Brightest blessings…

The notion of ‘brightest blessings’ is an ages-old aspect of the traditions that I teach, coach, and humbly endeavor to follow, e.g., Ming Chia (the Bright Beautiful School of Thought, a facet of the broader Tao-Chan or better known as Zen).

Congruent therein, it is common to wish “brightest blessings” to others, much like wishing someone good tidings, a good day, or any such. It is meant to be a serious wishing of the most splendid of blessings, in a genuinely heartfelt fashion.

That said – yin to yang/yang to yin, with what we might construe as on a deeper level in said tradition, the notion of bright or brightest blessings can go further in its appreciation, outlook and application: It is the concept that brightest blessings are congruent not as much with the blessings themselves, but that the truly brightest of blessings are consistent with TRUE APPRECIATION of blessings, blessings which are manifest in measure beyond what we so often appreciate or choose to wrap our heads around, so-to-speak. This SO genuinely healthful outlook is congruent with that which may lead one to sweet and innocent mindful meditative sparkling spine-tingling/shivering levels of appreciation – healthful beyond what words can describe: Such can only be witnessed, not figured or construed in thought.

Allowing oneself such a level of true appreciation is likely to be among the most difficult of things in life – learning to more and more and more appreciate the boundless blessings in our lives. To further clarify, this is where the notion comes even more specifically into focus: That which is genuinely witnessed as a blessing – REALLY TRULY appreciated, and not just for a fleeting moment, is again in a deeper sense a bright or brightest blessing. AND such a level of true appreciation connects to a type of pattern literacy, e.g., makes it easier and easier to connect our appreciation to more and more and more of the boundless blessings in our lives. In this tradition, it is viewed as a true responsibility, a facet of the broader notion of true health and our responsibility of making the world a better place. This versus being stuck on stagnant plateaus and tearing the world down. In short, it is true health through true responsibility.

In our daily lives we are often so hurried, harried, and distracted – therein it is quite normal to take things for granted and not appreciate the blessings in our lives. It isn’t even socially or culturally normal to be very aware of the notion, the truth of being so blessed, or to take the time to appreciate said blessings. It can be QUITE difficult to even seriously consider. Things like the air that we breathe or the natural world that makes life even possible, may not even seem like blessings, being that these things as such are SO common and easy to take for granted. Albeit, in truth, this in no way makes such things less of a true blessing. On a fundamental level, this is inarguable. AND such blessings in our lives go on and on and on…

It is quite a simple matter to get lost in our priorities, even what are often unhealthful and misguided priorities. We live as if we know a lot, when in fact, if we are living lives that aren’t full of significant appreciation, then on many levels, it is a lie: What could be more important than feeling deep and abiding appreciation for the most fundamental of blessings…even life itself. It is SO easy, yet SO wrong to not appreciate things as such. And once again, the blessings go on and on and on. EACH moment is a blessing…a miracle unto itself. At the deepest levels, we can only FEEL such amounts of appreciation, WITNESS it, not rationalize or construe. What could be more important? Is it likely that it would be much more difficult to be upset, anxious, worried, depressed, sad, angry, or frustrated, if we aren’t thinking such thoughts, e.g., just appreciating? Would it be consistent with true honesty, promoting of true happiness and true freedom…nothing to hide behind?

The following verse from the last chapter of my book relates to these concepts in a succinct AND appreciative fashion:

“The Lotus Flower Blossoms

There is a place where, wherever you are there, whatever you are doing…no matter what, in any given moment, there should be nowhere you would rather be. It is where you are right now – and you have the ability to so deeply and artfully appreciate your life and its living…to connect one healthful insight to the next, and make them all one…learning to witness this already-existing truth.

In the wilderness of our existence…a place of budding flowers about, about to unwrap in a showing of perfect appreciation for all to thrive upon, we are the flowers which can blossom again and again in each season of our deeper and deeper insights…all connected…each better and more healthful than before.

It is not unlike Heaven and it can become Heaven, with enough insight and appreciation. It takes quite a few sparks, glimpses – spine-tingling moments as a way-of-life which becomes more and more purposeful, more and more without time or space or distance. More and more there is less and less to hide behind.” (Copyright 2011)

*In a proverbial nutshell – life is good, we are blessed, we just need to appreciate it. SO simple. SO difficult. We’ll never perfect it on this earth, but we can work at it, and catch some of those sparkling glimpses of Heaven, working at it over our entire lives, always taking to heart and remembering that the greatest of blessings/gifts are found in a loving spirit of true appreciation…knowing (and feeling additional appreciation(!) that there is always room for improvement. There IS magic all around us and inside of us ALL of the time, in each moment AND each moment is a miracle. — Dr. Glen Hepker

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Cold winter weather getting to you?

Okay…business at my school/wellness center has never truly bounced back since the “Great Recession”, and consequently I’m trying new ways to connect with people with regard to my services. Nevertheless, the following services are genuinely no joke, and QUITE seriously helpful and beneficial to interested people. I’m simply beginning to offer some services individually by phone, vs. in the context of the broader comprehensive classes I generally offer.

SO HERE GOES: Is the cold winter weather getting to you…really an agitation? Well, please give me a call. I will teach you reverse abdominal breathing (coined ‘winter breathing’ in acupuncture/TCM theory). And I will teach you the corresponding guided imagery technique that complements and completes the practice. It will make you feel warmer – you’ll still feel the cold, albeit the cold becomes much less of an agitation, truly so. *Reverse abdominal breathing is also quite beneficial to those who suffer from lethargy, or tend to be more lethargic than otherwise.

These are traditional aspects of the ages-old arts that teach and coach. And in learning to defend oneself against the cold, it is important to keep in mind the following ages-old adage passed down in these arts: “True self-defense is self-defense against our own weaknesses and bad habits.”

What’s more, it doesn’t have to be taught in person – just like mindfulness meditation and guided imagery, I will teach reverse breathing to you by phone.

Learning these splendid techniques is a wonderful gift to allow yourself – please let me coach you…because, YES IT IS COLD OUTSIDE!

Learn to embrace your comfort and discomfort equally!

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Five Senses Guided Imagery Chi Kung…

This is a form of mindfulness meditation guided imagery/visualization chi kung.

Herein, this guided imagery will be set forth for a standing position, but it can also be done in a sitting position – sitting on a chair/stool, or in a lotus sitting posture.

Ancillary preparatory exercise: titled as a question – How Much Gratitude Does One Need to be Healthy?

Stand with one’s feet almost together (called a ‘humble stance’), and bend one’s knees comfortably. Put one’s tongue against the roof of one’s mouth (connecting the Governing and Central Vessels – congruent with acupuncture theory). Relax one’s face, shoulders, hands, and feet – it’s said, “if they’re relaxed, you’re relaxed.”

Realize that relaxation is a true skill – there is always room for improvement. Realize, we ALWAYS have some stress, no matter how relaxed we are. Be so relaxed that one is barely standing – in what we coin as a Swaying Willow demeanor. Gently roll the spine above the waist, forward and backward. This demeanor is much like a willow tree swaying in a gentle wind. Breathe in, all the way forward and backward, and breathe out in between. Constantly adjust one’s eyes so that one is always looking slightly above straight ahead, without focusing or staring (though it is done both with the eyes open and closed – begin with the eyes open).

Get the ‘engine’ of the (advance vs. reverse) diaphragmatic/abdominal breathing going. Breathe in, push one’s abdomen out, breathe out, pull one’s abdomen in. Pretend that one’s lungs are in one’s abdomen. One of the greatest gifts one can allow oneself, is all-of-the-time diaphragmatic breathing – there is nothing more healthful. If one practices this breathing for five minutes twice daily, in 30 to 60 days most people will realize all-of-the-time diaphragmatic breathing. It greatly enhances circulation, and promotes the secretion of relaxing, pain killing hormones (empirically substantiated).

Be in a spirit of gratitude and true appreciation. Be all in the moment. A true appreciation of the miracle of the moment. Ask oneself, “How much gratitude does one need to be healthy?”

Try not to think, just witness one’s breathing, relaxation, and subtle movement. Endeavor to play the part of a less and less blemished witness. If a thought comes to one’s mind, embrace it, see it for what it is, don’t hang on to it, just let it go – put all of one’s attention in just what one is doing.

Mindfulness meditation is putting ALL of one’s attention into just one, two, or three aspects of what one is doing at any given time. It is next to impossible to be upset, anxious, worried, depressed, sad, or frustrated, if one is not thinking such thoughts. This is a primary purpose of mindfulness meditation – it is the sword that cuts out internal dialogue and/or cyclical thinking – ideally all thought…BEING ‘light’. Thoughts are often ‘heavy’.

Five Senses Guided Imagery

Continue in the humble stance with the gentle Swaying Willow chi kung. In all forms of chi kung, be as relaxed as one can be while still standing (or like earlier, this can be done sitting, but without the Swaying Willow mien). Keep one’s tongue against the roof of one’s mouth. Keep the engine of the diaphragmatic breathing going.

Put all of one’s attention in one’s sense of sight:

Ideally, try not to think about, just witness through one’s sense of sight. ALL of one’s attention is therein. Look slightly above straight ahead – about one degree above the imagined or real horizon. Be aware of everything in the 360 degrees of one’s peripheral vision – while NOT moving one’s eyes, just gazing, not staring, again just one degree above straight ahead. If the light in one’s eyes seems to fade, change, or darken…

Try not to blink it away.
Try not to move one’s eyes.
There is nothing to fear.

This visual effect is part of gathering a ‘visual meditative demeanor’. Meditation is not just with one’s eyes closed.

Often we take these wonderful gifts, these five senses for granted…endeavor to be in a spirit of gratitude and true appreciation for these wonderful gifts. Again, endeavor to witness, not think about, just witness through one’s sense of sight.

Moving on, close one’s eyes: Put all of one’s attention in one’s sense of hearing:

Ideally, try not to think, just witness through one’s sense of hearing. ALL of one’s attention is therein. As always, one can hear the music, me, background noises – one can hear one’s own breathing (*to the point, this is set forth as such with the instructor narrating these steps and calming music in the background). Imagine all is new to you, you know nothing – without expectations, like witnessing it for the first time. Be aware that witnessing is a true skill – it will never be perfect, there is always room for improvement.

Moving on, put ALL of one’s attention in one’s sense of smell:

Ideally, try not to think, just witness through one’s sense of smell. Breathe in and out through one’s nose, or breathe in through one’s nose and out through one’s mouth – all-the-while still performing diaphragmatic breathing. Never breathe in through one’s mouth, unless one has congestion.

It is said in these traditions that “the senses of smell and taste have an intrinsic connection which can be greatly enhanced by the deep diaphragmatic breathing.”

Moving on, put ALL of one’s attention in one’s sense of taste:

Ideally, try not to think, just witness through one’s sense of taste. Place all of one’s attention at the top of one’s tongue. And try to witness, not think about, just witness what we in these traditions coin as the ‘five tastes’ plus neutral…

Sour, bitter, sweet, hot, salty, rarely neutral.

It is usually a combination of a couple (of tastes).
One does not have to have food or any such in one’s mouth, in order to taste.

Moving on, put ALL of one’s attention in one’s sense of touch:

Ideally, try not to think, just witness through one’s sense of touch. As always, one can feel one’s…

Feet on the floor –
Clothing on the body –
Air currents in the environment –
Feelings within one’s own body –
Ideally one can feel the rise and fall of the abdomen with each diaphragmatic/abdominal breath.

One can feel a budding sense of lightness, a lightness of being, a lightness in the moment – according to the Theory of Lightness, one feels lighter and lighter the more and more relaxed one is.

The sense of touch is so broad, it is likely impossible to be aware of the whole of it at one time. Place all of one’s attention in just one or two aspects of it, at any one time.

In moving on, but still with regard to the sense of touch…

Imagine there is a fire, a flame, a sparkling furnace just behind one’s navel (CV-8), and that one can fan that furnace stronger and stronger and stronger, with each diaphragmatic abdominal breath – so strong that one can learn to feel that sparkling furnace AT WILL. There is nothing more healthful, combined with the deep breathing and playing the part of a less and less blemished witness. These are important facets of this mindfulness meditation guided imagery chi kung. 

– Dr. Glen Hepker (Copyright 2011)

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How much happiness do we really want?

An inquiry from a reader of my blog and book: “I mean it point blank – just how happy do we really want to be? All the knowledge we could ever want is at our fingertips, yet for so many of us, we just don’t seem to get it. I don’t mean this to be as negative as it sounds, it is just so disheartening to see things as they are. It seems that times change, but people don’t. And certainly, I am not saying that I am better at any this than anyone else.”

Response: Humbly and respectfully, no doubt this all is hard work for all of us, requiring of true effort, to say the least. I believe that likely the most important thing in this and many regards, is that we should first and foremost accept that there is always room for improvement on this Earth, greater and greater insight. So often we get stuck in the notion that we’ve reached a pinnacle and don’t have to try anymore. This may be a VERY important key to true happiness.

I believe substantive insight into these dynamics can be realized by way of lovingly embracing the notion of Acting Without Acting, i.e., endeavoring to do the right thing for the right sake – without the need for selfish recognition or hidden agendas. It is in the wonderfully healthful spirit of true honesty, promoting of true happiness and true freedom…but most importantly, needing less and less to hide behind. It is in learning to better and better play the part of the unblemished witness to one’s internal and external environments – in a genuinely benevolent and altruistic spirit of deep and abiding true appreciation. It is learning to HONESTLY display oneself with dignity, decency, goodness, and grace…no matter what. It is SO very much about realizing that we are all so very much more in the same common boat than we so often think and act. It is SO very much about supporting others in their healthful goals.

There is a true love beyond, yet inclusive and in splendid harmony with, friendship, familial, and romantic love. It is the living embodiment of true forgiveness – forgiveness of ourselves and others, without the dire heaviness of significant co-dependence. It is in better and better alleviating the pernicious weight of hate, greed, and ignorance. It is SO much about enjoying loving sparkling spine-tingling feelings in interaction/harmony with others…a loving resplendent quintessential lightness of being. It is ‘true health,’ answering to what may be the greatest of responsibilities…making the world a better place (vs. tearing it down and/or just going along for the ride – giving up or not really trying). It is learning to more and more skillfully gather an impeccable appreciation of the bright beautiful light of life.

“Please ask yourself…when is the last time you had truly sweet and innocent, loving, spine-tingling real fun? As a child? Ever? What true joy it is – selfless…light…shared. It is back to The Garden. Oh boy!” — Dr. Glen Hepker (Copyright 2011)

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Are we all much more in the same common ‘boat’ than we so often think and act?

An excerpt from Chapter III/”The Same Boat Theory” – of a Glimpse of Heaven: The Philosophy of True Health…

“The Same Boat Theory is another central feature of the Bright School of Thought. In some ways it is similar to the Golden Rule of Christianity, e.g., “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.” Even so, the former is traditionally associated with notions pertinent to health and wellness (inclusive of emotional, physical, and spiritual facets thereof). The key thesis of the ‘same boat theory’ asserts that…the primary fault of humankind is the notion that you are there and I am here; it will likely be obvious to most, that many if not all of the problems of humankind are rooted in thinking which is not displaying of an awareness of any such philosophy. That is the true health issue within this healthful ‘way-of-life’ philosophy: Our healthful motivation or unhealthful lack of motivation to interact with others in a fashion congruent with the notion that we ARE all in the same boat is a gauge of the quality of our health and wellness status – emotionally, physically, and spiritually (and as per these traditions, there really is no true or clear separation of these three measures).

According to this theory, each of us inwardly suffers emotionally and spiritually from wars and famines which are reflected to and from the greater world. A significant portion of this suffering is rooted in our most significant/common human flaw, e.g., the faulty notion that you are there and I am here. In this theory, this learned disconnection is not unlike, unto itself, a malady/illness.

In the first chapter I focused on one facet of the Bright School notion of ‘true responsibility’ – the displaying of dignity, decency, goodness, and grace in our interaction with others (as a measure of true health). The same boat theory goes a step further: It relates that the only way which humankind will ever elevate itself to a higher level of true health, is when at least an initial slight majority is raised to do the right thing for the right sake, e.g., Acting Without Acting (as portrayed in the preceding chapter). The theory of ‘acting without acting’ sets forth the notion that all good acts are just that – a good thing. Albeit, a measure of true health is the ability to do so without the need for selfish recognition – an intrinsic element in the following notion: It is much more difficult to feel a need for ‘selfish recognition’ if one is endeavoring to realize practical application of the true health ideal that ‘we are all in the same boat’ – as the analogy conveys.

It is evident that the practical application of the philosophy herein in one’s daily life is not a simple matter. Albeit, the issue is not that we perfect such practices (as the sayings go, ‘there is nothing perfect on this Earth,’ and ‘there is always room for improvement’). The issue is that we try – that we try not to rock the boat in a fashion which jeopardizes wellbeing. Such effort is a vital key to true health, and it may be said, that at its best, this is what life is about.

*The notions of acting without acting and the same boat theory pose a strong fellowship with the budding contemporary movement of social entrepreneurship (social enterprise and risk literacy), albeit more obviously on a micro scale. Even so, the micro level has a profound, if not greater effect on the macro level – likely not the other way around. Without individuals willing to embrace healthful change, then large movements manifest stagnicity. Healthful change must go in both directions – yin begets yang, and yang yin.” — Dr. Glen Hepker

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Why does God hide from us? Why are we put here?

Questions from my friend, Arvind Shapira, M.D.: “I would like to ask God, ‘Why did you create all this so neatly woven mesh of lives on earth?’ ‘Why do you hide yourself from us?'”

Response: Humbly and respectfully, Dr. Arvind, I believe that the more and more genuinely healthful witnesses we become, the more and more resplendently we will (in a living loving spirit of true appreciation) understand these and ALL things…in a less and less blemished LIGHT. It is up to us to decide the quality of which we are (as) conduits between/for Heaven and Earth. In my ages-old arts, these are among the quintessential reasons we are here. Herein I am in NO way promoting notions of God or gods – I am speaking ONLY for myself, e.g., setting forth this outlook which is congruent with the ages-old arts that I teach, coach, and endeavor to follow. I absolutely make no claims to have a ‘special’ insight into this matter, how dare I if I did.

That said, in order to respond to the above questions, I believe it is quite important to say…”If there is a Heaven, a ‘key to the universe,’ even a ‘sixth sense,’ they are rooted in true honesty, promoting of true happiness and true freedom…but most importantly, needing less and less to hide behind. It is so much about a living loving spirit of truly healthful dignity, decency, goodness, and grace. It is so much about endeavoring to do the right thing for the right sake – without the need for selfish recognition or hidden agendas.

There are beyond-wonderful (beyond words) magical things going on inside of us and all around us, ALL of the time…we are often uncaring and/or untrained to witness these so-beyond-splendid blessings/gifts. In working to become more and more appreciative/healthful conduits between Heaven and Earth, it IS possible to catch more and more common sparkling spine-tingling/shivering glimpses of a so-to-speak existence, where there is no time, no space, no distance…all is known…but again most importantly, nothing to hide behind. Through true effort, we can thus become more and more prepared for what lies ahead. Nothing is perfect in THIS existence, but we CAN catch such remarkable ‘glimpses’ and realize greater and greater strength and happiness within our own selves. As we do so, we may gather greater and greater insight into the notion that, the ‘primary fault of humankind is the notion that you are there and I am here.’

The Lotus Flower Blossoms (as set forth in Chapter XV of my book):

“There is a place where, wherever you are there, whatever you are doing…no matter what, in any given moment, there should be nowhere you would rather be. It is where you are right now – and you have the ability to so deeply and artfully appreciate your life and its living…to connect one healthful insight to the next, and make them all one…learning to witness this already-existing truth.

In the wilderness of our existence…a place of budding flowers about, about to unwrap in a showing of perfect appreciation for all to thrive upon, we are the flowers which can blossom again and again in each season of our deeper and deeper insights…all connected…each better and more healthful than before.

It is not unlike Heaven…and it can become Heaven, with enough insight and appreciation. It takes quite a few sparks, glimpses – spine-tingling moments…as a way-of-life which becomes more and more purposeful…more and more without time or space or distance. More and more there is less and less to hide behind.” — Dr. Glen Hepker

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Please imagine what a spirit it might be, to live life as a living loving art form. Oh boy!

An excerpt from Chapter XII/”True Happiness: A Glimpse of Heaven” – from my book, A Glimpse of Heaven: The Philosophy of True Health…

“Within the traditions set forth herein, it is believed that our discomfort and/or fear of change and the ongoing challenges thereof, are at the root of why we find it so difficult to realize fitting healthful levels of thankfulness for life and all of its blessings. How different life does or would appear, when or if we feel an ongoing deep gratitude for the following: Life is made up of millions of moments – each moment is change, in and of itself.
Embracing change is often quite difficult, to say the least. Albeit, the happier and more fulfilled we are in our daily lives, the easier it is to embrace change, the state-of-flux which is always going on all around us, and in us. A gauge of true health is a measure of our ability to embrace change, and not run away from it and/or ignore it. Life seems to fly past us at a speed which is congruent with the level at which we detach ourselves from its potentially deepest and most loving and heartfelt aspects. ‘True appreciation of the miracle of the moment’ necessitates true effort toward embracing our discomfort as much as our comfort. In these health and wellness arts, we are privileged to have what are coined as the Three Marks of Being, as set forth in the following:

~ The world (this reality/state-of-being) is full of change. True health is inclusive of deep realization that there is no healthful means by which to circumvent/run away from the intrinsic state-of-fluidity/flux in the world. It is important to learn the skill of ‘giving up the self’ – lightening ourselves of the pernicious weight of ‘ego,’ and evolving beyond/outgrowing our addiction to our unhealthful discomfort with the seemingly inherent lack of permanency in this world. Deft employment of this ‘skill’ allows us to learn to lovingly embrace the ever-evolving state-of-change.

~ A significant portion of suffering is commonly rooted in resistance and/or purposeful or instinctive denial/ignorance of the constant state-of-flux in this ever-changing world. It is important that we learn to embrace the notion that the world cannot bring us the most substantive levels of happiness, e.g., we must first find it within ourselves, because most suffering is rooted in our fear of looking within ourselves. Utilizing true honesty in looking within ourselves enables us to gather a sense of true strength – strength which aids us in witnessing a truly healthful connection between ourselves and all else – a ‘glimpse of Heaven’ – a view of a so-to-speak-existence where there is no state-of-flux, nothing to hide behind. This level of healthful unblemished loving insight allows us to see this world much more clearly, much more like it really is – thus promoting greater and greater resilience in our wherewithal to meet and embrace, and even look forward to the miracle of life’s challenges – the moment to moment change which we can choose not to ignore. In this loving and mindful outlook, it is possible to gather a healthful appreciation of the reality that there is nothing perfect in this world – an appreciation in which we find a wonderful gift: that there is always room for improvement.

~ The primary fault of mankind is the notion that you are there and I am here. Much of our suffering is rooted in our addictive purposeful or instinctive denial or ignorance that ‘we are all in the same boat.’ We need not be so lonely and detached from each other as we ‘wallow in our muck’ – the muck being all the deeper and worse by our sense of being so alone, and/or that we are the only ones suffering from our difficulties. The world does not move so fast when we feel a sense of healthful loving closeness, a truly well-meaning spirit/affinity, a genuine sense of empathy toward others and they toward us. As we learn to realize a greater and greater sense of responsibility for our own health and wellbeing, it becomes easier and easier to enjoy true compassion and empathy for all of our peers.” — Dr. Glen Hepker (Copyright 2011)

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