November 16th 2014
Grand Master Shi Yong Yao would like to thank all of you for your support over the years with a very special thanks to Grace Wong for her dedication and endless help in all things. We will have a full review of the history of The Master here in the US and Grace Wong's tireless support throughout in a coming issue!
Shaolin Master Qi Gong has been created for all of us associated with The Master and the teachings he has to share with us. During the next few months we will be shaping the direction of our new nonprofit and with your help and input we hope to make it an exciting part of your life.
Our immediate plans include the creation of a fully functioning website at www.shaolinmaster.org. If you are a web master or media pro please let us know. Retreats and intensives are on the priority list as well! We will be offering one-day intensives as well as three-day weekend retreats and trips abroad to China and elsewhere. If you have an idea for a retreat or intensive, including corporate workshops, please contact us!
Many of you know that Master Shi Yong Yao is a 33rd Generation Shaolin Grand Master Monk but this alone does not convey the real depth of his capabilities. His mastery of Qi Gong and Kung Fu goes well beyond the health and martial arts aspects. He has a profound knowledge of healing, energy systems, subtle bodies and spiritual unfoldment. We are working to bring all of these levels to you in the immediate future as it is our goal to preserve and grow these teachings.
Our website addresses:
Short form: www.shaolinmaster.org
We also have: www.shaolinmasterqigong.com and www.shaolinmasterqigong.org
ShaolinMaster.org will allow new and existing students and associates to follow us through forums, blogs and our calendar of events. With your input we will grow programs tailored to fit your interests. We have already established some new guidelines within the current structure of teaching. We ask that all new and existing students fill out our contact form (which will be sent in future newsletters). The form asks for your current contact information and it also asks for information regarding your specific interests, your previous practice and your current practice outside of classes. We will ask you to tell us if you have any particular needs, health problems, energetic problems or questions, and what you would like to see in upcoming retreats or intensives.
We want all students to feel heard and that the teaching is fully accessible to them. We want to be able to address your concerns by shifting quickly and accurately within a framework suited specifically to you. You will always be able to update your form and with each update you will be able to choose to notify us of new information regarding breakthroughs in your practice or personal concerns and questions you wish to express privately outside of the forums and blog topics (all of your information is held confidentially and will never be sold or distributed).
Each week the concerns of regular students will be reviewed and addressed either in person during class or by email. This has already been implemented in the past few weeks and it has transformed the "new student" experience! We are certain it will transform the "old student" experience as well - so please fill in your form!
PLEASE NOTE THE FOLLOWING:
When attending class for the first time please arrive at least 30 minutes early - that will allow us time to instruct on some of the finer points of the class not included here in the general practice notes. We do not generally talk or instruct a great deal during the class. We arrive at approximately 4:30 pm and are immediately available to give instruction and answer questions, this time can also be utilized to stretch and meditate.
The recent costs of incorporating as a nonprofit and website development expenses have come from private donations of time and money from staff sources (David & Caxton). If you are able to contribute your time or financial resources we would greatly appreciate it!
In the donations menu (coming soon) you can pledge monthly ongoing financial support as well as make a one-time donation.
A DONATION button is at the bottom of this newsletter and all donations are greatly appreciated - we want to move forward much faster but our current expertise in Website development and Newsletters has caused a much slower pace than we would like.
Your donations are tax deductible: Shaolin Master Qi Gong is a Non- Profit 501C3 Corporation #C3709286
Currently we have a fundraising goal of $15,000 for the general fund. This fund will allow us to purchase equipment for retreats and intensives such as a video camera, wireless microphones, a vocal amplification system (PA system), recording and mixing equipment, computer hardware and software and other items deemed necessary and useful including Skype broadcasting equipment for the inclusion of an international audience. We will also need a good copy machine.
You can also choose to "sponsor" a particular general fund item and if you are an expert on any of the types of equipment mentioned your input is appreciated.
We also have a "monthly pledge" goal of $2500 to cover the cost of our office and meeting location, utilities and office supplies (paper, ink, postage, staples, etc.), ongoing website development and the production of mixed media such as DVDs, flyers, books and more. Any overage goes into the general fund. No salaries are paid to anyone at this time as we are all volunteers.
We are also collecting donations toward a fund for the purchase of a building. If you would like to be a founding sponsor of the building fund please let us know! The building fund will have a specific time constraint and all funds dedicated to the building fund will be returned if our goals are not met. These funds will not be co-mingled with any other funds. Details will be available to anyone interested in helping us create a permanent location(s).
If you would like to contribute to the general fund immediately with a credit or debit card you will find a Donate button at the bottom of this page.
You can make a check payable to:
Shaolin Master Qi Gong
You can hand the check to any Senior Aid or Master Yao.
Senior Aids are currently David Doyle and Caxton Fung (and possibly you in the near future!).
Your can also mail a check to:
Shaolin Master Qi Gong
3209 Fir Ave.
Alameda, CA 94502-6945
A receipt for your tax deductible donation will be sent to you by mail and/or email. Please specify any preference for your donated funds if you have them.
Thank You for your immediate help as we are hoping to move forward on a website and offer additional meetings and seminars as soon as possible!
We want to reach a wide audience and we especially want to reach our own diverse community. It is our intention to have every newsletter sent out in both English, Mandarin and Cantonese. If you can offer translation help, please let us know.
A holistic approach to physical, mental and spiritual health
Each of us is dealing with a complex group of energy systems and influences. We are born with natural patterns of health and individual proclivities that take each of us in unique directions throughout our lives. It is in our nature to create habits within these energy systems based on our proclivities and also in reaction to our encounters with life as we grow and discover.
Many of the patterns that develop within our space create imbalance. There are many reasons these patterns create imbalance - diet, injury, illness, posture and lifestyle are among some of the common reasons. We also become imbalanced from emotional experiences. Parts of us shut down in response to certain experiences and also become habits in our energetic makeup. Frequently these emotional patterns are easily visible in the way a person presents themselves to the world. Many of the patterns are nearly invisible to us because we are so used to them that they are now a "natural" part of "who we are".
Unfortunately a great number of these patterns create a sort of jail within which we live and limit us from fully enjoying the enormous abilities we are capable of. Some of these patterns are from our earliest youth and have been limiting our horizons for our whole life. They may be from early emotional trauma or something as simple as our dietary patterns, or even temperament if we are lead to believe it is part of our DNA (and some of it is).
Fortunately, every pattern can be changed and Qi Gong is one of the most powerful tools for changing your entire life primarily because it breaks up energetic patterns that block the natural patterns. Qi Gong also stimulates all areas of your being space. While breaking up energy blocks in your physical space, it also stimulates the physical body you reside in, all the organs, your muscles, tendons and bones - all the way to the marrow of your bones.
In a short period of time you will feel not just more energized - you will feel like their is more of you! More mental capability, more stamina, more balance (physical, emotional, mental and spiritual balance). Whole areas of you that may have been shut down slowly and imperceptibly over time will start to reemerge. In many cases, whole parts of you that have never ventured out before become accessible to you.
The health benefits of Qi Gong are widely known and they will be addressed again and again but the spiritual benefits are even greater. With each Qi Gong session you break up unhealthy energy blocks, stimulate your physical systems and add to your reserve energy capacities (more on that to come). The breakup of these energy patterns coupled with the increase in energy and vitality helps to bring you into the present - the Now.
A great deal of pressure we feel from life has nothing to do with life and it is not actually "pressure" from life - it is living in the future or past. It is worrying about things we cannot control in the future or things we cannot change from the past. Even when we think we are in the "present"' we spend much of our time making judgements.
When a person is talking to us we are often off in the future or thinking about their looks or wondering when they will stop talking or perhaps we are waiting to say what has come up in our mind as a response (often we are not listening). We stand there in a reactionary chamber we call "ourself" that is anything but present to the vast majority of our world. Rarely are we the brilliant perceiving presence that we are meant to be as we lack the stillness, and are patterned for reaction. We have one foot in the future for planning and the other in the past for insurance.
Qi Gong breaks up blocking energy patterns and for a time after each session we find a stillness in us coupled with a greater personal power. We can see a different life inside and without - don't miss this! Regular practice of Qi Gong cultivates a side of us that may have long been dormant. For those who have been seeking a greater spiritual life this constant process of breaking patterns, increasing vitality and stimulating our entire space leads to great peace, presence and the unfolding of abilities often thought beyond us. Qi Gong is a path to Enlightenment yet it requires no belief and does not conflict with Western traditions.
Practice Tips for Everyone:
During your Qi Gong practice (and during meditation) it is suggested you do the following for maximum benefit:
Your jaw should be either very softly shut and relaxed or slightly open. The tip of your tongue should be touching the upper palate of your mouth just behind the front teeth. The optimal position of your tongue is almost but not quite touching the front teeth - (however do not worry if it is touching slightly and on this note "worrying" is worse than being slightly less than perfect - you will get better over time - so do not worry).
The reason behind this important practice tip:
We all have an energy circuit that encircles our torso from front to back - it is know here in the West as the Microcosmic Orbit. This
circuit consists of two meridians, the Du Meridian and the Ren Meridian.
The Du Meridian starts at the perineum (the area between the anus and the scrotum in males and between the anus and vulva in females) and goes up the back, over the head and down to the upper palate of the mouth.
The Ren Meridian goes from the tongue down through the throat, chest and abdomen to the perineum.
By touching the tongue to the upper palate as suggested, these two important meridian’s (also known as extraordinary vessels) are connected.
Breath & Breathing
Some of you from Eastern meditation traditions including Zen and Yoga are familiar with "belly breathing", where you imagine you are
breathing into your belly area. In Qi Gong you imagine you are breathing into the Lower Dan Tien (LDT). The LDT is an energy center located below your navel about three finger widths down and two
finger widths in. Over time you will no longer need to imagine this center because you will definitely feel it.
The LDT stores Qi (vitality/life force).
The literal meaning of "dan tien" (also spelled: dantien, dan t'ian, or tan t'ien) is - cinnabar or red field and it is commonly referred to in the West as "energy center", also "elixir field" and "the sea of qi".
Their are three Dan Tiens: the lower (LDT), the middle (MDT) and the upper (UDT). All of them are energetic storage/transformation mechanisms.
The Lower Dan Tien (LDT) is also know as the "golden stove" and it is where in the practice of Qi Gong the refining and purifying essence (jing) is transformed into vitality (qi). Qi is stored in the LDT.
The Middle Dan Tien (MDT) is located at the level of the heart. This center or cauldron is where Qi/Vitality is refined into Shen/Spirit. It is associated with storing Shen (spirit) and is related to respiration and the health of the internal organs including the thymus gland.
The Upper Dan Tien (UDT) is located at the forehead in the area also known as the third eye between the eyebrows and it is associated with the pineal gland. This center is where Shen (spirit) is refined into Wu Wei (emptiness).
The Lower Dan Tien is sometimes referred to simply as the "dan tien" and it is often described to be "like the root of the tree of life", it is considered the center of gravity of the human body and is the seat of one's internal energy (Qi).
When you breath-in, imagine that you are breathing into the LDT first and then allowing the breath to fill up in the higher areas. As you breath out, breath out in reverse from the top down. Do not lock the breath as you would when going underwater: when you breath-in as you come to fullness do not lock off the air passage. When you breath-out do not lock off the air passage upon exhale.
As you progress you will increase your lung capacities, increasing the amount of time you can hold an inhale or an exhale and - it is very important to note - you will also learn timing. Do not worry about matching the teacher "perfectly", you will need to move your breath at times when the teacher does not and this is expected. Simply try to push yourself within a comfort zone that you are comfortable with - (this is your practice).
Regarding timing as noted above: you will find that at times you are moving along in a relatively simple exercise and you are breathing shallow with no problem. In the next movement you may be doing something that is for you quite difficult and you do not have enough air. During simple movements remember to take in plenty of air, get the oxygen into your blood stream and when you come to the more difficult moves you will have more reserve oxygen.
Also, on some of the exercises where you twist, breath-in at the start of the movement and not slowly as you twist. This is for two reasons: properly done, you will already have a full breath in the first 1/4 of the twisting movement so that as you twist the inner air is both compressed and pushing outward (stretching you from the inside). Also, if you do not take in the breath at the very beginning of the movement, the twisting will greatly reduce the amount of breath you can take in and so it will greatly affect the time you can hold/carry your breath.
When you are in a movement where you are doing simple expansion and contractions - such as when you have your hands extended one toward the sky and the other to the ground - notice what you do as you inhale when they come together and as you exhale as they are pushed apart - it is common not to inhale as much and as long as when you exhale - this leaves you short of breath. Slow down a bit on the inhale and really fill yourself comfortably and keep it for as long as you keep your exhale. In other words if your exhale is 15 seconds, your inhale should be 15 seconds.
On a sort of side note to breathing is the issue of food and drink prior to practice:
Food and drink prior to practice can definitely effect how well you are able to practice. A small amount of each should be no problem and may help your overall energy and awareness. A large amount of either will make a number of movements difficult to do and will very clearly effect your ability to breath deeply and hold positions comfortably. Also note that some foods even in small amounts will cause bloating - so avoid these foods entirely prior to practice.
Shoes - foot wear - clothing
Foot wear should have flat soles - (not a raised heel).
Qi Gong will help your posture and your entire physical and subtle energetic systems - it is best to practice with your feet in a flat natural position - this will effect the results of the entire course of exercises you are doing. It is better to practice in socks than in a raised heel shoe of any type.
Some rubber soles are very tacky/sticky and this can also be troublesome for the knees, ankles and certain movements in particular - and this can be a big problem on certain clean surfaces where the shoes practically stick in place - (such as on a freshly waxed gym floor or clean linoleum). Bare feet can also be sticky on these floors so socks are a better option or a flat sole that is not too tacky/sticky.
Clothing should be comfortable and not restricting in the waist. It should not be distracting - meaning that it should not be a shirt that moves up on you and needs constant adjustment or a pair of pants that are too tight or ones that are threatening to fall to your knees. It is also preferable to have natural fabrics - the subtle energetic systems are effected by fabric.
Do not worry if you "are doing it right". With more and more practice is will become obvious where you need to work and you will be constantly improving. If you cannot bend over without bending your knees for example, then bend your knees - and do not be concerned about this at all! If you need to take an extra breath or two or three - no not be concerned about this at all! What is far more important than "perfection" is your inner calm and attentiveness to the energies as they unfold into your awareness.
Regarding "warm up"
Here in the West we often look upon "warm up" exercises as not really being necessary or important. For many sports particularly non-professional sports this is somewhat true if we ease into them.
This is not actually true for Qi Gong. During the "warm up" exercises we are not just moving our muscles and stretching - we are also "rooting" with our feet and legs ("grounding" is a term used in the West) - we are bringing the participation of earth energies into our space.
In the "warm up" we are also moving our arms and bringing the participation of "heavenly" energies ("cosmic energy" is a term used in the West) into our space.
Other "warm up" exercises integrate these energies and very much effect our balance - our ability to balance ourselves - such as standing on one foot.
Finally, the "warm up" exercises help us to settle into stillness and awareness within, prior to the more specific movements. This time is also when the teacher has designated as the starting point and it is traditionally regarded as the time to start and not later. In some areas of the world - if you are going to be late your are not welcome to attend - this is not the case here but it would be helpful for you and it shows your respect to others and to the teacher so please to try to be on time or early.
(If in fact you must be late - and even if you must always be late - please come late and do not at all worry about it. But if you are constantly late and you could be constantly on time, then please make the effort to adjust your timing and arrive early or on time).
"Warm up" exercises in Qi Gong are really much more than just a bit of movement before the "real stuff" - they are part of the "real stuff".
The earliest forms of Qi Gong were taught as high spiritual practice and for the greater part of their existence (some 4,000 years) a great portion of a teaching was secretive and passed on only by oral transmission from master to student. The Qi Gong you are studying here carries within it the potential for very high spiritual practice if this is of interest to you. Grand Master Yao carries the lineage of a teaching that encompasses not only great health benefits and the proper rooting for martial arts and energetic power, it is also a very high teaching for those pursuing self-cultivation and enlightenment.
We want you to know that Shaolin Master Qi Gong is absolutely dedicated to remaining and maintaining a genuine teaching that is not "westernized" out of its base and away from its truth. We are already developing retreats, workshops and videos and we are working with and listening to students - just like you - who have ideas for further development of our newly formed non-profit. We invite your input and participation and thank you in advance for your donations.
On behalf of everyone at Shaolin Master Qi Gong
May this be the start of the first century of Shaolin Master Qi Gong!
You can help us safeguard the future of Shaolin Master Qi Gong - all it takes is a small donation!
Special funding drive to create a full website and videos - your donations are appreciated!