ARTICLES

ARTICLES

•Meditation
•Chi Kung – an overview
•Awakened Eating, a Yogic method for personal transformation

Meditation

People in the West are living with tremendous stress, even though modern technology has solved a host of recent past challenges, such as running water in homes, central heating, air conditioning, refrigeration, transportation, abundance of food, improved sanitation, and medicine to name a few. Stress is now responsible for many health issues, with a heavy cost to an individual’s bodies, emotional state, mind, and spirit. The sad truth of our high tech, wealthy culture is that few people appear calm, peaceful and are truly living in the moment. A certain level of stress is beneficial for performance and creativity but beyond this point it is toxic.

Meditation is a powerful tool that can have profound beneficial effects on relieving stress and beyond this, enhance everything we do. A well known proverb declares, “you cannot change the outside, however you can change the inside”. Meditation is the means to change the inside. What is meditation? Where did it originate? What benefits are derived from its practice? How many types of meditation are there? How long does one need to practice to get positive results? How does one establish a proper practice? Why has it become so popular lately?

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Meditation means becoming at one with whatever we are doing. This state of being is the fruit of long and diligent practice. What we call meditation are actually concentration techniques, aiming to develop a single focus. Any exercise that focuses ones attention exclusively on an object is a concentration method and can lead to meditation.

The origin of meditation is hard to pinpoint. It would be accurate to say that all ancient cultures engaged in a wide variety of concentration techniques, ranging from sitting still to ecstatic dance. In the Hebrew tradition, the Prophetic state was attained through meditation methods. Meditation is an integral part of the Hindu religion, Buddhism, Sufism a mystical branch of Islam, Taoism, as well as Native Americans, and many African tribes. In all Religious traditions it was the key practice to attain illumination

Most pre-industrial people had meditation practices that brought them into altered states of consciousness. Some psychologists theorize that the absence of these rituals in our present society is a major contributing cause to the abundance of addictions, and the deep alienation and lack of meaning that so many people feel.

On a physical level meditation relaxes the body; leads to longer, slower breathing; calms the emotions; and quiets the mind. Scientific studies have documented medical benefits from meditation practice, such as lowering blood pressure, increasing energy, and allowing people to feel more in control. It is a means of self integration. In the tranquil state that one often relaxes into, personal insights are revealed. On a spiritual level it is a gateway to higher states of consciousness.

A paramount goal of meditation is to simply live in the moment, without the ongoing internal dialogue. If one pays attention, one notices that most of the time we are dwelling on the past or projecting into the future. That is why our challenge is to live in the moment, which is called the present. In the present, love, joy, and intuition flow, and inner clarity develops spontaneously.
There are thousands of meditation techniques, yet most can be classified into a few categories. These include: maintaining a visual focus, repeating sounds or words, maintaining kinesthetic awareness of breath or bodily sensations . Is the exercise moving or still, structured or flowing.

The amount of time needed for each individuals practice is variable. Once one begins regular practice, one may gain insights and clarity. In addition, the pure joy and peace of just being still and doing nothing is awesome. Of course, this result doesn’t occur every time. In the West everything revolves around doing and accomplishing, whereas meditation practice is about being. Meditation may enable the goal oriented mind to relax. Remember that the meditation session does not stop at the end of the designated time. It begins to continue into your daily activities and influence everything else one does, adding a fragrance of freshness and mindfulness.

To help establish one’s practice, there are several important guidelines: establishing a set time, duration, and location, is recommended, and daily practice is strongly encouraged. Choose one technique and during the session, focus exclusively on the object you chose, it could be your breath, a visual image, a candle flame, the repetition of a sound or word. Every time you drift into thought, return to the object of your attention. The mind commonly wanders. Indicators of improvement in your practice are when one can maintain longer periods of uninterrupted concentration, and recognition of when the mind drifts, returning more quickly to the focal point. This is essentially the method. Finding a knowledgeable teacher to help cultivate ones practice is essential.

The recent popularity of meditation is partially due to the tranquil effect often experienced that helps buffer the outer chaos. Another reason is the inner joy one feels connecting to a deeper part of oneself that is often lacking in this externally driven society we live in.

Keep in mind, that attaining long periods of concentration is one of the hardest feats to attain. The mind essentially has a mind of its own and is always drifting. It is often referred to as the monkey mind. One Yoga text states, ‘it is easier to control the wind than the mind’, however, it can be attained through persistence. It is difficult for all people everywhere. Remember the benefits are great and can be experienced almost immediately, making it well worth the effort. It is a gift that requires no equipment to purchase, and is within every individuals grasp, making it empowering in the sense that it can improve health, balance the emotions, calm the mind, and awaken the spirit. It can also alleviate many life difficulties and adds a fulfilling, inner, peaceful, dimension.

Some people find it easier to focus during movement such as Yoga, or Tai Chi.
Dr. David Moshe includes meditation as an integral part of his Tai Chi/ Chi Kung and Yoga instruction, that he teaches both to groups and individually. He is a board certified Acupuncture Physician, Doctor of Oriental medicine and Rabbi and a certified instructor of Tai Chi, Chi Kung and Yoga. He can be reached at 058 484 8900

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Chi Kung an overview

When I began my Acupuncture training in 1985, I was fortunate that Chi Kung,
also spelled, Qi Gong, was one of the courses offered. At the time it was barely known in the West, and only a handful of books were written in English. Since then it has grown enormously, both in books and publications written in English, classes offered, opportunities to study in China, and Taiwan, regular Chi Kung conferences, organizations and the establishment of various certifying bodies.

One must ask, why is the soil so ripe at this time period in the West for such as a practice to proliferate so rapidly that is based on a philosophy that for so many is alien and quite opposite in many ways to the prevalent view? This article will address these issues as well as give an overview of what is Chi Kung, where does it come from, what are it’s aims, styles, and benefits.

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Chi Kung is an ancient as well as a modern Holistic exercise system. Chi defined as life energy or vital breath, and kung as a diligent practice. It is a method to cultivate, cleanse, circulate and store the life energy, to become strong as steel and supple as flowing water. This is accomplished through coordinating, posture, relaxation, breathing, concentration, and will. It can be performed, standing, sitting, or lying in a static meditative way or in a moving dynamic fashion. One of its goals is to learn the ability to circulate the Chi to areas of deficiency, purge it from places of excess and stagnation, and help regulate normal functioning in a more efficient manner. As the energy becomes more harmonious health improves and a calm centered state of mind begins to be cultivated.

The ancients declared, “ As air is to birds, and water is to fish, Chi is to man. “ We are surrounded by it, yet unaware of it. Another aspiration is to become sensitive to this all pervasive phenomena and learn to be able to absorb it.

Chi Kung is a branch of Traditional Chinese Medicine, it is considered both an art and a science. Stretching back into antiquity, it has its roots in both Traditional Medicine, as well as the ancient philosophy of the Taoist. This was an ascetic mystical religious group who lived in seclusion in the remote mountains. They sought truth, and peace living in simplicity. Through their great capacity of silent observation they learned many secrets of life. Some of these are the healing benefits of imitating various motions of both animals
and other aspects of nature. They were the original Chi Kung master’s.

Through the necessity of the times various branches of Chi Kung developed. Three distinct styles carved their own paths, they are Medical, Religious and Martial. There are of course similarities in the three but the focus is different. In Medical Chi Kung the exercises are done either to heal an ailment or for preventative measures. The practice can be performed on oneself, or a therapist can direct their Chi into your body, this is known as External Chi Healing. Medical Chi Kung is one of the strongest self healing methods today. Religious Chi Kung was developed by the Taoist, Buddhist, as well as the followers of Confucious. Each type varies, reflecting the different spiritual aims inherent in each religious practice. Martial Chi Kung has the function of building power in the body for fighting, as well as creating an Iron Shirt, or body armor against attack. The majority of styles taught today, especially in Acupuncture Colleges is Medical Chi Kung. There are some forms such as Tai Chi Chuan, and Ba Kua Chang, that are both Martial, and Medical.

Chi Kung has certainly passed the test of time. It is known that it was practiced in the second century B.C. and it is estimated that 80 million people practice various styles of Chi Kung today in China. Chi Kung has undergone numerous controlled studies to determine its effectiveness. It has been shown to heal the same range of ailments as Acupuncture. Chi Kung is a powerful Complementary Medical Modality, that can be combined with Western Medical treatment or other Complementary methods. In China they are combining Western and Chinese Therapies with Hypertension, administering pharmaceuticals and Chi Kung exercises. The two combined could lessen side effects from drugs, shorten time for recovery, and reduce medical costs.

To return to my original inquiry, why is it so popular today, I have a few possible answers. The Chinese perspective teaches to view everything as part of a whole, man is seen as a microcosm is part and parcel of life. The majority of Western thinking on the other hand is analytical, and tries to isolate everything. This is exemplified most clearly in our Western Medical approach, where the symptoms are the focus, and often tried to be eliminated without seeing the root cause. On a psychological level it creates a feeling of alienation, and separateness. This linear outlook which began with the ancient Greeks, is the foundation of our scientific process. This methodology has led to the creation of wondrous technology, but because it is guided by a view that sees itself separate from nature and aims to control it, this same force has exploited the environment creating planetary havoc.

Fortunately within the scientific approach a great breakthrough occurred, ( which in time will shift the entire method to also include a systems or holistic approach ) the new physicists were discovering that life is one, and that an objective experiment is impossible because you are part of the field. As this wave was occurring in the world of quantum physics, numerous Eastern philosophies and practices were landing in America, and other parts of the Western world. A synchronicity was occurring, with impeccable timing. It has been said when the disciple is ready the Guru appears. At this juncture people were seeking wholeness within themselves, and having a desire for a new model of understanding that is inclusive. The consciousness of a higher truth was being discovered, and revealed, a paradigm shift occuring, which was both supporting theoretically these Eastern philosophies, as well as aligning science and religion. In Kabbalistic terms, it was the revelation from below manifesting. The Tai Chi symbol representing the movement of complementary opposites also sheds light on this process, perhaps this phase is the line between the two poles.

My hope is that through the integration of the two approaches, the meeting of both hemispheres of the brain, that technology will be guided by spiritual principles, as the story of Noah teaches, Yafet must dwell in the tent of Shem for peace and planetary harmony to exist. Let it occur and the dawn of a new humanity take birth.

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Awakened Eating, a Yogic method for personal transformation

By Dr. David Moshe DOM, AP
Yoga is a tool that helps us remain in an awakened state under all circumstances. Yoga, by definition, means union. This can be seen as aligning body, mind, and spirit; ourselves within the environment; or the inner self, Atman, with the cosmic Brahman. The yogic path is vast and includes techniques for each type of person: the scholarly (Gyan), the devotional (Bhakti), the person rooted in their bodies (Hatha), and for the one who is motivated by selfless service (Karma). Yoga is an all-encompassing technology that provides a path on which all people can grow. Regardless of the approach within Yoga that one employs the development of one pointed concentration is the common link. Through the discipline and wisdom of the practice, we climb to higher states of consciousness. In these new realms, we can perceive more clearly our physical, emotional, and psychological behavior patterns from a new perspective.

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The majority of modern cultures (industrial societies), develop from youth to adulthood in an unsystematic way and, often become unbalanced. For example, a college professor with a PhD may be brilliant, intellectually, but emotionally, an adolescent. A yoga discipline enables us to rise above our normal states of habitual functioning, which provides us with the opportunity to recognize and correct these inconsistencies. This methodology provides the means to essentially become a therapist to oneself, although there are times when outside assistance is also necessary. It should be emphasized that even though, at times, we may slip back into old patterns, with persistent effort using the yogic technology we can leap toward permanent growth and transformation.
Eating, which is the focus of this article, is probably one of the most emotionally charged areas in our lives, originating in early childhood. Holidays also have a strong emotional charge, stemming from our early years. Both eating and Holidays have deep associations connected with them and, often, they are interlinked. It is no wonder that many people complain about weight gain, eating the wrong foods, becoming depressed, or just losing control during the holiday times.

Instead of discussing which diet or foods are best here I am exploring a new terrain, the ability to use yogic meditative methods as a psychological tool for healing and transformation during Holiday season meals. The key is not what goes into your mouth, rather what is occurring internally and developing the ability to stay anchored in mindfulness and break old patterns. In addition to changing the habit of eating mechanically the hope is to use this situation of awakened eating, as a device for growth, which then can be applied to all situations. It is a two-step process. The first step is getting in touch with the feelings and memories that are elicited during holiday times. The key to understanding our eating habits is to slow down and tune in to what is occurring prior to eating. The second step is actually changing the way we eat, moving from mechanical eating to eating in a meditative way. If in the midst of an unconscious eating episode, were we literally space out due to the overwhelming seas of emotion and reverie, we can stay alert and witness what we are doing, and at that juncture affect a major transformation. We are shifting from a state of reaction to one of response.

This situation is a perfect opportunity for real change. On the cover of some editions of the Bhagavad Gita (ancient Hindu yogic text) they have a picture of Krishna, the author of the manual, sitting in his chariot holding the reins of five horses. The horses represent the five senses, which for the majority of humanity, have a will of their own and are out of control. Krishna depicts the higher self, Atman, who is firmly situated in his chariot, which represents complete mastery over his senses by controlling the reins with enlightened wisdom. One definition of a Yogi, is one who has mastered his senses.

There are a variety of techniques that one can incorporate to assist with the two steps listed above. Accomplishing these goals may be difficult, especially while sitting in a restaurant or around a table with many relatives. However, with practice, it can be accomplished, especially if one is already rooted in a meditative practice. An indispensable tool is breath awareness: If emotions come up and one can remain relaxed, continuously breathing deeply from the abdomen, it enables one to settle into the emotion without reacting and running for food or drink, which we often do to suppress the feeling. Breathe and say within, “I’m experiencing this feeling”; suspend judgment and commentary; just be with the feeling. Observe the concomitant thoughts and notice which parts of the body are affected. Observe the horses within that are ready to push the emotion aside with old patterned reactions. Ride it out, remain firm in the saddle, and perhaps, some insight may be revealed that will provide a picture, feeling, or words that can explain what occurred in the past to initiate this train in motion. If you have the opportunity to sit quietly alone and you can observe whatever you are going through, it is ideal. Just watch the process silently, and with compassion.

When you are ready to eat, close your eyes for a few seconds, breathe, sit up straight, release any tension in your body, especially in the shoulders, neck, and jaw. Perhaps wash your face and hands. Give thanks for the food, friends, and family. If you’re alone, be grateful for all the wonderful things in your life. Lift up your fork and slowly place the food in your mouth. Feel the food hit your tongue and really taste the food. Try to chew at least 10 times per mouthful. Put the fork down between each bite. Eat slowly and enjoy each sensation. Notice the thoughts and feelings that arise and subside. We often take our thoughts too seriously and are run by them. In reality they are not solid but are like clouds blocking the light of the sun. These thoughts will pass and the light is always shining within. Keep breathing, chewing, relaxing, tasting, and being present in the moment. If you can remain alert, even if your entire meal is an ice cream sundae, you may eat less, and slower, or you may see through the misplaced desires and feel what you really need. Perhaps all that is required is a hug, a warm gesture, a song, dance, or a story. Be courageous and take what you need. In this relaxed, clear state, the exact foods and quantity we need will be revealed to us from a deeper place than the intellect.

When we change the word Holiday back to Holy Day, a time for integration on all levels of being, and we bring ourselves to these occasions with simplicity and honesty, we can achieve a breakthrough. Instead of eating the wrong foods, and overeating, we can truly come home to ourselves, our family, friends, and environment, the real purpose of these cosmic events. Blessings to all for peace, joy, and love.

Dr. David Moshe is a Doctor of Oriental Medicine , Florida Acupuncture Physician, Ordained observant Rabbi, Certified instructor of Yoga, Tai and Chi Kung
He is the director of Wellspring Healing & Movement Arts
A Holistic Approach to Relieving Pain & Increasing Wellbeing
058 484 8900

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