United States

5 Alternatives To Visualization And Meditation by Melody Fletcher

5 Alternatives To Visualization And Meditation

Post image for 5 Alternatives To Visualization And Meditationby Melody Fletcher on September 26, 2013

 

Awesome Sophie’s burning question: “Is there any way around visualizing and meditating to achieve what you want?  I can’t quite get myself to do it consistently.” 

Dear Awesome Sophie,

We have to always remember, and I’m happy to remind you over and over again, that both visualization and meditation are merely tools, to help us achieve certain vibrational states. While both are extremely helpful, neither one is required in order for us to consciously and deliberately receive what we want.

When you can’t visualize or meditate

Some people just aren’t visually inclined. They don’t “see” their dreams, fantasies or desires. They don’t create visual images of the things they want. Does this mean they can’t manifest anything? Well, considering that everything in our current reality was created for and drawn to us by us, and I do mean EVERYTHING, and considering that we probably didn’t visualize every single detail that showed up in our world today, it stands to reason that visualization isn’t necessary for manifestation.

In my article on What Visualization Really Is, I explain that the act of visualizing is simply a way for us to ferret out and release resistance. When we visualize, we are able to “see” what our vibration is in the process of creating before it actually becomes physical. By changing the visualization and practicing the new vision until it feels good (not discordant), we are actually able to change our vibration. As such, visualization is certainly a fantastic tool. But again, certainly not the only one in our metaphorical tool box, and not even necessarily the best one.

Likewise, meditation, while incredibly useful, is also merely a tool, which allows us to stop doing what it is we’re doing that’s keeping us from lining up with Who We Really Are (and everything we want). You see, our natural state is one of well-being, alignment, super-duper happiness and happy shiny puppies. If we are not currently living that reality, it’s not because we’re not doing enough to make that happen, it’s because we’re doing something that’s keeping that from happening. When we meditate, we stop thought, and by doing so, we automatically stop whatever thought is currently contradicting our highest selves. Meditation is an extraordinarily effective tool to help us practice the state of allowing, that state in which we’re not contradicting what we want. The more we practice that state, the easier it is for us to allow what we want to flow to us.

But what if you don’t like to meditate? What if you find it boring, can’t quiet your mind, fall asleep every time, or simply feel reluctant to do it? Does that mean you’re broken, too resistant to help yourself, or just not ready to join the enlightened crowd? No. Many of my clients have issues meditating. They just don’t like it. And you know what? That’s totally ok. There is no one way to do ANYTHING that works for everyone. We each get to find our own joyous path. Why would attuning ourselves to our higher selves be any different?

The tools we use aren’t important. What’s important is the state they help us to achieve. So, if you’ve always had trouble visualizing or meditating, here are 5 alternatives that will help you to achieve the exact same states of mind, and which you may find more effective for you:

#1 – Meditation Alternative: Music

You may not have ever thought of music as a tool, but it’s actually a great way to deliberately feel better. All pieces of music have their own vibration. Listening to a song LITERALLY helps to attune you to different frequencies. Are these wanted or unwanted frequencies? Well, if the music you’re listening to makes you feel better, then you’ve chosen wanted frequencies. As you can see, this is a very subjective thing, and will even change from day to day or moment to moment for the same person. Thank Gawd we have so many different kinds of music! Choose music that makes you feel really good, make a playlist of it and listen to it often. Make sure you update this playlist regularly, and switch out any songs that no longer give you that boost. As you acclimate and raise your vibration on a permanent level, the music that once uplifted you will just leave you feeling kind of blah. When that happens, you’ll have to upgrade.

Spending time listening to music that makes you feel really good and losing yourself in it, will be just as beneficial to you as formal meditation. In fact, that feeling of losing time signifies that you were fully present in the NOW, which is another way of describing what meditation helps us to do. When we are fully in the NOW, we no longer resist the NOW. The benefit of music is that it can also help to move you up the emotional scale, no matter where you are. If you’re stuck in powerlessness, then anger will feel good to you. Choosing songs that help you feel that anger so it can be released will help you to feel a lot better. Screaming profanities to the sounds of death metal may not seem to have anything in common with the calm of meditation, but if that’s what you need in order to shift your energy to a higher place, it will serve the same purpose (when a person in that state meditates regularly, it will increase the anger that comes up the rest of the day, therefore assisting that individual with having their necessary anger release.)

#2 – Meditation Alternative: Zoning Out

People who have trouble formally meditating are often overthinking it to the nth degree, putting stress on themselves to find time when the kids aren’t bugging them, sitting in the “correct” way, choosing the “right” time of day, and trying to get their minds to shut the hell up. Amidst all that judgment and restriction, meditation becomes next to impossible.

If this sounds like you, let me ask you the question I ask my clients in this situation: are there any activities such as housecleaning, gardening, doing the dishes, ironing, golfing, walking the dog, etc., during which you just “zone out”? Do you ever just go all spacey, while continuing to do some mundane activity? Do you ever just kind of lose yourself in the moment? If so, congratulations, you’ve achieved the meditative state. Will this be akin to the deepest possible states which practiced Yogis achieve? No. But unless that’s your passion, there’s no need for you to go that deep. Remember, it’s all about stopping those contradictory thoughts. When you go all blank and dreamy while watering your plants, you’re there. You’ve almost certainly “meditated” quite successfully many times in your life. And yes, it really is that simple. Everything that truly works, is. People often spend years and years doing very complicated things to learn just how simple the workings of the Universe really are.

Seek out the activities that help you zone out deliberately and on a consistent basis, as a way to help you get into a calm state, and you’ll be supporting your personal growth just as much as if you spent time in the lotus position every day.

#3 – Visualization Alternative: Positive “What If” Questions

This is a technique I explored on this blog fairly recently, but it’s so incredibly effective, it bears repeating. The whole purpose of visualization is to help you figure out where your current vibration is at, and then facilitate the shifting of it by changing the envisioned experience to one you prefer. Asking positive “What If” questions is a great way to accomplish the second part of that equation (asking yourself how you really feel and answering honestly, as well as looking at your current physical manifestations, allows you accomplish the first).

When you actively try to defy one of your beliefs by simply stating its opposite, your brain may well rebel. If the belief isn’t very strong, it might just crumble, but if it’s a pretty practiced one, you’ll have a fight on your hands. An affirmation such as “I love myself!”, will simply garner a “No, you don’t!”. You can’t just bombard your brain with messages it “knows” not to be true and expect it to simply roll over and surrender. Your brain is made of stronger stuff than that, and besides, it’s doing what it thinks is best for you, based on the rules you and those around you fed it. But, if you ask yourself “What if I loved myself?”, your brain has nothing to fight. This is not a statement, it’s a question and your brain wants to answer questions (your brain is actually very helpful). If you haven’t been positively focused in a while, you may not get an instant answer (let your mind shift gears first), but keep at it for just a few minutes and you’ll be able to affect some powerful shifts in a very small amount of time. It’s the fastest way I’ve ever found to stop negative momentum and turn someone’s energy around on a dime.

#4 – Visualization Alternative: Vision Boards

I know, I know, you’ve all heard about vision boards. Everyone and their mom has a blog post or video about doing vision boards. I promise not to bore you death with the same old details, but the process of making a vision board can be a powerful tool to help you align your vibration with what you want. Notice, I said “the process of making the vision board”. Once the vision board is done, it can actually lose a lot of its oomph. Just as a particular song can uplift you for weeks and then suddenly leave you flat, a particular vision board will often work for only a limited amount of time. Don’t worry, this is normal.

The basic idea of creating a vision board is to choose some images or even just words that represent the feeling of what you want. Remember: the goal is to achieve a certain state, so choose images and representations that actually give you a little charge, not ones that just seem like they should work because they basically represent the thing you want. Finding just the right images can take a considerable amount of time. But in doing so, you’re defining what you want in great detail (as opposed to what you don’t want) and actively looking for “evidence” or representations of those manifestations. You can then paste these images and words onto a poster board and put it someplace where you’ll look at it every day. For some people, looking at the board on a regular basis really helps them to reinforce the feelings they want to achieve. For others, the board itself does very little. I maintain that the real “work” is done in the creation of the board and in the finding and choosing of just the right images. Spending a couple of hours (or even a few days!) focusing in such a positive way, can create a lot of powerful, positive momentum.

#5 – Visualization Alternative: Play Acting

I’ve saved the best for last. This is my favorite technique. Consider it visualizing on steroids. And don’t worry, you don’t actually have to get on a stage or involve other people (although you can, if you want to…).

Essentially, this technique is all about playing pretend, just as you did when you were a kid: Imagine that you’re in a situation in the future, and you’re telling someone about this thing you want, from the perspective that it’s already happened. You can pretend that someone is interviewing you, or that you’re at a party and telling a friend about it. Instead of having to “see” yourself in these situations, you can actually act them out. The more you get into character, the more fun this will be. Smile, laugh, joke about how easy it all was in the end, how you see now that there was never any way it wouldn’t work out, how amazingly it all came together.

Now, just as with visualizations, watch for any evidence of resistance. For example, if you find yourself telling the story of how hard you worked, how many obstacles you overcame, or how you made it despite the odds being against you, you’re playing out a belief that struggle and suffering are components of success. If you catch yourself going down that road, make a deliberate effort to change the script and talk about how easy it was, how relieved you are and how you learned to let go and trust and enjoy the ride early on.

If you want to take this exercise to a whole different level, you can invite some like-minded friends over and have a “Future Party”, where you all agree to support one another in your manifestations. So, for example, I might declare at the beginning of the party that I’ve just published my 5th best seller, and instead of picking the story apart and challenging how I did it, the people at the party would simply congratulate me and ask questions that would allow me to bask in the glory of my “accomplished” goal (for example: “How does it feel to be a famous author?”, or “After so much success, what inspires you now?”). I once read Jack Canfield attended a party with other now very famous people, where they all pretended that their 5 year goals had all come true. They had actors playing paparazzi, wore evening gowns and had waiters. In other words, they went full out. The account went on to state that every single person who had attended this party went on to meet and/or exceed those goals.

Of course, in order to express to someone what it is that you’ve accomplished, you have to get clear on what it is you want. Don’t worry about filling in too many of the details. For example, I can pretend to have published my 5th book without knowing what the title or even subject of that book would be. Or, I can make up a temporary title which feels good to me, with the understanding that it could change to something even better. For example, people at Jack Canfield’s party apparently even went so far as to crate props, like actual mock ups of their books, etc., to make it even more real. Not only is this technique fun (SOOOO fun!), but it totally works. And really, what have you got to lose? Why not get “interviewed” today?

Bottom line

Visualization and meditation are amazing tools. This is why almost every spiritual teacher talks about them. But they’re by no means the only way to achieve the desired results – and that’s really the point. The tools themselves are kind of irrelevant. If one doesn’t work for you, find another one. The point of the whole exercise is what those tools do for you, what states they help you to achieve. Stubbornly forcing yourself to use techniques that don’t resonate with you, just because others have found them useful, is really missing the point. Remember: this is supposed to be fun. All of it. You don’t have to “suffer” through the process in order to get to the fun someday. The fun starts NOW. Right here. So relax and enjoy yourself. That’ll already get you half way there… :)

Origami Rings from Washington Artisan

GROW Washington grows up, celebrates a year

A ring made with orgami is one of the offerings of a newer artisan at GROW Washington, a store and business incubator for local entreprenuers.  Photo courtesy of Marta Cunha

A ring made with origami is one of the offerings of a newer artisan at GROW Washington, a store and business incubator for local entrepreneurs.
Photo courtesy of Marta Cunha

By Chris Hendrickson, Monitor

It has truly been a year of growth for Sultan’s GROW Washington store, which is getting ready to celebrate its one-year anniversary.

To commemorate the occasion, GROW will be hosting a two-day event held on Friday Oct. 4 and Saturday Oct. 5, from 7 a.m. to 6 p.m., at the GROW Washington store located in the former Dutch Cup Restaurant building. The festivities will include free coffee and apple cider along with a gift basket raffle which will benefit GROW Washington and the Sultan Food Bank. Raffle tickets will be offered for $1 or guests can bring a non-perishable food item and receive a ticket free of charge.

The gift basket will feature an assortment of handmade items created by GROW entrepreneurs.

GROW Washington is a not-for-profit corporation dedicated to supporting small business owners, providing them tools to help ensure their establishment and success. Founded by Sultan Mayor Carolyn Eslick, GROW is known as a “small business incubator”  in which members benefit from business classes, seminars and other training which is available on everything from obtaining a business license to inventory management and control.

Once they become members, entrepreneurs receive the opportunity to feature their products in GROW’s storefront and join forces with other small business owners in the community.  GROW Washington opened at its original location at 403 Main St. in Oct. of 2012, which it outgrew in less than six months. The store moved to its new location at 927 U.S. 2 in March of this year.

Since moving to the larger building, GROW has experienced an increase in entrepreneur membership, which has gone from 20 vendors to 29, including 3 vendors who are service-based and do not feature a particular product in the store.

GROW entrepreneurs have been able to expand their businesses as a result of the move. The new commercial kitchen facilities have broadened the opportunities for Maggie Torza of Miss Maggie’s Deserts, enabling her to explore new menu items which she creates fresh daily.

Torza’s baked goods will be on hand both days during the anniversary celebration.

In addition to candy and deserts, GROW Washington features many one-of-a-kind items, made by local business owners.

One of the newer additions to GROW’s team of entrepreneurs is Marta Cunha of Dark Horse Origami.  Originally from Portugal, Cunha fashions traditional origami designs and crafts them into jewelry and other decorative items. She folds the intricate origami shapes by hand out of Japanese washi paper; a paper that is made from fibers of trees and shrubs native to Japan.

The designs are then varnished with a lacquer meant to strengthen the pieces for wear, making the delicate items more durable and water-resistant. She also forges her origami jewelry designs out of pure silver.

Cunha, who is a resident of Gold Bar, creates hairclips, rings, earrings, brooches and necklaces.

GROW’s one-year anniversary conveniently corresponds with a significant anniversary for Cunha, who has been with GROW since June.

“It has also been a year since I’ve arrived in America,” said Cunha. “GROW Washington became more than another business venue, it’s another home where I’ve always felt welcomed, and where I am surrounded by newfound friends, inspiration and creativity.”

Cunha began by taking several of the business classes offered by Eslick until her Washington State Business License arrived in July, and she was able to start displaying and selling her jewelry.

Once a business successfully completes the application process and becomes a member of GROW, the business owners are asked to make a commitment to work in the storefront a minimum of twice per month. This gives them the chance to network with other entrepreneurs and also to share their work and potentially connect with customers who visit the store.

The products made by GROW Washington entrepreneurs include custom jewelry designs, hand-made candles and body lotions, one of a kind furnishings, watercolor and other art, fishing bait and tackle gear, uniquely arranged flora, custom garden art made from repurposed stone, Christmas decorations, ceramics and much more.

JD Slicks Lounge, which opened in June, shares the building with GROW.

“It’s so great to see the east end of Main Street in action again,” said Mayor Eslick. “The GROW Washington store and JD Slicks have really helped the economic health of Sultan. I’m very proud of the entrepreneurs that have made this possible.”

GROW Washington has storefronts located in Snohomish and Sultan, and will soon be opening a new store in Everett.

For additional information on becoming a member of GROW Washington, please visit the website at:  http://www.growwashington.biz/

4 Things To Know About Menopausal Symptoms and Complementary Health Practices

4 Things To Know About Menopausal Symptoms and Complementary Health Practices

Menopause is the permanent end of a woman’s menstrual periods. Menopause can occur naturally or be caused by surgery, chemotherapy, or radiation. A woman is said to have completed natural menopause when she has not had a period for 12 consecutive months. For American women, this typically happens at around age 51 or 52.

Some symptoms that women experience as they age are related to menopause and decreased activity of the ovaries. Other symptoms may be related to aging in general. For decades, menopausal hormone therapy was a widely used treatment for menopausal symptoms, but findings from the Women’s Health Initiative raised serious concerns about the long-term safety of menopausal hormone therapy. Natural products or mind and body practices are sometimes used in an effort to relieve menopausal symptoms such as hot flashes and night sweats. Here are 4 things to know if you are considering a complementary health practice for menopausal symptoms:

  1. Mind and body practices such as yoga, tai chi, qi gong, hypnosis, and acupuncture may help reduce the severity of menopausal symptoms. Researchers looked at mind and body therapies for menopausal symptoms and found that yoga, tai chi, and meditation-based programs may be helpful in reducing common menopausal symptoms including the frequency and intensity of hot flashes, sleep and mood disturbances, stress, and muscle and joint pain.
  2. Many natural products, such as black cohosh, soy isoflavone supplements, and DHEA, have been studied for their effects on menopausal symptoms, but scientists have found little evidence that they are helpful. There is also no conclusive evidence that the herbs red clover, kava, or dong quai reduce hot flashes.
  3. Natural products used for menopausal symptoms can have side effects and can interact with other botanicals or supplements or with medications. For example, United States Pharmacopeia experts suggest that women should discontinue use of black cohosh and consult a health care provider if they have a liver disorder or develop symptoms of liver trouble, such as abdominal pain, dark urine, or jaundice. Also, concerns have been raised about the safety of DHEA because it is converted in the body to hormones, which are known to carry risks.
  4. Tell all your health care providers about any complementary health practices you use.Give them a full picture of what you do to manage your health. This will help ensure coordinated and safe care.

Pulp Art: Origami Unfolds in the West | Asia Life | The Diplomat

Flickr (x1brett)

Last month, hundreds of paper connoisseurs descended on New York for a convention put on by OrigamiUSA, in celebration of the delicate paper arts of East Asia. The event underscores the West’s growing appreciation for this time-tested art form.

For most, origami (literally, “folding paper”, sans scissors and glue) invokes the quintessential image of a neatly creased crane. A level above this reveals models of other creatures and plants – elephants, flowers, sharks, and scaly dragons, to name a few. However, a quick look online suggests that these more conventional designs are the tip of the iceberg for the 17th century art form.

While Japan is most closely associated with the pulp arts, there is evidence that the Chinese were known to fold paper for art’s sake – as well as burn paper representations of gold nuggets (yuanbao) during funerals. Even European countries Germany, Italy and Spain have their own paper folding traditions traceable to the Moors. But Japan is where the art form really found its home.

“Origami is alive and well in Japan,” Leyla Torres of OrigamiUSA and Origami Spirit told The Diplomat. “There are origami clubs or societies in many parts of Japan.” Among them are the two main associations, the Japan Origami Academic Society (JOAS), formed to cater to the mainly younger proponents of advanced technical folding, and the Nippon Origami Association, which regularly publishes an origami magazine.

While Japan has always been the heart of origami culture, in the 20th century the art was internationalized by a cadre of trailblazers and virtuosos from both Japan and abroad who pushed origami’s boundaries and took it in exciting new directions.

Flickr (scarygami) -- 2Torres continued: “Origami is not in any sense a rare pursuit for adults in Japan. Thanks to the ease of communications and the new media, people who practice origami around the world are in constant connection and feed from each other’s work… Origami has evolved from a traditional pastime into a self-conscious art form thanks to the pioneering work of Akira Yoshizawa (Japan), today considered the father of contemporary origami.”

Alongside Yoshizawa, Torres added the names of artists from Europe and the Americas, such as Miguel de Unamuno and Vicente Solórzano (Spain), Ligia Montoya (Argentina), and Neal Elias and Fred Rohm (U.S.). She also emphasized the influence of the diagramming system co-created by Yoshizawa, Samuel Randlett and Robert Harbin.

Collectively, these artists took the simple act of shaping paper to mindboggling levels of complexity in some cases. Modern forms include no less than the following: icosahedrons; shapes that move, inflate, flap and fly; highly complex objects composed of numerous identical pieces fitted together (“modular origami”); gently curving designs made with dampened paper; miniature pieces that fit easily on a fingertip; and at the farthest end of the evolutionary spectrum, tessellations – many figures joined at the pleats, with no spaces between or overlapping parts.

Some of the most complex examples of folded paper embody what appear to be – and often are in fact – mind-bending mathematical conundrums. Technical origami has picked up where the compass and straight-edge leave off, effectively doubling the cube (solving the Delian problem) and successfully pulling off angle trisection.

Some examples of geometric madness in paper form by artist Kyla McCallum, exhibited in Glasgow this May, can be seen here. Other fantastic origami creation can be seen here, ranging from a tusked mammoth and a toilet made from a single dollar bill to a lemur and even a Minotaur.

In terms of complexity, Torres recommended checking out the works of Robert Lang (US) and Satoshi Kamiya (Japan).

Flickr (scarygami)Of his own intricate designs of moose, scorpions and sundry wildlife, Lang said: “I may spend hours or even days developing an intricate design working out the positions of all the folds, and how those folds interact, and then again hours to days to actually fold the object up.”

An abbreviated list of some other notable contemporary artists named by Torres includes Kunihiko Kasahara (Japan – watch her teach how to build a 4D origami box here), Tomoko Fuse (Japan – well known for her modular origami work), Paul Jackson (Israel), Michael LaFosse (USA), Joseph Wu (Canada), Román Díaz (Uruguay), Angel Morollón (Spain), and author Jun Maekawa (Japan).

“What is important about origami is that it reaches people at all levels of expertise all over the planet,” Torres said. “It is an art in which the final result can be complex, but it can also be the art of capturing the essence of a subject in a few simple folds. Both approaches can be very artistic.”

She added that for experts and beginners alike “the folding process is like a performance and a meditation.”

Pulp Art: Origami Unfolds in the West | Asia Life | The Diplomat.

How Mindfulness Meditation Works | IdeaFeed | Big Think

How Mindfulness Meditation Works

June 30, 2013, 2:51 PM
Mindfulness

What’s the Latest Development?

Mindfulness meditation, a process through which the practitioner becomes more aware of his or her own thoughts and emotions, is gaining in popularity across the US, with medical studies and productivity reports behind the practice. A report issued by the German Justus Liebig-University and Harvard Medical School suggests that “mindfulness meditation operates through a combination of several distinct mechanisms: attention regulation, body awareness, emotion regulation, and a change in perspective on the self.” When the processes combine, an enhanced capacity for self-regulation is achieved.

What’s the Big Idea?

The process of achieving greater self-awareness, and therefore greater self-control, has three main phases: awareness of the mind, awareness of the body, and finally, a dissociation between thought and identity. In a culture that continually emphasizes the cultivation of the self, this may be the most profound lesson that mindfulness meditation has to offer. “According to the Justus Liebig-University and Harvard Medical School report, upon achieving a strong sense of internal awareness and the ability to ‘observe our mental processes with increasing clarity,’ we begin to see the self as something that is continually arising, rather than fixed.”

Photo credit: Shutterstock.com

Read it at The Atlantic

How Mindfulness Meditation Works | IdeaFeed | Big Think.

Geometric origami inspiration | Brooklyn Bride – Modern Wedding Blog

Geometric origami inspiration

teal-peach-geometric-wedding-54

I’ve been spotting geometric origami projects left and right and there’s no better place to use them than in a modern wedding reception. Try a bunch of them as centerpieces for a a table, or hanging overhead as lanterns. Or create a pattern out of paper and adhere them to a wall. There are so many ways to use them and they add a clean, fresh vibe to the event.

Top  centerpieces

Middle left 2D heart hanging  |  Middle right gold hanging 

bottom left hanging lanterns  |  Bottom right hangings

by Brittany Watson Jepsen of The House That Lars Built

Geometric origami inspiration | Brooklyn Bride – Modern Wedding Blog.

 

Shifting our Perception with Meditation – Ram Dass

Though you can start meditation at any time, it’s harder if your life is chaotic, and if you’re feeling paranoid, if you’re overwhelmed with responsibilities, or if you’re sick. But even starting under these conditions, meditation will help you to clear things up a bit. Slowly you reorganize your life to support your spiritual journey, At each stage there will be something you can do to create a supportive space. It may mean changing your diet, who you’re with, how you spend your time, what’s on your walls, what books you read, what you fill your consciousness with, how you care for your body, or where and how you sit to meditate. All these factors contribute to the depth and freedom that you can know through meditation.

You are under no pressure to rush these changes. You need not fear that because of meditation you are going to lose control and get swept away by a new way of life. As you gradually develop a quiet and clear awareness, your living habits will naturally come into harmony with your total environment, with your past involvements, present interests, and future concerns. There need be no sudden ending of relationships in order to prove your holiness. Such frantic changes only show your own lack of faith. When you are one in truth, in the flow, the changes in your life will come naturally.

You start cleaning up your life when you feel that you can’t go on until you do. Cleaning up your life means extricating yourself from those things which are obstacles to your liberation. But keep in mind that nothing in and of itself is an obstacle; it’s your attachment to it or your motive for doing it that is the obstacle. It’s not an issue of eating meat or not eating meat; it’s who’s eating it and why.

If your senses can be caught and held by something, you are still chained to the world. It’s your attachment to the objects of your senses that imprisons you. Failing to break off the attachments of the senses ultimately holds you back. The minute you aren’t preoccupied with what’s out there, then that pull is lost. You are free to go deep in meditation.

It’s not easy. It’s a stinker to get to that level of purity. You start out with things like what you eat, who you sleep with, what you watch on TV, what you do with your time. Many people fool themselves and imitate someone else’s purity. They do it in an imitative way, one of fear of being unholy. Abstaining from something for the wrong reason is no better than doing it. You can’t pretend to be pure; you can only go at your own speed.

As changes occur through meditation you find yourself attracted to things that are inconsistent with your old model of who you are. Usually, for example, after having meditated in a rigorous (and somewhat righteous) fashion, I have then taken time off to wallow in television, go to movies, take baths and relax. Then, to my surprise, I found myself not being attracted as much as before to these diversions, but being pulled toward just sitting quietly. This new way of being didn’t fit with my model of who I was. It was as if I were living with somebody I didn’t know very well. My models of myself hadn’t changed fast enough to keep up with who I was becoming.

“Inside yourself or outside, you never have to change what you see, only the way you see it.” – Thaddeus Golas

– Ram Dass, excerpt from Journey of Awakening: A Meditator’s Guidebook

via Shifting our Perception with Meditation – Ram Dass.

Motivational Video, Headspace: What Are The Benefits Of Meditation? (WATCH)

Why meditate? For one, to clear a cloudy mind. Find out other reasons to meditate from ‘Mind Man’ Andy Puddicombe in the video via Motivational Video, Headspace: What Are The Benefits Of Meditation? (WATCH).

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.

Art from the Heart: The Sacred Shadow Self moves to the Ryan James Gallery in Bellevue!

Meditation as Art Performance this Friday, July 5th 7-9pm

The Sacred Shadow Self will be displayed as part of the Play and Creativity Series by Mary Alice Long of Play=Peace at the Ryan James Gallery in Bellevue.

Sacred Shadow Self Meditation as Art performance

Sacred Shadow Self Meditation as Art performance