31.7.08

Dialogue

Blockage (tension, lack of flow) results when dialogue breaks down. Simply resuming the dialogue will not necessarily remove the blockage: the cause for the breakdown must be looked into and resolved. This usually requires a new dialogue to start, addressing the imbalance that caused the initial breakdown. One of the problems with blockage is that compared to its surroundings it is heavy, and that weight increases with time. Eventually it will become too heavy and will break that which carries it.

Baby blanket by Prema Hahn-Michaeli

30.7.08

Spirit

c.1250, "animating or vital principle in man and animals," from Old French espirit, from Latin spiritus "soul, courage, vigor, breath," related to spirare "to breathe." Original usage in English mainly from passages in Vulgate, where the Latin word translates Greek pneuma and Hebrew ruakh.

Alignment

Alignment comes when we breathe correctly into each of the three dantiens: belly, heart and head. Breathing into the belly is not enough. Feel the body like a vase which fills up as though with water all the way to the headtop on each in-breath. Abdomen, thorax and head then become like the floors of a house, each perched comfortably and independently upon the one beneath. They mustn't depress into each other. They have access to each other but only through regular channels.

29.7.08

Just live. The writing will take care of itself.

Charles Olson

Posture and breathing

A correct posture is one that stems – grows – from the Earth, and extends – blossoms – up and out. It is poised (balanced) through relaxation, but its thrust up from its root is vital and muscular: there is a muscular connectivity from the Earth to its furthestmost extension. The muscles need not be tense or even working but they do need to be developed and connected, and they need to contain awareness. To contain awareness they need to have been consciously worked and released of chronic tensions – flushed out, cleansed and woken up. Awareness is a vibration – an energy – a subtle tension: it cannot reside beside either chronic tension or flaccidity. Unfortunately in most of us many of the muscles, especially the smaller muscles, in this connected cordage are not adequately developed. We instead get by with using too much tension in some muscles and not enough in others – we are unbalanced. Not surprisingly the same can be said of correct breathing – it requires a complex connected musculature through the whole body, not just in the diaphragm, abdomen and chest: correct breathing breathes as much from the Earth through the legs as it does from the air through the lungs. What is maybe surprising is that the musculature required for correct posture is pretty much identical to the one required for correct breathing: there is some sort of equivalence between posture and breathing. It also shows that one without the other is not possible: not only do they go hand-in-hand, they are also one and the same.

28.7.08

The curvature of the universe is love.

Jeremy Prynne

27.7.08

Down to Earth.

The old charts

are not so wrong

which added Adam

to the world’s directions

Charles Olson

26.7.08

Presence

The word present has two meanings. The adjective means being there, exsisting at the time, whereas the noun means a gift, a thing offered.

We need to be both.
Be aware of your breathing presence.
Be aware of other breathing presences.
Spiritus: "of breathing, of the spirit"

25.7.08

More reverse breathing

Reverse-breathing involves dropping the thoracic diaphragm and at the same time raising the pelvic diaphragm on the inbreath. This action reduces the capacity of the abdomen, squeezing (massaging) its physical contents, and compressing the energy there into the lower dantien. The desire or need to reverse-breathe should naturally spring from an understanding and active involvement with the regulating and generating principle we call Central Equilibrium. What is important is that all tension in the area is released on the outbreath, and wherever possible all tension on the inbreath is kept away from the bones and joints of the pelvic region. (This isn't practically possible (residual tensions naturally build up) so it is important to practice relaxation and opening exercises for the pelvic region to flush out these tensions and bring us back to Earth.) Just a whisper of technique. When I get it right it feels as though I have two hands in my belly gently moulding my dantien into a small ball.
All discipline begins (and ends) with breathing.

24.7.08

Reverse breathing

Lets say I am going to walk 50 meters with a bucket in each hand. If the buckets are empty then this task is no challenge – I walk pretty much as I would walk empty-handed. But if the buckets are full of water then it is a different matter. Firstly I have to adjust my posture, especially my lower back, otherwise the weight will damage me, then I have to walk slowly and deliberately so as not to spill any water but also to conserve strength so that I can finish the job. Also the weight of each bucket will pull my shoulders down and drag me into the ground, which means my legs work not only harder but more rootedly. All in all the stress caused by the extra weight forces my body to work better than it would if it was unstressed and forces my mind to be really present with the task and with the body performing the task. It is the same with any action. Anything I can do easily I will tend to do carelessly, i.e. I will be thinking about something else as I do it. What this means is that my support (what supports me and what I support) is taken for granted, and my trust never deepens, i.e. my energy rarely if ever extends into my points of support: my actions don't communicate. Now any action I perform without full attention will lack the richness and connectedness of a mindful action. What this means physically is that the action is not rooted, i.e. the support for the action is incomplete causing there to be a break in the energetic channel from the ground through my body to the action itself: the body itself is supporting the action because the ground is not seemingly needed. The difficulty is to establish this energetic channel all the way through to the Earth: to realign and stimulate the missing muscles in the channel to come into play. One of the techniques we use in Tai Chi is the equivalent to picking up two buckets of water as I walk: we find a way of adding resistance to the action to make it more difficult and more strenuous. As an example lets take breathing in. It is an action I have performed well over 200 million times since I was born and assuming my airways are clear it is an action I can (and do) perform automatically and without attention or awareness. Now if I pinch my nostrils slightly to constrict them, suddenly breathing in is difficult and I am aware of the muscles performing the action. Not only that, but other muscles not normally used come into play, especially those in my belly around the dantien, and those in my legs, which pull the Earth up as my diaphragm pulls the air down. I am suddenly aware that breathing in is not simply a matter of depressing the diaphragm, but also requires the muscles in the belly and legs to support the diaphragm. Then I breathe not just air through the nose but the Earth through the legs.

23.7.08

Ch'i

The problem with ch'i is that because it is so gentle and so weak (the weakest of energies), it is too easy to ignore and overlook. In this sense it is similar to gravity, the weakest of natural forces. All our physical actions rely upon gravity but also ignorantly overide and fight it. Yet in the same way that when we start to work with gravity by rooting we connect to the source of gravity – the Earth, so when we start to work with ch'i through conscious breathing we connect to the source of ch'i – Nature herself.

Breathing

Oxygenation is just one of the functions of breathing. The gentle movements of deep relaxed breathing also massage the viscera and fascia, freeing them of residual tension, and directed breathing concentrates energy in specific locations in the body (brain, crown, kidneys, heart, belly, soles, etc) so much so that these places can become centres of energy, i.e. take on an energetic life of their own. But perhaps most important of all is that the breathing connects me to a soft and langorous energy that abides eveywhere, but especially in Nature, which the Chinese call ch'i. The power of this energy lies not in gathering and hoarding it but in connecting to it and allowing its natural wisdom and intelligence to inform and direct my own processes. There are other energies besides ch'i (e.g. spirit) but none quite so feminine and pervasive. When we connect to it (relax into it) we connect to Nature on the level of her breathing. It is the deepest of foundations. We can resist it to highlight or foreground other aspects of our world or imagination or ego, but if we habitually (fearfully) do so we will always be haunted by the lack of a mother's love.

22.7.08


the the
single angels
celled are
creatures single
are celled
angels creatures


John Martone

20.7.08


hankering
makes you
interested
but what is going to happen
You are
mad
because the
drop
dropping
patient

19.7.08

Creativity

Creativity is the ability to make things happen by first imagining them. Setting up a natural process – a way of working – that both deepens our engagement with reality and generates the means to expand and spread that engagement. Vertical and horizontal. Central equilibrium. The deeper the roots the larger the crown. One without the other is neither balanced nor true. If the imagination cannot be realised then there is imbalance – misalignment.

18.7.08

Natural growth occurs when you allow your spirit to take the risks your soul is calling for.

17.7.08

The Bodhisattva Vow: spiritual success generates generosity.

16.7.08

Imagination

Bereshit. In the beginning. First, in the Mind. The Divine Mind. The Imagination. The place you see yourself and create your Life, the Grand Plan. Destiny is your true potential and alignment comes when you see your destiny – when you stop resisting it – when you allow it into your imagination. And it must be imagined before it can be created, before you can actively create it, before it can create you – renew you. But the imagination is a subtle business, as open to corruption as any other part of us. It isn't a place of fantasy or fashion, but the place where the seeds of creation bear images of themselves. Messages from God.

14.7.08

Communication

When we converse with gravity in Tai Chi we do so within a system in equilibrium. If I rise it is because I have thrust downwards and if I sink down it is because I have pulled the Earth up into me. Opening and Closing. Now the wonder of a living system is that when it opens it extends it's connexions: it grows (cornucopia), and when it closes it brings it's world into it's points of support (funnels – especially into the Earth): it allows (encourages) creativity – it breathes. But it also shows that when I open, my world must open too and by extension the whole world opens – I mirror my world and my world mirrors the world – there is no such thing as a closed system – everything is connected. Ultimately the only system is the Universe and the deep loving intelligence that supports the Universe (we all need (to) support and we all need (to) trust otherwise there is no existence) is God, and our personal freedom comes when we abandon ourselves to our place within this Universe (when we trust it): when we truly understand how much we are a tiny insignificant part of a gigantic living entity on the one hand and how on the other hand we have absolute responsibility because we are the Universe, directly supported by – communicating with – God, we mirror it, and in that mirroring we affect it. The only constant really is affection; and sympathy – resonance – communication.

13.7.08

Babies are born pure energetic creatures, communicating perfectly, into a world of disconnexion, insensitivity and selfishness. In Tai Chi they say that those compelled to do the work are those who remember the time in the womb. If ever there was a Golden Age of humankind it was a time when babies were greeted at birth as the masters they are into a life that flows naturally from the knowledge they already contain.

12.7.08

If I could make the world as pure
and strange as what I see
I'd put you in the mirror
I put in front of me.

Lou Reed

Sun Tai Chi

Beautiful style and form. Try it with Christian Birch – an old friend & colleague.

11.7.08

Close to the bone.

8.7.08

Fear

The negative response to fear is the desire to be away from what is fearsome. The trouble with this response is that in indulging it the ego quickly learns that it has useful consequences: the world can be selfishly manipulated by meanly pulling away from it, especially the world of relationships (ultimately the only world there is). Sulking, moodiness, arrogance, neediness, etc, are all devices designed to empower the perpetrator by causing anxiety in others – sucking good energy without giving much in return, and they all originate in basic cowardice – turning away from fear and pain.

The positive response to fear is not just to face it but to dive into it with all one has. In this way fear dissolves and we realise it was only fear – a figment of our imagination. In certain situations this is easier to do than in others of course, but it always works. The most difficult situations are the ones we are unaware of – where the fear is so ingrained it is no longer registered. Each of us is riddled with such fears, but as long as we choose to choose courage instead of cowardice then life will point them out to us, one by one, little by little, slowly but surely.

Put another way. Fear is a refusal to communicate. Communication requires connexion followed by two-way energy flow – central equilibrium (a fearful situation is one out of equilibrium). If connexion is good then energy will naturally flow. So fear either disconnects or refuses to connect. Disconnexion means your world shrinks. Refusing an invitation to connect maintains the status quo. So a world free of fear is always growing.
When love is gone there's always justice
And when justice is gone there's always force
And when force is gone there's always Mom
Hi Mom!

Laurie Anderson

7.7.08

To gaze into the eyes of a newborn the first time they are opened.

6.7.08


First photo ever taken of our baby girl, about 7 hours after birth.

Born at 0033 today (6 July 2008), exactly four weeks pre-term.

Same birthday as the Dalai Lama and George W Bush.

3.7.08

Spirit

When the principles of Tai Chi have been enumerated and elaborated by past great Masters, the one that generally precedes the others is spirit. Lightness of spirit. Or, as it has been practically expressed: head suspended, active crown. If the body is relaxed, the spine loose and vertically aligned, the head suspended as though from above, and the whole being conditioned by the practice of central equilibrium, then on sinking into a leg energy will naturally rise up that leg, up the spine and to the head-top from where it will exit the body and fly upwards. As this happens the eyes will shine with spirit. This is a totally natural process. It requires no effort, just alignment. If, for whatever reason, the body is not correctly aligned then spirit can still be generated, roused, utilized, often by an act of will or temper, but that spirit will always be tainted with aspects of ego – it wont be truly free, and it wont truly connect. If we impose we reject. If we shrink we neglect. The secret is to be simply present with central equilibrium: or as Buckminster Fuller beautifully put it: "The value of unity is two."

2.7.08

Poverty

In the same way that the affluence of the West requires and perpetuates Third World poverty, so the thinking mind requires and perpetuates the poverty of the body and soul. This expresses as tension, blocking the free and natural flow of energy, thereby making us unaware of most of our physical and energetic processes. The thinking mind literally sucks the life out of us so that most of us walk around disconnected and misaligned – asleep. If we are disconnected and misaligned then our souls cannot receive the nourishment they need and so cannot express – cannot shine through the fog of fear. This means that most of us are inauthentic, or as my teacher used to put it: Everyone is special but never in the way they think they are. To be alive we must allow ourselves to be a small part of a much larger system. Again, this is just central equilibrium. It means we must relax, connect and most importantly – give.