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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Do ya have a furnace that needs fanning?

‘Fanning the Furnace’ Guided Imagery Meditation Chi Kung

Tan Tien Breathing is also known as Fanning the Furnace Breathing, Lower Heaven Breathing, or Field of Elixir Breathing. These names refer to a type of ages-old guided imagery chi kung (chi kung/qigong means breathing in congruence with effort or in time with movement). The most common title that I’ve come to utilize is Fanning the (sparkling) Furnace.

In this tradition (Tao Chan/Ming Chia), it is said that there are two tan tien points/portals. With regard to the ‘real’ tan tien, it is located just behind the navel/CV-8 acupoint (also known as the sea of chi). This point is approximately two and one-half inches (two and one-half cun – e.g., personal thumb-widths – per one’s own body mapping) above the ‘circulatory’ tan tien/CV-5 acupoint (CV is the common abbreviation for the central vessel in acupressure/TCM/traditional Chinese medicine theory).

The real tan tien is viewed as the body’s central bio-electric energy (chi/qi) point or ‘furnace’ and the circulatory tan tien is as per its namesake, for circulating the bio-electric energy stored in the real tan tien: This so-coined energy is viewed as our ‘original energy’ which has an intrinsic association with our kidneys, where, in an healthy person, it additionally resides. It is also said that this is the energy which one is born with – and/or brought us into this existence – once again, all in congruence with traditional acupuncture/TCM theory).

The real tan tien is viewed as the place where our corporeal bio-electric energy is generally centered. Though through true effort, pertinent insight, and meditative witnessing/guided imagery, one can better and better learn to (QUITE healthfully) enhance this centering or storage of bio-electric energy/chi/ki/pranha – not unlike a ‘furnace’ or ‘field of elixir’ or ‘sea of chi’. Traditionally speaking, when one focuses one’s mind/attention/yi at this point & performs competent abdominal/diaphragmatic breathing, it is believed to substantively enhance the quality of one’s health and well-being (which is such that words do not adequately describe – it can only be better and better witnessed).

Such breathing, relaxation, and guided imagery congruent with the execution of competent ‘witnessing’ (versus thinking) during any activity or level of ‘being’ is the centerpiece of true meditation. Such is traditionally and particularly performed with the practice of chi kung, tai chi chuan, kung fu, and yoga – albeit it can be embraced and practiced with almost all activity (sedate or moving through life’s general activities).

This practice is viewed as a potent means by which to promote health/wellness/greater longevity, e.g., centering/lowering/sinking/concentrating one’s bio-electric energy – enhancing one’s furnace or field of elixir – building the strength of one’s energy so that one can learn to feel the sparkling energy at will (AND all-of-the-time). It can only be realized when combined with skilled diaphragmatic breathing: such skilled breathing is what can be coined as fanning the furnace.

Once one becomes quite skilled in this practice, one can learn to use/move it in fashions congruent with various traditional and more complicated types of guided imagery/meditation/witnessing – consistent with succinct manipulation for health/wellness/treatment purposes (inclusive of stimulation of acupoints for self-treatment and using one’s hands to stimulate/treat the acupoints using one’s fingers and hands – coined traditionally as chi kung an mo): Theretofore, as one learns to fan the furnace competently, one learns to employ the circulatory tan tien in order to move the energy in one’s various guided imagery/visualization practices. Please realize that these skills, are just that – skills. It should be quite obvious that these practices cannot be learned ‘overnight’.

This basic guided imagery utilizes either the advance or reverse breathing methods (as described below). Even though this type of meditative breathing guided imagery is considered a most basic technique, it does not mean that it is easy or of lesser importance, e.g., most students of the art will not go further along (to even more difficult techniques), which makes this technique all the more important. AND this technique is the foundation of all other types of traditional guided imagery visualization.

It can be misunderstood that the real tan tien can be so much more important than the circulatory tan tien. Albeit, like the real tan tien point, the circulatory tan tien is viewed as a very important point also – each complement the other, yin to yang – yang to yin. As stated, the latter’s purpose is to circulate chi but not store it (e.g., IT cannot store chi). By practicing pertinent guided imagery, one can ‘fan the furnace’ so-to-speak AND healthfully promote the circulation of chi. Through time and effort, one learns to practice both types of tan tien breathing – which as stated are meant to intrinsically complement one another. Therein, one can attain a nearer and nearer to impeccable state of stillness. In working toward this, remarkable levels of relaxation and lightness can be realized/embraced. All of this must be complemented by what is coined as ‘witnessing’ – learning to play the part of a less and less blemished witness in one’s guided imagery meditation. These practices cannot be entirely rationally understood – but at best being a witness without thought or expectations (thoughts which most often serve to get in the way).

These practices are coined as true skills, e.g., all-of-the-time diaphragmatic breathing consistent fanning the furnace through guided imagery meditation/witnessing, and true relaxation – altogether congruent with working toward true mastery thereof. The meaning of this ‘true mastery’ is enjoying such objective insight that one witnesses the truth – inclusive of, that the greatest blessing of all is that no matter how skilled one becomes, there is always room for improvement (most particularly on this Earth). Accordingly, it is learning to better and better play the part of an healthy conduit/diplomat between Heaven (OR just the heavens – whichever one prefers) and Earth…in harmony with better and better realization of true health.

Below find a most basic form of Fanning the Furnace guided imagery:

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. At more and more skilled levels, it can be performed in most any setting in one’s daily life – which is a primary goal. It is traditionally set forth that there may be nothing more healthful.

This exercise is engineered to be practiced in a spirit congruent with the following question – How Much Gratitude Does One Need to be Healthy? (it is additionally practiced as a so-titled ancillary guided imagery which is a preparation exercise for most other types of guided imagery meditation in this tradition)

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 – promoting of greater and greater homeostasis). 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 – a ‘visual meditative demeanor’ (though it is done both with the eyes open and closed – begin with the eyes open).

Fan the furnace by getting 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).

A minority of people benefit more from reverse breathing – breathing in pulling one’s abdomen in, and breathing out pushing one’s abdomen out. Unlike the former advance-style breathing, this breathing is more for people who tend to be more so lethargic/cold/less active, versus those who tend to be more so stressed/anxious/very active/warm. Advance breathing is also coined summer breathing, and reverse breathing is also coined winter breathing. The former cools one, the latter warms one. Both can be utilized for fanning the furnace guided imagery.

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?” Don’t continue to work toward thinking about the question, but endeavor to be in that splendid spirit.

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 (h’uo t’uo) that cuts out internal dialogue and/or cyclical thinking – ideally all thought…BEING ‘light’. Thoughts are often ‘heavy’.

Using the above-stated criteria, move onto this variation of the Fanning the Furnace exercise: As one breathes in, imagine that one brings fresh energy in which strengthens the furnace behind one’s navel – not unlike a gentle fire or sparkling warmth. As one breathes out, imagine that the breath out fans the furnace…stronger and stronger, until one learns to feel the furnace. Learn to relax and witness this, versus think about it. Over time, one can learn to feel/witness the furnace at will, all-of-the-time. It is said that nothing is more healthful, combined with the proper breathing and relaxation.

*Remember, this is all congruent with learning all-of-the-time diaphragmatic breathing and witnessing AND learning to truly relax. The diaphragmatic breathing complements witnessing and relaxation and vice-versa. These facets are intrinsically connected. They are initially learned separately, but are one or in harmony when realized at a skilled level.

**When one learns to feel the sparkling furnace at will, one moves onto moving the energy around the body in order to heal the body, and for general guided imagery purposes. Many complementary types of traditional guided imagery can be taught and are set forth in student handouts and in my blog posts. There are over a dozen guided imagery practices handed-down in this tradition.

***The ‘sparkling feelings’ have a truly significant association with the spine-tingling/sparkling feelings some experience in special (often sentimental) moments in one’s lifetime. Additionally (and not in any way to be in a spirit of being coarse), many people sometimes experience these types of feelings during urination. These feelings are completely in the realm of ‘sweet and innocent’, and not in any fashion sexual.

****The key is to learn to succinctly center/focus the so-coined energy at the furnace and strengthen it there – stronger and stronger and stronger, and learn to additionally use it, move it, in a splendidly healthful fashion congruent with tradition. This practice is traditionally complemented by the handed-down resonant healing/assertive Five Phases single and multisyllabic sounds.

*****Please know that all of the nomenclature/terminology utilized herein is just that, terminology – never meant to be misleading. It is said that “real truth can only be witnessed, not thought about or logically understood.” It is said that “the Way that can be told is not the eternal Way, the way that can be told is the mother of all things.” It is reflected in the madman screaming, “If the stars are not words, stop calling them stars.” Even so, we as human beings most often, at least in most settings, begin learning things by way of words. It can be a beginning, but at best not the whole or the end. – Dr Glen Hepker

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How important is it to learn to alleviate our addiction to cyclical (ruminative) thinking?

The Sword Guided Imagery

In analogy, we can use a ‘sword’ as a form of guided imagery, e.g., in order to assist one in clearing one’s mind of internal dialogue, e.g., the next-best thing to actually emptying one’s mind. Being that many people find it fairly unviable to truly empty their mind of thought, the H’ou T’ou was invented…the Sword that works as a visualization/guided imagery technique which makes it a simpler matter to learn these techniques at the most basic level.

This guided imagery can be used in harmony/congruence with one’s exercising – walking, jogging, yoga, tai chi chuan, chi kung, etc., or simply sitting, standing, or laying down.

It is said that many centuries ago, a head monk at a Chinese monastery noticed that the latest monk recruits were not up to par. They had difficulty learning to empty their minds. Hence the warmhearted head monk invented the concept and types of the H’ou T’ou, e.g., the sword that alleviates/cuts out internal dialogue – abbreviation of the ‘weight’ of thought. This more easily allowed practitioners thereafter to be ‘lighter’ and to more easily learn to appreciate true meditation and all of its manifest benefits.

There are many versions of the H’ou T’ou guided imagery – in the traditions that I teach, coach, and endeavor to follow, ALL types of guided imagery fall under this protocol. Albeit this most basic guided imagery promotes a purely psychological and physiological harmony, e.g.:

Simply thinking the word “in” as one breathes in, and the word “out” as one breathes out.

As with all guided imagery, this is meant to keep one’s mind from thinking about anything else, curtailing the cyclical thoughts which most people have difficulty abbreviating. Most correctly, it is practiced in congruence with ‘advance’ diaphragmatic breathing (breathing in, pushing one’s abdomen out, breathing out pulling one’s abdomen in), or ‘reverse’ diaphragmatic breathing (breathing in pulling one’s abdomen in, breathing out, pushing one’s abdomen out).

Herein, each form of 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. Eyes can be open or closed (it is recommended to practice it both ways).

A second most basic form of using this Sword is to again –

Breathe in and think “in” but count with each breath out, e.g., “one” through “10” and then start from one again.

This is especially important with treating insomnia, much like ‘counting sheep’, as they say. A third most basic form of using the Sword is set forth at the bottom of this article – How Much Gratitude Does One Need to be Healthy?

Simply put, one of the primary purposes of guided imagery meditation is to lessen or alleviate sadness, depression, frustration, anger, or any type of stress and anxiety; it is VERY difficult to feel those feelings if one is not thinking such thoughts.

In nurturing this tool, it can be utilized in stressful situations to promote calm clear-headedness. This and all types of guided imagery can lead one to the next step, which is to actually learn to genuinely empty one’s mind. In this tradition, it is working and working and working to play the part of a less and less blemished witness…a true and honest witness. It is said that nothing is more healthful, combined with diaphragmatic breathing AND fanning the sparkling spine-tingling ‘furnace’ behind one’s navel.

QUITE important in these traditions, is the notion that among the greatest gifts on this Earth is that there is ALWAYS room for improvement, greater and greater skill and insight – greater and greater mastery. It is also said that, employing these gifts, is a ‘glimpse of Heaven’ – True Meditation.

A third most basic Sword/H’ou T’ou guided imagery is set forth below:

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’. — Dr Glen Hepker

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Learning how to breathe…

Sounds silly or crazy – doesn’t everyone know how to breathe? Only on a most basic level they do – and such breathing, e.g, using only the upper part of our lungs to breathe shallowly, genuinely isn’t the most healthful way to breathe. And this is proven empirically. Most people do not breathe in a most healthful fashion.

Shallow breathing can have a negative effect on most of the functions of one’s body – inclusive of one’s sleep, mood, energy levels, and all of our neurovegetative systems, together with the quality of circulation in every cell of our bodies. Shallow breathing abbreviates the amount of oxygen and energy circulated throughout one’s body.

Learning to breathe properly every moment (not just when we are conscious of our breathing), allows us more energy, overall improved health, inclusive of greater homeostasis, relaxation, circulation, less anxiety and fear – better preparing us for the stressors that life throws at us. It can even can have a positive effect regarding our realization of happiness, self-fulfillment, and clear thinking. This breathing paradigm better promotes secretion of relaxing, pain-killing hormones. Our bodies are meant to breathe in this fashion, but in Western culture, this isn’t commonly taught or promoted – people generally aren’t aware of this way of breathing, and/or its importance. Healthful infants breathe this way naturally, but it is believed that, through the stress of life and chronic raising our shoulders, the quality of our breathing devolves and we breathe less deeply – more at our chests. In many cultures, the importance of belly breathing is taught as children move toward adulthood.

1. This all relates to what is coined as diaphragmatic breathing or abdominal breathing. Singers learn this type of breathing, as do many of those who learn ancient arts such as yoga, chi kung, and tai chi chuan. It is set forth in those arts that nothing is more healthful than learning all-of-the-time diaphragmatic breathing. It is said thereof, that if one practices diaphragmatic breathing at least five minutes twice per day, within 30 to 60 days, most people will have trained their central nervous systems to accept the rhythm of this type of breathing all day, every day.

There are two types of diaphragmatic breathing: Advance abdominal breathing is performed by breathing in and pushing one’s abdomen out, and breathing out and pulling one’s abdomen in – much like pretending that one’s lungs are in one’s abdomen. At first one needs to do this consciously, but with practice over time, one learns to do it unconsciously; the same goes for reverse abdominal breathing, e.g., but it is just the opposite – breathing in, pulling one’s abdomen in, and breathing out, pushing it out. It is up to each person to decide which works better for them. Albeit, it is believed that in these stressful times, more than not, people will benefit more with focusing most on the advance breathing methodology. That said, ‘one size does not fit all’. It is believed that advance breathing releases heat and reverse breathing creates heat (quite generally, the former being for stressed-out people and the latter being for people who are more lethargic in nature).

2. It is significant to breathe in and out through the nose, or in through the nose out through the mouth. We should generally not breathe in through the nose, unless one has congestion, or if one is performing highly aerobic exercise such as running (then one should breathe in through both the nose and mouth, as necessary).

In addition, the nose is designed to filter raw air, warm it if cold, make it less dry if dry, etc. It serves to filter the air, it cleans it of debris, such as viral, bacterial, fungi, and toxic matter – even just dust/dirt. Hence, it is generally more healthful to inhale by way of the nose.

3. With diaphragmatic breathing, each time one inhales, it should feel like the air is going all the way down to one’s stomach. The muscles most succinctly associated with breathing, most especially deep breathing as such and ideally, consist of the diaphragm, abdomen, chest, neck, and shoulders.

It is extremely important to learn to keep one’s shoulders relaxed with regard to this means of breathing – undue raising of the shoulders pulls on and tightens the diaphragmatic muscles, making it much more difficult and less natural to breathe deeply. Raising the shoulders also pertains to the ‘fight or flight’ response, e.g., is very much associated with fear, anxiety, and stress – and these feelings can prompt the adrenal glands to secrete hormones that make one more tense.

Diaphragmatic breathing assists one’s lungs in their function of gas exchange – the quality of which is significantly enhanced when taking place deep into the lower lungs. When breathing at the diaphragm, the diaphragm better massages the liver, stomach, and intestines – promoting an enhanced rhythmical balance/circulation. The lymphatic system has an important function with regard to the immune system – it can do its work much better when congruent with diaphragmatic breathing – most particularly in ridding the body of waste products from the bowels. Diaphragmatic breathing diminishes pressure in the chest and belly – relaxing the heart, making its work easier. It also allows the proper breathing muscles to do their job, versus other muscles having to do unnecessary work when breathing is shallow, e.g., just in the chest: as the chest becomes more relaxed as such, the neck and shoulders will have less tenseness, misalignment, and discomfort/pain.

4. True relaxation is of the upmost importance. We ALWAYS come out further ahead the more relaxed we are. The better we learn all-of-the-time diaphragmatic breathing, the more relaxed we are, and the more we avoid abbreviated levels of oxygen, which unto itself, makes the body and brain more stressed.

By strategically taking control of one’s breathing and making it more relaxed, it is like a positive domino effect. It is like tuning up one’s mind/body connection, therein and everything in-between. Our bodies respond in kind, prompting overall enhanced functioning. When the body and mind are relaxed, health is good, energy is high, and it becomes a more simple matter to be happy, appreciative, and loving – toward others and within/toward oneself.

5. Everything has a natural rhythm and vibration. This includes everything in our world, our universe – just like a finely-tuned clock: The seasons, earth, oceans, moon, stars, all of nature, etc. Our bodies are just the same…at best. For us, proper breathing promotes this clock to function better – inclusive of homeostasis (a healthful balance of the central nervous system), and the healthful secretion of hormones, on and on. When our bodies are tuned, they function the best – and proper breathing is a significant facet of this rhythm of true health.

— 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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Appreciating my life RIGHT NOW.

We all can take a lot for granted. As you read this, this is YOUR life RIGHT NOW. In a REALLY significant way, we can become more and more aware that each moment…it is our life and its living. Each moment, we can become less and less concerned with past and future – NOT living for the moment, but IN the moment. Each moment we can better understand the saying, “No yesterday, no today, no tomorrow”: SO important is the notion that we can ALWAYS gain greater skill, deeper insight into this genuinely healthful outlook. We can learn to further and further relinquish ourselves of fear of healthful change.

How so? First, it is quite important to ask ourselves, “How happy can I handle being?” How much deeply loving appreciation and gratitude can I realize, enjoy, feel in any given moment? How ‘present’ can I be, how mindful, how light can I be of the terrible weight of unhealthful expectations – preset/habitual patterns of thinking. How long can we stand to remove the dark lenses tainted by addictive patterns? How long can we lift the weight off of our shoulders…the weight of unhealthful outlooks which become more and more ingrained each day. Yin to yang, how long can we stand being lost in our pernicious cyclical thinking…round and round and round, like a living purgatory?

Think of the time and place in which you were the happiest. Do you hope that you’ll again be that happy – in some future? Someplace? Somewhere? Does it really seem impossible right now? Please think of the blessings/gifts you have in your life. Life may be quite difficult, albeit you ARE a living, breathing, thinking miracle in this universe…NO one of us more than the other!

What if true health is intrinsically linked with true appreciation – deep loving gratitude? What if it is true that ALL things would be easier, more pleasurable, even a whole lot of fun, when we deeply embrace a loving spirit of genuine appreciation? What if true appreciation is SO very much about a light bright beautiful spirit? What if this is all consistent with the notion of ‘true health through true responsibility?

What if, what if, what if? You may say that some of us have it more difficult than others. Quite likely so! Albeit, human beings have SO quite often accomplished the greatest things (in human history) during the most difficult times – the darkest of times. Do you think maybe they experienced some VERY special moments, some epiphanies – even in the most difficult of conditions? What if it is possible to have such epiphanies…deep and wonderful insights each day? Do you think this has something to do with living your life RIGHT NOW – living it in a splendid spirit of true appreciation – living life as a living loving art form? How many living loving sparkling spine-tingling/shivering epiphanies can we handle in one day, one life? Once again, how happy can we allow ourselves to be – how much can we handle?

It is SO much about learning to better and better play the part of a less and less blemished Witness, being more and more aware and appreciative of the miracles going on inside of us and all around us, ALL OF THE TIME. Do you want a ‘glimpse of Heaven?’ How many? How many do you want to handle? How honest are you willing to be about it?

Blaming and complaining are a disease and may be a significant part of the problem – that which holds us back from genuinely living life: If there is a Heaven, if there is a ‘key to the universe,’ 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 very much about doing the right thing for the right selfless sake: In each thought, statement, and action, it is SO important to ask ourselves if what we do or think are serving the greater good. It is SO very much about a true love, inclusive but so(!) much more than, familial, friendship, and romantic love. It is SO very much about deep and abiding appreciation of the notion of true health through true responsibility.

What else might it be about? It might be about true forgiveness. I’m not here to push religion, but I can’t think of a more to-say-the-least shining example: As Christ was dying on the cross, he said, “Forgive them…for they know not what they do.” This REALLY is true appreciation of the miracle of the moment. This REALLY is living life RIGHT NOW. So quite humbly and respectfully, we could use a lot more role models and mentors like that.– Dr. Glen Hepker

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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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