Thursday, September 6, 2007

Layers of Reality and Our Healing

Existing knowledge is based on different layers of reality, all of them true to their specific circumstances or limitations. They are true for different consciousness levels, or parameters of that consciousness. The knowledge becomes obsolete when the limitations are gone. Thus is the case with Newtonian physics and quantum physics.
The ultimate reality has no limit, no circumstance, no parameters. To know it one cannot have limits or parameters. The ultimate reality is unspeakable, for language itself is a parameter, a limitation. The ultimate reality can only be known through direct experience, a full perspective view of the universe. We are all innately connected to it at all times. Once in a while when we are truly open, without conception of our worldly knowledge, without being colored by our desires and attachments, we tap into the ultimate reality momentarily, this sheer magnificence, this pure elegance.
Teaching and healing can exist on different layers of reality.
The highest level of teachers and healers operate from the ultimate reality. They do not need any tools for all tools can limit as well. With their own ultimate reality, or the Buddhist call it the Buddha nature, to illuminate another. And they see the Buddha nature in the other. As soon as they see it, the other is enlightened, literally, his/her Buddha nature becomes the reality. This ability to see Buddha nature is called “Tong Shen Ming” in ancient Chinese texts such as the Yellow Emperor’s Classic. It can be translated as probing or penetrating spiritual light. The highest level of teacher and healers see the core of this world, the essence of life. They see through the condition of a person, 360 degree view of the person, his/her true nature. They know the condition of this world. In this level, the boundary between seeing and knowing and being is gone.
It is the reason Mingtang calls this form of healing Image Therapy. We are directly seeing the healthy image in another person thus the image becomes the reality. The image level of vibration is the highest and purest, as far as we know in this realm. The sound level of vibration, resonating, like mantras to create change, create new reality is the next level down from the image. This is the method of healing and practice Mingtang is trying to teach us. It is a practice of cultivating our own inner seeing, inner light until the light is pure and high in vibration so it illuminates all reality and cut through to the ultimate reality. Through “know thy self,” one becomes enlightened. This “know thy self” is not from the mind, the superficial level, or limited psychological levels. It is from the tangible experience of the penetrating spiritual light.

Letting Go Greed, Anger & Ignorance

In late July mom and I boarded a near empty plane to Beijing. The World Health Organization had just lifted travel bans for China due to SARS. Unlike what we usually do during the fifteen-hour flight—sleep—I stayed up and watched all four movies though not much stayed with me. Mom’s behavior seemed even stranger to me. While she was meditating, she would hit her head with her hand from time to time. I wasn’t just jittery about SARS. I somehow knew there was much waiting for me, and this trip could change my life.
We spent two days indoors in Beijing, getting over jetlag while avoiding the other nineteen million inhabitants of the city. Next came the packed train ride to Lanzhou, twenty-four hours of sharing the same air with seventy other people in a sleeper car. Lanzhou is a city in the sparsely populated region of western China. Immediately after arrival, we rode in a taxi for four more hours on a mountain road with rivers running across it. Being tossed against the roof of our taxi wasn’t as bad as when we got stuck in potholes half its size. But somehow the tiny flimsy car always climbed out of them. We arrived in a pitch-black village on top of the mountain at midnight.
When I woke up the next morning and opened the blinds, my eyes were overwhelmed by gushing greenness. Emerald green mountain ranges embrace endless rows of tender fields. A crimson wall stands in front of the hotel window, decorated with bright, characteristically Tibetan designs. The luxuriant greenness seems to drip with dew, with an infinitely open, high and powdery blue sky as the backdrop—just like what you would see in Tibetan photos. The mountain is on the edge of the Tibetan plateau, 2,500 meters (about 7,500 feet) in elevation.
We met Rinpoche Duoshi at his summer home in the monastery and were invited at stay there. The living situation was far from comfortable. The beds were so hard that we woke up stiff and sore night after night. An all-pervasive dampness compressed all four layers of extra bedding we got into wet, hard, cold lumps. The first week, I wore everything I brought, five layers, and was still cold. During the day, we were followed by swarms of flies, and at night the mosquitoes took their shift—Tibetan Buddhism forbids killing of any creatures. And when the power was out, there was no running water.
Rinpoche Duoshi is the best-known contemporary Tibetan scholar in China. He has translated the most esoteric Tibetan Buddhist texts into modern Chinese language. During the school year he is a professor of Tibetan Buddhist studies at the Lanzhou University. He is often summoned by politicians, CEOs, religious and social organizations for private meetings and public speeches. Every summer the Rinpoche comes to live at the Tiantang Monastery for peace and quiet. Yet he receives several groups of visitors a day, and gives lectures in Tibetan to the more than sixty monks of the monastery.
He is an elderly man in his late sixties, with a close shaven head, smallish eyes and big, slightly tinted glasses. He wears a dark red cardigan that is the same color as monks’ robes. During the Cultural Revolution he was forced to marry—according to the Yellow Sect of Tibetan Buddhism, he may no longer wear a monk’s robe. When he looks at you, his eyes are at times stern and serious, and other times most kind and grandfatherly.
At first I was a bit afraid of him, knowing how he was chosen at age seven to be the re-incarnation of an earlier Rinpoche, then studying and teaching all his life to many thousands. I felt unsettled that someone could predict where, when and into which family he would be reborn, and then as a small child, he would recall things used in his last life. I couldn’t tell if he could read my mind or if he had extraordinary powers. At one point, mom being as direct as she is, actually asked him whether he had extraordinary powers. He said no, and I wanted to believed him. Mom didn’t. She said that in Tibetan Buddhism, one is strongly discouraged from showing special abilities. So I continued to wonder about Rinpoche Duoshi.
Two Cantonese men had been staying at Rinpoche’s home for a few days. During dinner conversations we found out that one of them is the head of his county’s urban planning department, and the other man is the Communist party leader of that department. As party members, they are not allowed to belong to any religious sect. So they had been praying to hidden statues of Buddha for decades. Unlike mom and I, they seemed to be familiar with and follow the rituals of Tibetan Buddhism. Mom never follows rituals. She says that the most important thing is the heart. The two men played their familiar roles as the initiator and the conciliator, all through the days we spent together.
Then there was Little Ding, a computer whiz and head of a small computer distribution company. He had been here three summers in a row, and he played the enthusiastic advisor role to us newbies. Rinpoche appointed Little Ding as his computer advisor. He often asked Little Ding to come up to his office for hours at a time. Rinpoche has always been fond of learning new things.
I agreed to accompany mom on this trip with a clear purpose in mind. I had been feeling that the three miseries of humankind described in Buddhism—greed, anger and ignorance—were indeed the cause of all my unhappiness and the biggest obstacles in my spiritual and personal growth. I wanted to learn practical ways to lessen these characteristics in me.
Mom met Rinpoche Duoshi last year on the tail end of her Tibet tour. She discovered his book at a metro stand, and thought that he was an enlightened being. So she changed her plans and went to meet him. As a result of that meeting, she started to organize a group to study with the Rinpoche. That plan had to be canceled because of SARS. So she and I came by ourselves.
Mom is a scholar and practitioner of Taoism, Chinese and Tibetan Buddhism, and Confucianism. She came to the Rinpoche with many questions about the differences and similarities between the three practices, and about her own practice and teaching. She was persistent in getting answers. Though Rinpoche is a well-read scholar of other practices, he evaded her questions. When she wouldn’t settle for a vague answer, he seemed to get a little angry and said that he is within a strict practice tradition. I inferred that he is not allowed to talk about other practices. After a period of silence, the topic changed back to current politics.
People working for and around the Rinpoche are all very formal with him. They offer him tea in his special palm-sized bowl with both hands and head bowed down. They stay attentive throughout the meals so that before the Rinpoche takes his last bite of food, they are already standing beside him with their head bowed, waiting to refill the bowl.
A couple of days before leaving, the elderly woman who served us meals told us proudly that the Rinpoche is her older brother. Then we found out that the younger female cook is also a relative. And the man working on the re-construction of the courtyard wall is Rinpoche’s brother. Rinpoche’s sister was born just a month apart from my mother, yet she looked a generation older.
The assistant manager of the house is a young man nineteen years of age. As one of the Tu minority, he is one of the few monks who have to learn Tibetan from scratch. As he manages the day-to-day operations, he looks so serious that he seems to be in his late twenties. When he was playing badminton in the courtyard with us, he talked animatedly and laughed heartily, trying in vane to hold shut his maroon and yellow monk robe that flies about him, he seemed barely adolescent.
The head administrator of Rinpoche’s house is a thirty-two year old podgy monk named Aka Gadan. He also manages Rinpoche’s bookstore just outside of the Monastery. He always seems unbothered by any event, and chuckled at everything. He is also of the Tu minority, and became a Tibetan monk at age eleven. In his late teens, he walked barefoot across Tibet to India and back. Perhaps this is one of many things that differentiate him from others.
Visitors of the day and the five of us, Little Ding, the two Cantonese men, mom and I, always filled a large round table at mealtime around Rinpoche. When there are few visitors, Aka Gadan and Aka ­­­____ also joined our table. Rinpoche’s relatives almost never did. They formed another table with less number of dishes. Our table was the chatty one. We chatted not only about our practices and philosophies, but a smorgasbord of topics. Heated talk of politics and the world situation often moved from the meal table into the flower filled courtyard. Talks went on for hours until we were summoned for the next meal. On sunny days, our talks were accompanied by trying some of the freshest and tastiest local fruits picked the same day and delicious homemade white yak yogurt, a true delicacy. These are all gifts to the Rinpoche by his daily visitors.
A particular thought stayed with me from these discussions. While discussing world religions, Rinpoche commented that science is a religion, too, with plenty of theories that are not supported by hard data. Because science is not based on compassion, he said, technologies end up hurting humanity and the world more than helping. Without compassion, more technology can mean more suffering.
Rinpoche paid daily attention to his flowers, and they responded with blossoms all summer long. The tall, blue orchids especially were full of blossoms and they became more and more vibrant each day. Everywhere, sunflowers grew from unintentionally dropped seeds. The soil here is not only rich for plants but also for spiritual development. Tiantang Monastery was the largest Tibetan monastery north of the Yellow River at the turn of the century. The Cultural Revolution wiped everything out. Now it’s in a rapid process of re-building, with support from newly rich Chinese business people. But it still isn’t on foreign visitors’ maps yet.
The Tiantang Monastery consists of four temples, two houses for two rinpoches, a house for the head manager of the monastery Aka Zanzhou, and a few dorm-like houses for the sixty monks. All the courtyards are among muddy, uneven paths and overgrown wild flowers. The Tiantang Monastery houses the largest statue of Zonggeba in the world, also the kindest face of a Buddha I have ever seen. Everyday mom and I visited him. He always looked directly into me. My heart quivered every time.
The monastery also has the first and only temple dedicated to Dumu. The temple house huge statues of _____--a monster looking ____ mating with the Dumu. These statues are usually hidden behind curtains in other Monasteries because visitors might misinterpret the posture. The unusual monastery was built last year by a couple who are qigong teachers and business people from Beijing. They have became dedicated to Tibetan Buddhism and to their teacher, Rinpoche Duoshi. The couple also built a vacationing village near the monastery with their own power generators and the only upscale restaurant in town. So they had nice hotel beds, bathrooms and always had power and hot water. Although mom and I were invited to stay there ahead of the trip, staying at the Rinpoche’s house was a chance that cannot be turned down. At the time we lived at the Rinpoche’s house, the wife of the couple was in Biguan—behind closed door—for two weeks, practicing red _____ the entire two weeks. Three meals are delivered into the room. In the past, practitioners usually did Biguan in caves deep in the mountain where there is no human disturbance. The concept of Biguan seems so mysterious to me that I wondered exactly what determined if one is ready. I yearned for the time when I would be ready to Biguan.
On the third day I got a strange headache. I rarely get headaches. This one was so different that I couldn’t tell what was wrong with me. The headache kept on moving from one spot to the next the entire night. I woke up many times whimpering with pain. The next thing I knew someone was knocking on our door very loudly, saying that we were going to climb the Maya Mountain and pay reverence to the holy Buddhist sights. It was six am. My ears were ringing, too. So mom got up and went. I stayed home pouting. The headache and the ringing ears went away hours later. I realized that I wasn’t sick. It was just high altitude reaction. That day seemed to have gone on forever, especially the couple of hours I waited at the dinner table until the slew of climbers finally came back. They kept on talking at a high, excited pitch all through the meal and kept on repeating how I had missed the chance of a lifetime. Was that it? Did I really miss what I came here for? I kept on wondering.
Before bedtime, mom told me in details about the climb. The angle of the climb was mostly at forty-five degrees. A few times, it was more like sixty degrees. On one of these steep and slippery hills, she fell on all fours to stop from rolling down. Her wrist was bloody and stained her sleeve. But the snowy mountains, the water falls, the caves and the lusciously green lakes were all so beautiful and touching that it was worth pain in her muscles and the bad high altitude reaction she got when she came down. The next morning, mom woke me up from my deep sleep, “Look, Claire, look!” The bloody scrape that was vividly on her wrist is nowhere to be found. Her skin looks perfectly smooth. “It must be the miracle mud we brought back from the cave.” When she was collecting the mud, a bit of it was spread on her hands and wrists. “And, I have no muscle pain whatsoever!” Mom was getting so excited that I tried to be the nonchalant one, and said, “Okay. Okay, mom. Fine.”
After about a week, Rinpoche gathered the five of us for the morning, and taught us the Green Tara practice. It seemed all quite straight forward. Rinpoche taught us the practice without much mystery, almost like any kind of exercise, step by step. After Rinpoche finished, the two Cantonese men gave their Gongyang—providings—to Rinpoche as the Rinpoche protested, “You don’t need to be like this, so formal.” Then the two men proceeded to do full body prostrations. As they kept on prostrating right in front of me, the minutes seemed sticky and long, and I was more and more embarrassed, maybe for them, maybe for myself. Then, we were on our own to practice whenever we chose to. When we asked about group practice, Rinpoche simply said, “Just practice in your room.”
We had been here for eleven days now; I still didn’t feel that I believed in Tibetan Buddhism and its practices. Mom’s miracles are hers, not mine. Every morning when mom and I chanted mantras as we turned the wheels, and then went around the temples to pay reverence to the Deities, I still couldn’t bring myself to do the Tibetan full-body prostrations. My body was killing me from all the discomforts. My urges to leave were getting stronger and I felt antsy. That afternoon in Rinpoche’s bookshop I saw a young woman—perhaps in her mid thirties—exchanging Tibetan jewelry and buying an expensive set of beads. Little Ding gave her lots of smiles, and called her his Little Buddhist Sister. That evening at dinner I learned that her name is Ms. Zhang. She lives in Canton. She had donated six hundred thousand yuan to build the Wenshu (Manjushri) Hall and Library. That’s about seventy five thousand dollars. She is thirty-nine. Aka Gadan, head administrator of Rinpoche’s house, invited her to the biggest and best dinner we had had so far at the vacation village, with spicy Sichuanese rabbit dishes and a variety of seafood. After dinner, Rinpoche received her privately in his study.
All this made me feel more and more uncomfortable. I told mom that Ms Zhang seemed successful and very capable to me. She was also definitely the center of attention which made me feel jealous. Mom said she felt it too, but she hit her head to get rid of the idea as soon as it appeared. She told herself to “yu ren tong le”—to be joyful along with others when they are happy. Yes, that is the right way, I said, because she is doing such a good thing. So what she has characteristics that I don’t care for? That’s another matter. I should feel glad and show my gratitude toward her. Then I hit my head too and decided to adopt mom’s method. It’s funny that mom had told me about this method of hers many times before. But this was the time I finally let it in. Right away I felt happy because perhaps this was why I needed to come here, to learn from mom how to get rid of the seed of negative emotions by knocking the beginning of a negative idea out of my head. I was thankful.
To continue to benefit from my newfound modesty, mom taught me how to sit without back support by visualizing the Green Tara and chanting the mantra. I sat on a pillow cross-legged and began the practice. I started by cleansing myself through breath, and as usual I yawned a great deal. As soon as I saw the Green Tara and started chanting, my entire body became instantly quiet, then calm, deeper and deeper. I felt as if there were weights between my hands and on my tongue. They became heavier and heavier as the rest of my body became less and less felt, until all the rest of my body seemed to have disappeared except the two heavy weights like solid iron balls resting on my tongue and in my hands. I saw the Green Tara smile and I felt happy. I saw Rinpoche smile at me, so clearly. I was thankful to Ms. Zhang. I felt really thankful to mom. And I felt thankful to everyone. Then emptiness. Just the mantra and Green Tara. Complete emptiness. Time disappeared. Space disappeared. I disappeared.
I became the Green Tara. My heart expanded. Joy and thankfulness to everyone and everything filled the expanse. Then it changed. Joy melted into immense sadness for everyone and everything. Tears filled my eyes and rolled down my face. Is this the Bodhi heart I hear about? I, the Green Tara, extended my green light to every living being, helping them ease the sadness in their heart and their suffering. I extended my green light, offering to all my teachers and Buddhas, all the two thousand nameless Buddhas who came before Bodhisattva and taught him… In my own body and spirit, I experienced and understood why the Buddhist method is correct and has been the path for many for so long. I gave my thanks to Rinpoche’s teaching. He smiled again, full of benevolence and compassion. All through the sitting, Rinpoche appeared seven or eight times, each time smiling kindly. When the existence of my body came back, I felt that the kinks in my back had eased, and I was sitting straight without effort. My body felt warm and my heart full of love.
The next day I told my experience first to mom then to Rinpoche. I felt that I had learned methods to work on the three miseries of humankind, from a day to day practical method to stop the thoughts before they began, to a meditation practice method to grow my own compassion and feel the connectedness with all. Of course just when I thought I had got it, some thoughts became words and actions before I could jump on them. After briefly feeling defeated, I smiled again. My life is my process. As long as I keep on working on my practice, day after day, there will be gradual results. So this trip didn’t bring me instant enlightenment. I shall be patient.
During the two weeks, there were times when I found myself simply standing there, not thinking, just looking at something, nothing. Plenty of times during the day, mom and I lied in bed fully dressed, covered with a layer of blanket, talking about many things that we haven’t brought up in the past. I couldn’t remember the last time we talked like this—like old friends, equal, without the usual mother-daughter dynamics. It didn’t take much effort to get along. Time slowed down.
Just like any other practice, I also learned the disadvantages of the Tibetan practice from the cramps in my pelvis. I have been only sitting and meditating and completely neglected my movement qigong practices. I also learned that Rinpoche has high blood pressure. So great masters are not necessarily perfect either, and certainly not all achieve longevity, enlightenment and realization. Heart-mind cultivation and body maintenance are both necessary tools for attaining realization in this world.
Time accelerated the last couple of days we were there. I had forgotten or had gotten used to all the inconveniences and discomforts of the remote area. But it was time to go home. Saying goodbye to Rinpoche wasn’t easy because he had become my grandfather in my heart. Soon we were driven to the hand-built, swaying and dilapidating suspension bridge on the edge of the village, walked across, got into a pre-arranged taxi, and two and half hours later mom and I were in Xining. We took the twenty-eight hour train back to Beijing the next day.

Back in Beijing, mom introduced me to Professor Fuyin Chen, a doctor, scientist and qigong master. Professor Chen, his wife, a sociologist, mom and I met in a quiet teahouse one afternoon and began talking about anything and everything. Professor Chen is in his sixties and looks like an ideal scholar with a thin build. He spoke with clarity, precision and an undeniable passion. As wonderful thoughts poured out of his mouth, sparks danced in his eyes. A few simple thoughts stayed firmly in my mind. I asked him what he thought of the quality of compassion in Tibetan Buddhism. Professor Chen began to talk about how we all know how much work it was for our mothers to bring us into this world. Just imagine carrying several pounds of weight for nine months, walking, eating, and sleeping without any break. All her organs are making room for you; her skin is stretched to the limit, the nausea, the need to eat often and go to bathroom often, the change of diet… And finally the pain at birth. How could we not owe our mothers and be thankful always?
What we also forget is that we wouldn’t have the kind of life we lead without other human beings and other living creatures giving us a roof to live under, warmth, food, and all the comforts of modern living. The moment we are born into this world we already owe everything to every living creature before us and around us. How could we not give back? How could we not be serving others?
A question had been on my mind for quite a long time. So I took the opportunity to ask Professor Chen. I had an unresolved question about teachers. In the past, I would find a teacher who is really good at teaching something. A while later I would find qualities that I don’t like so much about the teacher, for example, too rigid, too traditional, or philosophical with no real practice, or lack of compassion or principle, etc. I wondered what to do with these weaknesses I perceived in my teachers. I once read a book by an American Tibetan Buddhist teacher who talked about the Empty Teacher. He said to list all the good qualities and all the weaknesses of your teacher. Then go down the weaknesses list and use it as a mirror for yourself. Whatever you see as a weakness in others resides in you, too. As soon as you have gotten rid of a weakness, you won’t see it in others anymore.
I asked Professor Chen how he sees the search for the right teacher? He smiled. His eyes shone, and said finding the right teacher is not difficult; finding the right practice for you is not difficult; attaining enlightenment is not difficult. It doesn’t even take that long to attain enlightenment. The key and the most difficult step is to go into yourself. Ask yourself what it is that you really want. Clarify, clarify and clarify. Once you are clear about your life goal, you’ll know clearly who your teacher is, and your practice will progress fast as well. Perhaps in two to four years you may attain enlightenment.

Now I am back in the States. People tell me that they see or feel changes in me. “You have this peacefulness in your eyes,” they would say. They ask me what I have learned on my trip. It’s not so easy for me to notice my own progress because I often still find myself in negative thoughts and feeling miserable about something without catching the thought at its bud. The peace in my heart gets disrupted more often than I like—though my heart does seem to return to peace sooner now than it used to. But my awareness is coming in sooner now and it comes from the heart.
Then, day after day I come back to what I’ve written, I fill in more changes I have noticed in myself. Now when I practice qigong, some unfamiliar, deep feelings rise up from my heart. This thankfulness, this connectedness, shows up during many of the exercises that I have been practicing for years. I not only know but I FEEL the big picture. I feel the presence of the living universe. I feel the present moment in my body, in my heart, in my spirit.
When I am teaching, oftentimes tears rise up in my eyes. I feel my heart directly communicating and receiving warmth and compassion with others’ heart. I am thankful and glad that others are on this path, sharing their heart with me. I am thankful that they are coming to class. It’s not so easy to stay on this path in our modern society, everyone working harder than ever, with inhumane schedules and workloads. I am so thankful. There is something that I know I have learned. That is without giving up on the practices I have learned, this progress will continue, step by step.
The summer trip to China was a lamppost on my path. I want to share my experience and learning with you. Perhaps something will click for you sometime down your own path. When that happens, it would add to my joy. I would like to share something I read the day after my return to Seattle, conclusions from recent findings in biology. It summarized what I have learned in a simple, elegant way,
“Think of each organism as an entity that is not really confined within the solid body we see. The visible body just happens to be where the wave function of the organism is most dense. Invisible quantum waves are spreading out from each one of us and permeating into all other organisms. At the same time, each of us has the waves of every other organism entangled within our own make-up…each of us is supported and constituted, ultimately, by all there is in the universe.”
—Mae-Wan Ho, PhD, Reader in Biology at Open University, UK

Claire GuYu Johnson grew up in Beijing, China in a family of qigong, taichi and herbal medicine practitioners. Her playground was among the ancient trees and temples. Through her parents’ Qigong Association of America, she met and studied with a number of Taoist and Buddhist qigong and taichi masters. In 1999, she traveled with Grandmaster Mingtang of ZY Qigong to many cities in Russia, Ukraine, Germany and China, while Mingtang taught seminars and saw patients. In 2000, she set up the first ZY Qigong office in the U.S. in Seattle, WA. Since then, she has been expanding the non-profit organization, teaching classes to practitioners and the general public, seeing clients, and sharing this simple tool for healing and spiritual development with all. She also brings teachers of many different practices to the ZYQ Center so she and her students can learn from different areas and perspectives.

Pilgrimage to an open horizon:
o To see the world from a different point of view,
o To jump out of our daily life and immerse in a different way of life, with different rhythms and cadence.
o To forget the monkey mind and to remember the comprehending heart.
o To receive and to give.
o To communicate with thousands of years of information stored in these dynamic landscapes.
o And to learn from a well designed, time-tested system.

Out of Loneliness

Woke up feeling that emptiness
Puttered around the house, no connection
Turned on the radio to fill the space, the grey corners of the house

Morning elongates into afternoon
no boundaries
no demarcations of minutes

Dragged out of this void of a house, finally
Shin bumped car door, no pain
Legs rubbed by cat, no feeling

Saturday afternoon
Driving down crowded Queen Anne Ave
Cut off from the actions and flow outside
by this box of metal housing me

Suddenly, “I” makes itself aware in my chest
A fluttering spirit above finds its way, settles within
A smile creeps up from the “I” onto my face, bright, fast-climbing morning glories

The weight of the body is
The solidness of “I” is
A clear boundary between body and world…is

In one moment
The bigness of the universe is “I”, beyond buildings, cars, the city
A gladness spreads in me
A deep weep from the chest into the vastness of me…

I thank you
For letting me feel that switch in my body
Out of unfeeling out of disconnect out of loneliness.

Simple Lessons from a Tree at Goldmyer

Oct. 03
I was invited to spend a weekend at the Goldmeir Hot Springs. The five of us arrived Friday evening. Saturday after breakfast, the other four decided to do the eight miles hike up to Snow Lake. I stayed, taking my time wandering amongst the old growth forest. The big trees, more than four arm lengths in girth, beckoned me.
Ten minutes up the trail, I stood in front of one of the largest trees I have seen in this area. It had rooted itself on the bank about four feet above the trail. Its roots were exposed above earth like tangled serpents. A smaller tree grew out of this mass of roots. The uncle tree and the nephew tree seem to have a communicative relationship that keeps both healthy and vibrant. I put my hands on the uncle tree’s coarse bark and felt its masculine energy, stable and calming. When I put my forehead on the tree, I realized that my head and hands were stuck there by tree sap. I laughed out loud, put a drop of the clear sap onto my tongue and enjoyed the clearing fragrance throughout my body.
Trees are more like human beings than most of us think. They have a physical body; they have energy; and they have spirit and soul. They have personalities and character. Each kind of tree has its unique configurations of energy. They get ill from time to time. They get physical injuries like us. They get worms, bacteria and viruses just like us. They learn lessons and grow knots around the injured and ill areas. Once in a while, one gets eliminated by lightning.
I raised my head and saw the biggest knot on the tree. That moment I understood that trees face obstacles just like us. This knot bigger than my two hands testifies to that. The old tree adapted itself to the change and continued to live. I grew up in the Temple of Agriculture in Beijing and played among trees more than three hundred years old. They had so many knots all over that they were easy to climb for a six year old. We all had our own preferred tree as our ”houses,” and invited other kids to be our guests. I didn’t appreciate those gnarly trees then because at night the moonlight made them look grotesque and frightening. Now to me, the knots mean courage to heal and to continue to grow.
We are like trees. Trees are still intrinsically connected with their surroundings. We forget. Trees must give and receive to live. The more they give, the more they receive. Just as they give off oxygen and take carbon dioxide, they give off energy we humans need, and take away unnecessary energy in us. We know that especially well when we practice qigong by trees, or do healing around a plant. The plants get healthier and more vibrant from us sloughing off our “sick” qi. Information in many shapes and forms are exchanged when we calm our running minds and attune to the trees. Every moment of their lives they are constantly connected with earth, sky and their surroundings. We forget. Sometimes we forget for years and generations, until something in us and around us goes terribly wrong. The less we give, the more our happiness diminishes. One day we wake up and ask ourselves, “Why am I alive? Am I needed?” Ask a tree.
Trees cannot hoard. They cannot just get and not give. They don’t have bank accounts. All they have they store in their roots, their trunk and their leaves and branches. Few human beings still have that kind of confidence, trust and faith in the bigger. I remember one autumn afternoon, walking with many thoughts around and in my head, I looked up and was stunned by life. A baby tree with its trunk barely a handful in girth was in flames—its leave in every shade of red: orange red, apricot red, fire red and blood red—the purest and boldest colors of life. Behind it, the sky as if answering to the baby tree, illuminated itself into a transparent blue. The essence of life flashed itself in a moment, like the most touching drama on the stage of life, the moments you can recall to your friends but could never quite catch with words.
The next morning after a night of storm, I walked on the same path again and saw only thin, bare and lonely branches. All the flames have faded onto the ground, though still touchingly red, orange, apricot, fire and blood. The colors are unchanged, but location has changed. The sky behind the bare branches continued to be blue and pure and an expanse of life. Another tree next to the baby tree had just turned a glorious golden yellow, assuming the center of the stage of autumn. I felt my brows furrowing, don’t I remember seeing this tree and that tree last year this time? Yet every time, my sigh joins the earthbound leaves after my exclaim decorates the changing leaves on the tree. The beauty of the leaves last but a year. The beauty of humans last but a few decades. I exclaim and sigh every year with the leaves, while the trees continue living year after year. And what about the sky? It continues being for millions of years, millions of life times. So how can my heart be with the sky? Can my heart understand the expanse of the sky? How does one have the faith and trust of a tree winter after winter? Thoughts went around and around. My head began to ache.
That evening in our Image Therapy healing class where we usually go right into healing related practices, I wanted everyone to practice the Big Tree standing meditation which is more of an individual qigong practice. Students were surprised of the sudden change of curriculum. We stood for half an hour. In one moment of that half an hour, I became an old tree in the winter, with dark, bare branches against a grey sky. An understanding spread through my body. The confidence, the trust, and the faith don’t come from the head, or reasoning. Being connected to the earth and sky, it’s a knowing, a knowing that every tree is born with, a knowing that we are born with, too, but forget. This knowing is found again by a few people who live and wonder on earth, with nothing but their connection to the earth and sky. They have come in touch with the flow of eternity. Taoists call them immortals because they are free from fear, free from disconnect.
I understand now why for years we practice being a tree. It takes time to relax our body so it’s open. It takes time to relax our energy so it’s calm. It takes time to relax our spirit to truly, unjudgingly feel, exchange, and understand. Openness allows one to give and to receive. Pay respect to the tree and the tree will open up. The respect in you will open your body and heart for receiving as well. The oldest trees in the world have been living for four to six thousand years. They live in the White Forest of California. They live in the desert oasis of Africa. They live in the tropical forest of Mexico… These endless wells of living wisdom are here, living with us, and open to us to connect and remember with.

Big Tree Standing Meditation is one of ZY Qigong’s central practices, where one stands as a great big tree, connecting with the Earth and the cosmos. For more information about qigong (ancient Chinese practices with vital life force), visit our website:

Truly Delicious Practice

The deliciousness of feeling earth qi entering the feet and body for the first time;
The deliciousness of feeling the mind calming and the relaxed awareness releasing from the brain into the entire body like stardust;
The deliciousness when feeling weightless, formless, nothing and everything;
The deliciousness when the heart opens and quivers as it feels another person’s deep emotions;
The deliciousness when warmth radiates outward from the lower Dantian like a small sun warming the universe of our body;
The deliciousness when I am an ageless, great, Big Tree;
The deliciousness of opening our eyes to a brand new beauty of the world after a vibrating practice;
The deliciousness of knowing in the bones, understanding beyond time…

Teaching & Healing: a Full Circle

March, 04
In Level Two of ZY Qigong practice, we let our energy naturally raise from my Lower Dantian to activate our Middle Dantian—middle energy center in the heart area. These exercises activate and strengthen our emotional empathy. We work on building our Middle Channel, and get external information beyond ourselves, we gain wisdom. We work on our second respiratory system through Body Breathing, and we gain physical empathy for others. We work on our yin-yang ball of qi as a tool to gain empathy and understanding in all above ways. We literally feel others’ pain, and joy.

Then we grapple with all these pain others feel, physically and emotionally. We eventually learn that we can feel others’ pain all we can, but we cannot change the pain—fundamentally. We can help lessen the pain, but we cannot change the people experiencing the pain. We cannot change the course or circumstance of their lives. It’s absolutely their choice in whether they hear or not, see alternate routes or not, take up the helping hand in changing direction or not.

We can feel their pain, but we cannot attach to the pain, to the people, and to the outcome of their circumstance after we offer help. We can feel the pain whether we decide to say or do something or not. We can say or do something, but be okay with any kind of response—whether it’s utter ignoring, not hearing, or hearing with utter indifference, or hearing with angry attacking response, or hearing and misunderstanding the advice while believing that they got it…

Once you choose to teach, to heal, you cannot be attached to the responses. Stay with your integrity, and detach from your ego. Of course this is an utmost difficult thing to do. Because even when we first sense someone else’s pain, our own pain get hooked and dragged up from our past. Then sometimes we can start with the right intention of lending a helping hand, but our kind advices all of a sudden began to be charged with our own emotionally pain, fear, anger, despair and sadness.

Or we began to pour our attention onto the other in an obsessive passion to try to get away from feeling our own pain. We make others our projects of hope. We get utterly distraught when they sense our own emotionally imbalance and run the other way. Have you noticed that you can say the same exact words but have totally different intentions behind them? It’s all in the intention. And the intention could change from good to evil from one moment to the next.

How can we be aware that we are coming from the right intention? We can ask ourselves, “From where I am now, am I doing what I now know is right? Is my self watching my ego, keeping it in check?” The definition of what is “right” will change with our own growth and understanding. That is why it is important to give ourselves space and time to learn from our interactions with others, to understand their pain and our own, to assimilate the learning, to integrate into oneness. Let go of rigidity. Let go of resistance to change. Let go of fear based controlling. Let go of divisions in the mind. Become oneness within. Know what is right in that moment. And have integrity.

Once you have practiced Level Two exercises, you almost cannot avoid teaching and healing because you feel others’ feelings, and their pain. When you are outside others’ confusion and can see the whole picture, when you can see where they are coming from and where they are heading to, how can you not say anything, not do anything? The clearer the picture you see, the more responsible you feel, and the less likely you will turn your head or leave the person behind when the person is actively seeking help. You become more empathetic to even strangers, because they are no longer strangers when you feel them. All their sufferings and enjoyments take on new vivid dimensions.

This is when you also feel responsible to root yourself, so you can say or do something from a deeply connected place, and stay connected through and beyond the response you will get. That’s why I always tell my students that teaching and healing roots and grounds me. They take me out of my own dramas. I become more even, balanced emotionally and physically, little by little. We come into a full circle of learning and helping.

To Know the Truth about Life

March, 04

Life is simple.
The essence of life can be known.
We can understand each other and ourselves.
We can feel the connectedness always.
How, you ask.
We need to unlearn things that are untrue in ourselves,
and re-learn our internal truth again—

Children sometimes say things that embarrass us adults because they are telling the truth. They always tell the truth about whether they like or dislike something until, one day, they are trained not tell the truth all the time. “Say you like auntie’s gift.” “Tell grandma you liked her dishes.” This is when children learn to disconnect their words and their thinking from their feelings. When this continually happens, we loose touch with our true feelings, and eventually our body and mind disconnect. This is when gifted children lose their extra sensory abilities—when they reach social age.

When we systematically ignore, suppress and try to forget our true feelings, one day we don’t know that our feelings are there anymore. We cannot tell what we need or don’t need anymore. When our body feels uncomfortable, we don’t catch the early signals. We wait until we cannot possibly deny the symptoms anymore. For some, this might be too late. Continual denial of our true feelings lead to sickness. Disconnection does not allow our body to activate its self-healing abilities.

Some of us learned to be diplomatic with our answers and evade questions. When asked whether the tea is good, we coyly reply, “It’s hot.” When this type of miscommunication persists, our body eventually would tell us we are cold when indeed our body feels damp; When our legs feel heavy, we tell our doctor we feel pain in the legs. We are denying our own intuition when we don’t say what we think. Then we certainly won’t be able to develop our intuition and extra sensory abilities.

You may be thankful for that someone is offering you something of theirs. Then be thankful and separate it from whether what they offered is what you like, or what you need. Telling them the truth can help them get in touch with their sensitivities as well. Or it may help them face whether they are giving out of true generosity or it is to serve their selfishness.

So you say, “We cannot always tell the truth. We would make a lot of people uncomfortable, and hurt people’s feelings.” From Level II Image Therapy Body Scanning, you learned that there is no secret. We are all able to develop the ability to feel how others feel. As soon as you think, the thought is in the universe. It’s in our collective consciousness. It’s no longer just yours.

When we are trained not to tell the truth, our lives become more complicated. Relationships are difficult because we simply cannot believe someone completely. When we don’t tell the truth, how can we trust others? We over think, over-analyze because we cannot trust others, and we cannot hear our own feelings and intuitions clearly. When we deny our emotions, we become disconnected from others and the world. We feel unhappy and unwell on many levels. We lose our integrity on the most basic level.

So the children who embarrassed us with their truth are our teachers. People who can still tell the truth are here to help us. When we feel embarrassed, we are given the gift of peeking into our own fears. When children say some socially unacceptable words in public, such as sexual words, parents get embarrassed because fear has been installed in them as children, so we would all obey social orders, control. Social rules are set up to take away freedom. They got set up out of fear. The more rules and law a place has, the more corrupt the morality is among people. So when someone gives us a gift by bringing up our embarrassment, stay with it and look at the fear behind it. Eventually truth emerges out from the fear like fog clearing and we can see the land.

Someone once asked me, “So where does our rational mind fits in in this practice of telling the truth?” Our rational mind is like a computer, or a complex analytic tool. Its parameters are often already set up by social conditioning, like an equation based on societal rules. When our ego feeds the equation, we become societal models of success, climbing the corporate ladder and accumulating material things. When we feed the equation with truth however, it might jam the computer at first with fear. That’s why enlightenment happens when the mind is still, resting, out of the way. An enlightenment clears up some social conditioning in our rational mind. We can see the truth clearer. We can see a clearer and broader picture of what life is. When our extraordinary senses develops, when we can see with our third eye, our mind must be calm. When the mind is busy, we do not see.

Indeed, life can be simple. We can be in touch with our true voice and feelings. We can understand and trust each other. We can be connected to our world—
The first step is to develop our internal honesty, believe in it, strengthen it so that our intuition becomes stronger and clearer. We become intoned with our internal truth, our integrity and the truth of the universe. Our extrasensory abilities develop so we don’t just see the material world but also the energy and spiritual worlds. Then we can begin to understand what life is, and we can understand others, people, animals and our natural world. That is when we don’t just think we are connected to others and the world, we feel it, we see it, we know it with our own senses, our own experience. Then the essence of life and self will be revealed.

This is the first step of healing and self development—telling the Truth. It is the first step on the path of a life-long spiritual journey, an adventure in discovering the ultimate truth of the universe.

How to Find Happiness

March, 04

Things are just fine, we say.

We like to keep things the same.
We like security.
We like the familiar, routines.
We like an easy life.
We like our ways.
We like to stay with what we know.
We like people who are like us.We don’t like new things.
We don’t like big changes.
We don’t like adversity.
We don’t like obstacles.
We don’t like pain.
We don’t like upheavals.
We certainly don’t like our enemies.

Or do we?

Can we switch our likes and dislikes?
We all like happiness.
But we don’t agree on what makes us happy,
or how much something makes us happy.

Everyone pays attention to happiness. Even scientists who are supposed to be dispassionate, are churning out studies. They assigned numerical values to happiness and let people rate how much something would make them happy:
Before they got it,
When they get it,
And after some time.

They found three outcomes on happiness.

Everything material, people tend to rate them high while expecting. When they get it, the rating is almost never as high. And the value depreciates in time.

When people rate the time they spend with loved ones, the outcome is just as high if not higher than they expected. As time goes on, people recall these memories and the happiness value goes higher and higher. In another word, the value appreciates, or high ROI—return on investment.

So how do we spend time with our loved ones?
Some of the deepest pains are also caused by some of our closest family and friends.
How can we continue to find happiness, grow in happiness
when we argue, we get mad, irritable, disappointment, sad, hopeless, fearful…
with our closest loved ones?

One way of modern thinking must be changed—
the way we think pain is bad.
We avoid, we suppress, we do everything we can
to not have pain, not even discomfort.
We bandage, we drug, we numb our pain and discomfort
instead of finding out what causes the pain.
We stay right on top of pain and darkness in ourselves,
sometimes all the way until death.
We become more and more rigid
from deeper and deeper layers of fear of pain.

3. The third outcome the psychologist learned from their research is that whenever people expect something to be really bad, when it happens, it’s never as bad as people thought, even when it is the death of a loved one. We always get over the pain sooner than we could image. Almost without fail, happiness returns sooner than we expect.

If we are not forced to look at pain and always run away,
more and more fear and rigidity builds in our psyche and our body.
Emotional and psychological pain becomes physical.
When we suppress physical pain, it doesn’t really go away.
It continues to build, cause bigger and deeper pain and more severe illness
in our body.

How to get out of this endless vicious cycle?

Reverse the spiral—
Choose to look at the pain.
Look right into the pain, physically and emotionally.
Know that we are strong and resilient,
that we will survive the worst healing crisis.
Know that the pain is never greater than who we are.
When you trust yourself, and let go, release,
you go through the pain.

Then we are a layer lighter. Brighter.
We feel our strength as ever-flowing water, not as aging concrete.
We become truer.
We can be with our loved ones closer.
Our enemy can become our friend.
This is when
Happiness can build,

Coming into the "Zone" through Qigong

The first step qigong teaches is body awareness, this inner relaxed alartness that you see in masters of qigong, taichi and internal martial arts. In sports, we learn the concentrated body awareness. When we become unaware or in our head, it’s easy to sustain injuries. But concentrated focus does not last long. We usually forget the body awareness and get in our head right after sports. I used to be a dancer, practicing everyday and also performing. I had very good balance and elegance of movement, but I got many injuries in and out of dancing. It’s not due to lack of balance or bad motor movements. It is the lack of the relaxed, sustained awareness. This is what qigong brings into us. This relaxed, sustained awareness will prevent future build-up of stress on our organs and injuries on our body.

When you are constantly in the sustained relaxed state, your vital energy can flow more easily, bringing blood and nutrients to all the areas that need healing. This is the beginning of our self-healing process. Then we learn to bring a slight focus, still relaxed, to our energy centers, so we can begin to gather and store energy, build up our energy level and our immune system.

This is also “the zone” many athletes, writers and artists, even scientists talk about, this relaxed openness, sustained alertness. This is the present state. When we are in our head, we are often in the past or the future. Being in the state allows us to be open to the flow of cosmic energy into our body, carrying new information, wisdom that heightens our creativity. To systematically opening our energy channels and points so we are more connected to the cosmis is part of our personal and spiritual development in qigong.

Relaxing the Mind through our Body: Thoughts from the Big Tree Standing Meditation

Feb. 04
The mind is such an interesting character!

It wants to get in the middle of everything, here and now, past and future, and everywhere else.

I find it easier to relax the mind during standing meditation rather than sitting for novice meditators. When I practice standing meditation, my body adjusts. Different parts of the body shows discomfort, letting me know that there is something wrong there and need some healing attention. I learned along the way to hear my body, notice the subtle communication. This is when I surround the areas with relaxed awareness. Some of them let go, release. My body realigns, bit by bit.

Some areas are stubborn and continue to build to ache. This is when my mind starts to chatter. The volume gradually cranks up to a low roar, then sharp screams, all in the best tradition of “dramatizing” the pain.

This is when I relax the muscles around the brain, especially the frontal lobe, the forehead. Then the mind has to give up control. Thoughts get dropped—like puff of smoke disappearing into flowing air.

Right away, pain lessens by more than half. Tightness melts. Locked places open. Areas that were just screaming a moment ago relax, release, let go—fast.

I smile at my self-assumed busy mind. The smile naturally relaxes the muscles around the brain, takes power away from the mind. Relaxed awareness, like air leaking out of a blown-up puff fish, releases into the rest of the body—long, soft, smooth breaths, circulating and opening all the tense, not-yet-relaxed areas in the body.

The body calms. Energy flows freely and calmly. My spirit eases and comes into a stillness. The brightest clarity ensues.

When the body, energy and spirit stay calm for a while, time as we know it doesn’t exist anymore. It becomes expansive like the universe. Our physical matter becomes lighter. We feel the distant space between and within atoms in our body. We feel qi—the quantum connective tissue to all in the universe. When we feel this essence of self and everything else, a sense of elated joy permeates all of our awareness.

We are expanded into time and space, ageless and connected.

Isn’t it lucky that we have a body, that it does not let us ignore it too easily. So perhaps we will eventually learn our lessons, learn about ourselves through our tool.

The Complete Healing Process: Integrating the Physcial, Energy and Spiritual Anatomies

People come to me for healing when in crisis. I do the same. We think, “Fix me! I am uncomfortable!” “I am out of my normal range of comfort. Put me back to my comfort zone again!” What we forget is that these crises are mere reminders. There is no such thing as an accident. Behind the area where we got hurt is a long history of past incidences. Why do we have such weak areas or organs that always give us trouble? Even behind hereditary cases, there are deeper reasons, causes that we need to become aware of so we can change the family patterns and heal. No wound is too deep to heal; no illness is too late to heal. That is why we are here, that is why we have a body this time, is to use our body as a tool to heal our soul. To heal completely, to heal the integral being, my latest experience gave me more clarity on how this is possible.

I have been praying much to overcome one of the hardest lessons in my life. Finally that day I understood why I threw out my pelvis the week before, plus all the injuries I have been sustaining from “accidents” throughout the years. It’s time to understand the connections in my body so I can finally heal.

The Healing Story

When the healer (Richard) started on my achy pelvis area, I felt that unbearable ticklish feeling under my right hipbone that says “stay away! Don’t touch!” I knew better to give in to the surface defense. By breathing into the area, I relax and defuse the defensive layer. The ticklishness fled down my legs--with it waves of a subtle sensation spread through my whole body. I knew from past healing experiences that this is how I feel fear, and I could tell that this one is big. “Stay with it. Go deep,” I tell myself and the healer.

As soon as layers of ticklishness and fear faded out, a sharp, pin-size point of excruciating pain emerged out of nowhere. I drew my breath into the pain and release, release, and release some more, like giving birth, letting go of a body memory that no longer serve me. The pain began to spread and lessen. It spread to my chest and released a well of sadness. This is the point when clients tend to shut down because the feeling is so overwhelming. I relax some more and let it come out. My right hip opened more, more grief, until the grief finally overwhelmed my breath. I couldn’t breathe. I started coughing uncontrollably. My body convulsed. My healer padded my lungs. Much coldness came out, more uncontrollable crying. When the ocean of grief subsided some, I felt anger, then intense, vehement bitterness that I much prefer not knowing.

I saw myself at forty-four years of age, in a long dress with a bonnet standing by the sea, grieving and angry over the fact that my husband didn’t return. I didn’t know if he ever would. My heart closed up by years of sorrow and layers of anger. I locked the door and threw away the key to my heart with endless bitterness. I died alone at seventy-three, anger and resentment destroyed my liver functions and caused much pain in my hips and legs.

This life prompted another, similar life during WWII when I was a beautiful dancer, much admired. I fell in love and was engaged to marry so I didn’t have to dance for money anymore. Then my fiancĂ©e was drafted. He never returned. I became nonchalant, and drank, smoked and danced with any man who would pay me, and eventually died alone, from lung and bronchial complications.

So this life I am back to the same lesson—separation—learning from my body memories in hips and lungs. It started early in life with my beloved father when I would only get to see him once a year, and see him leave again and again. At fourteen I left father for America. Our emotional lie dried up for many years. It was just in the last few years we are getting close, communicating from the heart again.

How Energy Enlivens the Physical and Carries Information

Though the issue has been clear to me psychologically for many years and I have had years of counseling on it, the physical and energetic memory of grief, anger and resentment has not yet been dissolved. They still get triggered and create more problems in my life, both emotional and physical. I know I must overcome and heal completely, physically, energetically and emotionally, to change course of my life, now and in the future. Forgive and let go and become open. (Trust that I will be fine. When I am open and loving, life will be different. My soul which is connected to the One can point me in the right direction, the direction of health and wellbeing. Without that self-fulfilling fear of my man leaving me, I wouldn’t attract that learning pattern anymore. With this lesson learned, I will love and be loved.)

With the physical and emotional pain coming out and then lessening and leaving, I experienced energy (qi) flowing in patterns in my body. Energy is the carrier of information, emotional, family, environmental, etc. When emotions are stuck and not flowing, the energy carrying it gets stuck as well. In Chinese medicine, we call it stagnant qi. When qi gets stuck for a while, the physical environment gets stuck. Blood doesn’t flow well. Nutrients and oxygen cannot get to the area. Muscles and membranes get stiff, non-elastic or numb. For example, I often find the cause of knee problems to an energy point that is on the gall bladder energy channel; I often trace right leg problems to liver, left hip to the spleen/pancreas system, low back pain to kidney/adrenal system, etc. So when there is a physical injury, like a torn ligament or a hernia, usually that area is become stiff so it cannot move in a flow with the rest of the body. To heal such physical injuries, we work specifically in that torn area to first open the blocked energy point, then the sluggish energy channel. Secondly we bring more vital qi and blood into the area to flush out the old. Thirdly, to deal with the problem from the root, we need to work with the organ system to bring all players back into full functioning.

This time during healing, I was able to trace distinct qi flow patterns. I felt how stagnant qi travels from one point to next, out of which specific toe it is releasing from, and from which part of the organ the stagnant qi was being pulled out. There was once a point felt extremely painful on the inside of my right thigh. Then all of a sudden a puff of stagnant qi drained out of my left second big toe. I was perplexed why it jumped legs. Then I realized—I have a sprained ankle on the right so it wouldn’t go out that way. Another time I felt qi draining first on the outside of the leg then changed to the inside channel then changed back to the outside again. So I verbalized each change to the healer. We realized that changing from the thumb to the fore finger changed how a healer would push the stagnant qi out of either the yin or the yang channels.

What It Takes to Heal Completely

This healing session lasted three hours. And we were only able to release about ninety percent of the layers on the right side, and ten percent on the left. The complete healing process seems daunting. To uncover all the energy, physical and informational (emotional) layer by layer not only takes time, it’s a process that requires commitment and patience. As a client:
First, we need to say, “I want to heal.” We have come to a place of respect for ourselves, our body so that we are already to hear the signals. We are ready to look inward, examine ourselves and change old, unhealthy physical and emotional patterns. We are ready to let go of these old patterns.
Secondly, we need to say, “I trust the process.” We cannot hesitate on how much time and energy we dedicate to our healing. We listen to ourselves, our body’s signals, and do whatever it takes to reverse the unwell. We enlist allies, support and helpers, which is healers who support your process. Having patience means having trust that the healing process is guided by our soul, our high Self, so that we are given lessons we can handle, and we are going at a speed that is right for us. As long as we keep on at it, we will get there—wellness in our physical, energy and spiritual self.
Thirdly, we trust the power of the Oneness. We are aligned with our image of wellness. We do not affirm the illness or our past. “The pull of the future is stronger than the push of the past,” a Sufi teacher once said. Let the perfection of the Oneness pull you towards it and accelerate you toward wellness.

For healers, we need to know that it’s a dynamic relationship between our client and ourselves. We ourselves need to have became aware, looked at, and healed these areas of issues. We need to recognize it before we could help another with it. And we need to be open to listen, and ready to open that door for our client. Lot of times a client is standing in front of a door, needing just a little more encouragement to walk through. We as healers offer our hand.

Present Pain vs. Memory Pain

To change and heal takes tremendous courage. We must shed many layers of pain in order to completely heal. Then you may ask, how do I know when I am actually hurting and when I am healing? I’d like to refer to a point made in the documentary “What the Bleep Do We Know?!” Scientists found that our brain cannot tell the difference between what is happening in the present versus a memory. So our brain actually cannot tell whether something is hurting us right now or something is reminding us of pain stored in memory. Then what differentiates past versus present pain? Who is the observer that makes the differentiation? Scientists have been looking for the observer in the brain for decades and found none.

As this finding ties into our emotions, there are two situations. The first is the straightforward one, when our emotions serve as a motivator to change our condition so we wouldn’t get physically hurt, such as when seeing a lion, our fear kicks in extra adrenaline so we can run for our life. Or when we see a child being hurt, our anger motivates us to do something to get the child out of the situation. These are situations when the pain is happening in the present.

Then there is the second situation when we feel overwhelming emotions such as fear, anger and grief because the current condition is triggering a pain memory. Since our brain cannot tell between present pain versus memory pain, strong emotions tend to overwhelm the “observer” and we confuse the past for the present. In these memory situations reacting from triggering painful memories, we only hear the specific triggering words instead of the overall context, then misinterpret others’ intentions, and creating unnecessary conflicts and hurting others.

The same is true with physical pain. There is pain that is currently hurting our body so we know to stop it. When an area becomes chronically painful due to qi stagnation, we tend to stop exercising this area, fearing more pain. This reaction creates more stagnation, therefore more pain. In order to heal the chronic pain, we first need to wake up the body so the body knows there is something wrong in this area. Then we can release layers of pain.

How to stop this vicious cycle of hurt? We need to strengthen our observer so that we can differentiate between present versus memory pain. Ancient practices say that our observer sits in our heart area. So sinking our awareness from our brain into our body can help us tap into our observer. Once our observer tells us that it is a memory trigger, we can let this trigger help us dissolve our past pain. To do so we need patience.

Let our entire being be involved in healing the past hurt. Pay attention not to repeat the same action from the past so to add onto the past pain, or not to absorb the current trigger event into the ball of painful memories. For example, when someone says something that triggers angry memories, try not to absorb the anger into the area of body we have been using to store the pain, like the concave area right below our solar plexus. Instead, feel how the angry sensation runs through our entire body. Then usually our observer would show us the context and we see that our sensation has nothing to do with the other person’s remark, but comes out of the ball of anger we are still holding tightly in that area of our body.

Then what to do? Give yourself time to let the ball of painful memories surface, and dissolve into the entire body. It’s often easier to start this process with the help of a healer. Later when the process becomes instinctual, you can do it on your own. Let ourselves experience the past emotions, and let it change into other emotions, going through a process. Let it go from fear to grief to anger to resentment to deeper grief again. Feel the sensations of fear leaving our kidney/adrenal area through its system of energy channels and points; feel sadness dissolving out of and leaving the lungs system; feel anger leaving the liver system; feel resentment dissolving out of the gall bladder; and then back to lung system again…

Physical: The ache is a sensation we much go through to heal the past pain. Experience that initial excruciating point of pain, then feel it coming to the surface, dissipating into a larger area with less intensity. Then finally, feel it rush down the extremities, like a puff of smoke, out of the fingers or toes. When you have experienced physical pain disappearing in the form of stagnant energy, you will know for yourself how this process works.

Integrating All Three Anatomies to Heal Completely
This spiraling of the energies cleanses the stored information out of our physical system. It will take time. Be patient with each lesson. Sometimes it could take life times before we even become aware of a repeating lesson, and it could take some time to cleanse all the layers out of our being. This is the total, comprehensive, energy/information/physical healing process we must go through to grow as a soul, to come closer to the Oneness.
We can let go of stored, stagnant energies and information just like we can with material. We need a good elimination process so what we don’t need can be bio-composed into Earth to support other forms of life.
We are each multi-dimensional capacities for manifesting the Oneness. That is why we each came from such different past and experiences. We are each an unique resonator. Whatever is in us, it is what we resonate to, what vibration draw to us, what situations, who participate—all manifest by our vibration around us. When we shed these blockages and stagnations little by little, we become less and less charged by things around us that vibrate at the same level with the same blockages and stagnations. The more we let go, we empty, the more capacity we have to let the Source, the Oneness through. The Oneness is always there. When we are blocked, the lower and denser vibrations are like clouds covering the blue sky and shining sun that is a higher and finer vibration. As soon as we release the blockage, the sun shines on us. The more we release, the greater of scope we resonate with, and our manifestation is more encompassing. We move at a faster speed. Our growth goes at an exponential rate. As we release all blockages, we are the perfect and unique resonator of the Oneness. We are inline with the Universal Energy. We are the Oneness.

The instant way to be with the Oneness is complete surrender. Realizing all our physical and emotional pain is a manifestation of our ego’s attachments, we surrender our ego to our greater Self. This is the instant enlightenment, and it takes the most courage.
In order to live a life at a normal pace in this world of duality, we need a balance of both paths, undoing the ego attachments and letting go, and keeping a continuing connection to the Oneness through a sustained practice.

The Difference Between Knowledge and Wisdom

Progression in learning knowledge is like a linear line going up and up. It’s about logic, thinking with the frontal lobe of the brain. You learn existing solutions to past problems.
To practice qigong is not about learning knowledge. It’s about opening up wisdom. It’s about rising creativity and intuition. Qigong practice develops the back lobe of the brain, the areas of the brain that’s not about thinking and knowledge. It’s about coming up with creative solutions when new problems occur. When one has wisdom, one never needs to worry about the future. High level scientists such as Einstein came up with equations that other scientists are still trying to come up with logical explanations for their existence and usage. High level artists often have done their best work when inspirations came from somewhere outside of logic and thinking. Best writers always talk about how the stories came through them. They were just the vessel. Even top athletes reach beyond known knowledge of human limitations, and achieve states of being that seemed before impossible by logic.
Qigong learning therefore, does not follow a linear progression. Practitioners find themselves from one plateau reach a higher one suddenly. This usually happen in intense period of time in their lives. Almost all ZY Qigong students find themselves reaching a higher plateau during their intensive practice at the Shaolin Monastery in China. Long after the intensives, we still feel and observe changes in many areas, physically, energetically and mentally.

Hearing My Soul--Trip to Delani

June, 05
Mingtang has been talking about needing to go to Alaska for years. His teacher has told him that there are eight places in the world that hold the same teaching. Shaolin is one. Of the other seven places, Mingtang was only able to remember Tibet, Alaska and French-Swiss Alps. So when he said we are going to Denali (Mt. McKinley), I was ecstatic. Several people wanted to go but one by one, they dropped out. By the end, it was just Mingtang and I. Many people asked me, what are you going to do up there? I said, I don’t know. In fact, I don’t have the slightest idea what crazy wild things could happen to Mingtang, and if I would be able to feel anything at all.
The first three days got harder and harder. Later I realized that it was like waking up layers of numbness, the tingling sensation was unbearable and irritating. But during the three days I wondered many times why I volunteered to come, why I am here at all, and what I am suppose to be doing.
The days felt much colder than Anchorage, on which we based our packing. And the nights were freezing. I caught a cold the very first day, and my menstrual cycle had to start, too. I piled up both sleeping bags, and my nose froze when it was outside. Curling up in a tight ball, I fantasized about stretching out on the grass under the sun back in Seattle. It rained day and night. There were even thunders one night. I was trapped, bundled up in our tiny RV truck.
Mingtang spent most of the time in the cab. I was left alone. I fidgeted around for most of the days before settling into reading, with all my layers, hats and two sleeping bags wrapped around. Of course it was impossible to get comfortable enough to meditate.
The fourth day I woke up kicking sleeping bags off of me. I walked out of the RV and was dumbstruck. Not only was it not raining, there was not a single cloud overhead. Along the horizon, there were an edge of white fluff, like ruffles. We took a couple of long bus rides and saw many kinds of wild animals including seven bears within feet. The old majestic—Denali was clearly in view. Every worker there commented on how abnormal this clear weather is for this area, and how rare the mountain showed itself so completely.
For the next three days, the sun remained out. It not only warmed my physical body, something else melted in me and around me. How do I describe it? I woke up. I heard myself. I heard my soul speaking to the rest of me. I was being with ME. For hours and hours I was simply being. There was no anxiousness about time, about being here or about being alone. That lonely feeling I got often when I was in the city alone in my house, it never rose.
I was moment by moment, constantly and always fascinated by ME, hearing ME. It was a most content feeling that I don’t remember ever experiencing. I inhabited every cell of my physical being, without effort. I constantly felt qi flowing, easily and deliciously. My mind acted the most strangely—it was not busy. It did not have seven continuous thoughts weaving and wondering. It was at ease, too, more like a sparingly decorated blue sky—thoughts were weightless, and they drifted in and out like ethereal clouds. They didn’t hold on to me.
For the first time I physically felt my heart easing. I didn’t know that for the most of the time my heart was actually tense and lifted until it dropped into its place, its casing, its home. I never knew before this physical experience that the Chinese saying “to lay down one’s heart” is not just psychological. When this happened, my spirit thanked me. And I drifted into meditation, time and time again, without intentionally doing so. My entire being came into the meditative state in the middle of reading a sentence, in the middle of thinking a thought, and in the middle of writing a word.
While this complete easement was happening to me, Mingtang got the direct transmission he came here for, during the night of the thunder. By the sixth day, his mission at Denali was complete and was ready to move onto the next place by the sea. I did not want to pick up and go. There was no desire to do, only be. My soul, my whole being wanted to remain in this place, a place that enabled all the space for my soul to roam free, for ME to feel the most freedom I have ever felt being in my body.
Driving back to Anchorage, both Mingtang and I felt the surround air thickening, vibrating faster, and more chaotically, the noise increasing to eventual grating and deafening level for the tender soul. Layer by layer, my qi field and my body numbed, until an hour north of the city, I could no longer hear or feel ME. Sadness felt numb, too, and it turned into a low level, constant aggravation. I wish we could turn back. But Mingtang needed to continue his mission by the sea.
Mingtang completed his direct transmission from the lineage after our trip around the Turnagen Arms. He learned that in order to heal human beings, we must know the ocean lives. Our bodies are like the earth, seventy percent of it being water. Most diseases are caused by micro-lives in the water. To be a shaman as the very first shaman—the medicine man, one not only need to be connected by the animal and plant spirits to go into the underworld, one must also know the essence of the lives in the ocean in order to heal. He now has tremendous amount of material downloaded and need to be digested during meditation. Shaolin will serve just that purpose. I am sure Mingtang will bring much teaching next year to us on healing.
Before the Alaska trip I was feeling anxious about my next planned trip to Tibet. It’s not a tourist trip. I turned down several people who wanted to go with me. I plan to spend much time in silence, alone, meditating, being open and listening. I didn’t know if I could do as I planned. I thought I could easily disappoint myself by distractions such as talking to other tourists, or socializing with the monks and pilgrims. I had already asked Mingtang several times whether he thought I was ready for this lone, four-months meditation trip. He said yes, I will get what I need, and this is the time for my spiritual pilgrimage.
I did not trust myself until my Denali experience. Now I know I am ready. I cannot wait to be with myself again, completely open and available, in the present moment, giving my soul all the space to roam and be free with all of me. Writing and talking about this experience brings me briefly into a similar though not as deep state of awareness, of connection with the deep inside ME. It still feels delicious, and my heart quivers with delight. It brings joyous tears into my eyes. I am grateful.

Switching On Bliss

June, 05
I found the on/off switch to the bliss in meditation. I am not joking. I have been meditating for six years now. Lots of you probably could relate to my progression: at the beginning, more than five minutes of meditation used to be aggravating for me; then, more than fifteen minutes of fantasizing/meditating used to get boring; later more than half an hours of sitting used to hurt my bottom…
I kept on meditating because in general, it made my life more functional. I felt better afterward. People around me benefited from my meditating. More importantly though, there were these mystery moments of vibration, of presence, of life, of bliss, of deliciousness that fascinate me, and I kept on wanting to be in that moment again. These moments used to be so rare and unpredictable that it may only happened once or twice a year.
I have tried my best to describe to my students how they may get there in Big Tree standing meditation practice and other sitting practices (see Relaxing the Mind through the Body). But this time at the Memorial Weekend Retreat with Mingtang, I literally found the switch! You relax one muscle in the body and boom! As if a whole body orgasm is gradually building and moving through my body.
Now I am sure you’d like to know what muscle that is. Remember how there is a saying that sexual excitement is all in your mind? Well, this is not only true for our sexual energy, since our sexual energy is an intrinsic part of our vital energy system. There is a Chinese saying, “Letting go the control of your spirit through your mind, your energy flow naturally.” It’s impossible to control our mind so it stops thinking. Thinking is what our mind does naturally. We can never altogether stop thinking. But there are ways to relax, slow down and calm our mind so the pause between thoughts gradually becomes longer.
Our mind also directly feed into how we experience our chronic physical discomforts and pain. I came to this realization during the Big Tree standing meditation last year. I became aware that when the muscles on top of my head are tense, the physical pain feels louder, unbearable like deep suffering. And as soon as I relax the muscles, the pain level instantly lessens to bearable. Then I can feel qi flowing through the problem area. If I continue to relax my mind and relax the area, the pain gradually lessens as more qi pushes the blockages open. After meditation, the area feels much better than before. It is healing.
At the retreat during sitting meditation, I discovered the next layer of muscles to relax. They are on my face, around my temples and especially in between my eyebrows—the muscles that indicate intense pondering and deep suffering. At first I had to fake a big smile in order to stretch the muscle out. Then eventually the fake smile relaxes into a real, whole-hearted smile. It takes a certain trust and surrender to smile genuinely at nothing particular, at the present moment. And it’s not an easy place to remain. I had to constant go through the process to come back to the relaxation of this muscle.
Without a doubt with Mingtang’s strong boost of qi, I was able to stay in the deliciousness. He flooded our bodies with so much fog qi that our mind instantly quieted without a chance to argue and waver. A teacher can focus the collective group energy and channel direct transmission from the lineage into the collective field.
My qi first rose powerfully from the perineum up the Central Channel to my upper dantian and Baihui point. Then the qi pushed its way from the tip of the tailbone up the spine, through blockages in between the shoulder blades, the neck and back of the head, to the top of the head. When I practiced on my own, it was not as powerful but the qi always flow to blocked areas in the pelvis, in the knee, going down the ankles to the tip of the channels in the toes. It always pushed through the stuck shoulders to elbows and wrist and to the tip of the fingers. After practice, my entire body alignment shifts.
I was able to stay in the state of deliciousness long enough that my energy calmed, and my entire being entered into the pause state several times, which I could not yet replicate to the depth and length on my own. But once I have physically experienced a state, it is possible for me to get there again and again on my own. It’s a physical memory like riding a bike that you never forget. This is true with all qigong practice, once you experience a state, you won’t lose it even after many years.
Conceptually to explain what I mean by “deliciousness,” if the lower dantian was the interpreter for the mind, it calls it delicious, like taking in the most wonderful food, the finest chocolate. If the middle dantian was the interpreter, it feels like the most warm and fuzzy sensation, like love. The upper dantian sees a white light, clear and translucent, like luminescent clarity and wisdom. The deliciousness moves like a fog, light and ethereal. So any tenseness in the muscle or activity in the mind blows it into nothingness. But when the smile is big, the mind has no power to be active, the muscle naturally relaxes, and the fog moves to areas need to be healed.
After the retreat, I had a continuing experience of loosening the muscles of the mind, and allowing the body to feel its innate pleasure, the natural internal massage. At first the mind as if scolds the body for having such “sinful” feelings. The minds judges that to feel this way in broad daylight alone must be wrong. Then when I realized there is nothing to be ashamed of being delicious, that the sexual energy is as natural as our energy to run and to jump.
The mind then pulled out its next trick, moving into the future, “You must always be prepared, meaning be in the tense state at all times for the inevitable bad thing to happen, like running for your life or dealing with an accident.” The mind got laughed at right away for worrying about something it can do nothing about. The body can react much faster if it’s in a relaxed alert state, like a cat. The mind doesn’t have to be constantly active to keep one safe. In fact, it’s our connection with our body, our gut, and our gut instinct that keep us out of unnecessary trouble.
Convincing the mind to let go of control cannot be done through rationalization alone. Each and every part of the body needs to learn how it feels to relax. It’s a doing process. When our body is relaxed and comfortable, the muscles on our head and face can release. Then qi flows freely, and we enter into the delicious state naturally. Of course this is only a state of being in the process. So we cannot be attached to it. When we try too hard, we cannot relax our mind. So it’s actually about letting go, not trying, releasing into the next natural state of being. That’s why our attention is always seemingly there, seemingly not, next concentrated or focused. It’s a paradox for the mind, but not for the body.
The letting go, the releasing, and the relaxing of this muscle opens me physically, energetically and spiritually. It opens my gate of trust to the universe, so the exchange of energy and information can begin, so natural healing can begin. I suppose when I can sustain this letting go state, I would be most present, in the moment, spontaneous, creative, open, and connected to all. Eventually the smile is not needed. Then I would be able to sustain this relaxed state even in crisis. I would trust and enjoy each moment, life’s perfection unfolding. I would be in perfect unison with the flow of life, which to some would be the enlightened state. I laugh out loud from this realization. Human has been designed so perfectly that the purest pleasure is also the most effective healing, and is the most pragmatic path to enlightenment.

I Only Have NOW

The Past I do not have.
The Future I do not own.
All I have is Now.
All there is is what I am creating Now.
All I am is the “I” in the Now.

See, feel, accept, bless, release, let.

Trust. Truth. Will (Courage). Love (Compassion). Peace (Being).

Dear friends,

Through my months of solitary inner observation, I went through layer after layer of complexity that my ego has created. In the end, I saw the essence of me. I feel the same reflection from within to without—my inner essence is the same as the essence of life, so simple, so beautiful, so easy, yet the most difficult to get to. It took myself choosing to take away all life’s distractions: all other people, all activities, including eating and drinking (no food for twenty eight days, and water for eight of those days).

Then nature took me over. Energy took me over. Spirit took me over. The practice practiced me. Life coursed through me… I was, simply being in the bliss that is now.

Life is simple now. All fits in these simplest of simple notions. Practice is simple, just being. And the steps to bring one into the now is natural. Each and every moment in life becomes a practice of presence, in our body, in our heart, in our whole being.

I can share the concrete steps to being present with you:
Relax completely;
Breathe thoroughly;
You are present.
Repeat when needed.
Never give up the process.

Easy, isn’t it? Yet you find yourself drifting into your head, into your thoughts of past and future often? Come and practice with me. Let your body feel what it is to completely relax. Let your mind feel what it is like to be calm. Let your being feel what it is like to be breathed like a puff of smoke. Let your spirit and heart and whole self feel what it is like to smile.

Join me for a weekend retreat at the remote and gorgeous Breitenbush Hot Springs. Once you have experienced the state in your whole being, it is easy to replicate.

The Empty Teacher

It’s Monday after a weekend retreat at Breitenbush which thirty-five people attended. The whole day, there was a part of me that wanted to write down this most amazing experience I had while teaching this retreat, but I felt out of sort and could not quite capture the phenomenal feeling.
Finally after my Monday night class, I got what was bugging me. The experience was so incredible that my ego wanted to hold onto it. But the more I wanted to define this experience by my mind, the more it was slipping through my fingers. I was losing the feeling I sustained all through the weekend. I felt frustrated.
Then all of a sudden, a wave of thankfulness opened my heart that was gripping. I was presented a gift—the gift of emptiness. I am so deeply grateful for letting it happen through me.
Being in the role of the teacher for thirty-five widely diverse and unique souls, I was “forced” into the most neutral place I could possibly hold through every moment of the weekend. I became an empty space, resonating for the thirty-five collective souls. When one needed resonating, I became the empty space for that one soul. I held an empty space of openness, relaxedness and calmness with no judgments, no preference, no personal agenda, no personality, no pre-conceived notions… Every time before I spoke, I came into this space of emptiness. The information that came through was always most simple so that all could resonate with. Each moment, I continued to practice letting go of pre-conceived ideas of what should be taught, and simply accessed what was present in that moment of time and space for the collective.
I was given the gift of no ego (the closest I have yet experience among people) in a prolonged period—the lightest, most effortless and open feeling. I am thankful to Mingtang, thankful to the path, the lineage. I am thankful to the Oneness. And I am thankful to all thirty-five of you. All aspects are intrinsic in giving me this profound experience. I am blessed and humbled.

If you would like to bring your deep practice experiences and realizations into your daily life, don’t try to hold on to it. Each and every moment, practice releasing your thoughts of the past and future, letting your mind relax into your body and become one with the body. Relax and release any holding. Breathe and let vital energy come in to open up old patterns. Smile and trust that you are okay as you leave comfort zone into new terrain. Experience your life fully in your oneness each moment. And when the moment rises when you are moved to share, your sense of emptiness may become fuller.
Qigong is the perfect practice to look within, feel and know what are the old patterns of fear on the cellular level that’s been holding us back from changing, from opening, from healing, from growing. Vital energy naturally follows this new awareness, changing closed cells into open cells, waking up organs that are asleep. We become more and more open and connected to the universal energetic matrix.
ZYQ have a series of weekend intensives coming up, which allows us to go deeper into our practice, so we have more resources to come into realization of old patterns, and give our body and mind the time and space to effectively release and become open. These long workshops are great for people who are ready to make true change in their lives. So give yourself the time and space.