Relax the shoulders

and you relax the heart to its natural state: a perfect balance of expanding/contracting, giving/attracting, opening/containing. Central equilibrium is just the expression of the natural heart. Relax the shoulders and the spine/legs/ground can take the brunt of any physical support you need to give, allowing the heart to work on its natural non-physical level.

Relax the hips and you allow the spine into the legs and eventually (as the legs strengthen) into the Earth. Then the Earth (or Earth energy) will come up into the spine and into every part of you as the support of this energy inspires more trust and relaxation.
tinder of paradox

Ronald Johnson


Espresso by Assaf Ben-Nun


In utero the spine is a smooth kyphotic (forward) curve from the bottom of the coccyx to the top of the neck. After birth secondary or lordotic (backward) curves begin to develop in the spine as the baby struggles to involve itself with its environment, first by pulling the head back (cervical curve), and then by sitting and then standing (lumbar curve). The various curves in the spine are fully developed by the age of ten. They are:
cervical – lordosis
thoracic – kyphosis
lumbar – lordosis
sacral – kyphosis
They give the human spine its characteristic double-S shape.

The force (tropism) that causes the spine to develop in this way is the sense of curiosity in the infant. Curiosity makes the infant extend into its environment; it doesn't just arch its head back it extends it up and away to better see and better connect, and as it extends its head up and forward the sacrum and coccyx naturally extend down and back: when a healthy spine extends it does so in both directions. An unhealthy spine is basically one that has either stopped extending altogether or one that extends unequally. An unhealthy spine belongs to an unhealthy person – it is indicative of an unhealthy engagement (or lack of) with the real world. In Tai Chi we must be vigilant that our straight spine is straight because it is extending with curiosity (with spirit) rather than because we are stiffening it or forcing it out of its beautiful natural curvature.


Ahava ze kabala : love is acceptance

Photo: Prema Hahn-Michaeli
I think the reason it all works so well is because the loving heart accepts – it allows the world in. And so we are constantly imprinted – we become the objects of love. The heart reaches out, touches and accepts. A process of relaxation. The same as mindfulness. We can only be mindful when the heart and mind are together – when the heart has accepted the mind, and vice versa.
the singularity of event and the promiscuity of metaphor

Rae Armantrout


Love and healing

Tension is a clinging to the old story. To leave behind the tension once and for all we need to see the story fully and clearly for what it is: past history, no longer needed, and we need to make a conscious and determined decision to let it go. Such decisions are all part of the process of reclaiming life from the clutches of conditioning. The irony is that such stories are not really our own in the first place – they are inherited. Our own stories are readily processed and assimilated by the process of living, unless the early inheritance has blocked our ability to properly engage with life, which is more than likely. The most insidious inherited conditioning is the tainted or loaded love of our parents. Such love is generally, on some level, conditional, and often amounts to emotional blackmail in its desire to control rather than fully support. For example, the parent who gives the message: “If you are good and well then I will be happy, but if you are not good or unwell then I will worry.” Such a message is far from a loving one but it is the usual one we are presented with as children, which is not surprising because it is exactly the same as the one the state gives its citizens. Such an attitude may effectively control the child but in the process it robs her of the necessary spiritual equipment to engage with life because it gives the message that all support is conditional and therefore all trust should be too. This is the level on which we need to be looking at our past – not at the traumas but the very early programming that made us perceive those experiences as traumas. When we begin to look at our past on this level we often realise that the parent who seemed to love us the most and the best is the one who shaped, controlled and limited our ability to receive and give love on any terms other than their own. And what is worse is that that love, given in the first weeks and months (if not hours and days) of our birth, is still controlling and limiting our engagement with life. This is the “love” that created the cage we live inside. So how do we begin to break free of this cage? Intellectual understanding is only the start – it in no way indicates that the work has been done or has even begun. Such early wounds can only be healed with love. Understanding lets you see the wounds and feel the infliction, but the loving still needs to be done. What allows the healing is the fact that love is not bound by time or space, and that true unconditional love (totally trusting energetic connexion) is boundless on all levels. So, for example, when I love my new baby, if I do it well, then I also love all babies – my love generalizes – I can feel it happen. Not only that, I also start to love the baby in each adult, and what's more I love the baby in myself – I love myself as a baby: my love for her begins to retrospectively heal myself as the baby. This is the most powerful positive feedback loop in existence. It is why the universe, especially the human universe, succeeds. And what is it that inspires me to love beyond my conditioned capabilities? It is, of course, her total trust and purity – her beauty if you like (her truth). It is easy to see that a strong stable support can inspire total trust, but total trust can also inspire a support (love) that leaps miraculously beyond itself. This is why belief before the proof is so much more powerful than a belief that requires proof. One leaps into the unknown and the other plants itself firmly in the known.


Tension is a refusal to integrate.


Poetry shakes the laughter out of the apple tree.

Tristan Tzara
I am a Monkey, light and full of desire.
I am mobile – too quick for the mind.
I am full of feeling and my life runs from those feelings.



The only significant choice we have is the one we are presented with every second of every day – the constant choice – do we accept a life bound by our conditioning or do we begin to break free. To make a choice we must first be aware of that choice – that is work in itself – and it is an awareness that deepens as we see the constraints of conditioning everywhere. It is really the choice between having the heart happily (or not) reside within the chest, or letting it constantly leap out. For it to leap out it needs stimulation, encouragement, energy – an injection from somewhere. Now the fact of life is that such an injection is always available. In fact this is what life is – the stimulation and support to always be breaking free. And it is, poignantly, a breaking – never broken.


I am able to act with full knowledge that whatever I do is to be done and can be done.
Being – the most active of words.
I am a Snake sloughing off the past and emerging ever anew.


I am a Tree with roots that delve and a crown that ever blossoms.
"to wander forth for the welfare and weal of the many, out of compassion for the world"


To become the initiator of connexion, not with idle gestures of kindness, but with real leaps out of oneself, leaps of faith and trust. This requires a sensitivity to the other: a healer's vision: a feeling for what needs to be given: a heart capable of opening sufficient to contain the home (hearth) and everything in it.
I am all spine.


When we practice generosity, we become intimate with our grasping.

Pema Chödrön



Here is the new website of Catuv, David Michaeli's literary and artistic networking venture. It incorporates his publishing house Madaf, whose publications include Nitsan Michaeli's translations of Barry Long into Hebrew, and David's own philosophical writings (including his wonderful translation of the Tai Chi Classics into Hebrew).


The hollow of morning
Holds my soul still
As water in a jar

Samuel Menashe


knowing more only encourages your limitations

Robert Rauschenberg

Doesn't it feel like it is
There for you when you
Sit in the room with it

Bob Arnold
Every word is love, loved, lovely. What else is poetry?

Cid Corman, on the poetry of Bob Arnold
It's never too late for a happy childhood.


More dialogue

The word communication implies sharing to come to some common ground. The word conversation implies being together, getting along, chatting. The word discussion implies examination and has in its etymology smashing or shaking apart. The word dialogue on the other hand is a little of all of these, but brought to a level of formality, significance and meaning by the hearing of the words by a third party. So, actors on stage engage in dialogue – they speak amongst themselves – and the audience overhears. Politicians are in dialogue with each other, and the world reads their reported words; behind the scenes they may converse together, but this is not part of the formal dialogue. There is also the implication with the word dialogue that the parties are representatives of larger bodies. Hence the actor represents the character who in turn represents any similar person in a similar scenario, and the politician represents his country and his government department. Dialogue also demands that each party be strong in themselves and clearly state their case, but then it also demands that each listens intently to the others and hears the others and allows that hearing to adjust their own position. Good active dialogue creates the perfect space for each party to see their own position, and the position of others, more clearly and more compassionately. Strong but flexible. Strong but mobile. Being truly alive means that you and your actions are in constant dialogue with life. If you do what you do strongly (without indecision) and manage to remain open then it doesn't really matter what you do because life will answer you and regulate you equally strongly. A good responsible teacher will give you two things: the means to become strong in yourself, and a fluid flexibility that allows you to shift and change painlessly whenever life demands. This is your ground – your natural process. It is all you need to engage your own destiny. Then God is your only witness.


Photo: Richard Dockray of Ingleborough Summit, Yorkshire Dales
"Buy me a gut single mulberry furrow / of desires."

Jess Mynes has some totally gorgeous poems up on his blog.