Meditation Classes

Responding to A Call to Wholeness with Attentive Awareness: an Homage to SN Goenka

I had the opportunity to sit in Vipassana meditation last month over Thanksgiving.  It had been three years since my last course which was during my pregnancy.  Motherhood has been an amazing challenge and finding ways to meditate throughout the day has been difficult, so I was thrilled at the opportunity to revitalize my practice again.

These are the notes I made in the clarity after 3 days of meditating 12 hours a day, observing my breath, observing my physical sensations and observing all the roiling thoughts in my mind that were taking my attention from the present moment.

You are lost in thought again: your thoughts, the thoughts of others, thoughts started in the distant past, thoughts unfinished.  Thoughts re-crafted over and over of what you might have done or what you didn’t do.  Thoughts of the future, the distant future, the immediate future, thoughts of a possible future if only you act now.  Thoughts of people, of circumstances of dreams and expectations.  Thoughts of passion, of regret, of emptiness, thoughts of what might have happened if only you had done or said something different than what  had happened.

These thoughts boil and churn, tumbling over one another again and again, perhaps with slight variations as you reinforce them with your creative mind.  If only, of only, of only…..

These thoughts grip your mind, freezing it in a static stasis of immobility.  If only, if only, if only.  But…but…but…

Resist the temptation to reinforce the past you are trying to correct, it is impossible.  Practice being aware of these thoughts without engaging them.  Observe how they rise.  Observe yourself engage them.  Observe how your physical structure reacts to this process.  And then observe yourself observing all this.

Be still.  Observe awhile and eventually you will see the spaces between thoughts.  Continue observing with attentive awareness and those spaces of clarity will expand.  As you observe, you will see how thoughts arise into the spaces and you will observe yourself engaging those thoughts for awhile before letting them go and watching them fade away.  Do not become elated at this fading away.  Do not expect the momentary peaceful clarity to last.  For, certainly, another thought will arise again.

We are not able to change our thinking by eliminating the thinking process.  We can learn to not react to thoughts and by not reacting to them.  It is inevitable that they will fade away as part of the nature of life which is always and unavoidably ever-changing.  The law of nature is that all is ever changing.

In the first hours of Noble Speech once silence has been broken this past vipassana course, something that always comes up is the question of how it is that we have all come to vipassana as students.  Despite the wide variety of backgrounds and life experiences, it is always interesting to learn that we each came to vipassana in response to an inner call to wholeness.  My story is similar to many others:  A friend was talking about her experience at her first vipassana course.  Her description of the meditation schedule, though rigorous, struck me as exactly what I needed at the time.

My practice has waxed and waned of the subsequent 10 years through graduate school, business and child-rearing.  At times the discipline was strong and I was able to weather intense times of change with easy breaths.  At other times the responsibility to others overwhelmed me and I did not make time to practice and the challenges of life became intense struggles.  But always the same call to wholeness resounded and I returned to find the lessons of attentive awareness once again.

After this past course, I noticed the difference between myself as an older student and the expectations of the newer students that I once shared.  As an older student, now, I no longer expect to have a sudden change of life that will enable me to maintain this clarity.  I don’t expect that I will be able to instantly be able to fulfill the directive to meditate for an hour in the morning and an hour in the evening.  And I can accept that without judgement.  I will do what I can do with gratitude for the moments of clarity that come as life keeps changing, changing, changing, ever-changing.

Karah Pino in meditation

Karah Pino in meditation

Vipassana Courses are offered around the world through the teaching of SN Goenka who transcended life this past September.  His recorded lessons teaching the technique and offering guidance to meditation ring true to new students and old students, young and old of all backgrounds and cultures.  Vipassana Courses are offered freely and donation of funds, time or other service are accepted but not expected.  To learn more, visit www.dhamma.org may all beings be happy.

For many, meditation is key for fighting stress, finding peace Video

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For many, meditation is key for fighting stress, finding peace

Meditation is a mind-body practice that’s existed for thousands of years, yet it still attracts people looking for solace, healing and spiritual enlightenment today.

Verna Sausman of Louisville was among those who gathered at a recent meditation session at Wellness 360 studio in St. Matthews. She sat in a chair with her eyes closed and her legs crossed beneath her as Dr. Peter Buecker guided a small group through a meditation session.

“This is my healing; it works for me,” said Sausman, who was using the 45-minute session to cope with the loss of a loved one.

Though some people think they can’t quiet their mind enough to meditate, “anyone can learn to meditate,” said Buecker, the studio’s owner. “… The quiet or calm mind is the product of meditation, not the prerequisite for it.”

There are many different kinds of meditation, but most have some common threads, according to the National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine, part of the National Institutes of Health. People usually meditate in a quiet place in a specific posture, such as lying or sitting down, with an open attitude and a focused mind, the center says.

The Rev. Joe Mitchell, a priest and meditation teacher who is executive director of the Passionist Earth & Spirit Center on Newburg Road, explains meditation this way:

“Meditation is cultivating a steady and focused awareness by letting go of thoughts and desires to abide in a place of stillness and silence.”

Mitchell, who teaches mindfulness meditation from the Christian and Buddhist perspectives, said, “It’s about turning down the volume of the inner chatter in the mind.”

Buecker, an orthopedic surgeon, opened Wellness 360 in January to offer meditation and a variety of other mind-body services, after realizing that “a pill, or an injection, or a procedure isn’t always the answer” for patients going through personal crises, such as parenting, spousal and care-giving issues.

Many times, people are caught in a vicious cycle of stress that leads to tension and pain, then to the need for “more and more medicines at higher and higher doses,” Buecker said, but meditation helps give them basic skills to get their life back into control.

The Difference between Tai Chi and Qigong

Difference between Tai Chi & Qigong

Often at retreats and from students the question arises; “What is the difference between qigong and tai chi?” In this article we will explore this question, understanding that this is a more complex matter than it seems, and cannot be fully answered in a few simple sentences. This is because there are literally hundreds of styles of qigong (chi gung) and five major schools of tai chi with numerous variations.

This is a lot of tai chi and a lot of qigong from which to make a simple statement. Accurately distinguishing between them is like separating out all the color flows and shadings within a single beautiful but complex painting.

Energy Gates Qigong Instructor Training in EnglandEnergy Gates Qigong Instructor Training in England

Cultural Translation Issues

There is another issue that muddies the waters and makes answering this qigong question diffi­cult. Many obtain information on the differences and similarities from a local qigong or tai chi instructor, or from a Chinese instructor who cannot translate from one culture to another easily, or who may not want to share what has been secret, etc.

The trouble is that instructors may only know details about the specific type of qigong they do, and not other types or its rela­tionships to chi-energy arts as a whole. This is not unusual, just as in the field of science, biologists often don’t know that much about civil engineering, and vice versa. As a result, misinformation and half-truths abound.

Comparing Qigong and Tai Chi

Anything of truly great value always has great subtlety, whether or not it looks simple and easy on the surface. Some other differences not mentioned here are too technical, and will not be covered as they may confuse rather than clarify. To bypass complex tech­nical issues, just as is done when you want common sense to tell you how computers work, we will look at the four most commonly given simple answers to the original question—what is the difference between tai chi and qigong?

Each answer gives a progressively more complete answer. All are only partial truths, but at least they are the most accurate answers that can be given without going into excessive detail.

Level 1: Tai chi is a form of qigong, or, qigong is tai chi’s parent

This is the most common answer.

The accurate part of the statement is this: the invisible chi or internal power aspects included within the tai chi part of tai chi chuan derive directly from one branch of the 3,000-year-old Taoist qigong tradition, whereas Taoist qigong does not come from tai chi. However, the statement is misleading because it omits Buddhist or Confucian qigong, which have little in common with tai chi’s roots in Taoist qigong or Taoism. Learn more about this in the Five Branches of Qigong.

This answer also involves a common error in logic: since to the Western ear it sounds as if the word energy is contained in both words, they must mean the same thing. Right? Wrong! The qi or chi of qigong means energy, the chi of tai chi does not. In tai chi the chi means ‘ultimate’.

To add to the confusion, the chi in tai chi and qigong are almost universally pronounced by Westerners as “chee,” which is accurate for qigong and inaccurate for tai chi (“gee”) chuan. Those who commonly both see and mispronounce tai chi as chee also tend to assume both mean the same thing, which they do not.

Confusion escalates and gets reinforced when you find out both tai chi and qigong work with chi-energy (however often in different ways) and have similar benefits. Adding to the potential confusion, although many people may have heard the name, most in the West have only seen tai chi or qigong in still photos, on television, or at the cinema.

When shown visually, if these arts are even named, usually narrators inaccurately call both tai chi, because they don’t know the difference. This commonly leaves the impression that qigong is tai chi or vice versa. The public subsequently has an association that slow-motion movements + Chinese something-or-other = tai chi. Consequently, the public and the media are more familiar with the name tai chi than qigong, and commonly do not make much distinction between them.

Tracing Acupuncture Lines with QigongTracing Acupuncture Lines with QigongLevel 2: Tai chi is a martial art, qigong is purely for healing

The accurate part of this statement is that qigong has specific techniques or styles that are particularly effective for specific diseases beyond the ken of tai chi. For instance, there are specific qigong methods for helping those with cancer and mitigating the effects of radiation and chemotherapy. In China one set used for this was Dragon and Tiger Medical Qigong.

The misleading part is that although all tai chi powerfully heals and maintains health, only a tiny fraction of participants do any of its practical martial arts techniques. On the other hand, qigong also has within it practices for increasing the power you need to make self-defense techniques effective, even though qigong per se does not include the fighting techniques themselves.

Level 3: Tai chi and qigong have different movements

Although the first part of this answer can be a little murky, the second part is relatively clear. Both tai chi and some (but not most or all), aspects of qigong do what they do using flowing, fluid, slow-motion movements. To an untrained eye, all regular, smooth, slow-motion movements would tend to look the same, no matter how different they are in reality. Yet a casual observer would be able to clearly distinguish between different kinds of movements done at a faster speed. Nevertheless, slow-motion movements are only fast movements done slowly.

The second part of the answer is this: just because tai chi and qigong movements are done in slow motion does not mean that their movements must basically be the same. There is an exceptionally wide range of different movements, each requiring different kinds of physical coordination. Moreover, although the slow-motion movements of different tai chi styles may be somewhat different, on the whole they are basically variations of the same theme.

In contrast, slow-motion movements in a particular qigong style can look radically dif­ferent from either tai chi or other qigong systems. Take, for example, two well-respected members of the Taoist qigong tribe—tai chi chuan and Wild Goose qigong. Wild Goose has as many moves as a tai chi long form, yet looks radically different from tai chi. Likewise, non-Taoist medical and Buddhist qigong systems also contain movements not to be found in tai chi or each other.

There are many ways to move the body, as can be seen in the differences in the dance world between styles of ballet, ballroom, tap, disco, and hip-hop. Like dance styles, within the hundreds of qigong schools you can move in other ways besides regular, smooth, slow-motion movements. There are techniques which involve shaking, jumping up and down, vibrating, shouting, alternating speed with staying dead still, flapping like a bird, squatting flatfooted, and even moving freely and spontaneously in ways almost too strange to describe, while making weird, otherworldly sounds.

Above and beyond moving, qigong also has primary methods that specialize in:

  • Standing, either with your arms by your sides or in all kinds of positions.
  • Sitting, both on the floor and in chairs.
  • Lying down in various positions.
  • Sexual and all kinds of human interactions, including talking.

Although tai chi may use standing, sitting, and lying down techniques, they are ancillary to the primary technique of slow-motion movements for health, longevity, and stress management.

Using the Beak Hand in Dragon and Tiger Qigong to Move ChiUsing the Beak Hand in Dragon and Tiger Qigong to Move ChiLevel 4: Tai chi and qigong may work with chi-energy differently

Why are you doing these movements in the first place? From a purely physical viewpoint the body needs to move and exercise to prevent problems. A different perspective is that the movements are designed to specifically promote the flow of chi within you. Therefore, if you want to generate a specific chi flow in your body, one type of movement may make it easier whereas others may make it harder.

Tai chi is based upon the potential to fully incorporate all 16 parts of the neigongi system seamlessly into every movement; qigong normally tends to partially utilize some, but not all, of the 16 neigong components in any specific movement or entire form. In tai chi, although some specific moves may make it slightly easier to initially learn or solidly assimilate any one of the 16 components, for an advanced practitioner, the other 15 are ideally always present and integrated within each and every move of the form.

Some Taoist qigong schools will teach the entire 16 components initially through a series of short qigong forms, each of which emphasizes two or three specific parts of the neigong, until the final form which encompasses all 16. After this the student has a complete background within which to engage learning the full energetic potential of tai chi. The Energy Arts Qigong Exercise Program, for example, does this in his teaching work, using five very short qigong sets plus Dragon and Tiger Qigong, the first five of which initially emphasize only one to three components of the entire 16 neigong components.

Qigong also often separates specific chi functions into separate movements or differ­ent forms. For example, while doing a qigong form, during one move you might direct energy through a specific acupuncture meridian (the lung or heart meridian for example), and in the next move you might direct energy through a different meridian. Or in one move, you might draw energy through a particular acupuncture point in your body, and in the next release the energy from a different one. Or within the same form during one series of moves you could deliberately only exclusively activate and work with one of your three tantiens or centers of energy, and later within the same form, in a different series of moves,deliberately solely activate a different tantien and its functions, or other specific elements of the Taoist neigong system.

Ideally, in tai chi, an experienced practitioner will not separate these energy practices in this way. So that provides you with four different ways of looking at the question. All have truth in them and help elicudate the difference between qigong and tai chi.

Article extracted from Tai Chi Health for Life Book.  To order this book click here.

The Difference between Tai Chi & Qigong.

Unwind your Mind – Meditation Classes next week on the UW campus May 9th

Techniques to help clear and open your mind.

This 3 hour intensive is chock full of tips for starting a meditation practice. Gain a quick overview of different kinds of meditation styles so that you can discover for yourself the benefits of meditation and choose the type best suited to you. On Campus.

Please note: these values do not include the $12 general public / $5 UW student registration fees.

REGISTER HERE

Taught by: Karah Pino, MAcOM

Section 1

Thur 6:30pm-9:30pm

05/09

General Public: $45UW Students: $35

 

“Unwinding the Mind” Meditation Technique: Responding creatively to stress by Karah Pino, MAcOM

Responding creatively to stress.

Instead of reacting to situations with our old  instincts, we can learn to respond thoughtfully and creatively. When we practice observing our own reactions, we can better understand the nature of our old instinctual patterns.  After allowing our initial, instinctive reaction to pass by,  we then have more time to choose how to respond with intention and care.

The experience of being in a meditative state is one of calmness, peacefulness and a sense of well-being.  After meditating, this sense of well-being will continue for a half a day (or until the next stressful event).  Research has shown that 20 minutes of meditation can lower cortisol stress hormone levels for 12 hours.  This helps us to understand why meditation traditions around the world encourage meditation twice a day!

After meditating regularly, you will find that you are able to regain your calm more and more easily after a stressful event.  You will also find that the feeling of peace gives your creative mind more space to find solutions to problems and this leads to less worry because you begin to trust in your abilities more and more.

Download this guided meditation for free:

20 minute Guided Meditation: Observation of the Breath MP3

Watching our thoughts and feelings as children on the playground of our imagination.

Unwind your Mind

Meditation Instruction and CD

Know as children know, that these thoughts and feelings are temporary.  Know that you are free to leave the playground game sat any time.  Watch as the spinning wheels and grinding gears slow to a stop.  Feel the peaceful stillness of a mind unwound.

Karah Pino, MAcOM is the creator and instructor of Unwind your Mind, a meditation course designed to help you discover for yourself the benefits of meditation and choose the style best suited to you.

 

Mindfulness Meditation: Dr. Joe Parisi’s Introductory Exercise For Stress Relief (VIDEO)

In the video below, Dr. Joe Parisi leads a six-minute mindfulness meditation that will help you de-stress and unwind. In the meditation you will be prompted to use your breath to become more present. Follow along, then let us know in the comments how you feel once you’ve finished this soothing exercise.

Mindfulness Meditation: Dr. Joe Parisi’s Introductory Exercise For Stress Relief (VIDEO).

Unwind your Mind at the UW in 2013 – Only 1 class on campus winter quarter!

Techniques to help clear and open your mind.

Unwind your Mind Meditation CD

Meditation Instruction CD

Practice watching thoughts and feelings like children on the playground of your imagination. This 3 hour intensive is chock full of tips for beginning a meditation practice. Gain a quick overview of different kinds of meditation practices so that you can discover for yourself the benefits of meditation and choose the style best suited to you.

Can’t make it to a class?  A CD is now available, over an hour of  instruction and guided meditation!  Order today!

For more info, please visit http://www.karahpino.me/meditation. On UW Campus.

Wed 6:30pm-9:30pm 02/13 Register Today!

The “best” meditation is what works for you! by Karah Pino, MAcOM

The results of a research study from San Francisco State University came out in July of 2012 that asked the question: “What is the best meditation?”

Meditation practitioners around the world would say: “The meditation I do!”  and as it turns out, the research shows that it is absolutely true!

The study followed people who learned different styles of meditation and tracked the effectiveness of the meditation program.  What was shown is that those who learned a style that suited them tended to follow up with their practice better than those that didn’t particularly like the style they were taught.  But the results of the different styles were equally effective, so long as they were practiced regularly. This confirmed what I had noticed for my students over the years.  Any technique will help you deal with stress to improve your health,  smooth your relationships, and help you enjoy your life.

“A new study just published notes the importance of selecting a meditation method that is most comfortable to the new meditator, not the one that is currently the most popular. Choosing the one you are most comfortable with increases the likelihood that you will stick with it, says Adam Burke, the author of the study and a professor of health education at San Francisco State University.”Read More

Helping people find a style that works for them is the goal of the Unwind your Mind curriculum.

Unwind your Mind Meditation CD

Meditation Instruction CD

This class is designed to give an overview of the types of different techniques to people newly interested in meditation.  The four categories of meditation techniques are: Mindfulness, Visualization techniques, Sound techniques and Movement techniques.  The types of techniques introduced in the three hour class include breathing techniques, guided meditation, chanting, self observation and QiGong.

To take this class or purchase the CD, please visit: MindUnwind.org/Meditation

mommy-and-alvin-sqKarah Pino, MAcOM has a master’s degree in Acupunture and Chinese medicine including meditation techniques for healing.  She is a meditation instructor at the University of Washington Experimental College and Mind Unwind Gallery.  Courses are offered regularly in Seattle, WA on on retreats offered through Mind Unwind.

It’s Time to Unwind your Mind!

Introduction to Meditation

Here’s the Introductory track on the Unwind your Mind Meditation Instruction CD with transcript below:

Unwind your Mind Meditation CD

Meditation Instruction CD

Unwind your Mind Intro Transcript:

It’s time to unwind your mind.  Find yourself a quiet place to sit while I explain a little about these techniques to clear and open your mind.

We all struggle with stress, more precisely, our response to stress.  Tension, anxiety, short breath, fast heart-rate, raised blood pressure, disrupted digestion, trouble sleeping, the list goes on…and on.

Fortunately for us there are ways of neutralizing the stress response we are experiencing and allowing ourselves to enter a state of calmness and restoration.  As modern research continues to explore meditation as a therapy, we are learning how to apply these ancient techniques to our very busy and stressful modern lives.

The first set of techniques utilizes the breath as a tool to change our physiological patterning from a stress pattern to a rest pattern.  Once you practice them a while and are familiar with how you respond to each technique, they can be done most anywhere and can positively impact your stress response in as little as two minutes, that’s about 10-20 breaths.

*Remember if at any point you start to feel lightheaded while practicing these techniques, immediately return to normal breathing.  It can take some time for your body to re-adjust to what is really a normal level of oxygen.

The basic posture for meditation in a chair is preparation for a longer meditation such as the most basic mindfulness meditation:  Observation of the Breath.  20 minutes of mindful meditation is a very powerful tool for switching your neurological pattern into a restorative state and has been shown to lower cortisol/stress hormone levels for up to 12 hours!

Visualization techniques work through utilizing the power of the mind to conceptualize.  Turtle breathing, is a practice that helps us learn to change mental constructs by switching between opposites.  We can then apply this thought reversal process to more complex, stress induced, thought and feeling patterns.

Sound techniques utilize the physical vibration of sound to impact our physiology in very measurable ways.  Our heart, for instance, beats on average more than 100,000 times per day, reverberating in our chest, triggering cascades of biochemicals.

Movement techniques help us to learn to maintain a calm state of meditation awareness as we are moving, so that we can take this peacefulness with us throughout our day.

sop let’s begin.  This may sound strange our maybe eve a bit corny, but one of the fastest way to reset our mental pattern is to chant the sound OM.  It’s kind of like a shortcut, so let’s try it together for just a few breaths and see how you feel.

Sitting with your spine straight and room for your lungs to expand completely, breathing at your own pace, fill your lungs and exhale making the sound OM.  Like this…….

mommy-and-alvin-sqBy Karah Pino, MAcOM: Meditation Instructor and creator of Unwind your Mind

Movement and Mindfulness 3 hour Intensive this Thursday!

Introducing a new 3 hour Meditation Intensive called Movement and Mindfulness in West Seattle this July! Also coming to the UW in the Fall. Is this email not displaying correctly?
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Meditation 101 News

Meditation and Mindfulness

Quick Reminder:

Movement and Mindfulness

This Thursday in West Seattle!

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Finally, summer in the PNW! What a glorious place to be! Hearing from friends and family in other parts of the country, I am reminded how blessed we are to have so much rain and mild weather. I wish we could share! Please hold in your hearts a moment of compassion for our distant neighbors and relatives who are struggling with wildfires, heat waves and drought. Breathe deep and release….

Interested in Meditation Research and Resources? Please visit my new blog!

Movement and Mindfulness

New Course!

Movement and Mindfulness
A class to deepen your experience of meditation and answer the question:

What does meditation feel like?

Meditation 101

Meditation 101

Now taught as a 3 hour intensive

A one day, three hour introduction designed to deepen your experience of meditation and answer the question:

What is meditation?

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Meditation Instruction

New Website!

Coming soon:

Free Downloads
and
Online Courses!

Making time for meditation

It’s the first and biggest challenge in learning to meditate. To make it easier for you, I can also come to your home or business.

Either through one of my regular courses or a personalized session, I am honored to help you to develop your practice.

Tel: 206-794-7231
Email: peaceisinpieces

How I teach meditation:

I have structured my meditation courses to be a very basic introduction to the physiology and practical experience of meditation. I find that when beginning meditation, studying history and theory tends to over stimulate the mind. There is time during breaks or after class for any questions that arise.

Here’s a few links to start with:

Please reply to this email if you have any problems with the website or suggestions or just to let me know what you think!

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