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ENERGIZE YOUR BODY FOR THE SPRING

 

As we begin to see plants growing and leaves emerging from trees, remember that your own body is also going through a transformation.  According to Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) the body is an ecological system which goes through natural cycles and is affected by nature’s cycles.

During the winter, the body condenses and slows.  In order to emerge from this semi-hybernation we need to “clear the channels” of energy.  This can be done through chi-gung exercises such as “zookinesis age reversal exercises” or massage such as “Tai-chi massage”.  These healing methods “wake up” all the parts of the body, strengthen them, allow blood, lymph and intercellular fluids to flow more easily and gear up the body for a higher level of efficiency.

Going directly from winter to spring without preparing your body can lead to becoming overwhelmed as the energy of nature becomes magnified.  This energy penetrates and connects to your body.  If your body gears up for this change, it can ulitize that energy for healing and for everyday activities.

This was the secret of longevity found in ancient Chinese healing texts.  If you understand how nature works and live your life accordingly, then you will always be healthy.  So do your zookinesis or other chi-gung, practice your Tai-chi forms and/or get a good Tai-chi massage.  This may be the best spring you ever had!

POWER OF TRANSFORMATION

“The inside and the outside – they are made of the same flesh”.  This is reportedly the cry a student of Chan (Zen) cried out when he reached enlightenment.  It is an apt description of the basic principle a Tai-chi teacher tries to teach to his students to bring them to their first perceptual breakthrough.

Every discipline of personal development is based on the principle that, to change one’s life, you need to change what is going on within yourself.  What else can we do?  We can’t change the whole world around just to our liking.

And so we learn how perfecting proper body mechanics allows us to perform physical tasks easily.  Learning about the mechanics of our attention (mind) allows us to be effective in interpersonal relationships and in navigating our lives.

As we discover the physical and mental behavior patterns that presently fill us, learn which ones are effective and which interfere with our power in life, we can reconstruct the very mechanisms we use to live our lives.

And then we discover that much of the way we perceive the world around us is really a reflection of the patterns of behavior within us.  As we become more creative in gaining Tai-chi skills, the world itself seems to change and not be as threatening or as cold.

The student discovers that much of what he took to be the cold reality of life was just the projection of a story he was telling himself, onto the world outside.

At this point he realizes that part of that story was his identity.  To really gain power in life, to be able to drop the behavior patterns of battle and self destruction, you have to allow that story about your identity to change.

And then you become just a simple person.  In another Zen story, a Buddhist student brags to his Taoist friend that his Buddhist teacher can create miracles.  “With a movement of his arm he can make an entire dinner appear in the middle of the forest.  He can knock over a band of robbers with one breath.  He can clear a valley of fog with one in-breath.”   The Taoist student was not impressed.  “That’s nothing compared to my teacher,” he said.  “What can your Taoist teacher do?”  The Taoist student replied, “When my teacher is hungry, he eats.  When he is tired, he sleeps.”

To what degree do the stories we have been told, affect our perceptions and our behaviors?  We trust that pieces of paper (money) have great value and then numbers in computer memory have great value and then learn, as we have lately, that there is nothing really backing up that value.  These are stories we tell each other to help our lives run smoother.

But we have all learned what happens when some of us no longer believe those stories.  Perhaps we need to base our lives on stories that are not “built on shifting sands”. 

In the novel, The Doubting Snake, I suggest this battle of stories is the basis for the underlying drama of our times and that those who become the new story tellers, can lead us into more meaningful lives.

But we must begin by understanding the stories that we have based our lives on.  To what degree is health, loving relationships, and a feeling of connection to the earth important in our lives?  And to what degree does the quest for money overshadow these values?

If you tell yourself a new story, a healthy one, that story may resonate with others and become their story.  The power of life is to be the story teller and not just the actor portraying someone else’s story.

Transform the inside to transform the outside. This is what every Tai-chi student must realize at deeper and deeper levels.

HEAL YOURSELF WITH A SIMPLE MEDITATION

In traditional Chinese medicine the body is considered an ecological system which functions in a similar way to a forest or other natural area.  In the winter life condenses and in the spring it blossoms, becoming more and more vibrant into the summer.  In modern times we control our environment so that the body is not subject to these variations.  But there are so many cues for our body, connecting it to the rhythms of the seasons, that its chemistry, its behavior and its growth cannot really be disconnected from nature.  We disregard these cycles in our daily lives while our bodies and even our minds and emotions struggle to maintain the cycles.  The result is a biological battle within us that wears us out and dulls our minds.  It is helpful to remember the changes of the seasons and to understand what mode your biological being is in.  That is one of the reasons all cultures have holiday ceremonies at each change of the season.  In the spring for example it is very healthy to spend even a few minutes outdoors each day, breathing in the air, absorbing the sun and feeling the “mood” of the season.  This allows your “insides” to coordinate their rhythms with the “outside”.  It is a very natural form of meditation. You will find the feeling of battle is replaced by the feeling of healing.  Even a storm deserves to be observed and “felt”.  When you travel in a plane you must yawn every few thousand feet to even out the pressure inside and outside the ear, otherwise your ear would experience too much pressure.  Spending some time in meditation of the change of seasons does the same on a different level. You will be amazed at how much better you will feel!  Be your own healer.

STRESS REDUCTION BREATHING EXERCISE

This stress reduction breathing exercise is part of the Zookinesis system of chi-gung.  Sit in a comfortable chair and place your hands on a table in front of you about at the level of your lower ribs.  As you breathe in, first concentrate on your belly, filling it with breath.  As you continue to breathe in, concentrate on your hands and then the space a few feet in front of your hands.  This is all done in one breath. 

As you concentrate on the space in front of your hands, slightly lift your head.  If at this point (or any other point) you feel uncomfortable, stop doing this exercise.  (Contact us to help you – info@movementsofmagic.com). 

Once you feel comfortable with this exercise, go on to the next step.  Begin as above but after concentrating in front of your hands, lift your elbows slightly, (about a half to one inch, while still keeping your hands on the table), and concentrate on the space on the sides of your body, while you relax your back into the back of the chair.  Your breath will, of course, now need to be slower. (You will need a chair with a comfortable full back). 

After breathing in, just breathe out and relax into the chair.  Take a regular breath and then repeat this special breath. Repeat this exercise from one to six times at one session (at your discretion).  Again, if this is uncomfortable, contact us. 

It may take some practice to get all of this working properly, but the results are very relaxing.  This exercise can eliminate depression and increase energy.  It can dissolve the destructive force of anger and help you to unwind after work.  Please feel free to comment on the results of this exercise in the “comments” section of this blog. (Please remember to consult with your physician before beginning to practice any new type of exercise.)

SECRET MESSAGES IN THE TAI-CHI FORM

The movements of Tai-chi encode lessons of how to bring power back into the body.  Each principle of movement is like the chapter of a book, explaining how to keep the body young and the mind creative.  A teacher must explain how to read this movement book so the student can discover its secrets.  The most striking feature of Tai-chi forms is the smoothness of movement – an unbroken, even current, ebbing and flowing. 

In order to achieve this movement, the mind must also flow smoothly, rather than jump from one point to another.  In this way mind, rather than being at one point at one time, must expand, filling up the whole space within and surrounding the body. 

As you breathe out, you sink into the ground, and as you breathe in you rise up.  Each joint relaxes as you sink.  Each joint expands as you rise in a sequence.  There is a corresponding effect on the mind (attention).  Your attention flows downward as you breathe out, following the momentum as it sinks into the earth.  Your attention expands upwards as you breathe in, following the momentum as it flows upward and outward. 

Let’s just take these dynamics of movement and attention and understand what information is being conveyed that may help us to improve our lives.  Too often our attention gets caught up in the specifics of what we are doing and we forget our overall goals in life.  Our attention becomes like a pinpoint – one dimensional.  We need to be aware of the totality of our lives – what we have been trying to achieve, what skills we have gained, lessons learned and how we can continue to be creative with our lives.  Otherwise our minds will be in a bus someone else is driving. 

If our bodies are smoothly flowing and cannot be jerked about by our own patterns of thoughts and tension, then surely our attention cannot be jerked around by the forces around us.  When the news tells us that what is going on is that one group is fighting another, the news is creating an agenda in our lives.  It tells us what we should be paying attention to.  The news is driving our bus. 

The Tai-chi student learns that the conflicts we see or read about in the world around us, superimpose themselves inside of us, so that our minds are filled with conflict.  The mind and body seem to be in conflict as the mind tries to make the body do what it wants (and usually fails).  Our relationships and everyday lives seem to consist of one conflict after another. 

At a certain point in our training it becomes obvious that we have adopted the mode of conflict we see around us into the very essence of who we are.  But what would it be like if conflict was not the basis of every level of our lives?  It would be like the Tai-chi form.  This form is a movement code for a harmonious mind and body, a harmonious human being living a natural way of life.  Indeed if the form were done with conflict, with tension, with jerkiness, it would not really be Tai-chi. 

So the smoothness of the form tells us to look at nature for flowing harmony and let  nature control your bus.  Just as our attention flows into the earth and sky with our breath, you can also control whether your attention moves to conflict or to harmony.  In this way you learn to drive your own bus.  You learn to become the harmony that others can learn from.

By expanding your attention so that it fills your whole body and surroundings, you learn that your surroundings are really part of you.  Your sense of identity moves from a set of opinions and a pattern of emotions to a whole living body and vibrant, creative awareness.  From there, it expands to your natural environment, your community and to all life.  At that point, conflict is hardly possible. 

You had to be convinced that you are completely separate from nature and from other people in order to be trained into a life of conflict.  When you cast that illusion aside your life regains its natural power.  Even your past and present seem to unite as you remember how the dreams and hopes of childhood gave you enthusiasm for life.  That enthusiasm still lives inside and can return home.  When you forget your dreams, you lose your power.  They tug at you when you sleep, fighting their way up through the layers of conflict that have pressed them down.

When conflict no longer tears you apart, when your dreams of power become part of your life, then you physically experience your connection to the biological aliveness and consciousness of the world you live in.  The shell that seemed to contain you dissolves and permeates into the world around you.  You have come home to that world, you are well known in that world, and you are loved by that world.

THE POWER TO CONTROL YOUR LIFE

It may seem that we have lost the power to improve our lives in these tough economic times.  Many people have heard that Tai-chi and Zookinesis help you develop more power in your life.  This training was developed at a time when everyday life was hard, without the benefit of modern conveniences.  It developed the strength and power within an individual so he could be more powerful in his everyday life. 

Yet the teachings seem mysterious to us in modern times because we have a different understanding of what power means.  We think of power as just earning more money, controlling the behavior of others or developing larger muscles.  When a potential student hears that Tai-chi teaches you to develop internal energy (“chi”), he immediately thinks of science fiction stories of shooting rays of energy to conquer enemies.  We take very sophisticated ancient training and make them seem silly. 

The term “internal energy” refers to the way that what is going on inside of you influences what happens in your life.  It means that your state of health and emotional balance is the most important influence on your power to improve your life.  I show below a way of explaining this that I use in my classes.  It hopefully retains the flavor of the ancient way of writing while making the principles described above, understandable to our modern minds.

Some students want to learn to concentrate and direct their energy.  I teach them to release their energy and let it go where it wants.  The students wants to gain power.  I teach them to stop interfering with their natural power.  Some want to win the heart of a lover.  I teach them to release their heart and let it go where it wants.  Some want to live in a beautiful house.  I teach them to become alive in their bodies. 

When you are alive and vibrant, your consciousness seeks to expand and to connect with the world around you, and so you live in the world, and are alive in the world.  It is your living energy, merged with the world around you that makes that world beautiful.  When you withdraw your feelings from the world around you, the world itself feels dead.  When you withdraw your feelings from your body, your body feels dead. 

Your life then becomes divided, one part withdrawing, and the other part wanting to be released so it can join the world.  You then seek to acquire things of the world.  In this way you can remain separated from it, yet claim ownership over part of it. Owning something takes the place of really being part of it.  

Your relationships with people are no longer based on releasing yourself to the other, and receiving them, but rather on agreements and arrangements.  You originally withdrew to protect yourself from the unpredictable behaviors and intentions of others, yet wound up damaging yourself by being disconnected from the vibrancy of life.  Tai-chi and Zookinesis teach us that the state of withdrawal is so prevalent in our society (and in many others past and present), that we have forgotten how it feels to be connected.  Some of us have even forgotten how to let another person completely into our souls.  We have “hesitant” relationships. 

Tai-chi and Zookinesis teach the art of “letting go” (releasing).  At a certain point you feel the flow of energy within the body.  You realize that you are “holding” that energy, or we say, “locking it up”.  Even our attention (consciousness) seems to be locked into patterns of thinking.  At another point in the training, that energy suddenly “jumps the fence” and seeks to merge with your surroundings.  It is a startling moment because you realize how much “locking up” the energy has hurt you previously. 

Your consciousness now joins the “consciousness of nature” just as the water of a stream joins the water of a river and then the water of the ocean.  You feel a member of life.  Your thinking and behaviors are no longer so patterned, but are more creative.  Once your consciousness fills your body and the world around you, your life is felt more intensely.  Every cell of your body is like the string of a stringed instrument, which is played by the beauty of the world around you.  Your attention is attracted to beautiful things and thoughts rather than to worries and anger, and so your life goes in a new direction. 

This is all accomplished by learning how to release your energy (“chi”) and consciousness and let it go where it wants.  You will feel like you were a caged animal that has now been let loose into its natural habitat.  The cage of fear is no longer your home.  I have a rabbit who lives in a cage in the house during the winter.  When I let it loose from time to time, it seeks the “shelter” of a stool I use to hold a plant.  The rabbit stays within the four feet of the stool.  It has been let loose yet seeks the security of something that looks like his cage.

When the student’s energies have finally been released, there is a tendency to seek a new “cage”.  He seeks philosophies and “truths”.  Tai-chi is not really a system of truths.  It is a way to become re-connected to nature and to other people.  It is a simple, practical teaching that does not get involved in abstract philosophy. 

The goal is to understand yourself – to see yourself.  There is a saying, “See yourself, be yourself, appreciate yourself.”  See all your patterns and see your creativity.  Don’t try to twist yourself into someone who is “approved of” and turn into a fake version of yourself. 

And then appreciate all the efforts you have made in your life to survive in this world, to understand the world and to be creative in the world.  Appreciate your biological aliveness and how you are connected to nature.  Appreciate the creative efforts of others and be sympathetic to their lack of perfection (as well as to your own). 

Understand that other philosophies are also a way of understanding yourself and releasing you from self-imposed prisons.  Don’t seek them as the security of yet another cage.  Seek nature in your surroundings and in people.  Step out of your own way so that the now invisible world of creative energy can be perceived.  Let that be your new home. 

Remember that nature is creative.  Nature is vibrant.  Tai-chi also teaches that nature is conscious. The qualities that you seek for yourself are already in you because you arose from nature.  When you release your energy, your attention, to nature, you enter the flow of creativity, vibrancy and consciousness.  As much as you release, that much and more flows back.  So the teaching of “letting go” is the path to power.

NATURAL MIND AND THE MACHINE

My days as a zoologist, canoeing through the jungles of Central America, gave me a unique perspective of how living in a wild area affects the perspectives and perceptions of people. Living in my canoe or in a small tent set up by the edge of a river made me feel like just another animal among many. The villages I visited were just a few huts clustered together every few miles at the river’s edge. The human presence was small compared to the overwhelming intensity of the jungle – its colors and shapes, its humidity, smells and rhythms of life.
As soon as I arrived in the jungle, it “grabbed” me. There was an instant transformation in the way my mind perceived and understood my relationship to the surroundings. By travelling back and forth from New York to Central America, I could feel the effect of each environment on me. I could also see and understand how the people in each area were very different because of their respective environments.
This experience, plus my life-time of training in several types of traditional healing, has led me to several conclusions. The first is that the natural tendency of our minds, (our consciousness – or what I call “attention”) is to expand into the environment and connect with it. This means more than looking at something. It means that each of our minds, in order to operate properly, cannot be locked up inside of us. The mind is not just a by-product of brain activity. It is the biological glue that connects us to the environment.
One of the effects of modern life is to “lock up” our minds into our thinking process. In this way, mind is no longer connected to the body. The body seems to be “down there”. The mind is no longer biologically connected to the environment, except in the sense that we think about our environment.
I have found a fundamental difference in human nature in those societies in which the mind is “locked up” as compared to those in which the mind is not locked up. Stress levels, for example, are higher when the mind is locked up, as if it were soda in a bottle that was shaken. Warmth and humidity have the effect of making the mind more fluid so that it is like watercolor ink dropped onto the wet rice paper.
Notice how you feel inside your home in the winter as compared to lying in an open area on a warm summer day. We have designed our environment to be disconnected. Our shoes and our floors disconnect us from the ground. Our cell phones and computers disconnect us from other people, even as we try to communicate with them. Our packaged, prepared foods disconnect us from picking food from trees and plants.
Our single celled ancestors gathered together in colonies and eventually formed multi-cellular animals that are now considered to be a single animal. Each cell became more and more disconnected from the “natural” environment. In the same way, we are now creating super-organisms, disconnected from the natural environment.
But there are many people who don’t feel comfortable giving up their individual, biological identity, in a sense handing over their very minds to the “hive”. These people require a direct connection to nature, balancing their membership in society with their membership in the living earth.
One of the things I have noticed is that the more removed you are from nature, the more you are addicted to the “drama of life”. The people living at the edge of the jungle certainly had their interpersonal dramas, but their joy of life came mostly from simpler things. On my first trip to Panama, my hosts sat at the edge of the river every evening, staring at the river. They weren’t looking at anything in particular; they were just participating in the world around them. Even when I was young, people would sit in chairs in front of their houses in Brooklyn, “participating” in life.
Things have changed drastically since then. Now we have our televisions and computers to look at. Our activities are less communal. While our society is becoming more isolated from nature, we are becoming more isolated from each other, even as our society as a whole is becoming more condensed and interdependent.
When single celled animals formed into multi-cellular animals, each cell lost much of its function and became specialized (muscle cell, gland cell, etc.). They were no longer whole organisms within themselves. I am reminded of our educational system, no longer emphasizing a “classical education”, but just teaching students to pass tests.
It certainly seems like we are witnessing the birth of a new type of organism which requires a new type of “mind”. This new mind is not whole and balanced. It is not aware of the whole history of humankind, to serve as the backdrop to understand what is going on now. It is designed to be only a piece of a person that is useful for one particular function of the society.
The goal of many philosophies and religions is to acquire a natural type of mind. When Buddhists speak of Buddha, they aren’t only referring to the person, but to the state of mind that he attained and that we can also attain: The same for Christians who use the term “Christ”, really meaning the Christ type of mind. When Taoists speak of “no-mind”, they mean a mind not filled with excess of any kind.
I consider each to be a rebellion against re-shaping the natural human mind for use in the new societal “machine” of each time period. With the natural mind, each person is a whole human, directly connected to the living earth. Relationships are between two whole people rather than between two parts of a machine. Each person is allowed to grow and develop into a mature, full person, rather than be molded into just a piece of a person.
If we believe in developing whole people, connected to nature, then I believe that a well-rounded education is the place to start, an education that emphasizes creative thinking rather than memorizing answers to tests. Growing your own food is another place to start so that your food is healthy and nutritious and so that you have a feeling for where your food came from.
I cut and split wood for my wood heating stove. If I figured out the amount of labor involved in getting wood and taking care of the heating stove, I’m sure it would be a lot cheaper just to use the furnace. But heating the house by my own efforts keeps me connected to nature, especially in winter. On the one hand, I could just consider how to be the most efficient to amass wealth. On the other hand, I could consider how to be the most efficient to maintain the natural mind. I try to balance the two, willing to sacrifice wealth in order to hold onto the wholeness of my life.
What is the balance of these two factors in your life? It is especially hard to maintain this balance in tough economic times. Putting food on the table – any food – is pretty important. But let’s remember that if we put off the health of our bodies and minds, we are more prone to disease and we feel miserable. If you can find one thing to do that re-connects you to nature, such as cooking your own food, or growing it, that will go a long way to keeping you healthy and happy. Meet someone face to face, rather than texting. Sit in the back yard, or at a sunny window, and watch the sun set. Doing one natural thing each day can help us to maintain our humanity in the face of a more and more machine-like world.

NEW GROUP CLASSES

Our beginners group classes (half Zookinesis Chi-gung and half Tai-chi Yang Short Form) will be Mondays and Thursdays at 7-8pm.  The Zookinesis loosens up all the muscles and joints, restoring flexibility, range of motion and muscle strength.  The Yang Short Form allows your body to flow gracefully and smoothly, and teaches you to let go of tension and stress; Both improve breathing and concentration and increase the flow of chi (natural, internal energy).  If you would like additional classes or classes at other times, please let us know.  Call 631 744-5999 or email info@movementsofmagic.com  We continue to provide private classes and Tai-chi massage at any time convenient for you. 

MELTING THE FROZEN MIND AND BODY

The nature of the mind and body is to be fluid.  Yet I see people becoming more and more rigid with each passing year as stress takes its toll.  When the mind and body are frozen, they begin to die quickly.  You lose the feeling in your body and even in your emotions and life become less fulfilling.  I have to find metaphors to teach people how to “melt” their minds and bodies to return them to their natural state.  The metaphors below come from the martial arts and, surprisingly, from a comic book.

As a student transitions from an “external” (tension-oriented) martial art to an “internal” martial art, the most difficult habit to break is freezing the body and mind.  Most martial arts students are used to tightening the body and mind at the end of a strike.  This is supposed to give you added power. 

In the internal martial arts you remain fluid, mentally and physically, at all times.  At the end of a strike, it immediately bounces back, and the bounce-back becomes the beginning of the next movement. All strikes emanate from the center of your body (the “tan-tien”) and the bounce-back returns to the center.  Your body rotates around the center so that turning to a new direction is very quick and easy. 

Freezing at the end of a strike makes it awkward to turn to a new direction.  It also prevents your full energy from leaving your body and moving into the opponent.  A lot of your energy is used in freezing rather than in striking.  At the moment you freeze, your attention is caught up in freezing rather than in what is going on around you.  This gives your opponent a chance to come in. 

The more you freeze, the less you perceive.  The more you freeze, the more time you spend away from being centered.  The more you freeze, the more you cut off the flow of energy through your body, which connects you to your surroundings.

It’s difficult enough to teach a martial arts student to stop freezing.  At least he feels the effects of his freezing when he gets hit by a student of an internal martial art, such as Tai-chi-Chuan.  The effect of freezing on the average person depletes your power just as much, but it is much harder to understand this in everyday life.   

I have taught Tai-chi and Zookinesis to thousands of people, and each discipline requires fluidity in mind and body.  I am constantly amazed at how frozen people are, and how little they realize they are frozen.  Compare the state you are in when you are surfing the web to when you are watching a sunset. 

In both cases your attention moves out.  It moves out to the computer screen or to the sunset.  But in the latter case the movement comes about because of relaxation.  In the former case it moves out because of the tightening of your attention, and usually, the tightening of the body.  The computer surfing type of attention is called, “Yang attention”.  The sunset type of attention is called, “Yin attention”. 

Our society is becoming more Yang, more tight, more wound up.  I think no one would disagree with that!  I describe this as becoming “more frozen”.  In this state, the mind separates from the body and you live more and more in your mind.  It is even hard to imagine your attention living equally in the body as in the mind. 

As described in the previous blog post, we tend to associate consciousness itself with thinking.  It is my job as a teacher of Tai-chi and Zookinesis to allow students to experience a different state of consciousness, in which your attention is evenly distributed throughout your body and not just in your head.  In this state you realize that consciousness is an inherent force in all things and not just the end result of your brain nerves at work. 

I remember a story from childhood which explains all of this very well.  It was in a “Weird Tales” comic book and struck me, even then, as a very clear and spiritual story.  It goes something like this:

A man heard that a guru in the Himalayan mountains was the wisest man in the world and lived to eight hundred years old.  The man sold all his possessions and spent weeks travelling to Tibet to visit the guru.  When he finally reached the town where the old man lived, the people were impressed that he had given up everything to meet the guru and they brought him to the cave where he lived. 

The guru, sitting on a large stone in the cave, was equally impressed and agreed to give the visitor his secrets.  Standing up, he bade the visitor to sit down on the stone.  He explained that he had been sitting on that stone for eight hundred years and that, as long as he didn’t get up, he would live forever.  But if he were to get up off that stone, he would instantly die, unless he could find someone to take his place. 

Now the man who had travelled up to this high mountain to seek wisdom had saved the guru from an eternity of misery.  The guru laughed and left.  The visitor was left to contemplate his fate.  Would he really die if he left the stone?  Had he given up everything to be trapped in this cave forever?  And that’s how the story ends. 

I would ask you, which part of the body does the stone represent?  Do you think you will die if your consciousness leaves it and rejoins the rest of the world?  What have you given up to spend the rest of your life in that cave? 

The man in the story is frozen by his fear of death.   And all he wanted was just to find out the meaning of the universe from someone who he thought had all the answers.

I hope that in this story, you will discover how you are frozen and what you need to do to melt the mind and body, so they can regain their natural fluidity.  In the fluid state your consciousness is connected to your body and to all of nature.  You feel the vibrancy of nature as her energies flow through you. 

While you may not live to be eight hundred years old, your life is fulfilling at every moment, even at times of stress.  You feel that you are part of the natural world and supported by it.  You feel nature’s consciousness and realize that your sense of that consciousness dies as long as you are trapped in that cave. 

You have truly given up everything because you have given up the connection of your consciousness to nature and your body has become just a machine.  That sense allows you to see your own spirit, the spirit of others and how we are all connected.  When you are frozen, it feels as though we are all disconnected.  It is the job of a teacher of Tai-chi and Zookinesis to return that sense to you so you can feel the world and your life passionately.

THE DYNAMICS OF CONSCIOUSNESS AND HEALING

The dynamics of how the mind can heal the body is a vital part of all ancient healing systems.  But just what are those dynamics?  I have spent most of my life studying this subject, apprenticing with traditional healers of several cultures and reading ancient manuscripts of others.  As a writer, my job is to distill that information and to express it in a way that is appropriate and understandable to modern readers. 

Firstly, I need to explain the concept of “attention”.  It is important to understand that attention does not mean thinking.  Pure attention (called, “True Yin” in Taoist Alchemy) is the state of awareness when thinking stops.  You are perfectly capable of functioning, but your intentions come from a deeper part of you than thoughts. 

The best way of explaining this very important principle, comes from Christian history.  During the first three hundred years after Jesus’ death, there was a split in Christianity.  This was at a time when Emperor Constantine chose Christianity as the state religion of the Roman Empire.  In both versions of Christianity, the trinity (Father, Son and Holy Ghost) was used to express the basic principles of the religion.  In each version, the Father represented consciousness, the Son reason or thinking, and the Holy Ghost represented creativity (a piece of God within you). 

The “Gnostic” Christians believed that thinking was a process used by consciousness to communicate and to plan your activities, etc.  It must always be balanced with creativity so that the thinking process does not become rigid. 

This was expressed as “The Bridal Chamber”, in which the bride (creativity) and groom (thinking) were united and balanced within the larger space of the room (pure consciousness).  And so they explained that the Father “begets” the “Son” and is not the same as the “Son”. 

The “Apostolic” Christians believed that thinking is the same as consciousness – that there is no other state of consciousness than thinking.  Creativity is also thinking.  Everything is thinking.  They expressed this as the Son IS the Father or “Jesus is God”. 

Emperor Constantine called for a conference in the city of Nicaea in 323 AD to settle these differences.  The emperor set himself up as the moderator.  Now, using our thinking minds to good advantage, which version would an empire, needing to keep control over vast numbers of people of many different cultures, choose as the “correct” version of Christianity?  If thinking was the only version of consciousness considered legitimate, and the Roman Empire and the Apostolics provided a list of approved thoughts, then that inconvenient factor of creativity could be eliminated.

It is easier to control people whose minds all conform. To this day it is hard to convince people that there is another state of consciousness other than thinking.  The state of consciousness which is controlled by the thinking process is one dimensional.  Each thought follows the other, one by one. 

And yet, even while thinking, you must also at the same time, use the state of pure consciousness, even though you might not recognize it.  It is this larger state that keeps track of where the thoughts are going to wind up somewhere useful.  It is like the map that gives you the overall picture, while the thinking process is like the little dot on the map that shows you where you are at the moment.  If the “map” part of the mind weakens and you are left only with the dot (thinking), then you are lost.  And that is the state of many people today. 

And now the real secret of healing.  In modern times, we “think” of consciousness as the by-product of nerve activity in the brain.  When you get involved in any traditional healing system, you soon realize that every part of the body is conscious. 

In Tai-chi we say that the feet are the “gateway to consciousness”.  This means that how your feet are placed on the ground with each step, determines how the rest of your body has to adjust itself to the irregularities of the terrain.  Those irregularities are part of the geology and biology of that area.  In this way, each part of you becomes part of the geological and biological history of that area. 

Of course, in modern times, we pave over those nasty irregularities so that our feet don’t need to be conscious.  In many ways we create a culture which allows the consciousness of the body to die so that all of our energy can be focused on the thinking process.  And so the body is deprived of conscious energy and begins to decay and age. 

Many types of massage such as “Tai-chi Massage” are specifically used to “wake up” the consciousness of the body.  The Tai-chi “Forms”, “Chi-gung” and “Push Hands” are used for the same purpose.  When each part of the body is conscious, the body “knows” how to heal itself.  It knows without thinking. 

And so one important principle of Tai-chi (as well as other healing systems) is that “attention” should be evenly distributed throughout the body, so that you feel you are as much your feet as you are your head.  Many people feel they are just a big head, and the body’s function is just to carry the head around.  Small children in our society usually draw people as big heads with tiny arms and legs sticking out of the heads.  I wonder if they are just seeing the distribution of attention in a person, and drawing their pictures accurately from that perspective. 

In “internal” martial arts training, your attention needs to fill up the entire area around you so that you can feel your sparring partner with your attention.  The action is going by too fast to see everything.  One of the great benefits of martial arts training is that you learn to connect your attention to your surroundings, including to your sparring partner.  Gradually your attention can connect to all of your natural surroundings in a very spiritual way. 

And that “way” is as follows:  Consciousness is experienced as a natural force, permeating all things in nature.  The consciousness of each living thing is connected to all others.  In this way, the earth is a conscious being and the state of health of one part of it is vital to the state of health of all other parts.  An attack on one part of the earth is an attack on the whole.  The natural flow of consciousness through all living things is vital for the health of any one of them. 

We now live in a culture which fosters blocking ourselves off from that flow of consciousness and so, it fosters the deadening of the body.  We watch football rather than play football.  We text our friends rather than talk to our friends.  If anyone is interested in making a lot of money, I have a great idea.  Imagine a cell phone that you can talk into and it creates text, so that you don’t have to press on the letter keys.  That would be convenient, wouldn’t it?  Now imagine a cell phone that receives that text and translates it into voice, so you don’t have to look down at the phone (for example, when you’re driving).  That would be convenient, wouldn’t it?  But I think that technology may have already been invented.  It is called, “Calling someone on the phone”. 

Why do people prefer texting?  I think it is because they don’t have to actually talk to anyone.  Texting provides a separation between people, just as an addiction to thinking provides a separation from your own body. 

But thinking that emanates from the combined consciousness of the whole body and its connection to the entire world of life, is truly creative.  It is the balance of thinking and creativity that allows the body to constantly heal itself.  To heal is to be creative and to experience the creativity of others.  Art, in whatever form, is healing.  Comedy is healing.  Allow your attention to expand, relax and play, and you will stay younger and more vibrant.  Spend more time in nature and feel how you are connected to it.  This will help you to become more connected to yourself. 

Play ball and talk to people face to face, like in “the old days”.  Feel how watching the rising or setting sun can heal the body.  As the Tai-chi saying goes, “Relax (to allow attention to expand), smile (be playful) and breathe (feel your connection to nature)”.