Thursday, 30 December 2010

Another Katie Exercise : Tuning Out

Instead of interrupting,from then on, you may find that you simply tune out while someone is talking to you, and from then on, you just pretend to listen. Try to notice the moment when you begin to listen to your own thoughts instead of the words of the other person. Then say this silently to yourself: "
I've decided to attend to my thoughts instead of to what you are saying because . . . ."

For Example:

". . . I've heard all this before, and I can safely go back to a more important project: nursing my worries."

". . . I can't afford to listen to this. If I don't pay attention to my own troubles, I may not survive the week."

". . . "the people laughing over there are having more fun. I wonder if I can join them.

Find your favourite reasons for tuning out and bring them to inquiry. People say they " space out " whereas in reality they shift their attention to particular thoughts.
Where do you go when you space out ?

Sunday, 26 December 2010

Here is another listening exercise from Katie's 'I need your love - is that true ?
A good way to become aware of thoughts that fly by during a conversation is to watch yourself interrupting people. You probably notice when someone interrupts you in midsentence, but if you're the one doing it, it may not be so obvious.
Step one.
Simply notice when you interrupt. Don't stop your interrupting just notice it. Try this during a phone call or while chatting with your mother or a colleague at the office.
Step Two.
As you interrupt , silently say this to yourself: " I'm not letting you finist your sentence because. . . . ," ( and fill in the blank).This will hardly slow you down at all. Just watch the blank fill itself in with what you usually hide from yourself in the blur of conversation.
Here are some examples of what various people have discovered :

" I'm not letting you finish your sentence because
. . .I already know where you're going, and I have something more clever to say."
. . .I might forget what i have to say and lose this great oppertunity to impress you."
. . .I already know where you are going, and I want to avoid that territory."
. . .you're not interesting enough to distract me from my scary thoughts."
.. . you're having such a hard time expressing yourself ,
I'm going to rescue you by saying it better."
. . .interrupting you is a natural expression of my enthusiasm."
When you have done this exercise enough times to recognize the top three thoughts that lead you to interrupt, check out Byron Katie's website here and put your thoughts to inquiry.

Friday, 24 December 2010

" I used to talk nonstop to entertain people so that they would admire me. When I went to China for the first time, I could only say a few words, very slowly, to allow the interpreters to keep up with me. I also had to work hard to make out what people were saying to me. To my amazement , everyone liked me, and I enjoyed the people I met just as much. I had always heard that China was a hard place to work, but I found the people extremely kind. It wasn't until I got back to the States and found myself talking less and getting more love that I realized that what had happened had nothing to do with China."
From Byron Katie's "I need your love -is that true ? "
I love this book and find her listening exercises wonderful I'll share some over the next few days.

Tuesday, 21 December 2010

Soft practice in the silent snow lit dusk,
Effortless contentment.

Monday, 13 December 2010

When we have arrived at the question, the answer is already near.
Ralph Waldo Emerson

Thursday, 9 December 2010

They who give have all things; they who withhold have nothing.
--Hindu Proverb

Tuesday, 7 December 2010

Conquering any difficulty always gives one a secret joy, for it means pushing back a boundary-line and adding to one's liberty.
--Henri Frederic Amiel

Monday, 6 December 2010

We usually feel happy when we fulfill a desire or get something we have wanted. And so we come to believe that our happiness lies in fulfilling our desires. Lester Levinson asks us to notice that what happens is, that on fulfilling our desires our mind stops, (even for a little while) and then we feel our true nature. This is our happiness. I have been watching my mind and my happiness for a some time now and in my experience Lester is correct. When my mind becomes quiet and I rest in my true nature a natural state of contentment and joy arises. My daily tasks become ever more interesting and enjoyable, walking the dog, cooking for my family , practice and teaching all fill my heart and life with love. Fulfillment is no longer a goal to be attained but a daily experience.

Thursday, 2 December 2010

"Love is misunderstood to be an emotion;
actually, it is a state of awareness, a way of
being in the world, a way of seeing oneself and others."
Dr. David Hawkins:

Wednesday, 1 December 2010

Here is Simon's Repulse the monkey for Aine sorry I took so long to post it.

Tuesday, 30 November 2010

Some people give love. Others receive love. The ones who truly win at life embrace love wholly, at all times. If you are able to embrace love in how you view the world and present it in everything you do, you'll open yourself up to heal the most important areas of your life.
Dr David Hawkins

Monday, 29 November 2010

Repulse the Monkey

Here is Simon's Repulse the monkey for Aine sorry I took so long to post it.

Thursday, 25 November 2010

Tuesday, 23 November 2010

Fascinated by machinery, a Japanese farmer bought a big foreign tractor to grow his corn and apples in northern Japan. Thirty years ago he had a conversion, however, to growing organically, a conversion that involved learning about sharing, about participating in nature's gift economy. Below is one of his experiences. ]

The giant tractor transformed the overgrown waste land into fields at an amazing speed. The power was sensational. Neat fields of corn of the sort found in those foreign magazines appeared amongst the dense thickets. They were the Honey Bantam variety. It was probably thanks to the fertile soil that they grew so well.

However, he was troubled by the damage caused by racoon dogs. Just when they were ready to be harvested, the plump sweet corn was ravaged.

‘I placed traps in several places around the fields, but ended up trapping a young raccoon dog. The mother stayed next to it, and didn’t run away when I approached. When I tried reaching out to release the trap, the young raccoon dog bared its teeth and got really upset. It seems harsh, but I held its head down with my rubber boot as I released it from the trap. It didn’t run away though. Right in front me, the mother started licking the young one’s wounded leg. Seeing that, I felt I’d committed an awful crime.

I told them ‘Stop eating our corn!’. But then I started leaving small piles of second-rate corn around the edges of the fields. When you produce corn you end up with quite a bit of corn that looks something like my toothless mouth. They’re not good enough to sell. I left it all. The next morning when I went to the fields, they’d completely disappeared. But the raccoon dogs had caused no other damage at all. So at harvest time I decided to stop using the traps and put out the cobs with kernels missing. After that, damage by the raccoon dogs stopped almost completely. So I figured that farmers suffer this sort of damage because they take everything. That was what came to mind. After all, we’d turned what used to belong to the raccoon dogs into fields. I worried that if I actually fed them, the raccoon dogs would end up being even more bother, but that didn’t happen. Which I thought was strange. I suppose you could say that my eyes were opened to the mysteries of nature. Anyway, I realized that nature didn’t work in the way that most people thought. This was probably the turning point as far as my ideas about so-called ‘efficient’ agriculture were concerned.

--Akinori Kimura

Monday, 22 November 2010

One evening an old Cherokee told his grandson about a battle that goes on inside people.
He said, "My son, the battle is between two wolves inside us all.

"One is Evil - It is anger, envy, jealousy, sorrow, regret, greed, arrogance, self-pity, guilt, resentment, inferiority, lies, false pride, superiority, and ego.

"The other is Good - It is joy, peace, love, hope, serenity, humility, kindness, benevolence, empathy, generosity, truth, compassion and faith."

The grandson thought about it for a minute and then asked his grandfather: "Which wolf wins?"

The old Cherokee simply replied, "The one you feed."

Wednesday, 17 November 2010

Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things that you didn't do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover.
--Mark Twain

Tuesday, 16 November 2010

Thanks to Michael for withdraw and push and crossing hands the last postures of this introductory form. Enjoy your practice !

Withdraw and Push (1) from Heartworker on Vimeo.

Wednesday, 10 November 2010

Tai Chi warm-ups

Here again is the first lesson of the introductory tai chi form.

Introductory Taichi Form from Heartworker on Vimeo.

" We think differently from all other creatures on earth, and we can share these thoughts with one another in ways that no other species even approaches . . . We alone brood over what didn't happen, and spend a large part of each day musing about the way things could have been if events had turned out differently. And we alone ponder what it would be like not to be. . . No other species on earth seems to be able to follow us into this miraculous place." Terrance Deacon ( What wonderfully amazing creatures we are !)

Monday, 8 November 2010

The number 1 best way to exercise your brain.
Faith. No matter what choice we make concerning our physical, emotional, and spiritual health, we will never know for certain if we are absolutely correct in our beliefs. We can make educated guesses about the world, but some degree of uncertainty will always remain. We can't even trust our eyes when it comes to something as obvious as color, because color doesn't exist in the world.Light waves exist, but we can't see them at all. Color is a product of our imagination, and so is our perception of the world.To believe in anything we have to rely on faith. None of us can be certain if we have made the "right" decision ,especially when it comes to dealing with abstract concepts like justice, fairness, or moral ideals. If we don't have faith that we are making the best decisions we can then we will be swallowed up in doubt. And doubt at least as far as your brain is concerned, is a precarious state in which to live.
Recently, a team of National Institutes of Health concluded that " a moderate optimistic illusion " appears to be neurologically essential for maintaining motivation and good mental health. They also found that highly optimistic people had greater activation in (anterior cingulate) the same parts of the brain that are stimulated by meditation.
Faith is essential for maintaining a healthy brain,but if you exclude exercise and companionship, you are going to cripple your health. So why not nurture all three. Meditation seems to be the best way to make spiritual values neurologically real. Meditation undermined the everyday doubts and anxiety we all harbor when we reach for new goals and ideals. In other words meditation will strengthen your faith - in yourself, in people, and in God

Sunday, 7 November 2010

The 2nd best way to exercise your brain.
Dialogue with others. Language and the human brain coevolved with each other, allowing us to excel over many of the physical and mental skills of other mammals and primates. If we don't exercise our language skills large portions of the brain will not effectively interconnect with other neural structures. Dialogue requires social interaction , and the more social ties we have, the less our cognitive abilities will decline. In fact, any form of social isolation will damage important mechanisms in the brain leading to aggression, depression, and various neuropsychiatric disorders. Just don't let yourself get trapped in angry dialogue as irritable conversation will do considerable damage to your brain. Instead talk about abstract ideals like harmony and peace. Ask what your neighbor thinks of evolution and the Big Bang !

Saturday, 6 November 2010

The 3'rd best way to exercise your brain.
Aerobic Exercise. Vigorous exercise strengthens every part of the brain, as well as what it is connected the- the body. If you are between the ages of eighteen and ninety, exercise is going to lengthen your life. How much should you exercise ? In general the more intense the better but it is important to find the "right" amount of exercise that feels the best for you.
Exercise can be viewed as a form of meditation because it involves sustained concentration and deliberate regulation of body movements and breathing. Studies have shown that it enhanses relaxation and spiritual well-being.
Meditative exercises such as tai chi and yoga do wonders for your body and brain.They have similar cognitive benefits to other forms of contemplative meditation, and in recent research it was shown that these exercises can lower the risk of cardiovascular disease, help control the symptoms of diabetes, reduce chronic back pain, and prevent the onslaught of migraine headaches.
All forms of exercise enhance neural performance and rebuild damaged circuits caused by brain lesions and strokes. Exercise improves cognition and and academic performance. It repairs and protects you from the neurological damage caused by stress. It enhances brain plasticity. It boosts immune function. It reduces anxiety. It can be used to treat clinical depression, and it is just as effective as antidepressants. In fact for older patients , exercise is equivalent to twelve sessions of psychodynamic psychotherapy. It slows down loss of brain tissue as you age, protects you from Alzheimer's disease, and reduces your vulnerability to chronic illness.

Thursday, 4 November 2010

The 4'th best way to exercise your brain.
Meditate .
"I wish I could say that meditation and intensive prayer were number one, because that's where our research has been focused. However when it comes to enhancing spiritual experiences, it certainly takes first place. If you stay in a contemplative state for twenty minutes to an hour, (practicing tai chi) your experiences will tend to feel more real, affecting your nervous system in ways that enhance physical and emotional health. Antistress hormones and neurochemicals are released throughout the body, as well as pleasure-enhancing and depression-decreasing neurotransmitters like dopamine and serotonin. Even ten to fifteen minutes of meditation (tai chi) seem to have significantly positive effects on cognition, relaxation, ans psychological health, and it has been shown to reduce smoking and binge-drinking behavior.

Tuesday, 2 November 2010

The 5'th best way to exercise your brain. Yawning !
Here is an article on yawning I posted last year.
Laugh if you want (though you’ll benefit your brain more if you smile), but in my professional opinion, yawning is one of the best-kept secrets in neuroscience. Even my colleagues who are researching meditation, relaxation, and stress reduction at other universities have overlooked this powerful neural-enhancing tool. However, yawning has been used for many decades in voice therapy as an effective means for reducing performance anxiety and hypertension in the throat.

Several recent brain-scan studies have shown that yawning evokes a unique neural activity in the areas of the brain that are directly involved in generating social awareness and creating feelings of empathy. One of those areas is the precuneus, a tiny structure hidden within the folds of the parietal lobe. According to researchers at the Institute of Neurology in London, the precuneus appears to play a central role in consciousness, self-reflection, and memory retrieval. The precuneus is also stimulated by yogic breathing, which helps explain why different forms of meditation contribute to an increased sense of self-awareness. It is also one of thought possible that deliberate yawning may actually strengthen this important part of the brain.

For these reasons I believe that yawning should be integrated into exercise and stress reduction programs, cognitive and memory enhancement training, psychotherapy, and contemplative spiritual practice. And, because the precuneus has recently been associated with the mirror-neuron system in the brain (which allows us to resonate to the feelings and behaviors of others), yawning may even help us to enhance social awareness, compassion, and effective communication with others.

Why am I so insistent? Because if I were to ask you to put this magazine down right now and yawn 10 times to experience this fabulous technique, you probably won’t do it. Even at seminars, after presenting the overwhelmingly positive evidence, when I ask people to yawn, half of the audience will hesitate. I have to coax them so they can feel the immediate relaxing effects. There’s an unexplained stigma in our society implying that it’s rude to yawn, and most of us were taught this when we were young.

As a young medical student, I was once “caught” yawning and actually scolded by my professor. He said that it was inappropriate to appear tired in front of patients, even though I was actually standing in a hallway outside of the patient’s room. Indeed, yawning does increase when you’re tired, and it may be the brain’s way of gently telling you that a little rejuvenating sleep is needed. On the other hand, exposure to light will also make you yawn, suggesting that it is part of the process of waking up.

But yawning doesn’t just relax you—it quickly brings you into a heightened state of cognitive awareness. Students yawn in class, not because the teacher is boring (although that will make you yawn as well, as you try to stay focused on the monotonous speech), but because it rids the brain of sleepiness, thus helping you stay focused on important concepts and ideas. It regulates consciousness and our sense of self, and helps us become more introspective and self-aware. Of course, if you happen to find yourself trapped in a room with a dull, boring, monotonous teacher, yawning will help keep you awake.

Yawning will relax you and bring you into a state of alertness faster than any other meditation technique I know of, and because it is neurologically contagious, it’s particularly easy to teach in a group setting. One of my former students used yawning to bring her argumentative board of directors back to order in less than 60 seconds. Why? Because it helps people synchronize their behavior with others.

Yawning, as a mechanism for alertness, begins within the first 20 weeks after conception. It helps regulate the circadian rhythms of newborns, and this adds to the evidence that yawning is involved in the regulation of wakefulness and sleep. Since circadian rhythms become asynchronous when a person’s normal sleep cycle is disturbed, yawning should help the late-night partygoer reset the brain’s internal clock. Yawning may also ward off the effects of jet lag and ease the discomfort caused by high altitudes.

So what is the underlying mechanism that makes yawning such an essential tool? Besides activating the precuneus, it regulates the temperature and metabolism of your brain. It takes a lot of neural energy to stay consciously alert, and as you work your way up the evolutionary ladder, brains become less energy efficient. Yawning probably evolved as a way to cool down the overly active mammalian brain, especially in the areas of the frontal lobe. Some have even argued that it is a primitive form of empathy. Most vertebrates yawn, but it is only contagious among humans, great apes, macaque monkeys, and chimpanzees. In fact, it’s so contagious for humans that even reading about it will cause a person to yawn.

Dogs yawn before attacking, Olympic athletes yawn before performing, and fish yawn before they change activities. Evidence even exists that yawning helps individuals on military assignment perform their tasks with greater accuracy and ease. Indeed, yawning may be one of the most important mechanisms for regulating the survival-related behaviors in mammals. So if you want to maintain an optimally healthy brain, it is essential that you yawn. It is true that excessive yawning can be a sign that an underlying neurological disorder (such as migraine, multiple sclerosis, stroke, or drug reaction) is occurring. However, I and other researchers suspect that yawning may be the brain’s attempt to eliminate symptoms by readjusting neural functioning.

Numerous neurochemicals are involved in the yawning experience, including dopamine, which activates oxytocin production in your hypothalamus and hippocampus, areas essential for memory recall, voluntary control, and temperature regulation. These neurotransmitters regulate pleasure, sensuality, and relationship bonding between individuals, so if you want to enhance your intimacy and stay together, then yawn together. Other neurochemicals and molecules involved with yawning include acetylcholine, nitric oxide, glutamate, GABA, serotonin, ACTH, MSH, sexual hormones, and opium derivate peptides. In fact, it’s hard to find another activity that positively influences so many functions of the brain.

My advice is simple. Yawn as many times a day as possible: when you wake up, when you’re confronting a difficult problem at work, when you prepare to go to sleep, and whenever you feel anger, anxiety, or stress. Yawn before giving an important talk, yawn before you take a test, and yawn while you meditate or pray because it will intensify your spiritual experience.

Conscious yawning takes a little practice and discipline to get over the unconscious social inhibitions, but people often come up with three other excuses not to yawn: “I don’t feel like it,” “I’m not tired,” and my favorite, “I can’t.” Of course you can. All you have to do to trigger a deep yawn is to fake it six or seven times. Try it right now, and you should discover by the fifth false yawn, a real one will begin to emerge. But don’t stop there, because by the tenth or twelfth yawn, you’ll feel the power of this seductive little trick. Your eyes may start watering and your nose may begin to run, but you’ll also feel utterly present, incredibly relaxed, and highly alert. Not bad for something that takes less than a minute to do. And if you find that you can’t stop yawning—I’ve seen some people yawn for thirty minutes—you’ll know that you’ve been depriving yourself of an important neurological treat.
Andrew Newburg is director of Penn’s Center for Spirituality and the Mind.

Monday, 1 November 2010

The 6'th best way to exercise your brain.

Consciously relax, this does not mean taking a nap, or assuming the position of a couch potato in front of a television set. I'm talking deliberately scanning each part of your body to reduce muscle tension and physical fatigue.( Actually why not do that right now, while you're reading allow yourself to become aware of some part of your body that feels tense, welcome that feeling of tension and become curious about it, how does it feel, melt right into the tension, spend a few moments in that feeling. Now pay attention to a part of your body that feels soft open and relaxed, welcome the feeling of relaxation, become curious about it , how exactly does it feel, allow yourself to melt right into that sense of relaxation. Repeat this exercise two more times, by the time you have done this you will feel very relaxed.)

Simple , repetitive activities that are pleasurable and meaningful can also take you into a deep state of relaxation (T'ai Chi). In a recent study it was found that the ritual practice of counting rosaries lowers tension , stress and anxiety. Relaxation does much more than relieve body tension; it interrupts the brain's release of stress-stimulating neurochemicals . Lowering stress reduces heart disease, high blood pressure and pain.

Coincidentally Alice lives at No.6. Amazing woman.

Sunday, 31 October 2010

The 7'th best way to exercise your brain.
" Stay intellectually active. This should be (if you will pardon the pun a
no-brainer)). Intellectual and cognitive stimulation strengthen the neural connections through out your frontal lobe, and this in turn improves your ability to communicate , solve problems, and make rational decisions concerning your behavior. A highly functional frontal lobe also makes it easier to diet , exercise, and avoid tempting activities that have health risks.
Memory and mnemonic exercises strategy based games like chess and other forms of visual /spatial games (tai chi) can significantly improve cognitive functioning. Furthermore intellectual, stimulation, in nearly any form, lowers your propensity to react with anger or fear. Imagination even improves motor coordination of your body, and if you rehearse a dance step or a golf swing (even a tai chi posture) in your mind, you'll actually perform the task better. The same is true for attaining personal goals. The more often you imagine what you want, the more likely you are to achieve it "

Saturday, 30 October 2010

I have been reading " How God changes your brain " by Andrew Newberg and Mark Robert Waldman. It is an interesting and informative review of the latest findings in neuroscience (one of my big interests). Their research suggests that these are the Eight ways to enhance your physical mental and spiritual health.
No.8 Smile
"Smile even if you don't feel like it, the mere act of smiling repetitively helps to interrupt mood disorders and strengthen the brains neural ability to maintain a positive outlook on life. Thich Nhat Hanh suggests that we do "smiling meditation"
whenever we have a spare moment during the day. Smile when you're going up in the elevator or waiting in line at the supermarket, and you will notice the people around you calm down. You'll feel better, and exude empathy, and people will respond with kindness. As Thich Nhat Hanh wrote "If we are not able to smile , then the world will not have peace. " Smiles, by the way,are neurologically contagious in every culture, and women are more susceptible than men. "
I'll write about no. 7 tomorrow.

Monday, 25 October 2010

Untitled from Heartworker on Vimeo.

Next lesson, thanks to Michael

Friday, 22 October 2010

Here is my 4'th year class looking great practicing their tai chi this afternoon.


Thursday, 21 October 2010

In this world there is nothing softer
or thinner than water.
But to compel the the hard and unyielding,
it has no equal.
That the weak overcomes the strong,
that the hard gives way to the gentle -
This everyone knows,
yet no one acts accordingly.

Sunday, 17 October 2010

Introductory Form Brush Knee and Push from Heartworker on Vimeo.

Many thanks to Michael for lesson 3

Wednesday, 13 October 2010

" It has long been observed that emotions can play a dramatic role in the perception of pain. one of the often-cited examples took place during World War 2 and was described by Dr. Henry Beecher, a medical officer admitting casualties to an army hospital ( and later an expert in pain at Harvard ). Beecher made a remarkable observation about the soldiers wounded on the battlefield at Anzio, where serious injuries were numerous. When admitted to the field hospital , these soldiers were asked if they were in pain and if they needed pain medication (morphine). A remarkable 70 percent said that they weren't in pain and didn't need morphine.
When he returned to the States, Beecher conducted a test with civilians who had similar injuries. He asked each person the same two questions he had asked the soldiers wounded at Anzio : are you in pain, and do you want morphine ? This time, 70 percent said yes to both questions. He hypothesized that the difference in the perception of pain was caused by the fact the wounds meant very different things to the two groups. The soldiers he treated were largely relieved, almost ecstatic: they had survived the battle and the wound meant they were getting away from the battlefield, away from war and possibly being sent home. The injured civilians, however, faced major disruption to their lives as a result of their wounds, such as serious difficulties functioning and the loss of income. Beecher's observations about how these two groups perceived the pain from similar injuries differently, was a first step toward a new model of pain that looked beyond the severity of the wound to the emotional state of the injured person."
This is from Dr Fehmi's new book "Dissolving Pain". His work confirms what I have experienced in tai chi and open focus training, that is, when we change 'how' we are paying attention through working on postures or attention exercises, our stress levels drop, our emotions become more stable and so we tend to experience all of life in a calmer and more content way.

Tuesday, 12 October 2010

Nothing can I offer you,
But a sweet smelling lotus
Blooming with all its heart
Only to welcome you.

Monday, 11 October 2010

Full attention is LOVE

Friday, 8 October 2010

Introductory Form from Heartworker on Vimeo.

Lesson 2 and application Thanks to Michael.

Thursday, 7 October 2010

Learning tai chi is one way to become more aware in all aspects of your life (at least thats how it has been for me for me). It is especially useful in the way it teaches us how our bodies and minds are interconnected. When we work on the body the mind changes and vica versa. A few weeks ago I posted some blogs on how our brain 'maps 'work. I'm re posting them here as I think they might be interesting and helpful for our new tai chi trainees. I'm hoping you all will find the journey into your bodies as exciting and wonderful as it seems to me.

You can tell parts of your body from one another because each is faithfully mapped in the neural tissue in your brain. Your brain maintains a complete map of your body with patches devoted to each finger,hand, toe,etc. Your brain also maps the space around your body when you enter it using tools. For example when you take hold of a long stick and tap it against the ground as far as your brain is concerned your hand now extends to the tip of that stick. Blind people use this ability to feel their way down the street.Your brain uses these maps to construct your body schema (this is the felt experience of your body).This schema is updated constantly by the flow of sensation from your skin ,joints, muscles, and viscera. The sense of inhabiting a body embedded within a larger world stems in large part from this mental construct. Anything which participates in the conscious movement of our bodies is added to to the model of ourselves and becomes part of the schemata. Any object used regularly can become part of your schema.Thia explains why people get so upset when someone hits their car, it is as if they themselves have been hit.
When we practice tai chi we are working on body schema awareness. We purposefully attend to many core elements of our own schema and also explore how our schema can enter our partner and (with practice) give us much information about their body too.

More about maps. Neuroscientists tell us that the maps in our minds tend to operate via prediction. That means perception is not a process of passive absorption but of active construction. Incoming information is always fragmentary and ambiguous. Our understanding of reality is constructed in large part according to ones expectations and beliefs, which are based on past experience and are held in the brain cortex as predictive memory.
Many years ago I read of a biofeedback experiment that involved a large group of people. They were all wired to equipment which recorded internal subconscious reactions to a clicking noise that occured at regular intervals while they listened to a musical recording.. It was found that while most people responded to the click initially,but their bodies quickly 'learned' to ignore it.This was not so for the Zen adepts in the group. Their bodies responded to each click as if it were the first. Their brains were not operating in the usual predictive mode. This experiment has inspired many years dedicated practice to tai chi as a means of awakening this ability to live each day fresh and new.
I was due to give a workshop in Mestre today and spent many hours over the summer developing Italian 'maps'in my brain, ways to express tai chi and open focus exercises in that language. The workshop had to be cancelled at the last moment much to my disappointment and that of Professor Giovanni Marchioro who had invited us. At times like this I am very grateful for my practice which has taught me that no training is ever wasted and that life always knows what is best (even when our mind protests).
This practice has taught me to welcome all feelings up into awareness,not to use the practice to avoid pain, repress or indulge in it, but to let it teach me what I need to learn.

Monday, 4 October 2010

Real generosity toward the future lies in giving all to the present.
Albert Camus

Friday, 1 October 2010

Welcome to all beginners in Cork and Mallow, and a Big Thanks to Michael for the video.

Introductory Taichi Form from Heartworker on Vimeo.

Thursday, 30 September 2010

"Love alone is capable of uniting living beings in such a way as to complete and fulfill them, for it alone takes them and joins them by what is deepest in themselves."
Pierre Teilhard de Chardin

Wednesday, 29 September 2010

Whatever you do, or dream you can, begin it. Boldness has genius and power and magic in it... Thinking is easy, acting is difficult, and to put one's thoughts into action is the most difficult thing in the world.
Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

Wednesday, 22 September 2010

A man's errors are his portals of discovery.
James Joyce

Monday, 20 September 2010

When a reporter asked the famous biologist J.B.S.Haldane what his biological studies had taught him about God, Haldine replied, "The creator, if he exists,must have an inordinate fondness for beetles," since there are more species of beetle than any other group of living creatures. By the same token, a neurologist might conclude that God is a cartographer.He must have an inordinate fondness foe maps, for everywhere you look in the brain maps abound.
V.S. Ramachandran
The Body has a Mind of Its Own by Sandra Blakeslee and Matthew Blakeslee is full of interesting facts about our body maps.

Saturday, 18 September 2010

More about maps. Neuroscientists tell us that the maps in our minds tend to operate via prediction. That means perception is not a process of passive absorption but of active construction. Incoming information is always fragmentary and ambiguous. Our understanding of reality is constructed in large part according to ones expectations and beliefs, which are based on past experience and are held in the brain cortex as predictive memory.
Many years ago I read of a biofeedback experiment that involved a large group of people. They were all wired to equipment which recorded internal subconscious reactions to a clicking noise that occured at regular intervals while they listened to a musical recording.. It was found that while most people responded to the click initially,but their bodies quickly 'learned' to ignore it.This was not so for the Zen adepts in the group. Their bodies responded to each click as if it were the first. Their brains were not operating in the usual predictive mode. This experiment has inspired many years dedicated practice to tai chi as a means of awakening this ability to live each day fresh and new.
I was due to give a workshop in Mestre today and spent many hours over the summer developing Italian 'maps'in my brain, ways to express tai chi and open focus exercises in that language. The workshop had to be cancelled at the last moment much to my disappointment and that of Professor Giovanni Marchioro who had invited us. At times like this I am very grateful for my practice which has taught me that no training is ever wasted and that life always knows what is best (even when our mind protests).
This practice has taught me to welcome all feelings up into awareness,not to use the practice to avoid pain, repress or indulge in it, but to let it teach me what I need to learn.

Friday, 17 September 2010

You can tell parts of your body from one another because each is faithfully mapped in the neural tissue in your brain. Your brain maintains a complete map of your body with patches devoted to each finger,hand, toe,etc. Your brain also maps the space around your body when you enter it using tools. For example when you take hold of a long stick and tap it against the ground as far as your brain is concerned your hand now extends to the tip of that stick. Blind people use this ability to feel their way down the street.
Your brain uses these maps to construct your body schema (this is the felt experience of your body).This schema is updated constantly by the flow of sensation from your skin ,joints, muscles, and viscera. The sense of inhabiting a body embedded within a larger world stems in large part from this mental construct. Anything which participates in the conscious movement of our bodies is added to to the model of ourselves and becomes part of the schemata. Any object used regularly can become part of your schema.Thia explains why people get so upset when someone hits their car, it is as if they themselves have been hit.
When we practice tai chi we are working on body schema awareness. We purposefully attend to many core elements of our own schema and also explore how our schema can enter our partner and (with practice) give us much information about their body too.

There's music in my heart all day,
I hear it late and early,
It comes from fields are far away,
The wind that shakes the barley.
Katharine Tynan

Sunday, 12 September 2010

The perfection of Zen is to
be perfectly and simply human.
Alan Watts

Wednesday, 8 September 2010

We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act, but a habit.
--Will Durant (translation of Aristotle)

Tuesday, 7 September 2010

I have eaten
the plums
that were in
the icebox

and which
you were probably
for breakfast

Forgive me
they were delicious
so sweet
and so cold

William Carlos Williams

Saturday, 4 September 2010

Open yourself to the Tao,
then trust your natural responses;
and everything will fall into place.

Tuesday, 31 August 2010

The spring blossoms have vielded their promise,
as our actions realize their fruit.

Sunday, 29 August 2010

Sheeps Head in West Cork looking beautiful this August and the cattle resting content in the sunshine.

Sunday, 22 August 2010

Sitting quietly
doing nothing - spring comes
and the grass grows.
Zen poem

Saturday, 21 August 2010

Let us be silent, that we may hear the whispers of the gods.
Henry David Thoreau

The first widely observed national moment of silence occurred in Britain in 1919, in commemoration of the nation’s inaugural Armistice Day. For two minutes, switchboard operators declined to connect telephone calls, subway cars and factory wheels ground to a halt, and ordinary citizens held their tongues. Within 10 years, the somber annual tradition had grown so popular that the BBC began to air the sound of the silence. One broadcaster mused that the communal silence served as a “solvent which destroys personalities and gives us leave to be great and universal.”

While state-sanctioned silence was novel, the sentiment of the broadcaster was not. Silence has long acted as a leveler of ego. From the communal meditation that opens Quaker meetings to the lulling quiet that defines the lives of Buddhist monks, silence is central to various religious traditions. “For many people, silence is the way God speaks to us, and when we ourselves are in silence, we are speaking the language of the soul,” observes George Prochnik. In his fascinating new book, In Pursuit of Silence, Prochnik sets out to understand the complicated reasons for silence’s power.

Silence enriches the mental life of humans, but, as Prochnik shows, it ensures the very survival of some in the animal kingdom. By being silent, animals avoid detection by predators, and sharpen their wits. Prochnik highlights the intriguing case of the red-eyed tree frog, whose embryos are capable of distinguishing the vibrations of a raindrop from the movement of a hungry snake. When the vibrations are caused by a snake, the embryos prematurely launch themselves from their jellied clutch and attempt to survive in their underdeveloped state.
by Megan Buskey -The Wisdom Quarterly

I loved reading this paragraph as it confirms my experience, that the repetition of the silence inducing postures of Tai Chi also sharpens our wits to our internal and external environments.

Thursday, 12 August 2010

Concsious of consciousness
Sounds in silence
Silence in the sounds
Present in the presence
Aware of awareness.

Wednesday, 11 August 2010

" To look outside is to dream,
to look inside is to awaken."
Karl Jung

Tuesday, 10 August 2010

" As a man who has devoted his whole life to the most clearheaded science, I can tell you as a result of my research into atoms this much. There is no matter as such. All matter originates and exists only by virtue of a force which brings the particles of the atom into vibration. I must assume behind this force the existence of a conscious and intelligent mind. This mind is the matrix of all matter."
Max Plank

" We do not belong to this material world that science constructs for us. We are not in it; we are outside. We are only spectators. The reason why we believe that we are in it, that we belong to the picture, is that our bodies are in the picture. "
Erwin Schrodinger

Reading quotations like these always brings me right back into a sense of wonder and mystery.

Monday, 9 August 2010

Let's let our 'stories' rest for a while and enter
the mystery of NOW.
Let's become aware of the magic of this connection
me writing you reading.
This vast mystery of timeless connection.
Let's become aware of the mystery of us.
Let's feel the amazing presence that we are.
This amazing awareness that somehow knows 'I AM '.
Just allow the aliveness of This Moment to mystify.
The magic of being here at this time ,
The wonder of Eyes to read,
Of Mind to understand,
Of Heart to beat its ceaseless Love,
The Magic of it all

Saturday, 7 August 2010

" What is it that can't be seen,
but which makes seeing possible?
What is that can't be heard,
but makes seeing possible?
What is that can't be known,
but which makes knowledge possible?
What is it that can't be imagined,
but which makes imagination possible?
Uddalaka Aruni

Friday, 6 August 2010

Thanks to Jo for the picture.

The philosopher Epicurus suggested that we become more conscious of pleasure, seeking out simpler and simpler pleasures until we become conscious of the immense pleasure of simply being.

Wednesday, 4 August 2010

This little kitten showed up in our garden last week. Well it's not like we need a kitten but he was hungry and frightened and we couldn't resist feeding him. He spent the first few days hiding in the hedge and only venturing out to eat. It is really good to see him exploring now and 'playing' among the pots. Yesterday he allowed John to stroke him (just once ) but it is a new beginning. Kittens just like humans need love and time to heal from the traumas of life.

Tuesday, 27 July 2010

A fallen flower
Flew back to its perch
A butterfly.

Without a brush
The willow paints the wind.

Across the summer stream
With such joy
My sandals in my hand.

Sunday, 25 July 2010

Becoming aware of space relaxes the body. Feeling the space around my body, the space in front , behind , above , below and at the sides of my body relaxes me. It is also relaxing to pay attention to the space around my body or the spaces in my body for example feeling the space in the joints of my fingers ,wrists, elbows etc. I can also pay attention to the space between my thoughts, my breaths, or to the sounds around me and to the space and the silence in which these sounds arise. With practice I can widen my attention to be aware of all these spaces simultaneously. This is what Dr Fehmi calls attention training, his Open Focus exercises teach us how to pay attention to how we attend in life. I find that the more I practice these exercises the richer my life feels. It seems astonishing to me now that these spaces were always there, i doubt I would have found them without Dr.Fehmi.

Friday, 23 July 2010

To awaken suddenly to the fact
that your own Centre is the Buddha,
that there is nothing to be attained
or a single action to be performed,
that is the Supreme Way.

Sunday, 18 July 2010

Let the soft movements of t'ai chi calm the mind relax the body and awaken the spirit.

Friday, 9 July 2010

I have noticed that softening the muscles of my face, just allowing them to relax is a great way relax my whole body. As soon as I let go in my face everything seems to soften and open. My focus widens and my mind calms down. This also works in reverse, when I widen my attention into 'Open Focus' my face, body and mind relax.

Thursday, 8 July 2010

This is my favourite road to run (mostly jog) along. I love it's quietness rarely do I meet anybody apart from the occasional farmer or local resident. The only interruption in my solitude was a loud belligerent black cocker who would bark loudly and chase me snapping at my ankles.

This really annoyed me, I used to get angry (sometimes even bark back ). As I'd approach his house the anger frustration and fear would mount, I took to leaving a stick on the ditch just bellow his place that I used to defend myself passing his place and collect it from the a similar ditch on my return. Lots of 'shoulds ' would run through my head "people should keep their dogs in","it's not fair I should be able to run without this hassle " etc.

On my return home one day, I was complaining to John (my husband) about this dog and he advised me to walk past this house, he told me that 'cross' dogs are aggravated by runners that the actual running makes them worse. So I took this on board and began to walk past his place, I also paid more attention to my thoughts and began to practice letting go of whatever negative feelings were arising as I approached this place. Then one day I noticed that I had forgotten the stick. The dog was still barking but nothing like before. As my anger and fear eased he seemed to ease too.

These days when I jog past he barely pays any attention. Sometimes he gives a low growl or a few halfhearted barks. It is said that when the inside changes the outside responds. I wonder if he has just become accustomed to me and can't be bothered with me any more or is it (as I prefer to think ) that I actually changed his behaviour by Yielding.

Monday, 5 July 2010

Saturday, 3 July 2010

It is said that " With our thoughts we create the world "I am realizing the truth of this more and more. The other day I spent some time with a friend whose whole conversation revolved around how misunderstood and hard done by she was. She seemed to completely believe her story, listening to her I wanted to ask, Is it true ? Can you be absolutely sure that it is true ? and do a Byron Katie enquiry on the beliefs, but there was no opening. And so I listened as she convinced herself more and more of her story reinforcing it with each retelling.
Last night I had a dream about releasing feelings and it was on awakening this morning that I made the connection about how we create our world when we believe our thoughts and feelings. Byron Katie's Work and Lester Levenson's Releasing technique are both great tools to free us from believing completely in our version of reality and thus opening us up to whole new worlds.
In the past few years I have been exploring these methods along with T'ai Chi and Open Focus training. I find that they are all complimentary, sometimes practicing T'ai Chi brings clarity and peace. At other times just releasing and letting go of the feelings brings clarity. When releasing is not enough and the thoughts keep coming back and hounding me, then it is time for a Byron Katie worksheet (can be found on her website 'The'). And Open Focus will relax me into open space where at times problems dissolve themselves.
Reading the above it might seem like my life is full of problems, but funnily enough having these practices has made my life easier and more fun.

Friday, 2 July 2010

Only when you drink
from the river of silence
will you really sing.
Kahlil Gibran

Thursday, 1 July 2010

Here is Dr Fehmi explaining the workings of his neurofeedback machine, the machine is a great tool for observing and training the brain. I first came across his work about two years ago and began to practice his Open Focus exercises on a daily basis.
The exercises are designed to reduce our common rigid attachment to narrow-objective attention. I have found them to be amazing in the way they helped me to relax and in the way they have enhanced my tai chi practice. You can listen and download one to try from the Open focus website.

Wednesday, 30 June 2010

We practice for the love of the practice itself (even if it is often hard to get started). After a while it becomes clear that some changes are happening, for me this meant I became more relaxed and open. I look back now and wonder how I lived in that mind full of 'shoulds' and 'oughts', and am very grateful to my teachers for signposting the exit points. When we no longer believe everything we think, when we learn to trust space, emptiness and the softness of our own company life gets really good.

Tuesday, 29 June 2010

God has focused the senses to the outside,
therefore man looks outside, not inside.
Now and then an adventurous soul,
in search of immortality,
has looked back and found himself.
Katha Upanishad

Monday, 28 June 2010

Over the years I have learned to be sceptical about my feelings, I have noticed that they are not the 'truth'. For example I rarely 'feel' like practicing. I'll 'feel' a bit tired, and when I begin it may feel as if my body is heavy, and my mind is anywhere but here in the practice. I have learned to mistrust these feelings and stay with the practice, over and over I have seen my mind calm down and my body wake up.So now I will practice whether I feel like it or not. The feelings pass, they were not real. On the odd occasion that the tiredness persists and hasn't been replaced by joy and enthusiasm for and in the work, I'll stop, this IS the time to rest and recharge.
And so I have come to trust the practice to let me know how my body is.

Sunday, 27 June 2010

One of the most interesting aspects of t'ai chi is the way in which it evolves as we practice. One thinks one has 'figured' something out and then suddenly another shift in awareness happens and everything changes. Lately sinking feels very new to me, it is not that I haven't been sinking, the change is that sinking is happening in me. As soon as I let go and relax into the moment sinking happens. I open to the ground or maybe the ground opens to me. At this subtle level it is impossible (for me) to distinguish. Momentarily the separation dissolves there is no me, no outside, and no inside, just t'ai chi happening.

Wednesday, 23 June 2010

All matter is vibrating energy, this includes me. In T'ai Chi training I began to regocnise this , and became much more aware of and sensitive to different types of vibration happening in me and in the external environment. Of late I have been paying more and more attention to the silence or space in which all these vibrations arise and eventually disolve back into. When I do this it seems to change the way I vibrate, my body relaxes as does my mind, I'm more 'at home' no matter what company I'm in or what the external atmosphere feels like. My emotions are not as easily tossed about by external events but seem to rest more in that ever present internal space.

Tuesday, 22 June 2010

To awaken suddenly to the fact
that your own Centre is the Buddha,
that there is nothing to be attained
or a single action to be performed,
that is the Supreme Way.

Monday, 21 June 2010

There is a gentle, loving, peace-filled silence here and now in this moment. It has always been this way. It is always here. It is right within you and all around you, a stillness, an apparent void, a seeming nothingness out of which everything arises, exists and eventually returns.
- Mark Mc Closkey

Friday, 18 June 2010

I went for my first surfing lesson this week (I'm still aching physically in muscles,and my ego is still recovering.... ). My daughter Jo always wanted to give it a try so I thought why not, the weather is perfect and it will be fun. I was right about the fun and the weather, but I was not prepared for the ' pop-up'. This is the term given to getting ones self from lying flat on the board to standing upright in ONE move. Honestly unless you have tried it you have no idea of how difficult this is (especially if you are over 50 and used to most exercise being soft and slowwwwww). This movement is super fast. Thanks to our great instructor Tom I got up as far as my knees and had a few good waves.
My much younger daughters did get to stand up and surf some waves. And so my ego took a bit of a bashing as I regard myself as being fit and reasonably flexible. It was interesting to watch myself try, watch as I lost hope, regained hope, laughed at my efforts and almost cried with frustration when my muscles just wouldn't do it anymore. Tom says I will definitely 'get' it by my third lesson.
Loving a challenge I have been googling 'pop-up' lessons and you could find me practicing my pop-up any time I have a spare moment. I'm looking forward to surfing a wave like the guy above before too long.

Tuesday, 15 June 2010

When the rhythm of the heart becomes hectic,
Time takes on the strain until it breaks;
Then all the unattended stress falls in
On the mind like an endless, increasing weight,

The light in the mind becomes dim.
Things you could take in your stride before
Now become laborsome events of will.

Weariness invades your spirit.
Gravity begins falling inside you,
Dragging down every bone.

The ride you never valued has gone out.
And you are marooned on unsure ground.
Something within you has closed down;
And you cannot push yourself back to life.

You have been forced to enter empty time.
The desire that drove you has relinquished.
There is nothing else to do now but rest
And patiently learn to receive the self

You have forsaken for the race of days.
At first your thinking will darken
And sadness take over like listless weather.
The flow of unwept tears will frighten you.

You have traveled too fast over false ground;
Now your soul has come to take you back.

Take refuge in your senses, open up
To all the small miracles you rushed through.

Become inclined to watch the way of rain
When it falls slow and free.

Imitate the habit of twilight,
Taking time to open the well of color
That fostered the brightness of day.

Draw alongside the silence of stone
Until its calmness can claim you.
Be excessively gentle with yourself.

Stay clear of those vexed in spirit.
Learn to linger around someone of ease
Who feels they have all the time in the world.

Gradually, you will return to yourself,
Having learned a new respect for your heart
And the joy that dwells far within slow time.
- John O'Donohue

Saturday, 12 June 2010

" Something broke and something opened. I filled up like a new wineskin.Breathed an air like light; I saw a light like water.I was the lip of a fountain the creek filled over; I was ether, the leaf in the zephyr ; I was flesh-flake , feather, bone. When I see this way I see truly. As Thoreau says , I return to my senses. I am the man who watches the baseball game in silence in an empty stadium. I see the game purely; I'm abstracted and dazed. when it's all over and the white suited players lope off the green field to their shadowed dugouts, I leap to my feet; I cheer and cheer.
But I can't go out and try to see this way. I'll fail, I'll go mad. All I can do is try to gag the commentator, to hush the noise of useless interior babble that keeps me from seeing just as surely as a newspaper dangled before my eyes.The effort is really a discipline requiring a lifetime of dedicated struggle; it marks the literature of saints and monks of every order East and West, under every rule and no rule. The world's spiritual geniuses seem to discover universally that the mind's muddy river, this ceaseless flow of trivia and trash cannot be dammed, and that trying to dam it is a waste of effort that might lead to madness. Instead you must allow the muddy river to flow unheeded in the dim channels of consciousness; you raise your sights; you look along it, mildly , acknowledging its presence without interest and gazing beyond it into the realm of the real where subjects and objects act and rest purely, without utterance. 'Launch into the deep,' says Jacques Ellul, 'and you shall see'.
- from Ann Dillard's Pilgram at Tinker Creek
( Thanks to Joan for putting this great read my way.)

Tuesday, 8 June 2010

"Between stimulus and response, there is a space. In that space lies our freedom and power to choose our response. In our response lies our growth and freedom."

- Viktor E. Frankl

Monday, 7 June 2010

A morning-glory at my window satisfies me
more than the metaphysics of books.
Walt Whitman

Thursday, 3 June 2010

Love is always Loving you.
Without this Love you cannot breathe,
as without air you cannot live.
Love is Meditation, Meditation is Love.
Heart has no frontiers;
Meditate on This.
You are this Love, You are That.
Simply be Quiet and stay as such.
Sri H W L Poonja

Monday, 24 May 2010

Presence is a quality of welcoming,open awareness which is dedicated to what is.
There can still be someone who is aware and there is that of which they are conscious... the sound of the running water,the taste of tea, the feeling of fear, or the weight and texture of sitting on the seat. And then there can be a letting go of the one who is aware, all that remains is presence. All of this is totally without judgement, analysis, wish to reach conclusion or to become. There is no traffic and no expectation. There is simply what is.
Tony Parsons

Wednesday, 19 May 2010

To Know Without Needing To Understand

Usually, we search for understanding because we believe that it will lead to true experience. We try to understand every experience that is brought to us, and then we have our little mental niches where we put the experience. This is one example of how the great power of the mind leads our lives. But when it comes to the recognition of truth, the mind is not equipped to lead. The mind is not the enemy, there is nothing wrong with it. The tragedy is that we believe the conclusions of the mind to be reality. This is a huge tragedy, responsible for both mundane suffering and the most profound suffering, individually and collectively.

You are conditioned to try to keep mental understanding in an exalted place, but that is not true understanding. That is in the realm of understanding how to tie your shoes, practice good manners, learn a new language, or decipher advanced mathematical formulas. The power of understanding, which is a beautiful power of the mind, is useless in the discovery of your true self.

Whatever you are searching for in this moment, however worldly or spiritual it may be, just stop. A huge fear may arise, the fear that if you stop, you will die, you will never make it to where you are headed. This fear is understandable, but all the magnificent beings who have preceded you encourage you to know that the mind’s true stopping is absolutely good news. Deep inside, you already know this. You just can’t quite believe it is true because you don’t understand it. And you want to understand it so that you will then have some control over it; it will have a place and be definable as something religious, spiritual, or existential.

To know what you know in the core of your being without understanding is effortless. The effort arises in having to understand it so that you can mentally know it and remember it, so that it will be there for you if you get into trouble. I invite you to stop that search.

Sunday, 16 May 2010

Ten thousand flowers in spring, the moon in autumn,
a cool breeze in summer, snow in winter.
If your mind isn't clouded by unnecessary things,
this is the best season of your life.
Wu Men (1183-1260)

Saturday, 15 May 2010

Kindness in words creates confidence.
Kindness in thinking creates profundity.
Kindness in giving creates love.
--Lao Tsu

Kindness in words creates confidence.
Kindness in thinking creates profundity.
Kindness in giving creates love.
--Lao Tsu

Friday, 14 May 2010

If there are great men
interestingly enough
there are weak men too.
Who are those fellows
who lack an ordinary heart?

The monk Nanquan used to go on about
how the ordinary heart really was the Tao.
Ko Un
( Nanquan 748-834 was a Chinese monk )

Thursday, 13 May 2010

I've never been an individual entity.
Sixty trillion cells!
I'm a living collectivity.
I'm a staggering zigzag along,
sixty trillion cells, all drunk!
Ko Un

Tuesday, 11 May 2010

The space around my body , between my hands and arms ,and the space flowing through me all seem to awaken as I give my attention to them while practicing Tai Chi. Allowing myself to relax here as I write allows me to feel the aliveness of this space between me writing and you reading, allows me to feel how intimately we are all connected. When I reawaken from the trance of thought this whole world feels highly awake. I am reminded of John Kells third heart teaching. John would have us awaken to that energy of connection, "the between energy " he called "the third heart" . Each and every connection in our lives has a third heart aspect, when I give my attention to this "between energy" it also seems to awaken.

Saturday, 8 May 2010

New -sawed
clean-smelling house
sweet cedar pink
flesh tint
I love you
Lorine Niedecker

Thursday, 6 May 2010

mist softened and wet
musk of wild garlic and horse mown grass
spacious and silent amid bird calls
spring morning path

Wednesday, 5 May 2010

Here is the first posture of the Short Form . I'm practicing with Michael and Brendan. Welcome to T'ai Chi, I hope you find this demonstration helpful. Ann

Introduction, Preparation, Beginning from Yin&Yang on Vimeo.

Tuesday, 4 May 2010

" The question arises : How do you increase your ability to maintain concentration on the ball (or whatever your focus might be) for long periods of time. On this subject something can be learned from Bahkti yoga. Bahkti is the yoga that aims at achieving perfect concentration of mind through devotion. Indian yogis in particular have recognised the power of love in overcoming distraction of mind. Bahkti yoga teaches that love of the object of concentration makes it possible to focus one's attention without wavering, and eventually to become one with that object.
There is a story told by holy men in the East which may make this point more memorable. A seeker after Truth sought out a yoga Master and begged him to help him achieve the enlightenment of perfect union with his true self. The Master told him to go into to a room and meditate on God for a long as he could. After just two hours the seeker emerged distraught, saying that he could not concentrate, since his mind kept thinking of his much beloved bull he had left at home. The Master then told him to return to the room and meditate on his bull. This time the would-be yogi entered the room and after two days still had not emerged. Finally the Master called for him to come out. 'I cannot; my horns are too wide to fit through the door.' The seeker had reached such a state of concentration that he had lost all sense of separation from his object of concentration. "
-fron W.T Gallwey's The Inner Game Of Tennis

Watermelons and Zen students
grow pretty much the same way.
Long periods of sitting
till they ripen and grow
all juicy inside, but
when you knock them on the head
to see if they are ready -
sounds like nothing's going on.
Peter Levitt

Monday, 3 May 2010

Most of the work with a koan takes place alone while sitting zazan, because in reality there's nothing anyone can give us. There's nothing that we lack. Each one of us is perfect and complete, lacking nothing. That's why it is said that there are no Zen teachers and nothing to teach. But this truth must be realised by each one of us. Great faith, great doubt, and great determination are three essentials for that realisation. It is a boundless faith in oneself and in the ability to realise oneself and make oneself free, and a deep and penetrating doubt that asks: Who am I? What is life ? What is truth ? This great faith and great doubt are in dynamic tension with each other, and work to provide the real cutting edge of koan practice. When great faith and great doubt are also accompanied by great determination (the determination of " Seven times knocked down, eight times get up " ), we have at our disposal the power necessary to break through our delusive way of thinking and realise the full potential of our lives.
John Daido Loori

Sunday, 2 May 2010

In silence which is active, the Inner Light begins to glow -- a tiny spark. For the flame to be kindled and to grow, subtle argument and clamour of our emotions must be stilled... Silence is the welcoming acceptance of the other.
--Pierre Lacout, Quaker Faith and Practice 2.12

Thursday, 29 April 2010

You should know by now, if you
take it for granted,reality
has a habit of becoming unreal.
What was your life disappears,
leaves you without self
to put a finger on. Reminding you
everything which will ever happen
has already happened, only
you were not there. As when
you wander out, late
into the night, find yourself
when you get back, deep
in the chair you haven't moved from.
John Phillips

Wednesday, 28 April 2010

Stretching time silently between the arms
Lifetimes in each posture
Not till we are lost, in other words, not till we have lost the world, do we begin to find ourselves, and realize where we are and the infinite extent of our relations.

Silence is the universal refuge, the sequel to all dull discourses and all foolish acts, a balm to our every chagrin, as welcome after satiety as after disappointment; that background which the painter may not daub, be he master or bungler, and which, however awkward a figure we may have made in the foreground, remains ever our inviolable asylum, where no indignity can assail, no personality disturb us.
-- A Week on the Concord and Merrimack Rivers -- Walden

Saturday, 24 April 2010

What remains ? when I watch the thoughts, emotions and sensations in my body, I begin to notice what remains . That presence or awareness which is constant, always here waiting for my return.

Monday, 19 April 2010


Just how much can we actually let go.It seems to me that the more I let go the more possible it becomes to let go even more.
Lately I have been spending as much time as possible witnessing myself daily as I work, run, practice etc.
What has become clear to me is that the more I relax and just watch my thoughts without making any effort to control or direct them the more space arises.
As I struggle to just keep letting go part of me is resisting urging me to take control, almost warning me that if I keep this up my mind will run amuck, paradoxically when I stick to the witness and ignore "these warnings" my internal space seems to expand more and more.
This letting go transfers to the body which relaxes and opens me up to a new more subtle level of awareness.

Saturday, 17 April 2010

A gift of God! A perfect day,
Whereon shall no man
work but play,
Whereon it is enough for me
Not to be doing but to be.
Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

Wednesday, 14 April 2010

all the little knots
of anxiety and tension
slowly unravelling
of affection and disaffection
slowly unravelling
the dried grasses trembling

if you move
events will start
up from your feet

Thomas A. Clark

Monday, 12 April 2010

" A smile from heaven" thanks to Corinna for passing it on to me.

Saturday, 10 April 2010

Simon (seen throwing me above) told me of a study done on cowboy movies to investigate why the cowboy (usually dressed in black ) who draws first always loses to the guy who draws second. It was found that the guy who draws first has to make the decision to do so. This takes time and slows him down, whereas the other guy just has to respond (so no thinking involved).I love this story,for me it is further confirmation that letting go and allowing life to lead us is so much better than 'thinking' things out.

Thursday, 8 April 2010

A few weeks ago I read Christopher Mc Dougall's Born to Run it was entertaining, informative and also very inspiring, so much so that one Sunday afternoon found me out running. Now I would sometimes jog along when out with Suzie and on a sunny day when my spirits were particularly up I might even break into a run (down hill). So to find myself RUNNING 5 miles (I checked later)was amazing. I used to believe that there were "runners" and "non runners" and I definitely figured in the latter group. When such a life long belief gets shattered something in me feels freer and lighter, less weighed down by any thought because when beliefs begin to fall there is more and more space to just be.

Tuesday, 6 April 2010

As the mind gets quiet, first the sense of havingness decreases until measure of security is felt. It becomes less necessary to have in order to be.Then the sense of doership decreases until a further security is felt in that one is not the real doer, that the real doer is a higher power, that one can actually be with much less doing and it becomes less necessary to do in order to be. Finally your real Self that has always been in the background steps in and takes over and you feel that there is nothing necessary any more that you must have or do, that there is no choice but to only be.
Lester Levenson

Wednesday, 31 March 2010

Who am I beyond my thoughts ?
beyond my feelings ?
beyond this body ?
I do not need to find an answer
but sit in the Questions

Tuesday, 30 March 2010

"You are the emptiness in which even space appears.
You are the infinite perfection.
Contemplate this."

Saturday, 27 March 2010

The essence of destiny is yielding,
The essence of yielding is softness,
The essence of softness is entering,
The essence of entering is welcoming openness,
The essence of openness is heart.
John Kells

Wednesday, 24 March 2010


All that you are attached to, all that you love,
All that you know, someday will be gone.

Knowing this, and that the world is your mind
Which you create, play in, and suffer from,
Is known as discrimination.

Discriminate between the Real and the Unreal,
The known is unreal and will come and go
So stay with the Unknown, the Unchanging, the Truth.

Tuesday, 23 March 2010

Poetry, music, forests, oceans, solitude - they were what developed enormous spiritual strength. I came to realize that spirit, as much or more than physical conditioning, had to be stored up before a race.
Herb Elliott

Monday, 22 March 2010

"The waterfall is called "Edelfrauengrab"
which means "Grave of the noble ladies".
Thanks to Corinna for this.

Saturday, 20 March 2010

Ward off Right

Ward Off Right from Heartworker on Vimeo.
Here is ward off Right todays lesson Ward off Left is on this site too.
Thanks to Michael

Thursday, 18 March 2010

Sink and Relax

Sink and Relax became my mantra as soon as Charles said during my first lesson with him many years ago.
Jutta regularly reminded me to drop my shoulders (which would consistently creep back up while I was working on a new posture).
Steven constantly pointed out both my conscious and unconscious tensions to me.

Thanks to my teachers, the daily sinking into my body and the practice, the knots began to unravel. I became aware of the muscle bracing that happens in response to both external and internal events. I became aware of just how I tighten in response to certain thoughts and emotions. Awareness then allows one to choose to listen to the thought or fully feel the emotion rather than holding them at a distance by bracing the body against the awareness.

Once we can allow the sensations aroused by these thoughts, memories and emotions, even learn to welcome them, the tension tends to dissolve.

We can also become aware of the frequent mini explosions of joy that happen in the body throughout the day. The heart almost bursts with love on noticing the first daffodil has opened in the garden or on hearing someone singing downstairs.

I remember reading that awareness is exactly that, it is becoming more and more present in all of our life. The article said don't expect it to make you happier. I agree it doesn't necessarily make us happier but I find myself more joyful. There is a joy in discovering how I hold the world out, which sometimes even encourages me to open and welcome it in.