Health


Into The Light

Photo courtesy imgur.com



In astronomy, the seasons move in celestial cycles. As the earth rotates around the sun, it also spins on its own axis, which tilts towards the plane of its rotation (about 23.5 degrees). The northern hemisphere receives less direct sunlight. Days of less and less light, moving towards the birth of winter and a new year. The sun appears at its lowest point in the sky, unmoving on the horizon solstice translates from latin “sun” and “standing still”. The northern hemisphere experiences its annual winter solstice. This marks the shortest day. It is also the longest night. Then, the sun will again ascend in the northern sky as the days begin to grow longer. It is the Earth returning to light.

In the days growing shorter, with darkness falling around us, we enter into our own dark time of sorts. The darkness is considered the space where secrets lurk, and creatures stir –- the vampires and monsters, the underbelly’s destructive and chaotic forces. Our own fears and failings are in that darkness too. It’s a time for assessing who we are, and where we are – in our selves, in our homes, in our community, and in our world. It is a burning and bruising time to examine our collective spirit.

It is an intensified time of natural disasters and man made crisis. In a year of endless suffering – hurricanes, tornadoes, droughts, fiscal woes, foreclosures, job loss, war, and violence, it seems that what lurks in the secret, dark corners, at great expense, is being flushed out. Many of us have been knocked down and heart broken in the process.

On the darkest day in the celestial cycle, today is a day of mourning for the loss of lives at the Sandy Hook Elementary School.

During the shortest day and the longest night of the year it is a time for illumination. Turn on a lamp, light candles, build a fire: it is a time for rational conversation, compassion and change. The sun, from its lowest point, will follow night and make it way back up into the northern sky. There will be a little more light every day.

And so, light warriors — the question is: will we use it wisely?

Toni Tan

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Many of us are coping with the devastating Sandy Hook tragedy. Unbearable sorrow, loss, confusion, anger, horror – are some of the mixed feelings overcoming us during the day.

There is no simple way to alleviate the profound grief except time, but we would like to share these breathing exercises as an empowering breathing technique that may help us cope and restore balance when we are over come by thoughts and emotions. Concentrating on unifying rhythmic breathing with your arm movements will shift your awareness and provide temporary respite from over whelming feelings. This works. But you have to do it.

During the day when you need to calm and re-balance, face the screen and follow along. The more you do it, the more you will experience temporary calm and relaxation. Doing it is it.

Please give it a try and share this with others who would like a tool for coping and healing.

From Toni and I, our hearts and thoughts go out to all those effected by this tragedy.

Lawrence Tan

Photo by Toni Tan, cover by Johnny Ink

WE ARE PLEASED TO ANNOUNCE THE RELEASE OF ENERGY WARRIORS, A BOOK COLLABORATION WITH BOB ELLAL.

Got crisis? Get ready to fight.

Learn to draw on something deeper during impossible times. It is not what happens to you that defines you, it is how you manage it. Calm and clarity come through finding balance. This is a journey to inner strength.

Energy Warriors is two books in one:

THE STORY

In a literary account, Bob Ellal chronicles his battle with cancer, not once, but four times. He won. It takes courage to fight when all hope seems lost. Stress and crisis were part of the struggle. Qigong was a part of the healing. The quality of his prose is indisputable, as he becomes the energy warrior, Beowulf. Bob shares his story with intelligence, humor, and truth. He has been cancer free for over 16 years.

THE MANUAL

Master Lawrence Tan presents an introduction to the ancient art of Qigong, traditional Chinese life force exercises, for health and healing. Learn to relax and de-stress by aligning breath movement, and awareness.

These simple exercises are for everyone and can be put into practice immediately.

The manual complements the text and Bob Ellal’s Qigong practice, with posture illustrations and descriptions. Photos by Toni Tan.

As Lao Tze said, “The journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step.”

The book is published by Divine Arts. Props to our Publisher, Michael Wiese, and our Associate Publisher, Manny Otto. And to our Copy Editor, Matt Barber for his eagle eye and good cheer…and to Bill Morosi for the book layout, Johnny Ink for the cover design.

Our gratitude to Dr. Mark Cheng and Jean Raffa, who took the time from their busy schedules to read the book and provide comments.

GET THE BOOK on AMAZON

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THE STUDY

A new study showed that a stress management program can help people contain an illness.

The American Academy of Neurology published a study of 121 people with Multiple Sclerosis (MS) who participated in a course of 16, 50 minute sessions over 5 – 6 months. Each person spent time with a therapist, exploring positive coping mechanisms – including relaxation techniques, healthful and social activities — along with elective sessions (such as fatigue, anxiety and pain management).

HOLDING STEADY

77% of the participants not only felt less stressed, but the study also showed a halt in the progression of the disease (meaning there were no new lesions or brain damage). This is encouraging news. We can, to some extent, play an active role in our well being when managing an illness.

However, once the training ended, so did each person’s practice with their new found skills. And with it, so ended the positive effects of the training. What happened?

GROUP HUG

While further studies are needed to explore the reversal, we could speculate.

Having support through a difficult period is, in many ways, its own good medicine. Losing a support system eliminates an important variable in managing illness:  nurturance.  Learning the skills wasn’t enough to sustain a continued wellness practice. The shared experience of community may have played a strong part in everyone’s stress reduction. Along with stress management skills, community AND continuity seem to make for a better balm.

Healing is impossible in loneliness; it is the opposite of loneliness. Conviviality is healing.  To be healed we must come with all the other creatures to the feast of Creation. ~Wendell Berry

TanDao Wellness

Learn more about the study at Science Daily

Check out our new book Energy Warriors: Overcoming Cancer and Crisis with the Power of Qigong

Try our signature exercise, the Universal Form.

This version of our moving meditation uses dynamic tension and is based on the Shaolin tiger.

It’s the weekend, roar a little.

Tower of Babel

Shhhh…listen.  There is one word that can improve all of our lives immediately:  communication.  It begins with listening.  It takes patience, and courage, to live in the quiet space of listening to understand.  It is a discipline.  It is not easy to let go of entrenched habits, our words and demeanor are tools of self protection…but we are sunk when we use them as weapons.  Who is brave enough to become an active listener — and hear what’s being said?

The ancient story of the Tower of Babel offers one explanation for the linguistic and cultural differences of the human race and the subsequent conflicts arising in the “confusion of tongues”.  The city of Babel united humanity with one language. In time, humility and reverence were lost. In their vain glory the people began to construct a tower that would reach heaven to show their power.  In their arrogant and egocentric behavior, they began to fight with one another.

The tower of power manifested the worst of human traits. God was fairly miffed at the mess the people had made, and  took away their ability to communicate by creating different languages.  The communication button was reset…everyone had to begin again. People disbursed across the earth, split into separate factions. Instead of learning cooperation, all communication broke down,  conflict and chaos ensued.  And here we are, in modern times, where it seems we are still harvesting those bitter fruits.

In Chinese philosophy, shin, the word for mind, is represented by the character for heart. In Taoist & Zen thought this means higher awareness comes from thinking holistically, encompassing logic and emotions.  We need to talk — and we need to listen. With intelligence, with compassion.  Our dear friend, Maria Seddio, at Corp Talk, teaches the mantra: “conversation is the cure”. Simple, but not simplistic. Healing will only come through a calm, compassionate and rational discourse.

Here are some tips for you.  Start with the next voice you hear:

  • Be clear in what you say.
  • Let it be more of a dialogue, and less of a monologue.
  • Honor the other person. Really hear what is being said, don’t just wait for your turn to speak.
  • Don’t make judgments about a person or a situation based on limited information. Even better, don’t judge.
  • A solipsistic world view is a closed system. Expand your consciousness: let go of your “truth”.
  • Listen, listen, listen.

The world is in crisis.  Do you have the courage to communicate?  Listen, and speak, as if your life depended on it. It does.

The aim of better listening is not to hear more,
but to hear more clearly,
especially the call toward consciousness.
~David Hykes

Toni Tan

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Carl Jung's Red Book

Today is the birthday of Carl Jung, the eminent Swiss psychologist and one of the great thinkers of the 20th century. His provocative writings on the unconscious psyche pioneered correlations between traditional Eastern wisdom and contemporary Western psychology. Some of this mystic/scientists thoughts on the self and individuation – the process to becoming an integrated human being – underlie TanDao’s holistic philosophy of the evolving martial artist.

In my youth, Bruce Lee spectacularly demonstrated the power of the human body. And Jung’s brilliance inspired me on a lifetime exploration on the power of the human mind by returning to the obscure spiritual roots of Chinese Shaolin kung fu. Jung’s scientific rationale to interpret esoteric thoughts on zen, meditation, daoist yoga and ideas like yin/yang and dao can provide us insight on the possibility of martial arts as a psycho-physical path of self transformation.

By the way, Jung’s four functions of the self – sensation, intellect, feeling and intuition – and theory of archetypes have influenced TanDao’s holistic model of warrior (sensation), scholar (intellect), monk (feeling) and master (intuition).

Anyway, if you’re interested in challenging ideas on the power of the unconscious mind check out Jung.

Keep practicing your Universal Form, for energy and for fitness.

Lawrence Tan

Learn more about Jungian psychology – read Dr. Jean Raffa’s blog

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