Qigong for the Seasons: Spring Relates to the Wood Phase

By Ron Davis

SAMSUNG DIGITAL CAMERAPhoto by Greg Smith

The following has been adapted from “Qigong Through The Seasons – How to Stay Healthy all Year Long with Qigong, Meditation, Diet and Herbs” by Dr. Ronald Davis, published by Singing Dragon, 2015.

Spring is the Wood Phase

This is a heady, invigorating, sometimes disturbing season with wild fluctuations of energy surging throughout nature as birth, arousal, and movement. The momentum created by spring Qi gives structure and impetus to the world: young trees thrusting skyward, icy rivers flooding valleys, babies everywhere screeching with the joy of life. In humans, Qi rises like a slow tide coming up from its winter storage in the lower abdomen and moving into the chest where it stimulates the Liver with fresh vitality. As an infusion of energy, the rising Qi carries benefits as well as the potential for problems. The practice of Spring Qigong centers on using qigong exercises, foods, herbs, and meditation to nourish the Liver. In this class, you will learn how the Liver Network influences anger, kindness, communication, muscle function, detoxification, blood circulation, and much more.

During spring, the Rising Yang Qi emerges from the Lower Dan Tian (lower abdomen) and begins a season-long ascent to the upper and outer regions of the body. As it passes into the Middle Dan Tian (chest), it encounters the Liver. If this blood-rich organ retains stagnant blood and metabolic waste, which typically happens after winter’s inactivity, it will obstruct the Qi flow and result in Stagnant Liver Qi and Blood. According to Chinese medicine, the Liver controls the smooth and harmonious flow of Qi and blood. Any obstruction to this flow will cause a serious functional disruption in Qi and blood circulation. Stagnant Liver Qi and Blood, an all too common disorder, has physical symptoms of muscle pain, menstrual cramps, trembling movements, poor balance, headaches, neck pain, numbness in hands and feet, vision problems, digestive ailments, and more. The mental and emotional symptoms can run the spectrum from frustration and irritability to anger and rage.

Anger, stagnation, and kindness

When the normal emotion of anger becomes prolonged, repressed, or inappropriate, it often results in Stagnant Liver Qi. This disorder affects women and men, but because each gender exists as fundamentally either yin or yang, Qi stagnation usually results in different problems for each sex.

Men have innate yang energy; women have innate yin. Yang energy tends to expand outward; it’s active and dispersive. Yin energy embraces receptivity, containment, and concentration. The gender predisposition to problems of Stagnant Liver Qi hinges on men being more yang/fire, and women more yin/ blood. Stagnant Liver Qi, if not corrected, becomes virulent and flares up as Liver Fire in men and as Stagnant Liver Blood in women:

  • Anger > Stagnant Liver Qi + Men > “Liver Fire Rising” = muscle spasm, ulcers, hypertension, heart disease.
  • Anger > Stagnant Liver Qi + Women > “Stagnant Liver Blood” = menstrual disorders, varicose veins, insomnia, anxiety.

While disturbing and potentially dangerous, Stagnant Liver Qi can be effectively treated. Acupuncture and herbal remedies can release obstructions to the flow of Qi and prevent stagnation. Qigong can remedy the condition by gathering fresh Qi and properly circulating it through the body’s energy pathways and storage centers. Meditation will definitely enhance Qi flow, clear the mind of distractions, and nurture the virtue of kindness. Having a self-care practice of qigong and meditation is one of the best ways for you to nurture the great Yang Qi of Spring and benefit from this infusion of vital energy.

Most styles of qigong have three aspects to every exercise: body movement, mental intention, and rhythmic breathing. These three factors have shifting proportions depending on the season. Spring Qigong highlights expansive and robust external body movements. While doing these exercises, be attentive to how your muscles work, take notice of any soreness or restrictions and how that changes with practice, and combine breathing and moving to expel turbid energy from the muscles and boost blood circulation. Put some effort (gong) into Spring Qigong and reap the rewards of smoothly flowing Qi and blood.

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Ron-DavisRonald Davis, DC. LAc. Dipl Acu (NCCAOM) has dedicated thirty years to helping people discover their optimal state of well being based on physical integrity, mental clarity and nutritional support. As a chiropractor, he understands the critical interrelationship of physical form, physiological function and visceral health. As an acupuncturist, he knows that optimal well being depends on the essential flow of vital energy and blood throughout the body/mind. The integration of this knowledge with his extensive practice in medical qigong, meditation, and Chinese medicine has led to the development of a series of classes called “Qigong Through The Seasons” which is a comprehensive program of qigong, meditation and dietary guidelines that allows one to be healthy all year long.  Dr. Davis is the creator of the popular CD, Guided Meditations For Summer, and is the author of the forthcoming book, Qigong Through the Seasons. thehealthmovement.com

Irini Rockwell Discusses the Five Wisdoms (Audio/Video)

 

Some situations bring out the best of who we are; in others we can’t get out of our own way.  In this interview, Irini Rockwell discusses the Five Wisdoms, an ancient Buddhist system of personalities which yields enormous insight into our patterns of behavior, emotions, and relationships.  She has been studying and teaching the Five Wisdoms for over three decades.

Watch our interview with Irini below, or scroll down to stream/download the audio.

If you’d like to download the audio file, click here and find the “Download” button. Otherwise, you can stream the audio below.

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Irini RockwellIrini Rockwell is the Director, Founder and Principal Trainer of the Five Wisdoms Institute and Wisdoms@Work. She is a professional development trainer for organizational leaders, health caregivers, educators, artists, and individuals and author of Natural Brilliance: A Buddhist System for Uncovering Your Strengths and Letting Them Shine and The Five Wisdom Energies: A Buddhist Way of Understanding Personalities, Emotions and Relationships. Irini has served as a faculty member at Naropa University in Boulder, Colorado for ten years where she earned her Master’s in Contemplative Psychotherapy and a Certificate in Authentic Leadership. She is also a senior teacher in the Shambhala Buddhist community.

Facing Death, Finding Joy: A Conversation with Elysabeth Williamson

By Travis Newbill

Elysabeth Williamson will be leading Savasana: Exploring our Death to Liberate our Lives, along with Margery McSweeney, March 13-15, 2015

Elysabeth Williamson says: “To live in moment to moment, day to day relationship with our death is maybe the most powerful practice we can do. Most people don’t want to think or talk about death and dying. And yet, just the willingness to do so, to openly face into it…the result is joy. Isn’t that kind of wild?”

Hear more of what Elysabesth has to say by checking out our recent conversation with her below. Watch the video or scroll down to stream/download the audio.

If you’d like to download the audio file, CLICK HERE and find the “Download” button. Otherwise, you can stream the audio below.

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ElysabethWilliamsonElysabeth Williamson, ERYT-500, is the foremost authority on Principle-Based Partner Yoga, a style she founded and has developed since 1991. She is known for articulating and transmitting esoteric teachings in ways that are accessible and practical for everyone. She is the author of ‘The Pleasures and Principles of Partner Yoga’ and ‘Partner Yoga Touch’ digital video application.

 

Freak Out! Or Not: An Interview with MBSR Teacher Janet Solyntjes

 

Janet Solyntjes will be leading Introduction to Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction, March 6-8, 2015

What does it feel like to FREAK OUT?! Becoming familiar with the early signs is the first step toward avoiding catastrophic fits of stress. Sound good? Learn more by checking out our recent interview with MBSR teacher Janet Solyntjes.

Watch the video or scroll down to stream/download the audio.

If you’d like to download the audio file, CLICK HERE and find the “Download” button. Otherwise, you can stream the audio below.

Also, please see these posts from Janet on our blog:

Janet will also be leading Living the Full Catastrophe: A Day of Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction in Denver, April 4

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JanetSolyntjesJanet Solyntjes, MA, is a senior teacher in the Shambhala Buddhist tradition and Adjunct Professor at Naropa University. A practitioner of mind-body disciplines since 1977, she completed a professional training in MBSR with Jon Kabat-Zinn and Saki Santorelli and an MBSR Teacher Development Intensive at the Center for Mindfulness at the University of Massachusetts Medical School. Janet leads mindfulness retreats in the U.S. and internationally and is co-founder of the Boulder-based Center for Courageous Living.

Yoga for Every Body — Interview with De West (Audio)


Shambhala Mountain Center hosts This Moment, Beautiful Moment: Yoga for Every Body with De West, November 7–9, 2014

In De Wests yoga, participants may cultivate deep awareness of body and learn to uncoil obstructions to find greater freedom. In her rejuvenating retreats, we discover where we have developed patterns over the years. Even in the womb we favored one side or the other of our mother’s belly. Through slow, directed movements, we learn where we can focus our mind to create more energy and openness and less physical discomfort and stress — targeting our entire bodies gently rather than stressing some parts while ignoring others.

Recently, De took some time to have some discussion around these points. Please click below to her our conversation. And, if you’d like to download the audio, click here and find the “Download” button.

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De West

De West is a leader in the Boulder yoga community and is a co-director of Studio Be Yoga. Her teaching combines principles from Iyengar alignment and therapeutic yoga. As a teacher, De is insightful, intuitive, and attentive. Her years of work with osteopathic doctors allow her to apply yoga to many different people and conditions. Students leave De’s classes rejuvenated and grounded with a sense of personal and physical empowerment. Find more information about De at DeWestYoga.com.

Winter is the Ultimate Yin Season

By Ron Davis

Shambhala Mountain Center hosts Qigong for the Seasons: Winter Qigong with Ron Davis November 14–16, 2014

Nature’s winter energy moves toward the center. Green leaves have withered away leaving the life force nestled in the roots; autumn’s warm hazy air has been cleansed and brightened by cooler winds; flowing water slows and begins to freeze; brown meadow grass has fallen back to earth. For people, winter causes our Qi vital energy to retract from the outer aspects of the body and settle in the bones, kidneys, and the lower dan tian (LDT) of the abdominal region. This seasonal migration of energy toward the body’s core is essential to our health.

Winter is a time for deep resting and nourishing the most vital structures of the body: bone marrow, kidneys, spinal cord and brain. We can do this with qigong exercises, specific meditations and certain foods and herbs. As part of the Winter Qigong practice, the following exercise is a wonderful way to help you stay healthy all the way through winter.

Filling the Lower Dan Tian to Nourish the Kidneys.

The lower dan tian (LDT) functions as an alchemical stove. It has a diffuse boundary going from the lower abdomen, down to the perineum, up the lower back, and forward beneath the diaphragm. The essence of food and air becomes transformed inside the LDT into the Qi that circulates through the meridian system. The kidneys are located close to the LDT and act as the energetic foundation of each organ’s yin and yang. That’s a big responsibility. Without the Water and Fire of the kidneys all other organs would dwindle away.

This exercise brings the healing Qi from earth and sky into the top of the “taiji axis” (the deepest energy channel that runs through the very center of the body), then down to the heart where it mixes with the Qi of the chest, and then down to the LDT for purification and storage. Filling The Lower Dan Tian To Nourish The Kidneys will stimulate the body with vital healing energies from terrestrial, celestial, and human sources.
BEGIN by standing with feet shoulder-width apart, hands down with palms near outside of thighs.

Inhale slowly as you lift arms laterally in a big arc, with palms up, to overhead position where the palms touch.
Filling LDT 1.rev010Filling LDT 1.rev010
Think of gathering in fresh Qi from the earth and from the sky. Then compress this Qi between the hands. Think that you are consolidating and transforming raw elements into a priceless jewel.
Exhale very slowly through your nose as hands, in prayer position, come down the front of the body’s midline to the chest.

Filling LDT 2.rev011
Think of bringing the Qi jewel down the taiji axis and into your heart. Although the hands move in front of the body, the energy is brought down the internal channel. Still exhaling, turn hands over into a diamond shape with fingers pointing down, thumbs up, and palms against the body.
Filling LDT 3.rev012
Continue to exhale, move hands downward, as the Qi descends the taiji axis and flows into lower dan tian. Finish exhalation with thumbs at navel and palms lightly touching abdomen. Relax.
Inhale and turn hands so that palms are facing each other, fingers still pointing down, then move hands apart just out to hip-width. This is a short inhalation.
Exhale and bring palms toward each other until almost touching. Think of packing the valuable energy into the LDT for storage.
Filling LDT 4.rev013
At the end of this short exhalation, drop your hands to sides and relax your shoulders.

Do 8 repetitions.

At the end, stand still with right hand resting lightly on the LDT, left hand over right. Take 3 slow natural breaths, feel the Qi circulating.

This is the premier exercise for Winter Qigong practice. Movement is kept to a minimum, while mental intention is foremost. Use your mind to lower the Qi. The movements bring the limitless energy of the outside world into the nucleus of personal existence. And then the treasured Qi is stored in the bedrock reservoir of vitality, there to be slowly refined and nourished for self-preservation and good health through the long season of Ultimate Yin.

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Ron-DavisRonald Davis, DC. LAc. Dipl Acu (NCCAOM) has been in clinical practice since 1984 and has taught qigong, taiji and spinal health care classes for more than twenty years. He is a certified qigong instructor as well as a medical qigong teacher for professional continuing education credit from the National Commission for the Certification of Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine. Dr. Davis is committed to helping people learn how to improve their health by using qigong, meditation, and dietary guidelines. He is also the author of the forthcoming book, Qigong for the Seasons.

 

Principles of Traditional Tibetan Medicine to Harmonize Ourselves

By Nashalla Nyinda

Shambhala Mountain Center hosts Introduction to the Principles of Traditional Tibetan Medicine with Nashalla Nyinda December 12–14, 2014

Tibetan medicine is an ancient and time tested comprehensive approach to holistic healthcare for the body, mind and emotional well-being. Focused almost exclusively on creating and maintaining equilibrium within one’s body and mind; the system aims to help one to know oneself, and thus how that relates to the external environment.

There are 4 treatment methods according to Tibetan Medicine

Venn

I always encourage people that the first two treatment methods of diet and behavior are the first line of defense and the most important in recovering balance or management of a condition. This is because this is done by the patient on a daily basis and is not necessarily dependent on the physician. AND IT’S EASY to both learn and apply!

In the upcoming Introduction to the Principles of Traditional Tibetan Medicine weekend intensive at Shambhala Mountain Center, we will be focusing on these first two aspects of treatment and self-care.

What we will learn

During this weekend retreat, we will learn how to return harmony to our body and mind by refining our relationship to the elements and seasons. You will be given tools for identifying the three humors, for encouraging equilibrium, as well as learn how to apply general antidotes when the humors are imbalanced. The ultimate goal is to foster balance in the body and mind while encouraging a direct relationship to self.

Tibetan medicine understands that everyone is an individual, and therefore looked at as a unique makeup of the 5 elements and how that combines to form the “3 humors”. I believe as a physician of Tibetan Medicine that the modern world can benefit from the ancient healing arts of Tibet by making people aware of themselves. Who are they as an individual, how that relates to their symptoms and health issues and then make the connection to the natural cycles and seasons, qualities of food. This is an aspect I not only feel passionate about – but feel it will help give people very simple basic tools to enhance their well-being.

Nature is the blueprint 

Because the external and internal elements are interrelated and in fact based on the same material Tibetan Medicine takes the viewpoint that the sciences of anatomy, physiology, pathology and pharmacology are all based on the 5 elements.

The combination of the elements make up our 3 humors, literally translating as “faults” in Tibetan because they are not stable, they change. This follows the law of impermanence. This development of the 3 humors is based on the principle of the 3 root poisons.
Passion – Aggression – Ignorance.

The Root Tantra tells us that the 3 humors reflect an individual balance for each person, wholly unique to them and their experience of health or imbalance in body, mind and spirit. There are 7 possible combinations or patterns of how these 3 humors can dominate within each person. Yet from the physician’s role, each person is treated as an individual with individual instructions. A doctor’s skill is in informing the patient what their dominant elemental pattern is, and how to balance this through diet and lifestyle.

The 3 Humors                                                                        Root Poison

rLung (pronounced Loong) WIND                          passion / attachment / desire
mKhris-pa (pronounced Tri-pa) BILE / FIRE          aggression / anger
dBedkan (pronounced Pay-can) PHLEGM             ignorance

7 possible constitutional possibilities for how the humors can display themselves 
Single wind
Single bile
Single phlegm
Duel wind + bile
Duel wind + phlegm
Duel bile + phlegm
All 3 humors combined- wind + bile + phlegm

WHY and HOW will this Tibetan approach increase one’s health, mental and emotional well-being?

The seasons, cycles, stages of life one is in all play a role in how the 3 humors operate. By bringing awareness and a solid simple, yet profound understanding of these aspects, many symptoms can be decreased or eliminated. We will have easily referenced tools and handouts which are the guides. I am passionate about empowering people to be an active participant in their healing process. You will walk away with confidence that you can use the aspects of diet, behavior and harmonizing with the seasons to empower your healthcare. Even if you’re just looking to optimize your natural healthy state; this course is a powerful lens to enhance all aspects the body, mind and spiritual practices.

What are the applications towards my spiritual practice?

Specifically if one is a serious Buddhist practitioner; there are aspects of recognizing and working with the 3 humor’s energies directly in mediation practice can enhance and deepen practice. We will touch on those. If you’re new to meditation; the aspects we will cover are still applicable to basic relaxation or yogic practices that are non-denominational. There will be time for individualizing and catering to what you’re hoping to get out of this course.

People used to ask me when I lived in Asia studying, ‘Why if you come from a culture so rich with modern medical advances do you study such a old system?’ My response was always that if a medical system which is the same today as it’s been for hundreds of years, is still in practice, and continues to produce good results with little or no side effects, it seems to me it has more value in studying it than modern medicine.

What is the importance or relevance of Tibetan medicine in today’s modern heath care system? The answer is simple. Despite advances in modern medicine people are still unhealthy, unhappy or both. Chronic diseases such as diabetes, auto-immune disorders, simple and complex digestive disturbances and a now massive wave of ‘food sensitivities’ and allergies or inflammatory conditions are on the rise. Emotional and psychological disorders are widespread and the number of people on antidepressant medicines is staggering. Patients take one drug to balance out the side effects of another.

This is not to say that there cannot be a marriage of the two worlds. One of the things that I strive to do as a western person explaining a system which is sometimes very different from what we know in a cultural context, is how to apply the principles of Tibetan medicine to daily life. These then can be further applied into whatever medical treatments one is currently undergoing. Many people seek conjunctive and alternative treatments to enhance their allopathic treatments, and this is also very helpful.

Come Join me and learn tools to enhance your well-being! Whether Buddhist or non-Buddhist, healthcare practitioner or not, all will benefit and gain new tools for heath. Please join me as we explore the time-tested wisdom of Traditional Tibetan Medicine.

I look forwards to seeing you at Shambhala Mountain Center this December 2014!

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Also on the SMC Blog

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Nashalla-NyindaNashalla Gwyn Nyinda TMD, LMT has over 14 years of experience in Tibetan Medicine. She earned her Menpa degree (Doctor of Tibetan Medicine) from Qinghai Tibetan Medical College, Tibet and The Shang Shung Institute of Tibetan Medicine. She also has an Interdisciplinary Studies BA from Naropa University with a focus on Asian Medicines and Buddhist Psychology. She has taught these techniques worldwide to Tibetan doctors as well as Western health practitioners. Nashalla and husband, Dr. Tsundu S. Nyinda, are co-directors of the Tibetan Medicine & Holistic Healing Clinic in Boulder, Colorado.

Qigong for the Seasons: Ron Davis Interview (Video/Audio)


Shambhala Mountain Center hosts Qigong for the Seasons: Winter Qigong with Ron Davis, November 14–16, 2014

We are part of nature.  When the energy changes in nature it changes within us as well.  If we wish to be naturally healthy, we must stay in harmony with seasonal changes.  In order to bring this about, Ron Davis teaches Qigong for the Seasons, which is based on the Five Phase paradigm, an enlightened program for comprehensive health care throughout the year.  Each class consists of qigong exercises, meditation, and dietary guidelines.  Winter Qigong focuses on kidney health, jing preservation, and cultivation of wisdom.  This is the season to nourish the essence of body and mind: bones, spinal nerves, brain, and wisdom.

Watch our interview with Ron below, or scroll down to stream/download the audio.

If you’d like to download the audio file, CLICK HERE and find the “Download” button. Otherwise, you can stream the audio below.

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Ron-DavisRonald Davis, DC. LAc. Dipl Acu (NCCAOM) has been in clinical practice since 1984 and has taught qigong, taiji and spinal health care classes for more than twenty years. He is a certified qigong instructor as well as a medical qigong teacher for professional continuing education credit from the National Commission for the Certification of Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine. Dr. Davis is committed to helping people learn how to improve their health by using qigong, meditation, and dietary guidelines. He is also the author of the forthcoming book, Qigong for the Seasons.

Paul Shippee on Non-Violent Communication (Video/Audio)


Shambhala Mountain Center hosts Emotional Enlightenment: Direct Path To Compassionate Communication with Paul Shippee December 5–7, 2014

Paul Shipee leads workshops through which people discover the primal power of feelings and emotions in everyday communication — using the powerful methods of compassionate and nonviolent communication (NVC) to develop skills for emotional intelligence, deep listening, compassion and empathy.

Watch our interview with Paul below, or scroll down to stream/download the audio.

If you’d like to download the audio file, CLICK HERE and find the “Download” button. Otherwise, you can stream the audio below.

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Paul Shippee Paul Shippee, MA Psychology, studied Nonviolent Communication (NVC) intensively with founder Marshall Rosenberg and other NVC trainers. He has facilitated NVC groups continuously for the past 8 years and teaches NVC workshops around the country.

 

Jon Barbieri on Establishing Intention and Commitment for the New Year (Video/Audio)


Shambhala Mountain Center hosts Take a Leap into 2015: Establish Your Intention and Commitment with Jonathan Barbieri December 30, 2014–January 1, 2015

It’s become a yearly tradition here at Shambhala Mountain Center for Jon Barbieri to lead a special program that allows our aspirations for the New Year to become clear, confident and committed through reflection and renewal.  He leads us beyond the usual goal focused resolutions and we learn how to go deeper and reconnect with our innate insight and wisdom and see renewal as a further step in our life’s journey.

Watch our interview with Jon below, or scroll down to stream/download the audio.

If you’d like to download the audio file, CLICK HERE and find the “Download” button. Otherwise, you can stream the audio below.

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Jonathan Barbieri

Jonathan Barbieri was part of the first Shambhala Directors Training with Chogyam Trungpa Rinpoche in the late 1970′s. Since then, he has taught extensively throughout North America. Jon has been engaged in several livelihood pursuits including being a consultant to cities and counties on workforce development and the creation of contemplative cohousing communities. He was formerly the executive director of Shambhala Mountain Center.