Even deeper now: welcome home.

The weekend before last was the first time I’d seen my qigong master Michael in over 5 years, and only the second time ever. Some amazing things happened during the Clinical Qigong workshop that I’m not sure what to make sense of, but an amazing experience nonetheless.

Clinical Qigong is the type of energy healing, similar to reiki, yet miles apart. Having had experience in both reiki and qigong, both with high level practitioners, I’d have to say that clinical qigong is better for quite a few reasons that I’ll probably go into much later.

When we started the workshop, we started off doing sitting and moving meditations, during which our qigong master Michael transmits Qi onto all of us students by going up to each and every one of us. But when it was my turn to receive transmission, both Michael and his senior student Brion had their medicine drums, and performed an intense shaman-like ceremony on me. I don’t know why I was so special, and neither did Brion and Michael, but they felt compelled to do so, as if they were empty vessels, and the higher spirits were communicating to me through them.

It’s really hard to describe what happened to me during this impromptu ceremony, but I’ll do my best.

Michael and his senior student Brion were at opposite sides of the room transmitting energy to each student. But when it came to my turn, both Brion and Michael started to converge, chanting over me with the beat of the medicine drum. I didn’t know what to make of it at first then I felt this powerful swirl of energy over come me, throwing me back into the wall, and making my body shake all over the place. That’s when everything turned gold, I was surrounded by gold light, and surrounded by spirits and angels. I felt like they were all singing to me in a sort of ceremony. The music, the chanting, and my shaking becoming more and more intense by the second. I felt something force me down onto one knee as if to bow to a higher power, but I know for sure it wasn’t done physically by Brion or Michael. After a few minutes in this position, I mustered the strength to stand up, and Michael held one hand over my heart, and the other hand on my back on the level of my heart, and whispered something like “live a loving life.” Something like that. But he sounded different, as if something or someone was speaking through him, and not Michael himself speaking. They were finally done with me and continued on to the rest of the students. When the meditation session finally ended, everyone else were still standing, and I was the only one on the floor, sitting up against the wall, in a completely different state. I felt like I woke up from a trance. I felt like my body was vibrating as fast as gamma rays.

That’s when Michael and Brion came up to me and said, “Crazy shit, right? ‘Whoa,’ right?”

I smiled. Michael then told me to not try to make any sense of it because it’s useless to. Everything that just happened occurred on a level of existence that you just can’t conceive of.

That’s when Michael said to me, “It’s time.”

And I knew what he meant. It’s time for me to take my healing practice to another level. To take on the responsibility of a true healer/warrior. This is my path now… not just a Taoist practitioner, not just an acupuncturist, but a shamanistic Taoist energy healer. I just made up that title. It is what it is. And it’s pretty out there lol.

For a long time I’ve battled the idea of becoming Michael’s student to become certified in his lineage, and it’s a powerful lineage. But the time and money were the obstacle. It always is. But that weekend, I decided to take the plunge to become a formal, dedicated student of his, an official apprentice. And from the very minute I decided to take on that heavy responsibility, emails from new and existing patients were pouring in to book appointments with me. It was almost as if it was simply meant to be. When I told this to Michael, he said that once you take on the responsibility of being a true high-level warrior-healer, the “light” takes care of you.

Ever since the workshop ended, I’ve been busy in my clinic. Patient after patient, I’ve been having record days. Not only that, I’ve been feeling more balanced. Nagging pains that have been bothering me for at least a year have completely vanished immediately after that impromptu ceremony. My libido has been more balanced. My cultivations have been energetic, and my energy has been incredible. My post-acupuncture patient response has been nothing short of amazing. I can enter a dream-time qigong state, and actually interact with spirit guides.

It’s some pretty far out shit.

But I feel I’m where I belong. That special day was my welcome “home.”

Strangely enough, I somehow knew it was going to happen. I had been having anxiety leading up to that moment, and I wasn’t sure why till it happened. It was only afterwards when I realized that anxiety was the same kind of anxiety that one feels when they’re going home after having been away for so long.

Now that I got all weird on you, it’s time for me to just go with it. Trust me, I’m about as weirded out by all of this as you are.

On exercise.

I have no goals when I exercise. I’m only in the moment.

Fitness isn’t a goal, it’s an action. It’s what you do. To me, coming from a Taoist standpoint, the act of exercise is in itself fitness. It also goes much deeper than how you look.

When I go jogging, it’s just one foot over the other. When I’m lifting, it’s just the weight completing its range of motion, then back. When I’m tired, I stop. The more I do that every day, the longer I can do it. But really, all I care about is jogging one foot over the other, and lifting the weight to its complete range of motion.

In working out, when you’re ready, then go. Enjoy every millisecond of each rep and every step. When you’re tired, just stop.

That’s how I work out. It’s a mindfulness meditation. A Taoist qigong, the cultivation of energy and stillness.

I don’t give a crap how much I lift, how many reps, how many miles, or what I look like. All I care about is how I feel inside. It makes happy. My heart is pumping, blood is flowing, cortisol cycling out. I’m boosting my energy, increasing circulation, and optimizing my organ systems. Most of all, I’m calming my mind and spirit. When the spirit is calm, I can make better decisions, especially lifestyle/diet decisions. The calmness also makes it easier to be happy and content. It’s harder to feel angry when I’m content. It’s easier to spread compassion when I’m happy. My family benefits from that compassion. My community. Everyone around me.

That’s why I work out. Doing it for looks or macho dick-measuring is not my style. I just wanna feel healthy and happy inside. By concentrating on every micro-moment of each movement, I feel centered. I want to feel centered at every moment, and to have that carry on into my daily life. Because when the chaos is all around you, someone must be the centered pivot of inner peace. It might as well be me. And you.

Knowing

My qigong master once said, “When we practice our qigong, we realize the brilliance of our own intuitive knowledge. But if we don’t practice, we not only forget what we know, but we forget that we knew.”

About a month ago, one of my former classmates from acupuncture college came into my office for a treatment. It’s been years since I’ve seen her, but that day she stopped for a second and said that I looked like a “monk.” I was pretty flattered because I knew that she meant that I have the appearance of someone who cultivates every single day. Being a person who cultivates as well, she could read that in me. And it’s not because I have a bald head and wear beads on my wrist. I guess I have a “look.” But I’m not going for a look.

I’ve been doing meditative practice since 1995, but it was only within the last 8 years when I started doing it more regularly, and it wasn’t until March of 2014 when I started doing it virtually every single day. And it wasn’t until I started doing qigong every single day that I’ve noticed the changes it can provide me. I posted this in a previous entry (twice, actually by accident lol), but my energy level is up, my mood is more stable, and I get angry/stressed/depressed a lot less.

But the most important thing that’s been happening to me is “knowing.”

In Taoism, there’s a distinction between intellectual knowing and intuitive knowing. Intuitive knowing is the raw form of knowledge that you get internally, and intellectual knowing is the type that you get from books or schooling. Even though intellectual knowledge is highly valued in our society, it doesn’t quite give us the complete picture. I also believe that in our society we don’t take enough time to cultivate our intuition. I think it’s important to have a good grasp of both.

Looking at the Yin-Yang symbol (technically called the “Taiji” or Tai Chi”), if Yin means “internal,” and Yang means “external,” then the result of the harmony of both internal knowledge (intuition) and external knowledge (intellectual) is what’s called “wisdom.”

And to me, that’s true “knowing.”

The reason why “knowing” is so important to me is because I’m in the field of Eastern Medicine. There are times when I’m intellectually at a loss when coming up with a treatment strategy for a very complicated case. But that’s when looking internally for answers helps tremendously. And every time I do that, the answers are clear as day, and my patients’ conditions improve.

People call it intuition, or a gut feeling. In any case, in order to find the “right” answer using your intuition takes a lot of the skill that meditative practices provide you, particularly in quieting all that background noise in your head. It’s the stillness of your mind that allows you to quiet all the voices and imagery in your brain that will make the answers to all your deeper questions about life jump at you like a pop tart. But it takes a lot of work to get there.

 

The Tao of IDGAF

“I Don’t Give A Fuck” is an attitude that could either mean you’re a total asshole, or that you’re conserving precious emotional energy.

You must research this.

A lot of times, when people say that they don’t care, it can often mean that they’re giving themselves an excuse to act selfishly. People like that genuinely don’t care about the consequences that their own actions have on themselves and on others. Like people who drive recklessly or people who go around instigating others. That’s just being a total asshole.

But mindful “not giving a fuck” is a true skill. It’s an art. It’s a craft that you shape to perfection out of stone. To be truly skillful at IDGAF means that you care deeply about your loved ones, forging an upward path for human society, and the well being of our planet and everything in it… but have no fucks to give about the bullshit people throw at you.

In our society, we’ve been conditioned to react in certain ways to certain stimuli… ie. to get angry whenever anyone pisses you off, whether they cut you off on the street, or if they call you names. We’ve been told that it’s “okay” to get angry if that guy in your office calls you a total pudwacker for being a White Sox fan, or if an acquaintance gives you a passive-aggressive comment on your last facebook post.

So to a lot of people, being angry is “okay.” But is it really?

In the medical theory of Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), the liver has the energetic function to make sure energy circulates properly. By energy, I mean the proper circulation of blood, fluids, hormones, neurotransmitters, etc. The proper overall circulation is what keeps everything in your body running smoothly. But if the circulation is impeded or depressed, then you have a condition that is called “stagnation” (technically it’s called “Liver Qi Stagnation,” but don’t worry about that).

The most common causes of stagnation are physical trauma, poor lifestyle choices (bad food and lack of exercise), and most importantly to this post – emotional stress and anger. When stress and anger occur, your circulation goes out of whack, and all of your energy rises upwards like hot smoke. Your body, especially your head, becomes hot (think of the phrase “hot headed”). It affects your nervous system, the way you think, the choices you make, and in many cases, anger causes pain and tension in your head, neck, shoulders, and even lower back. If this goes on for prolonged periods of time, this lack of proper circulation can affect your digestive system, and then now we’re really in trouble – diarrhea, constipation, colitis, GERD, acid reflux, etc. I can actually go much further than this, but just know that stress and anger can snowball into a myriad of horrible medical conditions over time.

So realizing the Tao of IDGAF is important for emotional and physical health. Being able to distinguish between times to truly care about stuff versus times to not care about certain things takes a lot of skill and tremendous effort. Just like an athlete doing basic drills every single day to master his craft for the big game, you have to do your basic drills in order to master yourself for the big game of life.

The first basic drill is understanding that people spread their negativity around because they themselves are suffering. Anger and stress are suffering, and it’s many peoples’ nature to try to get you to join them. But it’s up to you to not absorb their energy. Whenever someone’s being a punk ass, just keep your distance, don’t act on any angry impulse, and simply tell yourself, “Whatever. That’s their suffering, not mine.”

The second basic drill is to build yourself an invisible violet bubble. I like the color violet because not only is it the color of healing, but it’s also the highest frequency of all visible light. So whenever anyone throws their disgusting energy at you, it dissolves right on the bubble. You’ll hear their words and see their actions, but their intent won’t penetrate you. Just use your intent to surround yourself with that barrier.

The third basic drill is to spend just a few minutes in the morning and/or evening, sitting down, closing your eyes, and being aware of your breath. Just breath in and feel the breath moving into your nose and down to your belly button. When you breath out, just feel the breath going out of your belly button and out your nose. Just fully experience that breath, the way it feels, the way it sounds. Build on a daily practice of mindful breathing just a few minutes a day, and you’re building a world of tranquility. This is the most important exercise.

All of these drills take time, so don’t let it bother you if you find it difficult to do at first. And don’t worry if you fuck up, because I fuck up too. A lot, actually. That’s why they call this “spiritual practice.” Just keep practicing. The healing is in the journey itself, not the “goal.”

But I promise you, it’s worth the hard work. You deserve inner peace.

In advanced meditation, you won’t even need to be mindful of your breath. In the advanced version of the Tao of IDGAF, you question the very nature of this thing that you call “self.” But that’s later. Much later. Just breathe.

And just for kicks, here’s a phenomenal guided meditation to start realizing the Tao of IDGAF:

Cultivation of Stillness

Here’s an excerpt from an esoteric classic of Taoist scripture of which I will remain nameless for absolutely no reason at all, but enjoy:

“During the twelve double-hours of the day,
Constantly seek clarity and stillness.
The numinous tower of the heart emptied of all things:
This is called clarity.
Not allowing even a single thought to arise:
This is called stillness.

The body is the dwelling place of qi.
The heart is the residence of the spirit.
When intent moves, spirit is agitated;
When spirit is agitated, qi is dispersed.

When the intent is stable, spirit remains fixed;
When spirit remains fixed; qi gathers.
The perfect qi of the Five Phases
Then gathers together and forms a pinch of elixir.”

It’s interesting to note that even though my studies in medical qigong and Taoist priesthood seemingly come from a vastly different place, through this scripture, the intent is exactly the same.

People say I’m weird.

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O hay, I’m 41 years old!

The upside of living a life virtually free of categories and self-pigeonholing is that you feel limitless, seeing the brilliance of such a vast array of fun and intriguing ideas, arts, and lifestyles, teetering on the brink of esotericism, all of which merging themselves into my very being. Or something like that. Words are hard.

The downside is that you don’t know where you belong. Society tells us we should belong somewhere or to belong to something. Even people who consider themselves to be rebellious or alternative have more of a sense of belonging than I do. But somewhat to my dismay, my brain says, “Pfff who cares?”

Sometimes it’s kinda lonely. Relating to people is hard.

Then people would be inclined to ask me about the acupuncture or Taoist communities, and why don’t I just hang out with them. To be honest, I practice those things in my own way, and so I find many fellow practitioners of both arts irritating sometimes. But don’t mistake that for being mean or self righteous or elitist, I just have this annoying thing about me that takes an idea and does with it what I want, like it’s a piece of play-doh, to be bent and shaped for my own personal use, to fit my personality or lifestyle.

But shouldn’t all things be that way?

Even my military service is weird. Who’s ever heard of a practitioner of healing and spiritual arts bringing those ideas to the military and succeeding in at least the unit level?

I’m just weird. I even weird out my dog. A lot of people think I’m weird. They even tell me. But what I think is weird is when people think they’re normal. Normalcy is weird.

Stay weird.

*high-fives Chuang Tzu*

Deeper now…

In Taoist meditation, specifically Zuowang, or “Sitting in Oblivion,” there’s that state you enter where you lose track of your physical body, your senses, and your thoughts cease. In some circles, they call this “emptiness,” and in other circles, they call it “wuji,” “void,” or “primordial chaos.” In either case, it’s pretty rad.

I’ve had some pretty off the wall things happen during the times I actually reach this state, like actually communicating with one of my friends who just happened to be in that state at the same time, or reaching some sort of insight to a question or problem that has bothered me. But for the most part, I’m in this profoundly relaxed state of mind (or no-mind?) where, when my meditation is over, I feel as if nothing can bother me. Not even if someone comes up to me and calls me a panty-waste.

But I’ve found that the more I practice my meditation diligently and painstakingly, the more I reach that state of ultimate relaxation, the less that the daily and mundane things bother me.

In the book of Zhuangzi, he talks about perfected men being able to walk into water and not get wet, and walk into fire and not get burned. Not literally, of course, but he meant to say that the more you cultivate stillness and quietude within yourself, the more you can go about your daily life unscathed by the wretchedness of the matrix of our human society. You can stay centered amidst the flying egos once you go outside or log onto facebook.

I have miles to go before I can get to that point, but I find myself getting closer by a centimeter each day.

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