Climbing the Mountain of Life

Living in the mountains of Western Maine offered several delightful memories including breathtaking vistas all year whether verdant spring greens, a dramatic pallet of fall colors, or white cotton snow.  After living near oceans, in the subtropics, and the desert southwest, my favorite place to call home remains among mountains, now the mountains of western North Carolina.  DSCN1735.jpegOther geographical sites offer their own beauty, but the mountains… they offer a splendor, ofttimes beyond words.  We can observe the weather-worn peaks of our mountains close-up or far away, each one with its own unique beauty.     

    Observing these magnificent mountains generates a deep sense of appreciation, climbing them takes us to other peaks of gratitude, including respect, joy, exuberance, satisfaction, and maybe fear. Doesn’t traveling through life offer those same levels of recognition?  So then, climbing a mountain could equate with moving through life, not only on the cited levels but many others.  No wonder wise sages, philosophers, poets, screenwriters, and many others use the analogy of climbing a mountain when contemplating life.     

    My good friend and mentor, Ken Two Feathers, compared life to climbing a mountain. “We’re all climbing the same mountain.  There may be different paths for different people, but we’re seeking the same summit.  We all have our own path, and the path we choose is the one that feels right to us.” Not everyone has the same path.  That is an essential truth.  Someone may not be doing the same thing as you or I.  It may be entirely different from our way of thinking.  As long as no one and nothing is being hurt as they climb their mountain, who are we to criticize?

    As a path is chosen to scale a mountain, it is determined based on our own abilities and limitations.  We decide to hike a particular way because it suits us.  It fits us.  Others may follow, but they will not experience it in the same manner.  We can even show others a route to take, but they have to hike it to experience it.  We cannot walk it for them.IMG_3201.jpeg

    When obstacles block or complicate the hike, we may choose to walk around, climb over, or even temporarily seek another route to avoid the obstacle.  No one else can hike it for us.  We must place one foot in front of the other and continue to move forward.  A guide can point the way, but it is we that must make the journey to learn.  Even if we follow someone else’s lead, choices remain, to continue, rest, or quit. Screenwriter J. Michael Straczynski once said, “Never follow somebody else’s path; it doesn’t work the same way twice for anyone… the path follows you and rolls up behind you as you walk, forcing the next person to find their own way.”     

    When you think about climbing a mountain from this perspective, living life takes on a deeper meaning. In life, it is easier to follow someone else who’s been there.  That is an excellent first choice, but at some point, we must move ahead on our own to learn our own life’s lessons.  The juvenile fledgling will never learn to fly until it leaves the safety of the nest.  Sometimes the parent pushes it out because she really does love her offspring.    

    So how do we create our own pathway as we scale the mountain?  The answer is simple.  The action may not be.  As we walk our path one step at a time, gather and evaluate information from our friends and mentors.  How does their guidance relate to us and our own needs and circumstances?  Some advice may fit well while another may not.  We must choose.  When we falter, don’t give up.  Stop.  Evaluate. Choose an alternative, and move on, one step at a time, then another, and so on.  We may still seek wise counsel on how to proceed from the same people or new ones we meet along the way, but they do not walk the path for us; we must walk the trail on our own.  We may even strike out and blaze a brand new trail.  Move forward.  Keep moving.  Seek rest when needed.  Make sure to take what you need along the way and above all, enjoy the journey! That’s the way we climb life’s mountain path.

    Our reward, like climbing any mountain, is the elated sense of accomplishment we claim, for our own, when we view the world from the summit of life’s lessons.

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What Are Chakras Anyway?

Here are the basics.  Several books and articles are available on the subject of Chakras.  In its purest form, the word Chakra originated from the ancient language known as Sanskrit and means “wheel of light.”  Chakras are wheels or spirals of energy interacting with layers of energy fields that interact with our physical body.  For exampchakras-310119_1280le, each Chakra resonates with a specific musical note.  When the musical note is created, the associated Chakra responds.  This may explain why certain sounds or music cause reactions to some listeners.

There are several Chakras throughout, above, and below our energetic bodies, but I would like to look at seven primary Chakras.

To begin, the Root Chakra, near the base of the spine, usually associates with the color red.  It focuses on natural, primal instincts, grounding, survival, and the will to live. It’s primal in nature.  An imbalance of this Chakra may cause frustration, insecurity, lack of grounding, or anger.  Areas of the body that may be affected include kidneys, nerve or blood disorders, lower spine, feet, or legs.  The Root Chakra resonates with the earth element, the astrological signs of Aries and Taurus, and the planet Saturn.

Next, the Sacral Chakra, usually identified with an orange color, is near the lower abdomen below the navel.  Its purpose centers on desire, pleasure, creativity, the will to feel, reproduction, and to express emotions.  An imbalance of this Chakra may real symptoms of repression, inhibitions, control issues, holding on to old relationships, worry, and lethargy.  Areas of the body affected may include the bladder, appendix, lumbar region, reproductive organs, and intestinal or digestive track.  The Sacral Chakra resonates with the water element, the signs of Gemini and Cancer, and the planet Jupiter. 

The third or Solar Plexus Chakra, near the upper abdomen where the ribs come together, is yellow. It’s considered the seat of one’s personal power, self-interest, the will to think for oneself, and clearing lower regions.  When out of balance, there can be signs of nervous dysfunctions, inner rage, depression, abusive behavior to others, dominance, or states of being obsessive.  Physical imbalances may show up in the liver, pancreas, stomach, gall bladder, upper abdominal disorders, or signs of poor circulation.  The Solar Plexus Chakra associates with the element of fire, the astrological sign Leo, and the planet Mars.  The commonly referred to a sense of “fight or flight” feeling originates in this same location.  You can tell when it activates because you may feel a tightness well up at the solar plexuschakra-3131632__480

The fourth is green, known as the Heart Chakra, and is at the center of the chest next to the heart.  The heart focuses on love, joy, compassion, and radiance to transform, to bridge, and to connect with others and the immediate environment.  An imbalanced Heart Chakra may lead to covetousness, coldness, dissatisfaction, resentment, greed, hostility, or bitterness.  Physical disharmony of this Chakra may affect the heart, blood, circulation, blood pressure, palpitations, ulcers, arms, chest, thymus, and hands.   The Heart Chakra resonates with the air element, the signs of Virgo and Libra, and the planet Venus.

The Throat or fifth Chakra is at the center and base of the throat. It’s blue and focuses on the will to express oneself and communication.  An imbalance of the Throat Chakra may manifest as being withdrawn, throat infections, laryngitis, hysteria, over self-concern, selfishness, possessiveness, or hyperventilation.  The areas of the body most likely affected include respiratory issues, bronchial, lungs, thyroid, parathyroid, vocal problems, ears, and mouth.  This Chakra works with the element of air, the signs of Scorpio and Sagittarius, and the planet Mercury. 

The Brow Chakra is indigo blue, sometimes referenced as the third eye,  and in the middle of the forehead.  As the seat of the mind, it focuses on intuition, clairvoyance, visioning, wisdom, and imagination.  When the Brow Chakra becomes unbalanced, there may be signs of egotistical behavior, short-sightedness, loftiness, or being overly authoritative.  Physical symptoms may relate to the pituitary gland, brain, sinuses, insomnia, nervous system, eyes, nose, ears, and headaches.  The Brow Chakra identifies with the light element, the signs of Capricorn and Aquarius, our sun, and the moon.

The seventh and final is violet (and sometimes white) and called the Crown Chakra, at the top of the skull. It’s about the higher will, searching for the truth of life and being, spirituality, and it is the seat of the soul.  Imbalanced conditions may include weakened psychic ability, a lack of understanding, creative, physical, mental, and spiritual exhaustion, being overwrought, migraines, or nervous tension.  The natural areas usually affected by this Chakra are the upper brain and the pineal gland. The Crown Chakra resonates with the element of higher thought, the sign of Pisces, and the Universe.

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This is just a basic overview of a profound subject and, as mentioned earlier, there are several books available on the subject.   This has hopefully helped broaden your understanding of this ancient and magical subject, The Chakras.

 

Become the Butterfly

It’s been said, “If you want to make God laugh, tell Him your plans.” Please understand, I’m not against planning and organization, they keep us focused. Consider this though, how’s our willingness to change so we can improve, grow, and strive to become our highest and greatest self? Joseph Campbell provided some sound guidance about this. “We must be willing to get rid of the life we’ve planned, so as to have the life that is awaiting us. The old skin has to be shed before the new one is to come.

caterpillar-3529835_1920    Just imagine if a caterpillar decided, “All I wish to do is eat” never allowing the metamorphosis to take place. I wonder if the caterpillar even knows of its destiny to change before its urge to spin and encapsulate itself in a cocoon, shed its old skin, and expend all its energy to transform into the magnificent splendor of a butterfly? Or is it merely willing to go with the flow, relinquish its own plans, and move on to its unknown destiny?
Storytellers, authors, even history share incredible accounts of how the hero enters as an average “Joe” or “Jane.” They then face an insurmountable challenge which often demands changes in life, attitude, and environment. The changes usually cost them everything, including their life as they know, to pursue this quest. Despite hardships, our hero moves on, driven to complete the challenge. We listen, read, or watch intently as the story unfolds. The hero or heroine continues on, despite challenge after challenge.
Further hardships encumber their journey, but they are tenacious. We even may ask, as their story unfolds, why… why don’t they just quit? As we become even more engrossed in the story, we wonder, what keeps them going? Given, some know and see their goal, yet others, like the caterpillar, do not. Some of these familiar stories include tantalizing opportunities for a return to the safety and security of their ordinary past life, one far less complicated life than their present circumstances. After all… wouldn’t that be easier? Though we’re just following the story, we even get frustrated, wishing to jump right into the account screaming “Just quit!”. But they don’t quit, something urges them, drives them on as though their very existence demands they continue their quest.
The hero keeps going, keeps shedding their figurative skin of old ways and habits in pursuit of their new life. When they reach the goal, we applaud their success, shed tears of joy, and cheer for their victory.
Our own reality returns.
We wish we could be like that person. We sigh, wipe away the tears, shrug our shoulders, and return to the familiar, a life we know, a life of safety. Our events are safe, known, with no surprises waiting around shadowed corners. Some, however, recognize they have the same “stuff.” All they need to do is embrace a willingness to change. Shed their old skin, pursue their own magnificent life, and achieve the perceived impossible.
Life is full of opportunities. cocoon-39353_1920Sometimes we, like the caterpillar, incubate as the changes evolve. Similar to embryos, we grow into maturity, to become the hero of our own story. As the hero, tantalizing opportunities may emerge tempting us to stray from our quest, though they are really just tests. All we need to do is continue our journey. Don’t run from the coming challenge, embrace it! Believe and accept our true destiny. Then the inner beauty of true self will emerge. But death to our old ways must take place.
We are so much more than the shell that is our body. The process of death and resurrection is demonstrated throughout nature, only “death” isn’t dead. Death’s a transformation, a metamorphosis, that must take place to allow the beauty within to come forth. The caterpillar doesn’t hold on to its cocoon, it casts it aside because the old skin has no value, no purpose, in the new vibrant and beautiful life. So, as we enter into the transformative changed life offered to us, don’t hang on to the things that no longer contribute to our metamorphosis. Lay them aside, emerge from your cocoon, and enjoy your flight as the butterfly.
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We are as butterflies waiting to shed the old and emerge into the magnificent splendor of our true nature and destiny… a spiritual being enjoying the nectar of each flower during our human experience.

Let’s Make Ghee!

IMG_2767Ghee has been rightly identified as a food of the gods with a history dating back as far as 1500BCE.  It has so many uses including ceremonial, medicinal, and nutritional.  Among the law verses in India’s Dharmasutra, a code detailing religious and political requirements, ghee is referenced as a key element of religious rituals. It also appears in the Bhagavad Gita’s, chapter 9, and in at least one of the hymns titled Rg Veda.  Medicinally, Ayurvedic Medicine often uses Ghee in the preparation of herbal formulations. Medicinally and nutritionally, Ghee actually eases digestion through butyrate, a short term fatty acid.  Also, just one tablespoon supplies 15% of the daily recommended intake of Vitamin A.  Since Ghee contains conjugated linoleic acid (CLA), it’s also a cancer fighter.  Not just a cancer fighter, CLA may also aid with insulin resistance making it very beneficial for those with diabetes and prediabetes too.  This wonderful source of natural fat also contains significant levels of Vitamin E and Vitamin D.  Though many may think of fat as unhealthy in our diets, our bodies require fat to function properly.  Ghee is also a source for Omega-3s (monounsaturated fats),  another healthy fat.  So, Ghee isn’t just another choice to coat your pan for cooking, it’s a great food choice for your healthier diet and lifestyle.

Begin with 1 pound of unsalted butter.  Unsalted tends to cook down better without the residual salt.  I’ve actually had some negative results using salted butter.  It won’t be the end of the world if you end up with salted, but keep an eye on it while you heat.  It seems to heat up quicker.  I also try to stick to good quality butter with no growth hormones etc in the milk used to produce the butter.  Raw butter is perfect. I’ve just found a good source for Amish butter and it’s wonderful!

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Place the butter in a medium stainless steel saucepan over medium heat.  Don’t use any coated pans.  Stainless steel or glass to avoid chemical transference.  Heres’s where the fun begins!  It will start to spit and sputter gently as the water and milk fats separate from the butter.  I don’t stir mine.  I may occasionally skim some of the froth off the top with a fine stainless steel mesh strainer, but stirring spreads the solids around making more work for you.

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Once the spitting and sputtering slow, the process can complete quickly so watch it closely.  Skim aside some of the froth on top to see if you have any sediment forming on the bottom.  Those are the separated milk fats.  When they are golden brown and an aroma of freshly popped popcorn presents, it’s done.  Remove it from the heat source.  If the sediment goes dark brown (and this can happen quickly once it’s turned golden brown), you’ll note a nutty aroma.  You’ve scorched the gee.  It’s not ruined, but it will have a stronger taste.  By the way, gently adding hot tap water to your pan after it’s cooled a bit to warm, to avoid burns, will make cleanup much easier.

If you have a stainless steel tea strainer, place it on the mouth of a pint mason jar and slowly pour the melted ghee into the jar.  If you don’t, be careful on the pouring to avoid any sediment getting into the jar.* Once the sediment begins to pour from the bottom of the pan, I quit. IMG_2764

 

 

Remove the tea strainer from the jar.  Screw usual mason lid on top.  Careful, it’s hot!  Leave on the counter to cool.  And there’s your ghee. 

 

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It should solidify to a nice golden color.  If it’s brown, it’s scorched/overcooked.  Don’t throw it out!  Just recall the process for next time and don’t overcook it.  Your ghee doesn’t need to refrigeration because it’s pure saturated fat.  It will keep indefinitely.  If mold should appear in the jar, it’s because you didn’t heat it long enough and all the water during the heating process didn’t evaporate and it’s begun to go rancid. 

FYI other names for Ghee are clarified butter or drawn butter!  Enjoy!  Have questions or comments contact me!

* Stainless tea strainers are great and can be found at most health food stores or tea rooms.  Once I use that tea strainer for Ghee, I don’t use it for anything else to avoid contamination.

 

Quick Reference Directions:

Ingredients:

One (1) Pound Unsalted Natural Butter with no Aditives or Hormones.

Place butter in a medium stainless steel or glass saucepan.  Heat at medium heat until sediment forms at the bottom of the pan with a distinct aroma of freshly popped popcorn.  Pour off remaining liquid (Ghee) into a one-pint canning jar.  Gently screw on the lid (careful, it’s hot!) and allow to cool on the counter.  Once cooled, it may remain on the counter or in a pantry unrefrigerated

 

 

Pro Active Cold & Flu Care

We hear a great deal about colds and cases of flu.  With each year or season, new flu strains present themselves.  Tragic stories tell of young children, elderly, and even healthy people falling victim to flu and flu-related illness.  In most cases, colds and touches of flu can be overcome as long as the bugs are addressed quickly, usually within the first 24 hours.stuffy nose

“It’s just a sniffle, I’ll get over it.”  “I feel little achey.  I’ll just work it off.”  “My throat feels a little scratchy, but it’ll pass.  It usually does.”  All too familiar statements, but they are the body’s early warning system telling us something is wrong and it needs to be addressed… now, not later or when we have the time.  In these times, we have forgotten to listen to our bodies.  When we do listen, our bodies will usually tell us what we need to do.  Some cravings tell of nutritional deficits while others may suggest we slow down, and still, others will tell us to go to bed and rest, but we don’t have the time.  Here’s a thought, take the time to rest or recuperate before our body says, “No more” and we are laid up in bed.

Some common habits can help prevent sickness in the cold and flu seasons.  flu cartoonFirst, we should wash our hands often.  Sanitizers work well, but not nearly as well as washing our hands with warm soapy water.  Typically, washing with soap and very warm to warm water for about twenty seconds or long enough to create a good lather does the trick.  If symptoms present themselves, stay home for at least a day or two.  The typical infectious period for Colds and flu range from one to two days before symptoms present themselves and up to five or seven days after.  This is why it’s so important to stay home and rest, not only to support your own well-being, but to prevent the spread of the pathogens to others.  Also, drink plenty of good fluids, like warm herbal teas, even warm or room temperature water, natural fruit juices while avoiding dairy, soda, excessive caffeine and… restcover for cough sneezeGet plenty of bed rest.  Find a good book to read.  Whenever we cough or sneeze cover your mouth and nose with a tissue or your upper sleeve or arm.  This prevents the spread of associated germs.

Several years ago I developed a herbal recipe that has proven itself to be very effective to battle colds and flu in my own life.  Others have tried the same recipe with great success.  Following the recipe precisely has the best results.  Here’s that recipe!

 

Finally, several supplements help to build the immune system during the cold and flu season.  I’ve found some very effective commercial eldeberry syrups along with a variety of effervescent supplements.  Taking Vitamin D3 and C also help to build the immune system.  While on the subject of preventative supplements I would like to share a short thought about echinacea.  Some like to take this herb to prevent an illness. As noted in the above recipe, echinacea is a primary ingredient to build the immune system while the infection is present.  That’s its ideal use.  Echinacea, while ideal when a pathogen is present, isn’t necessarily something to take as a preventative.  Taking it as preventative can cause it to be less effective to aid us when the pathogen is present because our body has adapted itself to its regular use.  So, instead of the doses noted in the recipe, higher doses may be required during a cold or flu to achieve a level of efficacy.  Some other proactive supplements include garlic, elderberry, astragalus, ginger, and nettle leaf.

So, during the cold and flu season, execrise personal hygine, be proactive, begin care at the first sign(s) of illness, remain diligent with self-care, and listen to our bodies – they’ll tell us what to do.

Recipe for Colds and Flu

Your Still Small Voice Within

FocusThat still small voice, the spirits, inner vision, gut feeling, sixth sense, or a hunch in my gut told me to do it.  Regardless of how we refer to this phenomena, it can aid our lives in so many ways.  Nurturing this gift can be very beneficial.

Over the years, I’ve learned that sometimes these feelings or voices can take on different meanings.  Allow me to explain.  Sometimes directions can be quite clear to do this or that and circumstances, people, or nature may confirm the feelings within to be true.  These directions may affirm that we did the right thing.  Often, that feeling, usually emanating from our solar plexus, simply confirms what we did was “right”.  Then there are instances when these feelings may be just tests to see if we are listening to the inner guidance as we should.  At times, we may not even know if we averted a negative experience or mortal danger, to which I would say, does it really matter?      

A July 2014 article in the Stanford Report referenced research conducted by a Stanford anthropologist, Tanya Luhrmann, citing some interesting results of a study.  This report explained that “voice-hearing experiences of people with serious psychotic disorders are shaped by local culture – in the United States, the voices are harsh and threatening; in Africa and India, they are more benign and playful.”  The study addressed people who suffer from schizophrenia in the United States, India, and Africa.  The article elaborates that most Americans associate hearing voices as a negative experience or even considered as a symptom of some form of psychosis. Conversely, those from Africa and India experience hearing the voices of their relatives or others actually stimulate positive compassionate enlightenment.

I have experienced similar positive events over the years.  I’ve also noticed when I am most focused on the day to day events, the “voices” are virtually silent.  Monkey MindSome Asian views would suggest that focusing on truly less important day to day events would be listening to the Monkey Mind. When Monkey Mind is silenced, the inner voices, wisdom, even intuition, flow. I would add here that, in my own experience, the voices I hear, never suggest or imply anything that would potentially harm myself or others. I believe the same to be true for others as well.  In fact, they usually encourage, teach, and uplift me. They also keep my inner child in line! 

Speaking of my inner child, I recall an experience that illustrates listening to the still small voice within.  I had simply planned to go see a movie.  No big deal, I don’t go to the theatre as much as I used to, but one had come out that caught my interest.  I was all set to head out when I couldn’t find my keys.  After several minutes of searching, I gave myself a goal. If didn’t find them in a certain amount of time, I would just give up on the plan.  Five minutes before that set time, there they were!  I found them! But then, the gut feeling, the solar plexus squeeze came into play indicating I shouldn’t go.  That’s when the internal dialogue commenced, “Well, I don’t need to go.” Almost immediately came the childlike side’s reply, “But you found them with five minutes left to spare!”  I thought for a second.  “Well, that is true.  I did find them within the prescribed time frame.”  So, off I went to the movies!  “Yay!”  Then the opposing voiced its opposition, a voice I established a relationship with years ago, very specifically stated, “You don’t need to and should not go.”  “Oh boy, I haven’t heard that voice with the associated sense of guidance in a while.”  The dialogue continued for the next several minutes as I continued on toward the theatre.  The uneasy turmoil also continued to roll in my solar plexus during the debate.

Finally, the guiding voice won.  My solar plexus relaxed immediately.  I ran an errand instead while I was out.  On the way back, curiosity kicked in and I wondered if I had done the right thing. 

Red Tailed Hawk in flightA red-tailed hawk flew in front of my car which, for me, was a clear indicator that I had made the right choice.  What’s a red-tailed hawk got to do with this story you ask?  I developed a close spiritual relationship with red-tailed hawks many years before.  I learned through this relationship when circumstances demanded my attention, hawks would come across my path.  When they did, their presence either indicated I needed to pay attention or I had made a proper choice in a given set of choices.  How would I know?  Timing was the indicator for me.  When I made the proper decision, they would present themselves within moments of my query, such was the case this day.  Was a personal disaster avoided?  Did I avoid an accident by listening to the still small voice?  Or, was it just a test of spirit?  For that matter, does it really matter?  No, if I need to know, I’ll find out and that’s okay.

It’s important to listen to the facts, weigh the evidence, and make decisions based sound reasoning and logic. But, sometimes you just need to listen to the voice within.  Go with your “gut” feeling.  The gut decision may or may not involve hearing voices, seeing hawks fly in front of your car, or having someone say just the right thing at just the right time.  Being mindful, is just that, to be filled with awareness, not allowing everyday physical events (The monkey mind) to overshadow the unseen or “unheard” voices of the soul that can prompt and guide our spirits on toward a life in balance.  

Silent Walking

 

 

It all comes down to this, walk aware.  Walk in such a way that you are aware of not only the elements present in your physical surroundings, but also the non-physical world around you.  So, walk aware, feel your gut, reconnect with your inner self, and listen, listen to your still small voice within.

Qigong – Low Back, Knees, & Hips

570_feel_the_qiQigong supports the whole body even when we focus on specific areas. The previous two blogs addressed the upper body and back. Though those were addressed our whole body benefits. Blood flow increases and Qi moves better as we practice regularly promoting overall well-being.  The side benefits embrace so many, senses, balance,  mental clarity, circulation, bodily functions, and overall awareness to name a few.  It’s like we move and function with our complete body rather than one specific area. 

Think about it.  When we walk, our brain sends messages to our legs and feet to engage propelling us forward, backward, up, down, fast, or slow.  walking_person_silhouette_clip_art_15563Without noting anything else within ourselves or our surroundings, our legs and feet simply continue, doing our bidding, until… we hit a patch of ice in the winter, a root on the path, or a branch, then, then the rest of the body gets involved with a flinch like reaction to the unexpected followed by gyrations, that may put a contortionist to shame, just to keep our balance, which often subsequently fails.  We then find ourselves in a face plant, on our butt, or some other pretzel like configuration, because we weren’t engaging our whole being in the process of simply walking.  mfu0014I’m not saying we’ll never stumble, trip, or fall again, but when these interruptions of movement come along we’ll be more prepared, because we learned to involve our whole being in our movements.  Qigong teaches us to move from our core, our Dantian, our energy center.

In this next section the Low Back, Hips, and Legs will be the focus of our training.  As we train, however, think about initiating your movement from the Dantian.  The torso of the body has upper, middle, and lower Dantian areas, but a primary Dantian location resides about two finger widths below the navel. This may also be referenced as the Hara.  So, as we move, think of initiating or engaging the movement first from that point.  This series of movements may help with disc problems, low back muscle degeneration, stress, or strain, hip joint and associated soft tissues in that region, chronic structural or muscular issues, recovery from injuries, and arthritis.  Other disharmonies may be addressed as well, these are just some examples.

As I’ve stated before, Qigong is one of the less demanding forms of exercise and movement, yet any physical activity should be approached to work within your own abilities and limitations. If you cannot get the full range of motion at first, make it a goal and go as far as you can. If you have any health issues, concerns, or limited mobility consult with your doctor first before exerting yourself more than you should.  The practice of Qigong has been known to improve overall health and personal well-being.  Also, though not mentioned before, the instructions for this series recommend a certain number of reps.  These may be increased or decreased according to your own needs.  If you feel stiff or sore in a given area  couple hours following additional reps, then too many have been done and you should reduce the number of reps.  This is especially true in cases of arthritic conditions or recovery.  Listen to your body.

If you have questions, you may direct them to me through either this blog or through my websitehttp://www.eastwesthealingarts.org.  If you live in the Portland, Maine area, you’re invited to join in for not only Qigong classes, but also Taiji at the Maine Center for Taijiquan & Qigong.  The link is added here http://www.mainetaiji.com/, so you may visit the website for the class schedule and details on our studio.

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Lets begin with the knees.  Before the actual movement, keep in mind the importance of maintaining healthy knees.  The knees and shoulders are the two most common areas for injury and strain because they have more range of motion than other joints in the human body.  We should do all we can to care for these areas.  Let’s begin!

Therapeutic Qigong – Part Three

Position 13 – Knee Rotation

Begin with Feet together.

Place both hands slightly on your hands.

  1. Slowly circle knees clockwise, 4 times
  2. Repeat the knee circles, counter clockwise, 4 times

Important – As you circle your knees, you are also exercising your hips, knees, and ankles.  Don’t forget to breathe evenly.

Position 14 – Side Lunge Turn

Body Opposite 45

Take a big step to the left and place both hands on your waist.

  1. Exhale as you slowly bend left leg and turn your body to the right at a 45 degree angle.
  2. Inhale as you slowly turn your body back to the center position, straightening both legs and shifting your weight to your center.
  3. Exhale as you slowly bend right leg and turn your body to the left at a 45 degree angle.
  4. Inhale as you slowly turn your body back to the center position, straightening both legs and shifting your weight to your center.

Repeat steps 1-4

Important – Bend legs as low as you can.  Keep you back straight

Position 15 – Cover Knee and Stretch Leg

Begin with feet together

  1. Place both hands on knees
  2. Slowly bend both knees with good support from feet
  3. Place hands on the tops of the feet, raise hips as you straighten legs
  4. Slowly roll upper body up and let hands relax at your side.
  5. Repeat above one time

Important Note: Normal breath.  Try to keep hands on feet as you raise hips and straighten legs.  This will aid lower back and associated leg muscle tissues.

Position 16 – Cover Opposite Knee,

Alternately Raise Arm

Take a big step to the left

  1. Cover left knee with the right hand, inhale
  2. Raise left arm forward and up over your head, palms up, simultaneously bending both knees, horse riding stance, exhale.
  3. Straighten legs and cover right knee with left hand, hands now on opposite knees, inhale.
  4. Raise right arm forward and up over your head, palms up, simultaneously bending both knees, horse riding stance, exhale.
  5. Straighten legs and cover left knee with right hand, hands now on opposite knees, inhale.
  6. Raise left arm forward and up over your head, palms up, simultaneously bending both knees, horse riding stance, exhale.
  7. Straighten legs and cover right knee with left hand, hands now on opposite knees, inhale.
  8. Raise right arm forward and up over your head, palms up, simultaneously bending both knees, horse riding stance, exhale.

Important – Breathe evenly.  When in horse stance, keep your back straight.

Position 17 – Arm Raise and Knee Hug

Begin with feet together.

  1. Slowly step forward with left foot, putting weight on left foot.  Raise arms above head with arms straight, palms inward, inhale.
  2. Separate arms to side, lift up right knee with both hands as high as you can, exhale.
  3. Step back with right foot and raise arms up again with palms inward, arms straight, weight on left foot.
  4. Circle arms down to your side and step back with left foot.
  5. Slowly step forward with right foot, putting weight on right foot.  Raise arms above head with arms straight, palms inward, inhale.
  6. Separate arms to side, lift up left knee with both hands as high as you can, exhale.
  7. Step back with left foot and raise arms up again with palms inward, arms straight, weight on right foot.
  8. Circle arms down to your side and step back with right foot.

Important Note: Stretch Arms as high as you can.  Breathe deeply, hug your knees as close to your chest as you can.

Position 18 – Slow Walking Forward / Backward

Begin with feet together, place hands on waist and relax shoulders.

  1. Step forward with left foot, lift right heel, weight on left foot.
  2. Shift weight back to right foot (sit back, bend right knee), lift toe up, heel down.
  3.   Step forward with right foot and put weight on right, left heel up
  4. Shift weight to left foot (sit back, bending left knee), right toe up and heel down.
  5. Shift weight to right foot with both legs straight, left heel up.
  6. Again shift weight to left (sit back) and right toe up.
  7. Step back with right foot.
  8. Step back with left foot, bringing feet together.  Repeat above with opposite foot movement.

Important Note: Walk slowly.  When shifting weight, put full weight on one side then the other, keeping back straight.  When stepping back, step with toes first, and the rest of the foot follows (toe, ball of the foot, heel)