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.