When the mind quietens the body takes on a life of its own, and it is your life – every part of it present and engaging. Each part stems from a specific, usually past, event, and reaches out with an embracing, touching and symbolic sweep. In fact our humanity is the body, and all it houses, when it is alive – trembling with fear and excitement in almost equal measure. Such a body joins with everything – that is its nature, and so that is its happiness.


The end of poetry is not to create a physical condition which shall give pleasure to the mind…. The end of poetry is not an after-effect, not a pleasurable memory of itself, but an immediate, constant and even unpleasant insistence upon itself…. Poetry brings all possible experience to the same degree: a degree in the consciousness beyond which the consciousness itself cannot go.

Laura (Riding) Jackson


It’s not that words just end up there suddenly
with the force and gravity of pure existence,
but against the current, hook still shimmering
in the bloody water because the mind does openly

and so do the bodies inside of me generate
a certain bliss beneath inspection. The cost
of sinking is no larger than being reeled
in by the other. Disengaging never

works. The body still runs into itself,
no matter how you work it. What seems despair
is never coming to terms with river or sadness,
the words themselves avoided and coolly shelved

next to God and light, though personally
I’d do better without shelves or hooks
still wanting to see words unhinged eternally.

Philip Jenks

I want to hold you close like a lute
so we can cry out with loving.

You would rather throw stones at a mirror?
I am you mirror and here are the stones.




We drive our energy through to the Earth's heart, piercing its surface – the ground – on the way. We begin this process by visualizing the sinking energy passing down the leg, through the sole of the foot (the heel in particular), and down to a point under the ground somewhere beneath our base. Somehow practising penetrating the Earth eventually enables us to also penetrate our own resistance (laziness, tiredness, bloody-mindedness, and all our conditioning) and reach the heart and essence of our own motivation: we become skilled at penetrating to the heart of things. Two skills are required, both of which can be developed through practice. The first is the ability to melt and seep through hardness: something in you must melt the hard ground so that your energy can seep into and through it. This is achieved by allowing your own heart to melt and open. It is pretty much the same feeling you have when the heart melts at the sight of your beloved, or at the smile of a child. The second skill runs from this – the ability to extend your energy beyond your physical boundaries. This basically means expanding the heart to contain the point or place to which your energy needs to extend. It is possible to just let the energy go and direct it to its destination with the mind, but this method denies the energy the compassionate accompaniment of your heart.


this stone is full of creatures

John Martone


If you looked at all the past geniuses and heroes who have really contributed to humanity – have brought the human race forwards – then the thing they will all have in common is terrific spirit. Very few of them will have had a root, or softness, or martial prowess. This is why when my teacher asked his teacher what he should practice when he returned to London, Dr Chi's immediate and unequivocal reply was “I suggest you practice spirit.” Spirit makes a difference. Of course if you practice correctly then every minor skill you develop on your journey will contribute to the health and quality of your spirit.



step after step
to attain you

John Martone
Without a second—or first—thought.


Feelings are just traces left by the flow of energy – vapour trails in the sky.



We have to ask ourselves time and time again what it is that makes sharing, and consequently transformation, a natural phenomenon. Ultimately it is a willingness to always put the other person first. This doesn't mean deferring to them or even giving them respect, it means wanting to join with them more than anything else. This desire for union manifests as an attraction, the final result of which is physical oneness – superimposition. When we talk of a spiritual reality we don't mean a symbolic one. We mean one that is real and present on every level, including the physical/mundane. If we deny this realm then we enter a dangerous situation where the reality we experience is being created by our mind as we go along. The unity/oneness we talk about is the one that comes about simply because our physical presence – our body – fills with such an intensity of awareness and feeling that there is no space for anything else, not even the mind. The difficulty is to give such a reality expression without it burning all and sundry, and without it slackening with concern. That expression can only naturally be the desire for oneness.

I spent an hour meditating under this tree, looking out onto the view below.
A humbling experience.

The centre of the body is the belly, and in the belly there is a fire —

ba beten yesh esh.



Progress in Tai Chi does not simply depend upon relaxation – the removal of tension. It depends mainly on the persistent practice of a certain form of concentration that one can only learn from a teacher. Externally this concentration takes the shape of a Form of movements – a sequence designed to touch and work with certain energies that are considered essential to the development and cultivation of spirit. Internally this concentration is a listening of your energy to other energies, a listening that transforms and is transformed in turn by that to which it listens. We call this communication. Real communication is not just the passage of information or energy back and forth, it is transformation – changing the hearts and minds of all involved. Spirit, being the energy of engagement, gives the possibility of a vital grip on reality. It's fingers insinuate, stimulate and awaken. Often this is all that is required for transformation to be kick-started into action. Transformation – change – will only happen if it is ready to happen and if it wants to happen – if it is almost inevitable given the circumstances and the company. In such cases only the lightest of touches is necessary – just enough to start the process.
We regard intelligence as man's main characteristic and we know that there is no superiority which intelligence cannot confer on us, no inferiority for which it cannot compensate.

Henri Bergson


over pale balcony
mint choir side sage
thumb-bruised lavender
strewed vanilla beans
a just peeled orange
toast, fresh coffee
shoulder almost geranium
light reign one jonquil
sweat, with cinnamon

Ronald Johnson


A connexion is a point or channel of joining of two entities.

Communication is the passage of energy across a connexion.

A blocked connexion is one across which energy cannot pass.

An idle connexion is one across which energy can pass but does not.

A working connexion is one accommodating two-way traffic.

A healthy connexion is one where the passage of energy in one direction stimulates the passage of energy in the other direction.

When the energy in a healthy connexion starts to snowball we have the possibility of a third heart – the connexion/relationship/communication taking on a life of its own.

For a healthy relationship to last it must have a heart.

soul in process
meticulous detail

beyond the pale
nine lifetimes

darkness preying
but light to fore

Ronald Johnson


Relaxation is letting go: expansion.
Tension is holding on: contraction.
Work is the interplay/alternation of relaxation and tension.

Matter is tense compared to energy. In fact any structure or form or organising principle is basically a tension: an anti-entropic force. In Tai Chi we try to relax completely, which means to remove the acquired tensions that mask the positive organising tensions of our physical and energetic structures. When we relax completely we fill our forms, and our potential – our ability to work and function correctly – our ability to be natural – becomes available to us. What we feel this form to be is always inaccurate, despite the power of foresight. Feelings and thoughts, unless they are released as soon as they come into being, are acquired tensions and as such they block channels of connexion making us far less than we could be.


Holding feelings in – containing them – is harmful. It is not always possible to give them expression, but they, and their energy, can always be let out, and if they are not then they well up, congest and cut us off from our energetic environment (a wandering mind is just the internal expression of contained feelings). One outlet is through the feet. The two main seats of the feelings – the heart and the sacrum – correspond approximately to the ball of the foot and the heel respectively. Allowing these to relax and spread onto the ground achieves a direct connexion between the Earth and the heart and sacrum. The Earth's sink potential, the Earth's energy and the Earth's compassion can then become intimately bound up with the feelings, receiving and healing in turn. These connexions, and the flow of feeling and energy through these connexions, gradually strip both the heart and the sacrum of their armouring – their scar tissue. Maintaining openness is only possible with support. What better support than the Earth.



The foot corresponds to the hand: the four toes are the four fingers and the heel is the thumb.

When the foot is planted on the Earth the toes extend and spread so that the fleshy ball of the foot can press onto and into the Earth.

The connexion between the Earth and the bubbling-well point (the red spot in the diagram) corresponds to the heart.

The toes and heel open apart and sink, gripping the ground: embracing the connexion the bubbling-well point has with the Earth ��� effectively embracing the heart.

When we relax in Tai Chi, our energy flows down the spine, into the sacrum, and then down the leg and into the Earth through the heel.

A natural energy circuit is then from the crown, down the spine, sacrum, back of the leg, heel, then up through the bubbling-well point, up the front of the leg into the heart, throat, face and crown. This circuit tends to make the posture lean back slightly ��� it is effectively Cheng Man-ching's circuit.

The opposite circuit is also possible. Sinking down into the heel causes energy to kick back up from the heel into the sacrum, up the spine through the back of the heart and to the crown of the head. When the bubbling-well point is pushed into the Earth a connexion is made which feels like a spark of spirit. This spark suddenly opens the heart which achieves a spirited immediacy that wants to leap forwards and fight. The spark also sucks a veil of energy down the front of the body and into the Earth. This circuit tends to make the posture lean forwards aggressively and is more like that of traditional Yang style Tai Chi Chuan.

It is possible to have both circuits flowing without them canceling each other out. Like everything in Tai Chi, power comes from the interplay of seemingly opposing energies.
"From the traditions of Eastern medicine to the new discoveries of science, it is generally acknowledged that energy or 'life force' underlies all forms of life. It is now widely recognised that our energy can get 'stuck' in particular patterns. Every cell that makes up our bodies and minds holds memories of our experiences – not only from our childhood but going right back through our time in the womb to the moment we were conceived. When an experience affects us strongly, the thoughts, emotions and beliefs connected to that memory can set up energy patterns in which we become 'stuck'. In a sense, they keep us stuck in the past. These energy patterns can express themselves in a variety of ways, such as physical or mental illness, emotional problems, limiting attitudes and beliefs or repeating patterns of behaviour."

From a website on Metamorphic Technique



We talk of planting the feet: the feet on the ground feel as though they are in the ground, toes spreading like extending roots, the sole of each foot receiving the Earth. It is an active feeling – almost as though the foot is greedy for the ground. Then the point of contact with the other – usually the hand but not necessarily so – takes on the same quality, and similarly enters and spreads into the other's body and energy. This is sticking: a natural consequence of correct rooting. The activity – that energetic feeling – must be constantly renewing itself otherwise the root withdraws. What this means technically is that the toes extend and curl, extend and curl – breathing. This is where the mind gets in the way: when it thinks, energetic activity effectively stops, we cease to be aware of our breathing and we enter a different reality, one not connected to anything outside or beyond itself. I was informed last night that in Judeaism sin is not just a movement away from God, it is any refusal of the ever-present path towards and into God. Sitting on the fence – the ubiquitous wandering mind – refusing to move forwards – getting stuck – is just as much a sin as misdemeanour. There is nothing passive about goodness or love – in fact they are more active than anything else.


To get in the ground the legs must stop pushing at it and must instead accept it. In fact the legs must accept the ground from below and the upper body from above – they have a lot of work to do, but it is a soft work – a work of acceptance and joining rather than that of pushing things apart. If the legs are tense then the problem is ultimately not with the legs – despite their apparent weakness – it is in the heart and mind – they both struggle with any new reality.

Chi Kung

This Qi Gong course may interest. I have no idea what it would be like so cannot recommend it, but it is interesting that such courses exist.


The truth of what happened is in the spirit of what is happening.
I can re


my steps



between thwarts

Do not come down the ladder

ifor I


it a


Susan Howe
The truth of what happens is in the spirit of what is happening.



A consequence of operating from the heart is that every action you make or take, no matter how trivial, is a movement into deeper, greater and more complete connexion. The first requirement for connexion is openness – something must open before that thread of connexion can reach out or in. The establishment and maintenance of the thread then gives a flavour or feeling of completeness to the openness – a resolution – a maturity – a fulfillment.

Heart and head

Don't you think it strange that some people you can meet only fleetingly and yet you feel so connected to them; and what's more strange, that connexion can deepen and grow without any further contact with that person? It is so important to feel the connexion and acknowledge it and allow it to grow – not resist its growth with ignorance or selfishness. It will probably grow without your being aware of it anyway, but awareness will always assist your movement towards inner peace. Peace comes with knowledge and awareness. Conflict arises from ignorance and the confusion brought about by only partial knowledge. Best to either know everything or know nothing. Partial knowledge means that there is also ignorance, and the problem with partial knowledge is that it offers a security that makes the insecurity of partial ignorance (knowing that you don't know) difficult to chose. We have a natural affinity to security and a natural aversion to insecurity. This situation poses a real and very deep problem to the student of Tai Chi. It is why so many students stop progressing, especially the ones who start teaching, despite the hours of practice they continue to devote to the art. What it boils down to is that the knowledge you house must be in your energy and your connectivity, and the temptation to bring that knowledge into the rational mind and make patterns, techniques and treatises about it, must be resisted. It is when the knowledge comes into your mind and you start to think you know because you can communicate about it, that you stop knowing where it really matters – in the heart. Those of us well-educated are far happier with mindful knowledge than heartful knowledge because it offers a way to outshine those around us. And yet the mind cannot connect, not usefully anyway, it is too slow and too separate – it connects to compete and not to join – it has no spiritual dimension. For all but the extremely advanced the heart and mind are almost mutually exclusive. Bringing them together is, in a sense, the task at hand. This task is only possible if you have the courage to chose the awareness that comes from knowing nothing – if you have the courage to stop knowing with the head and start connecting with the heart. The heart must become dominant – almost a bully – if our Tai Chi is going to be anything more than pat, flat Forms and lip service to connexion (which is what most partner work is).



Broken heart, you
timeless wonder.

What a small
place to be.

True, true
to life, to life.

Robert Creeley


Sensitivity is an admission of defeat.


In the fullness of time.