QiGong

The Art of Chess: Playing with Fire – a personal collage for Valentine’s Day

A humble man playing with Fire overseen by the intent eye of Gaia

Collage by Karah Pino 2015

Collage by Karah Pino 2015

This collage represents a lot of my personal history.  I was on the chess team in grade school, making it to the state championships in my 6th grade year.  I used to blame my dad for my obsessive game play, but I eventually recognized that while he did introduce me to the game, he certainly didn’t make me play 10 games a day with my brother or team mates.  I loved to play.  Winning was nice, but mostly, I enjoyed an interesting game.  It was my first form of meditation and mental training.

Later, after I abandoned the dreariness of early college science classes for the playtime of Art, I discovered the power of fire through blacksmithing, eventually taking an apprenticeship with Stoker Forge in Santa Fe, NM.  This 6 months was a whirlwind of intricate metallurgy and oozing black mucous from the smoke of the coal forge.  It was during this time I played and won my final chess game with an overzealous intellectual from the Los Alamos National Laboratory.  I say it was my final game because I decided then to abandon zero sum games entirely.

My father bought my son a beginning chess set for his 4th birthday and he pulled it out recently.  I showed him the basics of the game, how the pieces are set up, how different pieces move and how captured pieces are removed from the board.  Mostly he enjoyed the clacking of the pieces interacting directly and the game quickly devolved into a melee.

Throughout my life, I have always had a deep connection with the Natural Order of life on this small blue green rock floating in space.  While I have a deep faith in the powers of human creative ingenuity, I have watched for 4 decades a continuing pattern of destructive decision-making perpetuating suffering for the living beings who dwell in this place.  It is troubling and confusing.  And yet, with the training of Vipassana Meditation and QiGong, I am able to come into contact with the miracle of peace and love that emerge between the dysfunctional thoughts and actions of my fellow man.

When we play with the spark within our own hearts, we are in perpetual collaborative game of life.

-Karah Pino

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.

Sacred Shadow Self Opening Performance Tomorrow: Anonymous. Spontaneous. Dance. Meditation

The Anonymous Spontaneous Dancer reveals herself:

When Karah Pino first asked me to be part of The Sacred Shadow Self I was hesitant to say yes because I am in a “non-performance state”, a state of creative development, and quiet reflection.

My Mother almost passed away three times in the last several months and I had been doing a lot of advanced grieving, introspection and forgiveness work during that time and to be honest, I was a bit overwhelmed by my own shadow self and all I wanted to do was escape into the lighter side of things.

I knew I would ultimately say yes though because Karah is a spiritual sister and when she appears in my life there is always a positive lesson attached.

So yes. I will be there, with my veil on, I will be there, hidden amongst the crowd and yet obvious to the eyes of anyone who is present. I will be a shadow of my self, a ghost of sorts, a fraction of who I am. I am not entirely sure what I will be doing but maybe I will see you through the veil. And maybe you will see me.

Anonymous Dancer

Karah Pino in Mindful Meditation and the Anonymous Dancer will end the Opening performances at 8:30pm during Artwalk.

Karahs sacred shadowMind Unwind Gallery

2206A California Ave SW
Seattle, WA 98116
(206) 849-7222

Meditation as Art: “The Sacred Shadow Self” – Creating Sacred Space – Sketches

Here are the final architectural sketches for The Sacred Shadow Self light and shadow installation June 2013 at Mind Unwind Gallery:

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See how it turns out at Mind Unwind this June!

Part of my great joy in making art is seeing how ideas end up manifesting as they change and adapt to different circumstances. Hope you’ll come play with your sacred shadow self!

-Karah Pino, MAcOM, Artist

media: paper, light, refractions and shadows 

performance: mindfulness, qigong, yoga, chanting, singing bowls,

and other meditative arts

“The Sacred Shadow Self” is an interactive art installation including live meditation performances opening June 2013 at Mind Unwind Gallery ~ West Seattle.

~Still looking for QiGong, Yoga and other Meditation Performers!!~

To join in meditation, please fill out the form at the end of the Artist Statement.

“We are all a precious child of creator and as such our shadow is also a sacred part of our selves as the precious children of the holy people our ancestors in the context of the natural order in the universe.” 

Patricia Anne Davis, Navajo Wisdom Keeper

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.

NCCAM: Tai Chi and Qi Gong for Health and Well-Being

 

The following video is intended to be an educational tool that features tai chi and qi gong as an activity to enhance wellness. These exercise therapies are generally considered safe, self-care approaches used to promote a healthy lifestyle. As always, talk to your health care provider if you are using or considering using any CAM modalities so that they can help safely coordinate your care.

Tai chi, which originated in China as a martial art, is sometimes referred to as “moving meditation”—practitioners move their bodies slowly, gently, and with awareness.

Learn more about tai chi

 

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

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Coming soon:

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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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Meditation Research: Meditation leads to better Multitasking, QiGong alleviates Chronic Fatigue Symptoms

To multitask better, learn to meditate first
Futurity: Research News
"To our knowledge, this is the first study to explore how meditation might affect multitasking in a realistic work setting," says computer scientist David Levy.
See all stories on this topic »
Quick Tip: Multitask Better With Mindfulness Meditation
Men’s Fitness
Meditation training can reduce stress at work and improve concentration, allowing you to survive information overload.
See all stories on this topic »

Men’s Fitness
Is Your Life A Non-Stop Drama?
Care2.com
Meditation develops witness consciousness or mindful awareness. It creates a spaciousness to watch the ego at play without getting caught up in the drama.
See all stories on this topic »

Care2.com
Qigong Alleviates Chronic Fatigue Symptoms
Family Practice News Digital Network
It combines regulation of the body, mind, and breath through a program of gentle exercises and meditation. From a traditional Chinese medicine perspective, Ms.
See all stories on this topic »

Family Practice News Digital Network

Tips for incorporating meditation into your daily life:

Fitting meditation into your daily life is a great challenge.  At first, it seems as though there is no possible time to meditate!  Seems ironic, doesn’t it?  As you find a few minutes here and there to fit meditation into your life, you will see that life is so much easier with a clear mind, that meditation makes space for itself.  Here are a few recommended places to start.

Train yourself to practice mindfulness while:

  • Waiting in traffic – try to notice how many breaths you complete while waiting for the light
  • Doing the dishes – notice the feeling of the water on your hands and the pace of your breath
  • During a commercial – practice using the mute button and notice the breath in and out
  • Taking a shower – hear and feel the rushing water, notice the steam rising
  • Sunset/Sunrise – pause for a breath and observe the change in the light and shadows
  • Walking outdoors – observe your breath, the sensations of the air on your skin and the fluidity of your movements
  • Standing in line – also a good place to practice the QiGong preparation standing form

(A friend of mine learned to always practice on the toilet, guaranteeing at least a few times a day of practice!)

Eventually, when you have enough practice, you will find that you are able to use the techniques in difficult situations:

  • In a meeting – practice being aware of all the different sounds in the room
  • During an argument – listen and feel for your heartbeat, notice its rhythm