Monthly Archives: September 2010

Walking in Balance

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balance small“Walking in Balance” — Created in Terragen and Photoshop

Today’s image is a result of an inspiring moment on my weekly Artist’s Walk and interesting meditation we did in qigong class Saturday.

At the class, the instructor started us out with a “healing sun meditation.”  She had us pull up the shades in the studio and let a scorching Indian summer sun come flooding in.  She had us stand at the window with our faces and palms open to the sunlight.  (I can only imagine how the group of us must have looked like from the traffic and pedestrians on the street.)   The idea was to “breathe in” the energy of the sun to revitalize and energize.    I don’t know if I was “energized” but I certainly got warm and I said so when she asked how we all felt.   The instructor looked at me and said “If you have too much yang energy, then you can try this with moonlight and drink in the yin energy.”

Okay…..

I’m not making fun of her.   I think I know what she was telling us, but I would have used a different vocabulary to describe this “healing meditation”:  Slow down and enjoy the sunshine.  Or to use an overused saying: “stop and smell the roses.”   

So many of our stresses and anxieties can be undone if we just take it a little easier and appreciate the natural world.   We can become a little out of balance and doing something as simple as soaking in the sunshine or gazing at a full harvest moon might bring us back into balance.

This realization came to me yesterday morning as I went out on my Artist’s Walk.  The Artist’s Walk, as prescribed by Julia Cameron in The Artist’s Way, is just one more means to provide fodder for the creative person.   Since it has been so blasted hot the last few days, I went out walking very early, before sunrise.   As I walked through the park I noticed the sun just beginning to peak over the tops of the houses on my left.   On my right was a waning gibbous moon.     It just looked so… balanced… so yin and yang, and I remembered our class exercise the day before.

So I couldn’t resist:   I looked around to see if anyone was watching me and then extended both hands, one towards the sun and one towards the moon.    

For a few moments, at any rate, I was walking in total balance.

Lori G. (c) 2010

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Gathering the Stars: A response

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“Moving the Stars and Turning the Big Dipper”, a digital construction

In my Qigong class, we learned a couple of movements called “Moving the Stars” and “Turning the Big Dipper”. The names describe, in metaphor, the action of gathering vital energy (qi or chi) from the environment and drawing into the body. We were asked to imagine actually scooping stars into the hands as we did the movements. I thought it was such a cool image that I created this.

Lori G.  (c) 2010

 

Gathering the Stars

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It has been nearly three weeks since the end of my mind/body class, so I thought I would touch base with those of you who have shown interest and let you know what I’ve been up to since then.

One of the things that the facilitators recommended was that we should each develop a habit of regular meditation or relaxation coupled with some sort of movement routine.   Therefore,  I designed my own daily practice which includes not only physical and mental components, but a creative one as well.   I do my practice in the morning since I am much more disciplined at this time and tend to become less so as the day progresses.  This morning routine works well with  The Artist’s Way and The Creative Call programs which both require journal writing first thing upon waking up.

After writing for about 20 minutes, I then roll out my mat and do about 15 or 20 minutes of yoga.  After this, I select one of the several guided meditations that I’ve downloaded from iTunes and veg-out for another 15 minutes or so.   By this time, I am both mentally and physically alert and finish up my routine by getting cleaned up and dressed for work .  I read a bit or watch the news as I eat breakfast before heading out for the day.  All this takes about two and a half hours.  Yes, this means I do have to get up early.   This routine stretches to three hours on the weekends when I add a 30 minute cardio-walk around the neighborhood after the meditation.

Yes, it is hard work, but I’m worth it.

The mind/body facilitators also recommended that we explore some mindful movement practices such as yoga, tai chi, drumming, or qigong.  When I received an e-mail a couple of weeks ago from a local  university of traditional Chinese medicine advertising a qigong class, I decided to go in that direction.  I had my first class today.

Qigong (also spelled “chi kung”) is a series of slow, graceful exercises designed to cultivate and circulate vital energy in and through the body with the goal of optimizing one’s health.   The picture above is from the promotional e-mail I received about the class and shows the studio where I am studying.  Today we learned some movements with very cool names like “Gathering the Stars” and “Turning the Big Dipper.”

My aim is to interchange yoga and qigong in my daily practice, and I will report more on this as I progress in the class.

Until then….

Lori G.

Mind Body Class #8: The Last Meeting

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I can’t help thinking of the lyrics from the Grateful Dead song, Truckin’

Sometimes the light’s all shinin’ on me;
Other times I can barely see.
Lately it occurs to me
What a long, strange trip it’s been.

I think I’ve fared better than the sad Sweet Jane in this song, but the road I’ve taken to completely change my lifestyle has been a strange one indeed.  Our Mind Body class had it’s last meeting yesterday evening. We reviewed all the heatlh practices and thinking strategies we had explored in the past two months. We addressed the need of developing an continuing action plan to keep from falling back into unhealthful ways.

The final task we were instructed to do was to go home and write a letter to ourselves, exploring our feelings, behaviors, our plans on where we want to be in the future, and to give ourselves some advice. We are to seal that letter, put it away, and mark our calendars to read that letter in six months.

In writing that letter this morning, I reflected on how I got to this point. It all started with a cut finger last February. I had lacerated the top knuckle of my left forefinger while opening a can. The next day I went to the doctor to have it examined. The finger was fine but the doctor began to rag on me about some ongoing issues that could affect my health. This led me to take a nutrition class, which led me to take a stress class, which led me enroll in this mind body class. From the gushing blood of that wound, I come to a place where I have the tools to heal my whole self.

The previous week, we had been asked to bring something to class that shows something about ourselves. I decided to bring some prints of digital mandalas I had made. I realized that I hadn’t made a new one in quite some time, so in honor of our “graduation”, I constructed this one. I call it “Wellness”.

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Pretty cool, don’t you think…. and ultimately, not so strange after all.

Thanks for joining me in this journey.

Signing off for now.

Lori G.

Image and text:  Lori G. (c) 2010