unlike basic facial routines, the techniques in Japanese face massage focus deeper to achieve more than a cleanse, tone and moisturise. Acupressure points around the face and head are gently manipulated and the meridians are traced to access the body’s bio-energetic flow to bring balance.

Patten_Japanese-Holist_978-1-84819-122-8_colourjpg-webThe massage pushes oxygenated blood and nutrients to penetrate the deep layers of the skin to nourish and renew cells. The gentle flowing effleurage movements are not only relaxing but also encourage the release of cellular matter and the removal of de-oxygenated blood via the lymphatic system. The effect is instantly visible as circulation to the face is improved, bringing a lustre to the skin which manifests as an inner glow of calm and vitality. Fine lines are diminished and the contours of the face become more defined, especially noticeable around the eye area.

All bio-energy pathways or meridians either start or finish in the face. As the acupressure points are accessed there is a deep sense of comfort and nurturing. Additionally, the sequence of the movements and the tracing of the pathways or meridians encourages Ki (universal life force energy) to flow where it is most needed. Ki energy is responsible for correctly functioning bodily fluids and the smooth running of body organs such as the kidneys and the liver.

There has been a myriad of research on the effects of stimulating the acupressure points over the past fifty years as Western scientists slowly realise what Eastern medicine has known for over 4,000 years. Acupressure points on the face react instantly to touch, releasing endorphins and bypassing the central nervous system due to the close proximity to the brain. There is a prevailing sense of well-being when the hormones are stimulated. The autonomic nervous system is calmed and peace descends as healing on all levels takes place. The Japanese face massage is truly holistic as it not only improves the appearance of the face but also helps the body function better. A truly wonderful combination of benefits that leaves the recipient feeling mentally and emotionally revived.

 

Rosemary Patten is a naturally gifted holistic therapist with over 23 years’ experience in helping people feel better. She began her professional career within the NHS, in hospital settings, where her extensive contact with those in rehabilitation gave her an invaluable grounding in understanding the nature of disease. A master Reiki practitioner, aromatherapist, reflexologist, qualified beautician and in many other holistic therapies, Rosemary founded Rose Health and Well Being Natural Health Centre, which has now evolved into Equinox Rose. This is a combined holistic services consultancy delivering various natural therapy workshops, consultations on business development for therapists and a clinic specialising in energetic healing. Japanese Holistic Face Massage is among the range of therapies Rosemary uses to help her many clients make a breakthrough physically or emotionally. Rosemary believes passionately in a holistic approach to diagnosing root causes of illness, especially the impact of stagnant energetic flow within and around the body. She lives in Kent, UK.


© 2013 Singing Dragon blog. All Rights Reserved

 

Becoming Aware of the Energy Body, by Damo Mitchell

Damo MitchellAnybody engaging with the internal practices of the Daoist tradition will no doubt encounter many difficulties along the way: many of the terms are written in metaphorical language, teachings are often contradictory and on top of that there is the crisis of faith often caused by the question, ‘is this experience real or is it my imagination?’ Even with the help of an experienced teacher there will be times when students will find themselves fumbling in the dark with practice yielding more questions than answers. These are challenges which any seeker of the way faces and it is the role of a concrete system of practice to help guide the practitioner through this darkness towards the state of conscious elevation which is the goal of all Daoist arts.

One aspect which can cause a great deal of confusion is around the meridian system. Is the idea of energetic pathways of Qi running through the body purely a conceptual framework or is it in fact an actual part of the human body-system? Whilst some may accept the concept of meridian pathways purely on faith others will disregard it on the basis that they have been brought up in a science-based society where logic prevails. In my opinion both of these stances have their own limitations. I have always sat somewhere in the middle; I am ready to accept that which has been a part of an unbroken lineage for millennia but I am also prone to retaining an element of doubt until proven through my own experience. It was this position I took when considering the meridian system.

I originally studied the meridian pathways in the conventional manner. As part of the Tui Na massage training I undertook alongside my martial arts training, I read textbooks on Chinese medicine and was guided towards locating the various points of the meridian system by my teachers. In this way I developed a working, theoretical understanding of the meridian pathways which I was utilising daily in my practice of Chinese medicine, Qi Gong and the martial arts. It was not until I was introduced to the Heavenly Streams practice of connecting with the meridian system and sending my awareness along their length that I began to understand with no doubt whatsoever that the meridians existed.  Through learning how to breathe in a certain way and direct my attention to specific ‘entrance’ points on the meridians I learnt to ‘retune’ the frequency of my mind. Like a radio switching between stations I was able to use the points to translate the energetic realm for me bringing the flows of Qi into the realm of direct experience. Now these pathways I had studied for so long could tangibly be felt. I experienced the flow of information along their length and began to feel the comparative differences between the different channels. I encountered blockages of different types along their length and found that I could move them through focused concentration; as a result I learnt how clearing these blockages had a knock on effect to the physical realm of my body and my health improved.

Image from video: Ji Ben Qi GongFurther exploration led me to understand how various body functions could be controlled through these points, for example one point in particular started me sweating as soon as I put my mind onto it. I did not increase in body temperature but rather just felt as though the pores opened allowing fluid to escape them. Other points allowed me to change my body temperature, energy levels and even my mind-set; I had connected with and learnt how to interface with the energetic ‘control panel’ of my body. Over the years I have learnt to refine this until I am able to adjust the various functions of my body to help me rid myself of illness when in the early stages, change my mind if my moods are working against me or even to prepare my body for internal training. Progression has even enabled me to now see the meridian pathways during my practice; the information of the Qi being connected with is translated visually by my mind and through this ‘inner vision’ I am able to observe the various fluctuations of Qi taking place within my energy body.

When teaching, I encourage students to engage in the same practices. Through periods of sitting and connecting through the same entrance points I have taught my students to connect with their own meridian pathways. It is always rewarding to see the face of a student who, for the first time, feels their own energy body; especially if this is a student who has already worked on a purely theoretical level with the meridian pathways up until this point.

There are numerous benefits to experiencing your own meridian pathways. For those interested in improving their own health it is possible to change the very ‘energetic blueprints’ of your own body-system. Great insight into how your body functions and what causes it to move out of balance can be had from exploring the flows of Qi through your own body.

For Qi Gong or Nei Gong practitioners it is very important to feel your own meridian pathways once you wish to move beyond the earliest stages of development. Trying to work with your own Qi without being able to feel where it is flowing is like trying to find your way through the darkness without a light. I believe that many of the problems people have caused themselves through incorrect Qi Gong training could have been avoided if people had taken the time to learn to feel their own Qi flow before going too deep into their training. Any health problems from incorrect training can clearly be felt developing within the energy body long before they manifest as a physical or psychological imbalance. I was taught that students of the Daoist tradition would originally have spent much time studying the energy body before they moved past even the most preliminary of breathing exercises; these studies would have focused largely on experiential feeling of the meridian pathways supported by theoretical teachings and charts.

Perhaps some of the greatest benefits of connecting with your own meridian system can be had by those practicing Chinese medicine modalities such as Shiatsu, Tui Na or acupuncture. Is it possible to accurately treat somebody’s energetic imbalance if you have not experienced this Qi flow for yourself? It is possible to learn every function of every point in the body by memorising lists and developing a theoretical understanding but this should be secondary to actually experiencing what happens when the individual points are stimulated. It is my opinion that experiential understanding of the meridian points and pathways needs to be an integral part of any sincere Chinese medicine practitioners training.

Mitchell-Aspell_Heavenly-Stream_978-1-84819-116-7_colourjpg-webThe meridian system is the energetic connection between the energies of Heaven and Earth; it sits at the point between the physical world and the realm of pure consciousness. It is the pivot of human creation, development and eventual demise. In life we begin to learn about the physical body as soon as we are born. We learn how we can control this vessel we find ourselves within and through this vessel we explore our connection to the physical world. What we are not often encouraged to do is to explore the nature of our inner world, the world of our energy body and for this reason our minds are no longer able to ‘tune into’ the realm of Qi. Thankfully this is an issue easily remedied.

As a general rule of thumb I believe that a fairly high level of energetic connection is attainable within a year of daily practice. Obviously this length of time will vary from person to person but a year’s practice is what I have seen from teaching my own students. Over the first few weeks a student can begin to feel the easier parts of the meridian pathways which are generally the lengths of Qi flow on the forearms, fingers, lower legs and toes. From here it seems to take around a year of daily practice for the whole energy body to open up to your awareness. From here it is possible to use this foundation of feeling the meridians to be able to scan their length for imbalances and change their nature through controlled use of the body’s meridian points. The key is to progress steadily and slowly; do not rush anything. Take your time, persevere and most importantly: have fun with the process.

Damo Mitchell has studied the martial, medical and spiritual arts of Asia since the age of four. His studies have taken him across the planet in search of authentic masters. He is the technical director of the Lotus Nei Gong School of Daoist Arts, and teaches Nei Gong in the UK, Sweden and the USA. He is the author of Daoist Nei Gong: The Philosophical Art of Change, and Heavenly Streams: Meridian Theory in Nei Gong, published by Singing Dragon.

© 2013 Singing Dragon blog. All Rights Reserved

Video: Ji Ben Qi Gong 基本氣功 (Fundamental Exercises), with Damo Mitchell

Damo Mitchell demonstrates some very basic Qi Gong exercises which can be used either to maintain health if you are new to Qi Gong or as a foundation upon which to build your Nei Gong practice.

For more information, and full instruction on these exercises, see Daoist Nei Gong: The Philosophical Art of Change.

© 2013 Singing Dragon blog. All Rights Reserved

VIDEO: Wu Xing Qi Gong, with Damo Mitchell

In this video, Damo Mitchell Demonstrates the Wu Xing Qi Gong. These are five basic health internal exercises from the Daoist tradition, which follow the principles of Tu Na, Liang I and Yang Sheng Fa.

These are the five exercises also featured in Damo Mitchell’s forthcoming book Heavenly Streams. Find more information on this book on the Singing Dragon website, and for more on Damo’s work, see www.lotusneigong.com.

Damo Mitchell has studied the martial, medical and spiritual arts of Asia since the age of four. His studies have taken him across the planet in search of authentic masters. He is the technical director of the Lotus Nei Gong School of Daoist Arts, and teaches Nei Gong in the UK, Sweden and the USA. He is the author of Daoist Nei Gong: The Philosophical Art of Change, also published by Singing Dragon.

© 2013 Singing Dragon blog. All Rights Reserved

 

Request a copy of the UK Singing Dragon Complete Catalogue

Cover of the Singing Dragon UK Complete CatalogueMake sure not to miss Singing Dragon’s latest UK Complete Catalogue. If you have not yet received a copy, please sign up for our mailing list and we’ll send a free one out to you ASAP.

Readers in the UK and Europe who request a copy of the catalogue before February 15th, 2013 will also receive a voucher for a 15% discount on the entire Singing Dragon list of books, with free postage and packing.

Take advantage of this opportunity to find new, forthcoming and classic books on Chinese Medicine, Holistic Health, Taiji, Qigong, Herbal Medicine, Yoga, Spirituality and more. Also, sample health-promoting recipes with The Functional Nutrition Cookbook, and Make Yourself Better with Philip Weeks’ books. Delve into the history of Ayurvedic Medicine and the Mudras of India, and discover the Five Levels of Taijiquan, Daoist Nei Gong and Chinese Medical Qigong.

To request your copy of our Complete Catalogue, please click here. To receive your 15% discount voucher, please be sure to click the checkbox for “Singing Dragon” under area of interest or else mention this offer in the “any further comments” section.

If you have previously received a copy of the catalogue, and would like to take advantage of the 15% discount, please feel free to request a voucher via email at post@singingdragon.com.

What everyone should know about Qigong, and how it can benefit you – with Richard Bertschinger

Richard Bertschinger studied for ten years with the Taoist sage and Master, Gia-fu Feng. A practising acupuncturist, teacher of the healing arts, and translator of ancient Chinese texts, he works and practises in Somerset, England. Here, he explores some key concepts of Qigong, showing just how universally beneficial the practice is, and how easy it is to pick up.

Image of Richard Bertschinger

* Qigong can also be called Dao Yin which means guiding or leading the Qi. So many problems come from blockages inside the tissue, so the idea is that you keep moving the Qi to loosen these blockages. There’s a wonderful saying ‘Door hinges never rot and running water never goes stale’, which brings out movement as primary to health. When you read about the biology of modern science you see that this concept is also biologically important: it’s the circulation of fluids and gases in the cell that provides the conditions for life. The interchange at the boundary of the cell is so important for the release of oxygen, the oxygenation of the tissue, the internal respiration of the cell. Here, it’s movement which is conducive to life.

 

* Originally these exercises were taught master to pupil and from father to son. You learnt, as one might say, energetically, through your skin, just by watching and following behaviour, on a very deep level. Now, when teaching we have to approach this learning slightly differently because you might get a group of 20 new people in a class that you might never see again. The starting point is to move the body. If students move their bodies the energy and breath will follow eventually, and they will get the secret. The brain itself will begin to adjust of its own accord. And the mind follows.

 

* Everyone has a different path. No-one comes in and qualifies 3 years later. One of the main principles behind Chinese medicine is that you suit the treatment to the individual and the condition – which of course can change. So with these exercises we’re looking for appropriateness. People can take from the book what they need at the time. What is wonderful is that it is such a natural practice and can adapt to many conditions. There is not one orthodox way, so long as you are following natural forms.

 

 

Illustration from Everyday Qigong Practice

Illustration by Harriet E. J. Lewars

* It’s important to have one particular space where you do these exercises and one particular time of day to do them. It’s difficult to just slip them in anywhere. However, I’m a great believer in us all being gifted amateurs. I think that people can very much take this practice home and do it themselves. I’ve seen students do most interesting things with exercises that I have taught them – you pick it up and pass it on.

 

* In Ezra Pound’s translation of the Confucian classic Da Xue, he highlights the saying ‘as the sun makes it anew, day by day make it new, every day make it anew’. My teacher Gia Fu Feng would encourage us to ‘rediscover’ the Qi everyday. We have to do this everyday or it gets covered over by the troubles, worries and issues of the world. I think it attests to the genius of the Chinese that they found a way to winkle out that health from our lives and to keep it there at a good level, keeping a good balance

 

* To have something that you can do under your own hands is just so valuable. Drugs are important but you don’t have to go down that route all the time – a lot is in our own hands. I’ve seen people come in with painful stomachs or painful knees, and if they do the rubbing exercises they improve. People with long-term conditions often respond well to Qigong as you are dealing with the smaller, finer (neuro-humeral) mechanisms in the body. When you practice in a gentle, conducive manner you actually have minute little chemical changes, which can make a great difference to overall wellbeing.


 

© 2012 Singing Dragon blog. All Rights Reserved.

Calligraphy and Spiritual Cultivation

Beginning with a demonstration of  the calligraphy of the dragon symbol, Master Zhongxian Wu shows how the art of calligraphy fits into the shamanic healing traditions of China.

 


Master Zhongxian Wu is the lineage holder of four different schools of Qigong and martial arts. He was Director of the Shaanxi Province Association for Somatic Science and the Shaanxi Association for the Research of Daoist Nourishing Life Practices. Since 1988, Master Wu has instructed thousands of students, both Eastern and Western. He synthesizes wisdom and experience for beginning and advancing practitioners, as well as for patients seeking healing, in his unique and professionally-designed courses and workshops. Please visit www.masterwu.net for details about his teachings.

© 2012 Singing Dragon blog. All Rights Reserved.

Master Wu plays ‘Misty Clouds Over the Xiao and Xiang Rivers’ on a silk stringed Qin

In this exclusive performance, Master Zhongxian Wu plays ‘Misty Clouds Over the Xiao and Xiang Rivers’, on a silk-stringed Qin.

 

 


Master Zhongxian Wu is the lineage holder of four different schools of Qigong and martial arts. He was Director of the Shaanxi Province Association for Somatic Science and the Shaanxi Association for the Research of Daoist Nourishing Life Practices. Since 1988, Master Wu has instructed thousands of students, both Eastern and Western. He synthesizes wisdom and experience for beginning and advancing practitioners, as well as for patients seeking healing, in his unique and professionally-designed courses and workshops. Please visit www.masterwu.net for details about his teachings.

© 2012 Singing Dragon blog. All Rights Reserved.

Singing Dragon attends the 2012 TCM World Congress in Rothenburg, Germany

This month, Singing Dragon was delighted to attend the TCM Congress in Rothenburg, an event which over the past 43 years has built a strong reputation as a key gathering for learning, discussion and development within the field.

This year’s focus was on fertility and paediatrics in Chinese Medicine, subject areas particularly relevant for Singing Dragon given our recent array of books for those working with children, as well as a new title in the pipeline on acupuncture for fertility.

Singing Dragon author Gordon Faulkner provided a number of popular sessions on Qigong for the kidneys, as well as for stress relief and prevention, making use of the idyllic riverside location and rolling hills of the conference venue.

True to form, there was also a healthy emphasis on fun and relaxation, and a series of concerts, dances and bonfire socials helped to refresh and balance Qi whilst bringing practitioners together.

As a first-time exhibitor, it was particularly rewarding to be able to meet with so many of our readers – thank you to those who did for visiting our stand.

And for those of you who entered our mailing list competition, congratulations go to Donald Halfkenny who has won a copy of Tianjin Liu’s Chinese Medical Qigong.

We shall hope to see you at next year’s congress, but until then please visit our website and Facebook page for all of the news on our latest releases.

Copyright © Singing Dragon 2012.