Cold winter weather getting to you?

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

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

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

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

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

Learn to embrace your comfort and discomfort equally!

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Five Senses Guided Imagery Chi Kung…

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Five Senses Guided Imagery

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

– Dr. Glen Hepker (Copyright 2011)

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Not wanting to give up the pain…

As they say, “in the grand scheme of things,” it may not seem so important. But to my wife and I it is quite significant. Last week, we were prompted (ethically and lovingly) to send our Airedale Terrier pooch of (nearly) 11 years to Heaven – being over 80 years, when adjusting his age to that which is comparable to humans. His blood work showed kidney failure. If he was human, it would have been the circumstance to go on dialysis and be on a transplant list. The whole episode came on quickly, and as a result of the kidney failure he was unable to hold down food or water. Overall, he had always been a robustly healthful dog.

We held him in our arms as the vet administered the meds, Henry always knew was loved.

We are not ashamed to say that we love a non-human creature as much as we love Henry.

The pain is tremendous and we get chocked-up many times each day – so much so that my throat has begun to hurt again, after a quite recent bout of adenoiditis. That said, we are not ready to give up the pain, or try to run from it. Initially there were fleeting thoughts of removing reminders of him from our household and such, including my downtown business location. But we realized that we didn’t want to do that. It is strange sounding – even though it is heart-wrenching, it feels better to embrace the pain.

Commonly, other than to run errands, or go out for a few hours or some such, Henry was never alone. We took him on our trips. Together, my wife and I didn’t take any flying trips while we had Henry, we just couldn’t stand to leave him in a kenneling facility. During that time, we didn’t have anyone who could stay with him. Previously, we frequently flew to our vacation destinations. If my wife, who is an ER charge nurse was working, he went to work with me each time. If she was off, he stayed home and held down the home fort.

We have never had children, so no doubt it is possible that we have been extra close to our pooches. Having said that, we have never anthropomorphized them on an any obvious level – never been tempted to think or believe that they are somehow human. This is in NO way critical of people who do, it is just not our way.

Having Henry in our lives has been a splendid blessing, and that is what is so important to us. Nothing was any more fun or good-feeling than being with Henry. We took him on at least two long walks each day – he was always ready to go do things. Airedale Terriers were initially bred for hunting, but we are in no way hunters. He certainly considered squirrels and rabbits as potential prey, but he wasn’t allowed to find out for sure.

It seemed impossible for him to be aggressive toward other dogs or toward people. Albeit, for whatever reason, he had a severe dislike toward a veterinarian we used to take him to, and that is the ONLY person he ever tried to bite. He could be quite stubborn in some instances, but not to any extreme.

We believe that having Henry in our lives was quite in the spirit of the right thing for the right sake. He was a kindred spirit who loved and wanted to be loved, and he was SO loved, loved not just by us, but by so many of our friends and acquaintances – being QUITE social. He brightened up our lives and the lives of so many others. It doesn’t get better than that on this earth.

My wife and I have discussed that we believe that he will be there greeting us when it is OUR time, just like our other previously deceased loved ones. It is a SO wonderful part of a sparkling spine-tingling/shivering ‘glimpse of Heaven.’

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True appreciation of the miracle of the moment…oh boy!

“Life seems to fly past us at a speed which is congruent with the level at which we detach ourselves from its potentially deepest and most loving and heartfelt aspects.” — Dr. Glen Hepker (Copyright 2011)

What are your thoughts on this dynamic? We often complain that the “year” or the “time” have “gone by SO quickly.” Albeit, when we genuinely think of all of the things we’ve done during that so-called ‘time (inclusive of the innumerable moments),’ then it doesn’t seem to be so fast. AND additionally, if we make genuinely significant effort in order to learn to be more and more mindful, present…BEING the moment that we are in, I can promise that the time will NOT fly by (and it will not be boring either!). Not at all. From this perspective, SO many moments each day will likely also not be so easily forgotten, e.g., they will be appreciated in a more and more healthful loving spirit. In a state of mindfulness, we can become less and less blemished witnesses to our internal and external environments…witnesses to so much of the magic that we often ignore.

If there is a ‘key to the universe,’ then this level of bright beautiful sparkling ‘true appreciation’ may be a substantive part of it. It is light of the pernicious weight of preset patterns of thinking and expectations. It is not living for the moment, it is living in the moment. This is truly a skill, AND there is always(!) room for improvement: Abiding awareness of this dynamic is a VERY important aspect of mindfulness and its congruent sense of splendid appreciation.

‘Being’ present and mindful is SO very much about true appreciation of the miracle of the moment. It is SO very much about true honesty, promoting of true happiness and true freedom…but most importantly, needing less and less to hide behind.

It is QUITE difficult to be upset, angry, depressed, sad, anxious, or frustrated, if one is not thinking such thoughts. If one is mindful, present, focusing on just what one is doing in the moment, and enjoying (‘being’) a deep sense of gratitude, then it is really difficult to be lost in the dark and heavy cyclical thinking that can make us ill or worse.

This is by no means easy stuff – it is a skill. Albeit, nothing can be more rewarding than embracing such true effort – except maybe the resulting ‘glimpse of Heaven.’ It IS true health through true responsibility. — Dr. Glen Hepker

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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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Is gratitude a key to health and wholeness?

“What would life be truly like if one could honestly say…’If in Heaven I have what I have now, I would be happy?’” (Copyright 2011)

What are the consequences of this outlook? This is NOT to say that it is up to any of us to decide what Heaven should or would be like – it certainly is not the point here. The spirit of the (initial) question is most particularly congruent with the following questions, e.g.: What level of ‘true health’ would we have to realize/enjoy, before we could honestly make such statement? What level of ‘true responsibility’ are we willing take and/or enforce? Is it our (even dire/true) responsibility to make the world a better place (as such)? Consistent with this outlook, most of us have the ability to do this…we already have the gifts/blessings we need to do so.

Humbly and respectfully in the ages-old health/wellness philosophy that I teach, coach, and endeavor to follow, it is so VERY much about a deep altruistic spirit of true appreciation – consistent with living one’s life as a LIVING LOVING ART FORM. This level of benevolent gratitude is a splendid healing mechanism unto itself…even a quintessential form of preventative medicine. It can allow us a level of true freedom which is almost impeccably light and almost impeccably free of the heavy crepuscular weight of addiction to unhealthful expectation, entitlement, desire, craving, AND fear of healthful change.

What level of honesty, objective insight does this necessitate? How healthful do we want to be? In these arts it is said that such a healthful way of life is requisite of “true honesty, promoting of true happiness and true freedom…but most importantly, needing less and less (and less!) to hide behind.” Such a healthful way of life is congruent with the true effort to realize life as a genuine ‘work of art.’ It is Acting Without Acting – endeavoring to do the right thing for the right selfless sake. It is lovingly, selflessly, honestly, and appreciatively learning to play the part of a less and less blemished ‘witness.’ It is being more and more mindful, meditative, AND ‘light’ of addiction to our fear of healthful change (AND light of the potentially pernicious fear of what things can really look like in reflection…our reflection inwardly and outwardly).

What does all of this mean in practical application in our daily lives? It is up to you and I to decide for ourselves. But there is a traditional hint which is given, e.g.: “It is NOT about some far-flung time/goal/objective to accomplish/reach in some mysterious future…it is about right NOW.” It is about being ‘present’ and loving and deeply appreciative right now, this moment, nothing more and nothing less. IF we are willing to see it, BE it for real, it just might be a beyond splendid/beyond words oh boy(!) ‘glimpse of Heaven.’

Gandhi once said, “Be the change you want to see in the world.” In Christianity, there is an old saying we’ve likely all heard – “God helps them that help themselves.”

Just one more point to make – to complement these aforementioned points: What could make one feel more light than the ‘light’ – ‘lightness’ of ‘true forgiveness?’ I am not here to set forth religious tenets, albeit I can’t think of a more genuinely impeccable model of such forgiveness, e.g., as Christ was dying on the cross he said, “Forgive them…for they know not what they do.” It is requiring of another big “oh boy!” If this isn’t true health then what is?! Quite humbly and respectfully, this was/is some very special mentoring. — Dr. Glen Hepker

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