Please give a listen to talks from my teacher, Master Ji Ru (Shifu) on how to develop a more peaceful life for yourself and everyone else too!
Happy 2012 everyone!
The First Noble Truth says everything is impermanent, everything is suffering. Suffering is one of those words that is so often misunderstood.
Suffering is caused by our ignorance. We don’t understand reality. Everything is just passing by. It’s born, exists for a time, then passes away. In our misunderstanding, we think everything, ourselves included has some kind of permanent place, or grip on this world.
And so we cling and crave to pretty much everything. And when things keep changing, we think this really stinks! I don’t like this.
And then, quite curiously, we keep do ing the same thing over and over again. (Cue definition of insanity)
And then we get the Big Blizzard. Think of all that snow. Two feet deep at minimum. Drifts 5-6 feet deep. And in all that snow, millions upon millions of flakes…not one is the same. Not one will last.
Not one breath.
Each lifetime starts over in each moment. Over and over.
So, in each moment, we get to start over too. Let go, let go let go.
Enjoy what is.
Be prepared for it to change.
Because it will. That much we know to be true.
I don’t say it will be easy. But that’s why we call it Practice.
Peace everyone, and Happy Chinese New Year.
Dharma teaches us that craving creates a lot of suffering. When we work at eliminating or reducing our cravings, the amount we suffer is reduced too. This isn’t easy to do of course. A head cold gave him a little lesson.
So, recently Sifu Matt had a wicked head cold and couldn’t smell a thing. It was lunch time and he went to his favorite Chinatown restaurant, the Chi Cafe.
Normally, the minute he walks in, he smells so many delicious aromas it can be hard to choose what to eat because the mind is led around the cravings created by the nose making contact with all that great food. This day, however, nada. He couldn’t smell anything.
The waiter came and gave him the menu and he looked at every page. In his head thinking, “what do I want?” over and over again. After quite a few minutes, he gave up. “Just bring me some Chinese Broccoli and Garlic Sauce please.” This is one of his all time favorite dishes.
The food comes and he eats but not very much. The waiter asks him if something is wrong. “You don’t eat very much. Everything okay?”
“Everything is fine. Just not very hungry today.”
The rest of the meal is boxed up to come home.
And it suddenly dawned on him what had happened.
“Normally, I’d eat the whole plate of food. I realized that because I couldn’t smell and couldn’t taste, I wasn’t very hungry. I ate enough to fill my belly and that was that. We eat more most of the time because of how good things smell. And how good things taste. So we eat too much, too often. When I couldn’t smell or taste, those sense doors were closed on the nose and on the mouth’s ability to taste, and so suddenly my craving went completely away!”
If only we could do that with everything we make contact with and not have to wait for a head cold to show us the way. It takes a lot of determination to see things just as they are without getting attached and letting cravings run our minds so hard, that we make decisions and take actions without considering, do I really need to eat all this, buy this car, worry about my manicure, over-work, run after that man/woman, spend too much money/energy and so on.
Thankfully, we have meditation to help get us there. And a head cold now and then doesn’t hurt either when we need a bit of a Zen stick to help wake us up.
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Thanks for the one-on-one session today. I tried to be mindful of things being empty and full–just during lunch hour–and there’s a lot, like maybe everything. Things have to be empty before they can be full, and vice versa. Wow–new concepts to consider!
Tai chi (or taiji) is not something you can learn by thinking about it or by doing some complex analysis.
Beginners and more experienced practitioners learn the same way … through direct experience. It’s through this direct experience, this intense, sharp focus, maintained throughout the form, with the total object of the mind, the body/breath/mind, brought totally together as one that does the teaching.
A teacher can guide you but even that only goes so far. It’s our own practice that is the real way to discover how to move in the very beginning and later, how to chew on the subtle nuances that take you endlessly deeper into understanding.
Then we experience ourselves, through practice what we can not otherwise describe. We are all the owners of our own practice. If we want to enjoy the fruits of tai chi, qi gong and meditation, no one can do this for us.
The great thing is that our ability to deepen our practice is always in our own hands. We have the power to make our bodies stronger, our minds more sharp and clear and our lives more soft and peaceful.
I love tai chi for so many reasons. Yes, it’s beautiful to watch a real master. It feels so wonderful to do. And it’s an awesome gateway for anyone to have a better life. Whether you’re a spiritual seeker or just want to feel really good in the body and mind.
Tai chi, qigong and meditation can help you slow your mind down, so that each day feels like it opens more slowly, gradually letting go of the frenetic buzz of contemporary life.
No fancy gear required. Soft clothes and soft soled shoes of some kind (or barefoot if you like) And you can practice anywhere.
Thanks for stopping by,
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It’s very helpful to know the names of the postures as we learn. This makes it easier to ask questions about sections where you may have questions. Also, knowing the names of each posture helps us remember the form.
Here is a terrific set of drawings from a book which as far as I know, is only available in China. I hope it will help you all in your study of taiji.
This year, on Halloween as trick or treaters were being put to bed, stores everywhere put the candy on the 50% off rack and broke out the Christmas decorations.
All of which is to quickly say that much of the holiday season can feel a bit pre-programmed, amidst the hustle and bustle of shopping. We might be inclined to go on auto-pilot at that point. When this happens, we fall back on those comfortable old habits (even the ones we don’t really care for), which we sometimes call by a warmer title, “traditions” or even “family traditions.”
Before anyone gets upset, I’m not saying traditions of any kind, family or otherwise, are bad. What I’m suggesting in that we try looking at this holiday season with a questioning mind. Let’s take a look at how we do this holiday season afresh. How could it hurt?
There’s lots to examine but what if we start with one central idea?
So, to back up just a bit. We have all kinds of habitual energy around gift giving and receiving. But the only thing we really own is our actions. Right?
What do we have?
What if we try to combat habits which cause us trouble? Things like jealousy, greed, impatience, anger with mindful actions that can melt those bad boys away. Instead of jealousy, try a big bowl of sympathetic joy. Instead of greed, trying filling up on generosity. You get the idea, yes?
So how about those presents we rush around to buy on Black Friday, Cyber Monday and so on? We could try examining that bag of habits too. Mindful gift giving will be different for everyone. Here’s a few ideas from me. But what do you think? I’m looking at things like:
Instead of rushing about, let’s practice these holidays with mindfulness at each step of the way. What we give, either items purchased or by how we conduct ourselves, let’s give the gift of selflessness. Give without any expectation of any kind for anything in return. Period.
Just give your gifts and let the whole thing go.
We might just have a holiday season of profound contentment, if we can let go of non-beneficial habits, expectations and all the rest. We can have the peace the season offers by greeting each moment with the breath … to see clearly, wisely and compassionately. To enjoy and keep our minds and hearts undisturbed.
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New You Tube video of Yang taiji 24-form showing how students at Calm Chicago learn the upper body and lower body movements separately and then put them together.
Makes learning taiji a bit easier by allowing students to build up mindfulness as they train. The focus? – keeping practice simple.
The more we can practice and keep the taiji very simple. without a lot of fancy concepts, the more we can build up our mindful, single-pointed focus.
We’re in no hurry. Piece by piece.
Thanks for stopping by, Hillary