Nothing to Hide Behind…

The following Bright Beautiful School of Thought saying shares a very healthful perspective:

“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 nothing to hide behind. It is a glimpse of a so-to-speak existence where there is no time, no space, no distance…all is known, and once again, nothing to hide behind.”

What can we do with this bit of knowledge? Is it the right thing for the right selfless sake? How honest do we want to be with ourselves? This can be tough stuff. From this perspective, does much of what we so often think is SO important in our daily lives really look so important? Maybe there are LOTS of things that are so much MORE important. We can healthfully learn to witness this truth – the silly things that we often act like, think are so important, may not ‘hold a candle’ to the genuinely substantive things that are truly of immeasurable importance. This is a bright beautiful thing, e.g., to witness the truth as such: Being genuinely in a splendidly healthful spirit of True Appreciation – gratitude for each breath, each moment and all of the innumerable blessings and miracles that we SO often blindly take for granted. These notions are quite congruent with honestly/mindfully seeking to avoid hiding from the truth.

What are the things that each of us as individuals tend to hide behind? Again, how honest are we willing to be? How happy do we want to be – how much can we handle? Do we want to acknowledge that we ARE hiding – do we want to face the things we hide behind? This outlook is quite consistent with the true and healthful view that we human beings are NOT so much separate/separated as we commonly think.

Now with the COVID-19 crisis, we are facing a dilemma that can at times force us to look within ourselves in fashions which are quite new to us. How good or uncomfortable does it make each of us feel, to look deeply within – to work toward deep objective insight (again, True Honesty): This being maybe more obvious when we face what most certainly is an existential crisis.

In this turning point, we have the choice of making the world a better place, or to tear it down. Often people/societies have come together and set forth their finest effort when facing such huge disconcerting problems. It is the right thing for the right selfless sake – doing more and more and more good, with less and less and less need for selfish recognition: Wouldn’t the world be a much better place the more and more we work to do the right thing for the right sake, e.g., selflessly? Is it a significant aspect of taking True Responsibility for our own health and well being? Isn’t this in the splendid and honest spirit of living IN appreciation/gratitude? There likely isn’t anything more important. – Dr. Glen Hepker

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‘Hitting it out of the ball park’ TOGETHER!

A key point in this writing is to set forth and substantiate the following: Bullying should be definitively viewed as a form of abuse, a formal medically recognized behavior disorder (in and of itself) and as crime, inclusive of when it happens on primary/secondary schoolyards. To many this statement likely may seem naïve, quaint, or silly, being that bullying is extremely common in our society and of course all around the globe – now and by all means historically. My counterpoint is that, no matter how common this behavior is, it is no less despicable and damaging. This pertains to what commonly goes on in our schools and workplaces, and of course innumerable settings: For simplicity, and to make the specific points I want to arrive at in this writing, I am focusing primarily on such behavior in our school systems (though of course the points herein can be applied in many settings).

The damage that this behavior prompts can be immense and debilitating – so much so that it is genuinely quite difficult to objectively comprehend: It can have horrific effects over the lifetime of one who has been treated in such a fashion, especially if it happens to them repeatedly – even more so over a number of years. It can affect not just the immediate victims over their entire lifetimes, it can even affect how they raise their children. Some may say that bullying and shunning ‘toughens people up’ – preparing them for the ‘real world’. While it may sometimes have that effect, that is NOT how it often happens. AND to be clear, a primary issue herein is that it is the actual act of bullying that should be viewed as wholly unethical and illegal, not just its potentially terroristic repercussions.

The great majority of individuals who have acted out as perpetrators of school shootings, were they themselves, bullied and shunned throughout their school years. OF COURSE, having been abused as such in NO WAY excuses the actions of those perpetrators, e.g., displaying any type of such behavior (beyond that of reasonable self-defense), first and foremost obviously, is inexcusable (though it may be easier to understand what got them to such a point, most particularly if we take into account that they were abused over many years).

It is QUITE clear that the great preponderance of people who have been bullied and shunned do not act out violently. Those who lash out with firearms often have some level of mental disturbance/illness, which in addition to having experienced ongoing abuse by their peers, is enough to push a relatively small number of individuals, over the edge. (I realize that this is a very touchy subject and some people may be offended by what is set forth herein. Albeit the points herein are based on factual evidence NOT ‘fake news’.)

On the flip side of this coin, is of course the bullies. They are cowards – as their behavior is truly cowardly (as is with most types of criminal behavior): Bullies wouldn’t bully if they didn’t think they’d come out on top or if they thought they would be held accountable – AND those who shun wouldn’t shun if they knew they’d be held accountable. These behaviors can manifest in people who think they are better/superior than those they are abusing. And most of these abusive individuals do not invent the notions of acting out as such, they of course learned it somewhere – from peers and even parental figures. An important point herein, is that however each individual or group comes up with and displays such behavior, it reflects mental instability just like an illness – it is displaying of chronically poor judgment and chronically poor insight. To take that logic further – such behavior should eventually be accepted as a distinct diagnosable behavior disorder (of course this won’t happen anytime soon – but I believe that eventually it will be).

This illness provokes such malevolent turbulence across societies, cultures, that it is almost impossible to fathom, to wrap one’s head around – so much so that it likely would be impossible to truly gauge statistically. Bullies of all stripes are among the worst actors on the stage setting of planet Earth. Most if not all of the wars and famines of human history are rooted in the behavior of such bad actors…bullies. I realize that there are many that are uncomfortable with more laws. Albeit, what we’ve been doing to lessen this behavior, isn’t working very well. At the very least, we need a strong movement the liking of which has never widely existed before. In order to greatly abbreviate this behavior in a widespread fashion, it will obviously necessitate a huge cultural shift – by way of the development, ongoing fine-tuning, and practical application of a truly benevolent healthful philosophy, one which would (even slowly) provoke truly substantive healthful change. This splendidly healthful philosophy would need to broadly become a way-of-life! The world view herein, is that the act of bullying needs to be viewed for what it really is…evil.

Well-meaning religious and philosophical traditions already embrace and display such healthful messages, but it would require religious, societal, and political leaders, from the national level to the local level, to broadly embrace and espouse the importance of this healthful outlook, and act accordingly themselves as genuinely healthful role models. AND OF COURSE this isn’t just about “leaders” embracing and espousing this healthful outlook, it is for all of us to do so.

This splendidly healthful philosophy would acknowledge and substantiate the genuine significance of the notion that we are all in the same common boat and we’d better start acting like it. It would additionally be founded on acceptance of the importance of dignity, decency, goodness, and grace – and true responsibility. What a different and wonderful world it would be as more and more and more people accept the notion of true health through true responsibility. What a different and wonderful world it would be if we raise ourselves up (and also teach our children) to better and better embrace the notion that we can learn to live life as a living loving art form – thus learning to better and better avoid stagnant plateaus which can be like a living death. It might sound again, naïve, quaint, or silly – or all of the above. It may sound ‘pie-in-the sky’, but some of the issues involving humankind’s greatest steps forward were seen beforehand as sounding naïve, quaint, silly, even quite ridiculous. Let’s have the biggest party in human history! The Same Boat Party!! (‘Hitting it out of the ball park’ TOGETHER!)

I realize that this is almost ‘beyond words’ difficult stuff – maybe nothing could be more difficult! But it is the only means by which humankind can evolve to a higher level. How can we objectively/insightfully argue that this is not the ‘right thing for the right selfless sake’? Something that we as a society should work really hard at? How important is it for us to openly acknowledge and embrace the great significance of seeing it as a dire responsibility to work to make the world a better place each day, versus tearing it down? It would require true honesty and true faith, and of course a societal passion to move us together toward a substantive step in SUCH a healthful direction – likely many small steps in it’s fine-tuning. It IS the right thing for the right sake, and maybe could even become a humble glimpse of Heaven…true happiness. — Dr. Glen Hepker

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How Much Energy Do You Want?

Yin-Yang Cyclic Guided Imagery Chi Kung

(also known as Macrocosmic Cyclic 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.

This ancillary preparatory exercise is commonly utilized as a warm-up modality to prepare one for the more complicated guided imagery exercises, in this case Yin-Yang Cyclic Guided Imagery: The name of this ancillary exercise is titled as a question – How Much Gratitude Does One Need to be Healthy? That said, it can also be utilized as a guided imagery unto itself.

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 vision so that one is looking just slightly above straight ahead, without focusing or staring: herein, one is endeavoring to play the part of a less and less blemished witness to one’s external environment – ideally without expectations…as if all is new to you, you know nothing (it isn’t genuinely possible to do this, but it is important to try). After a bit of time (as one chooses – but try not to hurry), continue with one’s eyes closed. Keep one’s eyes in their sockets as if one’s eyes are open and looking just slightly above straight ahead (don’t let one’s eyes droop or drop): herein, one is endeavoring to play the part of a less and less blemished witness to one’s internal environment, without fear or discomfort.

Unlike most of the gratitude-based ancillary preparatory guided imagery in this tradition, when the ancillary preparatory exercise is preparing one for the Yin-Yang Cyclic Guided Imagery or Small Cycle Guided Imagery, one gets the ‘engine’ of the diaphragmatic/abdominal breathing going with ‘reverse’ abdominal breathing, vs. advance abdominal breathing: Breathe in, pull one’s abdomen in, breathe out, push one’s abdomen out. Make certain one’s shoulders don’t rise, especially with the inhalation.

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. Again, 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, try not to 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’.

*As pointed out and per tradition, the diaphragmatic breathing type utilized when performing Yin-Yang Cyclic Guided Imagery is reverse breathing. Yin-Yang Cyclic Guided Imagery is meant to complement the power/benefits of reverse breathing. It is also one of the types of guided imagery utilized during the practice of tai chi chuan.

**Taking into account the overall stress-laden and anxiety-provoking mien/demeanor or way of life within modern societies, it is believed that, through the eye of this tradition, that a majority of people benefit more from advance abdominal breathing than they do with reverse abdominal breathing. Albeit, it is up to each practitioner to decide which works best for them. Reverse breathing works better for people who tend towards lethargy, low energy, or feeling cold a lot – hence it can be coined as ‘winter breathing’. Advance abdominal breathing works better for people who tend towards being more on the ‘hyper’ side, anxious or stressed, and for those who are often more warm/hot vs. cold – hence it can also be coined as summer breathing. That said, many people can be ‘on the fence’ in this regard. It may be important/beneficial for such on-the-fence-type-people to learn and gather greater and greater insight into these premises, and act accordingly – sometimes utilizing one, and sometimes utilizing the other. Having said that, it is traditionally believed that almost all people can benefit from Yin-Yang Cyclic Guided Imagery and Small Cycle Guided Imagery, no matter which side of the fence they tend towards, and even if they most commonly practice advance breathing.

***Whichever type of breathing one prefers or finds more natural, one of the greatest gifts one can allow oneself, is all-of-the-time diaphragmatic breathing – there is nothing more healthful. In practicing this breathing for five minutes twice daily, within 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).

Yin-Yang Cyclic Guided Imagery

The fundamental goal of this guided imagery is to increase the extent of the mindful cyclic meditative movement of the bioelectric (chi/ki/pranha) energy – nurturing the chi beyond that of the state of the Small Cycle Guided Imagery (as set forth in previous writings – though one type of guided imagery is not in any fashion superior to or more important than the other). Yin-Yang Cyclic Guided Imagery also has an association with Five Gates Guided Imagery (also set forth in previous writings). Small Cycle Guided Imagery and the Yin-Yang Cyclic Guided Imagery both utilize ‘reverse’ diaphragmatic breathing, versus ‘advance’ diaphragmatic breathing – as previously set forth herein under the ancillary preparatory guided imagery, reverse breathing is when one breathes in while pulling one’s abdomen in, and breathes out while pushing one’s abdomen out.

During inhalation, imagine you can move the chi (the bioelectric cursor) upward, beginning at both kidney acupoints #1, e.g., on the bottoms of one’s feet, just behind the balls of the feet on their centerlines, coined Bubbling Wells/Yong Chuan. The cursors move up through the lower legs and thighs, moving through CV #1 acupoint – coined Meeting of Yin/Hui Yin acupoint (about two inches forward from the anus as one pulls that point/tissue upward) and continuing to draw the chi/cursor up the spine to acupoint governing vessel #14 – coined Great Hammer/Da Zhui (near the top of the thoracic spine). Thereupon separating out through the shoulders and elbows and to the ends of the middle fingers – making a ‘u-turn’ it is drawn up the palms, wrists, and armpits and back to GV #14. From there moving upward through the occiput/base area of the rear of the skull, separating again to be led through the ears and up to GV #20 – coined as Hundred Convergences/Bai Hui (the depression just behind the crown of the head on the centerline). Thereupon over the crown and down the centerline of the forehead and widening each way through the cheeks to the tip of the tongue, by the end of the inhalation.

Beginning the exhalation, move the chi/cursor down the centerline through the tan tien furnace (behind the navel/CV #8 acupoint – coined Sea of Chi/Chi Hai) and down through the circulatory tan tien (two and one-half inches beneath the navel at CV #5 – coined Stone Gate/Shi Men) and continue to sink the chi through the Hui Yin point (again at CV #1). Then it separates and is led down each leg through the knees and through the large toes to the Bubbling Wells points (again at KD #1 on the bottoms of each foot), by the end of the exhalation.

Traditionally, it is believed that the passing of the five gates (kidney acupoint #1 on each foot, the centers of the palms, and GV #20) with visualization as such, is a most difficult endeavor, albeit it can assist one in realizing true health and inner adeptness, e.g., a true status of nei kung/internal effort. AND as stated above, efficient and effective meditative guided imagery/visualization is a skill or high skill. Also traditionally, it is believed that these meditative breathing exercises can be of profound, substantive significance in one’s life.

*The bioelectric (chi) cursor is also described as the ‘sparkling cursor’ or energy elixir, and as a splendid goal, one works to mindfully feel and also move the sparkling energy cursor, eventually feeling it all of the time, as it is rooted in the tan tien furnace (again, behind the navel). This particular chi energy is traditionally considered to be the ‘original chi’, e.g., the energy that brings us into this world, and resides first in the kidneys. Learning to ‘fan the furnace’ so-to-speak, is believed to be a foundation of both kidney health and true health. One can learn to better and better use the sparkling energy for healing and strength-building, especially within the context of meditative guided imagery. It is said that the fanning of the furnace, combined with diaphragmatic breathing and meditative witnessing (versus thinking) can be of profound benefit and that there is nothing more healthful.

**This guided imagery, at a skilled level, is said to enhance one’s energy and fortitude beyond measure. AND all types of meditation, inclusive of meditative guided imagery, are traditionally viewed as important aspects of true health – congruent with notions of true health through true responsibility.

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How important is it to be a less and less blemished witness?

Playing the Part of the Less & Less Blemished Witness Guided Imagery:

All types of meditative guided imagery can fit under the heading of being a ‘less and less blemished witness’, albeit this meditative witnessing is a form of general guided imagery and can be utilized in almost any context or setting.

Being a less and less blemished witness is focusing (not thinking) on or about one thing or two or three things, e.g., with regard to witnessing just exactly what one is doing at any given time, ideally nothing more nothing less. This meditative witnessing is the ‘sword’ (h’ou t’ou) that cuts out, erases thinking and/or cyclical thinking, so that one can eventually learn to genuinely (without fooling oneself) empty one’s mind completely. That said and yin to yang and yang to yin, even if one truly learns to empty one’s mind, it doesn’t lessen the importance of the various types guided imagery. These descriptions can be a bit confusing to contemplate at first, but using the so-called sword of guided imagery as a step toward totally emptying one’s mind does not in any fashion alleviate the importance of guided imagery as a splendid and healthful practice in and of itself. Meditative emptying of one’s mind AND types of meditative guided imagery are traditionally viewed as both very important, and never a competition between the two – both fall within the traditional context of ‘true meditation’, e.g, the pinnacle of the Eightfold Healthful Path. AND the difference between the two can at times seem trivial or almost nonexistent. Having said that, it is accepted in this tradition that the sword of guided imagery was strategically created as a helpful step toward actually learning to empty one’s mind completely, or what can be coined as the ‘perfect witness’. This even though it is accepted in these arts that nothing is genuinely perfect on this earth.

These practices yin to yang and yang to yin, again traditionally, are associated with diaphragmatic breathing, resonant healing sounds, the Theory of Lightness, True Health, True Relaxation, Opening the Door, aka Parting the Veil, and utilization of the so-coined spiritual eye/third eye (pertinent to the Yin Tang/Stamp Hall acupoint between eyebrows – or in Sanskrit, the forehead chaktra/upper heaven, pertaining to the pineal gland and the hypothalamus gland).

Even though being a less and less blemished witness can be practiced anytime/anyplace (focusing solely on an aspect or aspects of what one is doing or seeing at a particular time/space), it is likely helpful to share this most basic coinciding meditative guided imagery: Therein, one follows this example by working on witnessing one’s breathing, relaxation, and subtle movement – known as:

How Much Gratitude Does One Need to be Healthy?

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.

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 vision so that one is looking just slightly above straight ahead, without focusing or staring: herein, one is endeavoring to play the part of a less and less blemished witness to one’s external environment – ideally without expectations…as if all is new to you, you know nothing (it isn’t genuinely possible to do this, but it is important to try). After a bit of time (as one chooses – but try not to hurry), continue with one’s eyes closed. Keep one’s eyes in their sockets as if one’s eyes are open and looking just slightly above straight ahead (don’t let one’s eyes droop or drop): herein, one is endeavoring to play the part of a less and less blemished witness to one’s internal environment, without fear or discomfort.

Get the ‘engine’ of the (advance versus 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. In practicing this breathing for five minutes twice daily, within 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. Again, 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, try not to hang on to it, just let it go – put all of one’s attention in just what one is doing. Be the moment, be the breathing, be the relaxation, be the movement, be the gratitude, not thinking, just being.

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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Do you like to sing?

The Ming Chia Chi Kung Resonant Healing and Assertive Sounds

How good do you want to feel? Oh come on, take a shot! Is it possible that something truly wonderful might happen? With some work, could you learn to ‘be’ the sound…SO healthful. What would it be like to hear, feel your heart sing – ‘be’ that sound, the resonance, so light, so free, so strong, and again, SO healthful…maybe a glimpse of Heaven? 

Utilization of resonant healing/assertive sounds is an important traditional practice in these arts. The sounds can be utilized for treatment purposes and for preventative care, specific to traditional protocols/exercises, as one sees fit. That said, they were developed to succinctly and holistically complement diaphragmatic/abdominal breathing, inclusive of during the practice of tai chi chuan, chi kung, kung fu, yoga, meditation/mindfulness exercises/guided imagery. The competent use of these resonant sounds is truly a skill unto itself, and traditionally they are viewed as quite important with regard to said purposes/benefits. The practice can obviously seem at least a bit odd and eccentric at first, but the more one practices them, the more that they grow on you.

The sounds are part of many variations of traditional Chinese health arts/medicine, as are tai chi chuan and chi kung (also acupuncture arts, herbal and nutritional arts, tui na arts, and vast congruent philosophy). This and all facets of these arts go back many hundreds of years, and the paradigm has been fine-tuned throughout that time. The sounds or similar sounds and logic are also utilized in various oriental traditions, beyond the scope of the aforementioned.

In this specific tradition, the following are inclusive of those that are made up of a single syllable (the less commonly utilized multisyllabic sounds will be set forth later in this writing). The two general Universal Sounds (which under this heading and context are used for general overall health-promoting/balancing purposes – this being in contrast with the larger number of sounds which have succinctly-specific health purposes):

HEN is the sole sound which is made during inhalation, and is done with the mouth closed (to be clear – is ideally performed with ALL inhalations in this practice). Therefore this sound is obviously different than all the others because all of the other sounds are only performed during exhalation. The HEN’s resonance is present and healthful, though it is generally not as great as that of any of the sounds which are performed during exhalation, even though it is drawn out much like the exhalation sounds. Additionally, and as strange as the logic may seem, one should make the HEN sound so that one will hear it as HEN in one’s own ears, e.g., if someone else would listen to the sound one makes, this particular sound may sound different to them. To one’s own ears, it it can be easily said that the sound can sound a bit whinny. Again, this explanation may appear a bit strange and eccentric, but it is important to do it correctly as such. (To further clarify, some who practice this inhalation sound can hear it as more of a drawn out ‘EN’ or ‘E’ sound, with the type of e that is normally sounded out in the word hen.)

HA is the second Universal Sound and it is made during exhalation with the mouth slightly open. If it can be done comfortably, all of the various sounds made during exhalation ideally should be done with one’s tongue gently against the roof of one’s mouth. This in and of itself is not among the most important aspects of this practice – but consistent with acupuncture theory, the tongue in that position is believed to enhance the balance/homeostasis of one’s central nervous system and make one’s mouth less dry.

Not to be confusing, albeit in addition to being a universal (health) sound, the HA sound is also a specific healing sound for the heart. In the traditional Chinese health arts, the heart is seen as more than just being the central part of the cardiovascular system – it is also viewed as the place where one’s spirit resides (most especially in a healthy person). In this case by ‘spirit’ we mean the “spirit by which one goes about doing what they do”, one’s demeanor or mien, NOT referring to the soul or soul matter (though that is not to say that we are in any fashion denying the existence of souls). This outlook/hypothesis regarding the heart and ‘spirit’ as such, has been empirically researched in latter years, even here in the Western hemisphere.

Five Element Sounds (those listed immediately below are the single syllabic variations of five element sounds, versus the dual syllable sounds set forth later herein): All six of these sounds should also be performed with the mouth slightly open during exhalation, and if comfortable, with one’s tongue gently against the roof of one’s mouth (though as set forth above, this latter point is not of the greatest importance). For broader insight into these practices, it can be helpful to know that Five Element/Five Phases theory has an intrinsic association with acupuncture/TCM philosophy/theory, inclusive of being a type of algebraic theory therein – though its scope is much broader than just those applications:

#1 Fire Elemental Sound – HA: in addition to being the universal exhalation sound, it is also specifically healthful for the heart, cardiovascular system – inclusive of the pulse, sense of taste, tongue, throat, endocrine system, sweat glands, color/complexion, expansive energy, willpower, demeanor/spirit, and is a trigger/spark for heart mu acupoint CV14 

#2 Fire Elemental Sound – SHI: is specifically healthful for the pericardium tissue/aka master of the heart tissue, solar plexus area, sense of taste, tongue, throat, expansive energy, willpower, demeanor/spirit, and is a trigger/spark for pericardium mu acupoint CV17

Earth Elemental Sound – HU: is specifically healthful for the spleen/pancreas, lips, mouth, senses of touch and taste, saliva, flesh, fat, connective tissue, muscles, digestion, lymph, stabilizing energy, clarity, insight, and is a trigger/spark for spleen mu acupoint LV13

Metal/Air Elemental Sound – SZ: is specifically healthful for the lungs and respiration quality, nose, body hair, mucus, skin, contracting energy, intuition, courage, stamina, and is a trigger/spark for lung mu acupoint LU1

Water Elemental Sound – FU: is specifically healthful for the kidneys, ears/hearing, balance, head hair, spontaneity, bones, joints, reproductive system, urine and urinary system, conserving energy, willpower, outlook, calmness, and is a trigger/spark for kidney mu acupoint GB25

Wood Elemental Sound – SHU: is specifically healthful for the liver, eyes and vision, tear duct system, nails, sinew, muscles, tendons, nervous system, generative  energy, emotional stability, and is a trigger/spark for liver mu acupoint LV 14

Resonant healing/assertive sounds are most properly performed with holding onto the consonant in one’s voice even after one moves into pronunciation of the consecutive vowel…one never should stop pronouncing the initial consonant – thus holding onto each part in harmonization. This harmonic congruity is what creates the healing reverberation/resonance/vibration. This logic also holds true with the two ‘sounds’ that have two consonants and one vowel: With SHU and SHI (SHEE) – one holds onto the SH sound while combining it with the consecutive vowel, pronouncing them in harmonization. AND this logic also holds true with the one sound without a vowel: The SZ sound is pronounced beginning with the S and holding onto it while combining it with the consecutive Z, pronouncing them in harmonization. In this practice, one should realize that, in almost indecipherable amounts, one will fluctuate back and forth, forward/backward between the parts of each sound, and this fluctuation is an aspect of the resonance/vibration, yin to yang and yang to yin.

Ideally, when one makes any of these single syllabic sounds, the length of a given sound is most generally congruent with both long slow breaths in (the HEN sound only) and with long slow breaths out. All-the-while as stated earlier, this is consistent with keeping the initial consonant part going while adding in the consecutive vowel and/or consonant.

One’s inhalations are naturally shorter in length than one’s exhalations. As mentioned earlier, all breathing is ideally performed in an abdominal/diaphragmatic fashion – either as advance diaphragmatic or reverse diaphragmatic type breathing (also known as Buddhist versus Taoist breathing or Summer versus Winter breathing). In advance breathing, one inhales while pushing one’s abdomen out, and exhales while pulling one’s abdomen in (as if one’s lungs are in one’s abdomen). Reverse breathing is exactly the opposite – with inhalation one draws one’s abdomen in, with exhalation the abdomen is pushed out. The former is meant to sedate excess heat, anxiety/stress, and enhance relaxation and circulation. The latter can abbreviate lethargy, promote warmth, and prompt a greater sense of energy, also enhancing circulation quality. An important traditional goal is to realize all-of-the-time diaphragmatic breathing, e.g., not only just doing it intentionally, but training one’s central nervous system to accept it as such: For most people, they will realize this skill by practicing it for at least five to 10 minutes, twice per day, when practiced for 30 to 60 days.

These sounds are meant to be practiced strategically, e.g., as a form of preventative care and also for specific treatment purposes. For instance if one has a cold or some sort of lung problem, then one would use the metal/air lung sound. If one is feeling cold, tired, or lethargic, then one would foremost utilize the fire and wood sounds, though all of the sounds can assist in this fashion. When practiced as a form of preventative care, it is believed that the sounds are not only healthful for their associated internal organs, but promote health and well-being in a more general sense, inclusive of enhanced homeostasis: This practice is what is coined, in the contemporary sense, a mind/body/spirit health technique. According to tradition, the benefits can be quite profound.

People who become aware of and/or embrace this practice but live in Western societies, may often feel the practice to seem quite odd and eccentric and may then prefer to practice these sounds in private, if they choose to embrace them at all. Even those who practice them consistent with tai chi chuan, chi kung, and yoga, may not feel comfortable making these sounds publicly. OR many will not feel it comfortable or natural to do them at all, because they may feel embarrassed or silly (though traditionally speaking, these sounds are considered very important in said arts).

Initially as one works to learn to perform them properly, it is beneficial to do so a bit louder (albeit not extremely loud), versus after one becomes skilled at it as such. When one becomes skilled, one can make the sounds subtly enough that people ten feet away may not hear them. That said, the sounds can be viewed as even more odd and eccentric when they are performed in an assertive martial/self-defense purpose/demeanor. Then as such, they are done very quickly/forcefully and are meant to discombobulate or frighten a foe, much like, as silly as it may sound, a battle cry (consistently in time with aggressive forceful movement). In the self-defense arts which I also teach, these sounds, when done assertively, are quite effective in promoting possible fright/stress/shock – a lack of balance and homeostasis in a foe or perpetrator. The sounds are performed quite loudly when done for ‘assertive’ purposes. Most Asian martial arts traditionally employ some version of these assertive sounds. The sounds were quite seriously/strategically engineered for both health/wellness and martial/self-defense purposes, yin to yang and yang to yin.

The HA and HU sounds can often be the most difficult, being that the H sound is less distinctive than the other consonants, e.g., like F, S, SZ, and SH. Remember, the resonance comes from keeping each part (consonants and vowels) intact within the nature of each total sound. Traditionally, these sounds are viewed as of little or no value if these concepts aren’t thoroughly embraced and respected in their practical applications. This is an art and like any art, it takes practice. AND there is ALWAYS room for improvement – greater skill, no matter the skill level or how ‘masterful’ one becomes. In the traditions of this art, this concept/awareness is the philosophical definition of ‘true mastery’.

As the notion has been handed-down, it is said that these resonant sounds can be a significant key to unlock the door in realizing the truly splendid skill of enjoying the extremely healthful ‘feelings’ or energy we speak of in other writings/teachings in said tradition – meaning those sweet an innocent sparkling spine-tingling/shivering bioelectric feelings, AND learning to have these feelings AT WILL. Accordingly, there is nothing more healthful, combined with diaphragmatic breathing and meditative witnessing/guided imagery. Through significant practice, one learns to focus this feeling or energy behind one’s navel, which according to acupuncture/TCM theory, is like a furnace: One can learn to fan the ‘furnace’ stronger and stronger and stronger until one can quite healthfully learn to feel the sparkling furnace at will – once again, consistent with diaphragmatic breathing (which fans it) and meditative witnessing/guided imagery. The so-called feeling is the electric-type feeling that many people experience in special sweet and innocent moments – often sentimental or quite benevolent moments. Not to be coarse, but many people also experience this feeling occasionally when urinating. The energy I am speaking of, once again according to this tradition, is what is coined as the ‘original chi’ (chi also known as qi, ki/ pranha) that one is born with, and which in a healthy individual, resides foremost in the kidneys. Once one gathers this furnace and skill as such, one can learn to use/move the energy like a sparkling cursor/elixir in traditional or non-traditional meditative guided imagery for health/well-being/healing purposes. Acupoint CV5 – which is two and one-half of one’s thumb widths (‘cun’) beneath one’s navel on the centerline, has a harmonic relationship with CV8 (again, where the furnace resides behind one’s navel), and one can learn to utilize CV5 in order to mindfully circulate the furnace’s energy like a cursor, as stated.

As set forth earlier herein, each sound has an algebraic elemental application. This concept can be taken in varying directions – wherein on some levels it aligns with oriental astrology, general feng shui, and body feng shui. We don’t deny that all this has some level of verity: This connection isn’t denied in these traditions, albeit we don’t overtly focus on it. Mostly we focus on the body (health) feng shui facet, for associated insight/practical purposes. Hence, one can look up one’s birth date as associated with its congruent element and animal personality in the oriental (60 year cyclical) lunar calendar, by way of a book as such, or easily online. This will enable one to know what element one’s birth date falls into alignment with: It is set forth that one’s algebraic-defined element which brought one into the world (is born with), is the one that may take one back out of this world (with regard to the element’s congruent internal organ, e.g., yin organs of the heart, spleen/pancreas, lungs, kidneys, and liver). Additionally, there is some connection as such with the yang organs of the small intestine, stomach, large intestine, bladder, and gall bladder (in the same element associated order).

The algebraic elemental theory can go onto further steps, e.g., as diagnostic and treatment triads on the Five Element/Five Phases graph. The triads can shift over time, especially with regard to different periods in one’s lifetime. However, on the most basic level, the element and thus elemental sound which is consistent with one’s year of birth can be viewed as the sound that one first and foremost utilizes. That said, all of the sounds are important to each individual, as set forth earlier herein.

The dual syllable sounds are not considered as significant in this tradition. That is not to say that they don’t have their place, yet the single syllable sounds are considered most important by far, and it is likely that few ever realize a significant skill level with the dual syllable sounds.

The dual syllable sounds and single syllable sounds do have a significant association with Asian chanting/singing musical mantra traditions – inclusive of those from Tibet. They strategically make a musical art of this logic and its sounds. In the tradition herein, even though it is not our primary strategic emphasis, seeing the sounds as music can be a truly splendid, lovely, and benevolent side effect, so-to-speak: Our primary strategic objective in utilizing the sounds is for health/wellness purposes. That said, we practice the sounds both individually and also one after the other: The sounds/tones become music of sorts, but it is MOST important to do them correctly, never deviating from the correct way of expressing/utilizing them. Again to clarify – the sounds can become music, albeit that is not our primary strategic purpose, but a truly splendid sparkling spine-tingling/shivering side effect so-to-speak: Most importantly, we benevolently work to become the sounds, become the resonance, the music, to ‘be’ it. The power in becoming the sounds has much to do with learning to do them in a fashion of meditative witnessing, not thinking, but objectively witnessing oneself in the doing, the being. Yin to yang, yang to yin, the goal is to become the sounds, and the sounds become you…I cannot stress this point enough. It is SO much about a true appreciation, gratitude for the miracle of the moment, more and more each moment. The sounds are believed to reflect the nature/sounds of the universe, and back, both ways, again yin to yang and yang to yin.

In utilizing the below sounds, we do not try to hold the syllables together in order to harmonize them at the same time – at least not to the level that we do with the consonants and vowels in the single syllable sounds. Herein, we endeavor to learn to deftly fluctuate between each syllable, sounding out back and forth:

Fire Elemental Dual Syllable Sound – ChiHer (‘i’ is a proper i sound – like “I am”): is specifically healthful for the heart, and additional areas as stated with the single syllable sounds

Earth Elemental Dual Syllable Sound – KaUng (the ‘k’ sound can be much like a ‘g’): is specifically healthful for the spleen/pancreas, and additional areas as stated with the single syllable sounds

Metal/Air Elemental Dual Syllable Sound – ShaAng: is specifically healthful for the lungs, and additional areas as stated with the single syllable sounds

Water Elemental Dual Syllable Sound – ChaWay: is specifically healthful for the kidneys, and additional areas as stated with the single syllable sounds

Wood Elemental Dual Syllable Sound – ChiO (CheeO): is specifically healthful for the liver, and additional areas as stated with the single syllable sounds

*Unlike the single syllable sounds, we do not have dual syllable sounds most specific to the pericardium/master of the heart tissue and solar plexus area, etc. However, it is believed that the Fire Elemental Dual Syllable Sound is additionally healthful for the pericardium/master of the heart tissue and solar plexus area, etc. — 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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