Monday, 22 December 2008

World weary?

Is the relentless cycle of bad news getting you down? Are you despairing about the state of the world? Is it hard to see how things can improve?

You are not alone. Check out the following quote:

"The Earth is degenerating these days. Bribery and corruption abound. Children no longer mind their parents, every man wants to write a book, and it is evident that the end of the world is fast approaching."

This was discovered on an Assyrian stone tablet, that was carved approximately 4,800 years ago. 

As you can see, the world has not ended yet.

Sunday, 21 December 2008

Team Northwood - News

As I mentioned in an earlier post, I am expecting my second child. 

The due date has been put back to March the 30th, and the 21 week scan showed that we are going to have another girl.

As usual, I will keep you all posted of further developments.

Monday, 15 December 2008

In the moment

When I first travelled to China, I was with a group of 24 english tai chi practitioners who were eager to learn from Grandmaster Chen Zhenglei. 

I recently met up with one of the people who I travelled with. As we shared our memories of the trip - immediately, he brought out a thick photo library and thumbed through the pages eagerly. He had obviously taken a lot of pictures, and we enthusiastically went through the pictures of the Summer Palace, Forbidden City, Great Wall.... all the sights.

But when I asked him about what he learned in training, his conversation slowed. I asked him how he felt about some of the things that were said, he could not remember. It reminded me of the Chinese proverb:

"You can't stand in the same river twice."

The moments of our lives are truly precious. Once they are gone, we can never get them back. Yet - as with my friend - if we try too hard to record these moments, we will corrupt our experience of them.

So with the oncoming festive season, think about that camera in your hand. While you hold that, you're not hugging your family and friends. 

Books

"Seek truth in meditation, not in moldy books.
Look to the sky to find the moon, not in the pond"

Persian proverb

Sunday, 30 November 2008

Sleep


You're angry and irritable - or even depressed and you can't work out why? It just can't be your sleep, because you get 8 hours every night..... can it?

How do you know you are getting the right quality of sleep? Deep, restful and refreshing sleep is one thing that genuinely eludes many people. For a start, try to avoid the following things:

1. Caffeinated beverages (tea, coffee, energy drinks).
2. Sugary drinks late in the evenings.
3. Heavy evening meals.
4. Alcohol (yes it can help you get to sleep, but it's a depressant and messes with your chemical balance).
5. Stressful situations.

Deep breathing exercises before you go to bed can really help. Also, the Monroe Institute has developed sound techniques to help you sleep. Click here to see a product that can really help you get 8 good hours every night.

Be happy

Sunday, 2 November 2008

Tai Chi - Yield to Force

There is a fundamental principle of Tai Chi. This principle is to yield to your attacker's force, rather than oppose it.

However, the yielding is important - but to be able to yield and retain balance, you must be sensitive. Sensitivity is the basis of all Tai Chi self defense, and is cultivated by pushing hands. This composite training teaches you to be sensitive to your opponent's movement and balance.



There is another fundamental principle that underpins sensitivity - stillness. But it is stillness of the mind, rather than the body. For if the mind is cluttered with wild emotions and intentions, you cannot hope to be able to detect subtle changes in balance and power. The best way to still the mind is regular meditation sessions.

So, the meditation practice that is regularly ridiculed by western culture, is to cultivate stillnes - which provides the basis for sensitivity, which enables you to defend yourself.


Saturday, 18 October 2008

Credit Crunch - My theory

I have stayed quiet on this issue for some time, because the media has been screaming like a headless chicken for months, and I did not want to add to it. Now the world governments are doing something about getting liquidity moving, I feel it is time to add my two-penneth.

The financial industry (and pretty much every other industry) has had corporate bonus packages based on single-year metrics. These measures are pretty crude - New Business Volume, Payment Income (£) and New Business Profit. In one year, all the exec needs to do is any of these 3 things:

1. Sell more products.
2. Reduce costs.
3. Charge more for services.

Any other (more sustainable) methods of business improvement - like customer engagement, retention strategies and risk mitigation are difficult to measure, costly to implement and the benefits may not be realised over a single year. 

So it is the blinkered obsession with new business acquisition and increasing market share that has led financial institutions in America to overlook the customers ability to pay back their credit (conditions of the market). 

However, before we steam in on the bankers of the world for their lack of sustainability, just take a look at how our society generates energy. In fact, look at every area of society, and you will find a distinct lack of restraint. When we do something, we want to do it more and more until everything is used up, and we don't seem to be able to see it coming in time.

This is nothing new. The pre-historic population of Easter Island wiped themselves out by cutting down all the trees - and therefore removing all their food and energy source.

It is the present curse of mankind that we are unable to gauge growth, sustainability and balance with our environment. What concerns me now is that people will use this recession as an excuse to cut back on our progress towards cutting carbon emissions.

I'm sure I will get emails on this.

It was bound to happen


These 'quick fix' motivational posters have been annoying people for years now. It's nice to see someone striking back.

People have been making obscene amounts of money putting together this kind of bilge. When all people really want is to be listened to, respected and valued.

;-)

Thursday, 16 October 2008

Introduction to the Monroe Institute


If you could go anywhere in time and space (and beyond), where would you go? Who would you like to see? What questions would you like to have answered?

The Monroe Institute was founded by Robert Monroe - a sound engineer who started to have involuntary Out of Body Experiences (OBE's), following experiments in sound. 



He later mapped and categorised many altered states of consciousness, and developed tools to access these states. He conducted courses in how to access these states, and founded the Monroe Institute - a nonprofit educational research organisation dedicated to the exploration of human consciousness.

To this day, TMI offers courses in many different aspects of human development. TMI is not a cult, or a religious organisation. They merely provide to tools for you to explore your consciousness, and as a result, live your life more fully.

TMI embody the very best that the west has to offer in spiritual growth and personal discovery. Check them out.

Sunday, 12 October 2008

Power - what is it?

There was a stone mason. He watched an army charge past, and said to himself.."It would be so great to be a powerful soldier - charging through the land."
Buddha (it's a buddhist story), heard his cry and suddenly the stonemason was astride a horse. It was fun for a while, then he soon became disillusioned. As he lined up for an inspection, he noticed the Emperor. And he found himself thinking "it's not good being a soldier. You have to take orders all the time. It would be much better if I was the Emperor. He has absolute power over all the kingdom.
Buddha heard the prayer, and suddenly the stonemason was the Emperor. And for a while, he was happy. Then one day, a great storm swept through the city, smashing everything in it's path, and once again, our stonemason was envious... "Oh how great it would be to be the wind - able to smash anything in it's path. No one can stop you."
And suddenly he was the wind. He had a great time, overturning carriages, uprooting trees. Until he ran into a mountain. No matter how hard he blew, he could not move the mountain. And before he could even say it, he became the mountain. 

"Finally, I am powerful," The mountain thought, "Nothing can move me. Not even the Emperor or the strongest winds"..... 
Suddenly he heard a noise. He followed the tap, tap, tapping down to a small stonemason, who was busy cutting away at foot of the mountain

Watch this vid:



One of the most powerful media magnates in the world (not a US citizen) wants the people of America to vote for a man.  And through actions like this, we can all see that he is frightened that the elections are not going his way.  
No matter how big a mountain you become, there will always be stonemasons able to cut you to size. This is a time for stonemasons (common voting people) everywhere to do the right thing. 

People of America, please use your vote wisely. The rest of the world is watching.

Saturday, 4 October 2008

5 ways to cheer you up

We all need a little pick up. Here are a couple of little tricks that work for me:

1.  Wear your favourite clothes
It always cheers me up if I put on my favourite jumper. It feels comfortable and warm. Sometimes all you need to do is dress the part. It's like putting on a costume. If you dress happy, you will feel happier.

2. Cook something nice
In our modern microwave society, everything is super speed. Take your time to bake something nice like cookies, cakes or flapjacks. The whole house permeates with the scent of baking, which always makes things seem more cosy and welcoming. And don't forget to eat them. invite friends to your house, or give them away.

3. De-clutter and tidy up
Sometimes we can feel the weight of all our accumulated junk. Getting rid of all the superfluous stuff like catalogues, paid bills, marketing literature and magazines can really take some weight off your shoulders. Another good place to de-clutter is your car and your wallet or purse. 

4. Move your furniture around
 I know this sounds crazy, but changing the layout of your rooms, moving the furniture can really feel like a fresh start.

5. Sing or whistle
One of the funny things about going to China was the amount of spontaneous singing that went on. It was great. And it was a habit that I'm glad to bring back with me to England. Sing something great, something funny (monty python songs are excellent for this!!).

Be happy,

Rich

Final word on Acupuncture

I have just finished my 4th acupuncture session, and the doctor had trouble discerning my damaged knee from the healthy one. All the swelling is gone. Full movement has been restored.

Earlier this week I ran up and down 8 flights of stairs at full sprint (I left my wallet in the office), and did not even notice. A few weeks ago, such activity would produce pain after the second flight of stairs. 

The doctor informs me I will only need 3 more sessions. This should hopefully close the door on two years of insistent and aggravating pain in my right knee. Yes, it has cost me quite a lot of money. But if I had done this on the NHS, I would still be waiting for a scan or physiotherapist, and in the meantime, my GP would have told me to stop teaching taijiquan. 

I can not say any more than for me Traditional Chinese medicine works. It may not be for everyone, and it may not cure everything. But in this instance, I have been delighted with the results.

Thursday, 18 September 2008

Acupuncture - Update

It's been a week since my session, and the difference is quite significant. My knee has got more and more easy throughout the week, and nearly all pain is gone. On both Monday and Tuesday, I did two hours of teaching and an hour of practice on my own.

Before I had the acupuncture, such exercise would make my knee really sore, and difficult to straighten. However, there is just minor pain when I do something that really jarrs the knee. It feels looser and I am running spontaneously without wondering if it will hurt.

Frankly, I'm astonished. I wasn't expecting such quick results. I'm not completely recovered, so will continue with the treatment.

I have booked another appointment on Saturday. Will keep you all posted.

Friday, 12 September 2008

Acupuncture - Does it work?

I have been having occasional problems with pain in my knee when I practice tai chi hard. It can last up to a couple of days after, so I decided to try acupuncture.

I had my first session yesterday. After an initial consultation, the doctor booked me in for an acupunture session with massage/acupressure. After the treatment, my knee felt very different. It was definitely more eased, and when I walked, it felt more stable. However, that could have been due to the massage, which was very thorough.

Like all things, I will need a course of treatment to really improve things. Will keep you all informed about any progress.

Sunday, 7 September 2008

Mistakes? Great!!!

Have you ever wanted to do something, but were afraid of being shown up or making a mistake? Let me share my experience with this.

A friend came to me and told me that one of my students had been "humiliated" at a Tai Chi seminar.

My student had been selected by the teacher for practical applications (self defense) demonstrations, and had been thrown about quite roughly. The other students found this most amusing, and treated it like entertainment. Whenever the teacher asked for a volunteer, my student stepped up for more. The rest of the class found this hilarious.

I was very happy with this outcome. I used to do the same thing with Master Liming Yue. Whenever he wanted to demonstrate techniques, I was always the first to volunteer. Sometimes, the other students would laugh. But knew I was getting better.

Martial Arts are about making mistakes. For only by making mistakes, can we eliminate errors and get better and better. As we get better, the opportunity to make these mistakes (lessons) gets smaller and smaller. It is those who can safely put themselves into situations where they can learn from their mistakes who will achieve the greatest. 

As for the student - he went on to become British Open Kung Fu Champion later that year.

Start of the New Academic Year

It's a new academic year, and to me this means starting new Tai Chi classes at Congleton, Macclesfield and Sandbach.

At this time, I often wonder what kind of students will arrive. Following the Beijing olympics, I expect there to be quite high numbers this year. But you never know. 

So here's some FAQ's that I often get from new students.

That looks difficult. Is Tai Chi hard work?
Tai Chi is as easy or as hard as you want it to be. Simply by adjusting the depth of posture. you can have a gentle relaxing session, or a really tough workout. It's up to you.

I'll never remember all those moves.
Yes you will. Some people take more time than others. I don't expect you to be perfect. Classes are where you make your mistakes, so I can correct them. 

Tai Chi is Buddhist, isn't it? Do I have to give up alcohol or meat?
Tai Chi is not Buddhist. It takes it's influences from the Yijing, traditional chinese medicine and other martial arts. No buddhism was used or required. Also, you do not have to give up anything.

Where do the meditation and health aspects come into it?
It's true that Tai Chi was developed for self-defence purposes. Meditational state is achieved by the concentration on the movements to the exclusion of everything else. Health is gained by pressing the tongue against the roof of the mouth, bending the knees, correcting the posture and turning at the waist.

See you at the class!!!

Wednesday, 3 September 2008

Stressed - Advice

It's not as bad as you think. Dr. Topher Morrison has a great way of looking at it. 


Be happy.

Monday, 1 September 2008

5 Secret Ways to Relax

1. Huff and Puff. 
Inhale abruptly — sigh out-loud. You’ve probably done this before when you were exasperated or fed-up or exhausted. Try it again with some attitude. A sarcastic whatever attitude could flush out the tensions; a disgusted what-an-idiot projection might release stress. Huffing and puffing helps us relax naturally, even if bitterly. It’s easy and it’s free.

2. Shake “No” 
Gently shake your head. Nose pointing from one corner of the room to the other, to the other, to the other, back and forth, shake your head. A small, soft shake will do. Mesmerize yourself. You can even employ the bitterness from the Huff-and-Puff. It is important, however, to pull your head in so that your head balances atop your shoulders. Each ear lines up over each shoulder. Shake no, and feel the back of your head, those muscles, the ones gripping your skull in position, feel them relax.

3. Smile Inside. 
It’s the physical act that matters: this one happens deep in your throat, behind your tongue. Smile. You don’t have to show it. Smile inside. Grin inside about anything: use revenge, secret knowledge, long-term spite to lift the edges of an inner smile. Of course, love and friendship and contentment make smiling inside easy.

4. Pound Something. 
Beat it. Wreck it. Pull it down from the top shelf. Push it off the counter with fantastic fury or fabulous delight. Hit it. Kick it. Smash it.Whatever you do: work. Physical work releases loads of stress and when it’s done, it’s satisfying and primal.  Sometimes we need to see problems and obstacles broken in bits. Do this one well and, as best you can, carefully. I pound cushions, not just with my fists, but also swinging and striking with my elbows. It's great!!!

5. Wave Hands Like Clouds. 
Tai-chi proper brings great results. The more intimate your knowledge of your body, the deeper this kind of movement instills stillness. Wave your hands like they are clouds. Get it. Try it. Emulate cirrus, strato-cumulus, or cumulonimbus clouds. Wave hands through clouds. Stand in a park, on a mountain, in a field, on a roof, in a stream, on a tree, or in your room (right now) and, while looking through your top hand, watch your hands wave through those far away clouds. Relax: even if you’re waving them through piling storm clouds, it feels great.

Aaaaahhhhh.... relax.

Sunday, 10 August 2008

Good news!

It gives me great pleasure  to announce that I am going to be a Dad again. All the relevant relatives have now been told, so it's safe to announce on my blog.

Child number two is set to arrive around the 23rd March 2009. 

Can't wait!

:-)

Tuesday, 5 August 2008

Rest

It is a fundamental concept of yin and yang.  In this instance, yang is activity and yin is rest.

Yang, by it's very nature, will eventually expend itself. That goes for people, too. We need to rest. And if we are yang for too long, we eventually become exhausted and collapse (yin). 

The best yin is deep and restful sleep. This essential part of life is often ignored as our modern lifestyle encourages us to work and play hard. There's so much to distract us, when everything is available 24-hours a day. 

Power napping can really help to top up your batteries. If you do not think you have the discipline, you could try other methods. There is a product I have used for many years to help this - Recharge (I'm not on commission). This teaches you a simple method to quickly recharge your batteries. It is not a substitute for sleep, but can help you if you feel burned out.

Get plenty of rest..... and be happy.

Rich

Saturday, 2 August 2008

Last Lecture

Randy Pausch was an American University lecturer. He was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer (which is inoperable), and this was his last lecture, entitled "Achieving your childhood dreams.". It's over an hour and sixteen minutes long, so make sure you have time to watch.


Be happy,

Rich

Tuesday, 29 July 2008

How do you think?

This is Jill Bolte. She is a neuroscientist, who experienced a stroke. Her experience is both inspiring and compelling. Be patient, it is an amazing lecture.



Meditation can access these states after much practice. Or you can contact places like the Monroe Institute to do their Gateway Experience. How you experience the world is very real. Your thoughts are things.

Change your mind, and you change the world.

Rich

Monday, 28 July 2008

Compare two Great Masters

First, we have Chen Zhenglei's sword form:



Then we have Chen Xiaowang's Sword form:



How can two people do the same movements in such a different manner, yet the core requirements and rules are never deviated from? This is the great diversity of martial arts. Interpretation is one of the greatest joys. Shakespearean actors announce the same lines, but with different emphasis - all based on who taught them, their intention and their life experience.

This is the true essence of Chinese martial arts. Everyone is different. We all have different body shapes, background, strengths and weaknesses. We bring our unique selves to improve, and we all absorb the training at different rates. 

A good teacher's students should not all look the same, for the teacher should taylor the training to the individual - shaping them without stifling them. However, when watching the student,  you should be able to clearly see who taught them. 

Be happy,

Rich

Thursday, 24 July 2008

Being young

A recent study in how the brain works has concluded that time travels slower for small children, and gradually speeds up as we get older.

The reason why this phenomena happens, is because as children, we are noticing everything as a new experience. When we do this, we have more dense or detail-filled memory. As we get older, things become a variation on what we already know to be correct, so we commit less and less to memory and therefore time travels faster in our retrospective experience of it. 

So what can we learn from this?
  • Always try to keep a sense of discovery.
  • Learn new things.
  • Do memorable things.
.... and time will lengthen like those long summers when you were a child.

Be happy,

Rich

Instinct

How many times has something challenging happened, and you thought to yourself, "I knew that was going to happen."

Lot of times, I'll bet.

Yet how many times have you stopped and asked yourself why didn't I do something about it?

We all have a natural guardian. It sits in the back of our consciousness, and sometimes it shouts to us (like when a car shoots out of nowhere), and other times it whispers. And with all the noise and hustle of our daily life, it's hard to pay attention. 

The secret is to be still and relax. The more you rush and hustle, the more you are likely to be distracted from the inner wisdom that is always there. 

:-)

Rainbows

If you want to see rainbows, you have to put up with the rain.

;-)

Sunday, 20 July 2008

Good things

It's my birthday. 

21 again!!!

Getting older, and it's great. When I speak to my colleagues, they seem to resent getting older. But this is just not the case with me. I look forward to learning and knowing more and more.  

Sometimes I look back at where I was before I started all my Tai Chi and meditation, and can't believe how much better life is now. 

Be happy,

Rich

Saturday, 17 May 2008

Busy

It's been ages since my last post. That's 'cos I've been really REALLY busy!

From attending charity tai chi classes to organising teams, training in new computer languages, delivering projects, fixing processes, advising colleagues, playing with my daughter, potty training my daughter, taking my family on surprise trips to the beach, practicing tai chi, teaching tai chi to my students, meditating, arranging builders for home improvements, fixing my car, planning my future, arranging my savings and investments........

........and it's great! There are so many balls in the air at the moment. I have been surprised by the speed and breadth of change that is happening. 

Today is my first 'me' time, and I'm spending it with my daughter while Claire goes for a pamper session with her mum.

This is what it's all about. Lots of good change.

Be happy,

Rich

Saturday, 22 March 2008

Business Leadership

What's your leadership style?

1: Just do it.
2: Do it, then inform me what you did.
3: Tell me what you are going to do, then do it.
4: Tell me what you want to do and wait for a decision.
5: Don't do anything without my approval.
6: Don't do anything unless I tell you to.

If I were to mark these styles for efficiency, 1 would be the highest and 6 the lowest. Styles 5 and 6 are very common in business. The employees priority is payday, closing time and holidays. Leader priority is power, control and keeping things as they are. Getting things done and serving the customer is not important to anyone. Once basic skills are mastered, employees follow standard procedures, and any deviation from these procedures is to be avoided at all costs.

Nowadays, the mantra should be change, change and more change. Change is the challenge, which can motivate us and secure our futures. Because of fast-changing customer requirements and technology, we all have to evolve on a daily basis. To maintain flexibility, responsibility has to move away from senior leaders to the front line, otherwise our businesses will stagnate and die out. Following orders without question is efficient in the short term, but costly in the long-term.

Leadership and training must work hand-in-hand. If we want our colleagues to assume responsibility and make quality decisions, we must create environments that encourage the opportunity to learn. 

So when one of your colleagues comes over and asks you for a decision. Rather than spoon-feeding them, consider how you can help them to make the correct decision. Your colleague might be frustrated that they have to keep coming to you for decisions. Give them their control back, so you can concentrate on moving the business forward.

So don't control.... Coach!

Saturday, 15 March 2008

Putting yourself out there

For a long time now, it has been unfashionable to emotionally connect to people - particularly in business. There are many theories about this, but my guess is that for a long time, businesses have neglected emotions in favour of more left-brained activities like analytical reasoning and objective thinking - notwithstanding various illicit emotional entanglements and sexual harassment cases that have damaged businesses since time immemorial.

There is also a perception that emotions can 'get in the way' of objective work. But these are only the negative emotions. People who do not connect emotionally and positively, are missing out on a fantastic aspect of business. They also risk isolating themselves, which can really inhibit vital lines of communication. 

To avoid all these complicated emotional issues, business has evolved an emotionally neutral language that negates all feelings in an almost victorian manner. This has led us to a place where we are all terrified of acknowledging our feelings and unwilling to make any decisions. 

Unable to express our true feelings, we have become so risk-averse that for every step forward, we take two steps back. To make matters worse, the only business areas that allow us to acknowledge the way we are feeling is 'Health and Safety' and 'Risk Mitigation'. How many times have you not been allowed to move the business forward because the so-called experts won't let you because it hasn't been triple-checked and signed off by three committees?

Business and the wider society is in serious danger of becoming a terrified, emotionally crippled consumer - desperately needing to move forward, but terrified of the risks it has to take and the sacrifices it has to make in order to get there.

The best way to guard against negative emotions is not to suppress all emotions in the workplace. As I have said in previous articles, negative feelings are natural, but the best way to deal with them is to focus on the positives. 

So let's focus on LOVE.... Oooh scary!

Love is not sex - so unless you are otherwise inclined, start with the friends/colleagues of your own gender. And as the song suggests - love is a verb - a doing word. Soften your dress habits - i.e. don't power dress. Smile more and make eye contact. Find opportunities so mix more. Have lunch with people outside your usual social group. Look for reasons to praise and compliment your friends. Ask them about their lives. Find out what their passion is. Try a hand placed briefly on the back or shoulder (appropriately).

If such behaviour scares you, remember my previous article about risk, and move out of your comfort zone. The more you do it, the better you will get at it. Remember, you get what you focus on.  If you give love in the spirit of respect and mutual cooperation, you will be rewarded in ways you never imagined.

Friday, 14 March 2008

Pushing the envelope

When Bruce Lee travelled from America to Hong Kong for filming, he did not pack clothes. All his luggage was taken up with training equipment. When asked where his clothes were, he replied that he could buy clothes in Hong Kong.

I always communicate to my Tai Chi students the importance of regular practice. However, there is a more important quality - the ability to go regularly beyond your comfort zone.

The first time you step outside your comfort zone can be a daunting thing. It does not have to be physical. You might have to address a large group of people, or operate a new kind of computer program, or start a new job. Whatever challenges you might face, moving out of your comfort zone on a regular basis makes you grow at a fantastic rate. You also learn to relax more, because your comfort zone will be extended beyond it's previous capacity.

So going back to Bruce Lee's filming. Not only was he traveling abroad to film, but he was also prepared to leave his familiar clothes and family behind. Comfort was the furthest thing from his mind. Self-improvement was his priority.

So go on...... push yourself.

Saturday, 8 March 2008

Worried?... Good!

Believe it or not, your brain is not designed to make you happy. In fact, if you were deleriously happy all the time, you would be very ill.

Your brain has evolved this way to keep you alive. So when you are unhappy, your mind is trying to tell you that something is wrong. In fact, a perfectly working brain will make sure you identify all problems, potential worries and potential dangers.... And it engages fear to make sure you avoid them.

Let us be quite clear, I am not talking about clinical depression or any other physiological problem. I am talking about day-to-day stress and strain.... Yet if you do not deal with the day to day misery, it soon becomes a habit that is hard to break.

So how can we deal with this fear-based reasoning? One of the best ways is to live with passion and purpose, rather than fight-or-flight. Become more physical - deep breathing, exercise, go for a run.... Be physically positive. Learn Tai Chi. Meditate.

Or as I say... do good, and you'll feel good.

Rich

Friday, 7 March 2008

More Taoist Philosophy

"Master others and you possess force.... master yourself and you will have true power."

We are multi-faceted beings. That is, we have lots of differing desires and personalities, all competing for supremacy. Very few people can say that they are truly living up to all their desires. The pressures of modern life, and our obligations to others mean that we constantly have to make choices between what we truly want, and what we actually go for. This lack of harmony between desires and environment can cause deep feelings of unhappiness and resentment. 

Taking time out to discover what you want, and making plans to get it can be useful way of self-mastery. Working logically through what you desire and what is truly important can resolve a lot of issues. 

Goals are important, but forbearance is equally so. There is no true gain without hardship. Iron must undergo tempering in a furnace before it becomes steel. Dough must be kneaded, pounded and baked before it becomes bread.  Earth must be ploughed before seeds can be planted.

Be happy,

Rich

Saturday, 23 February 2008

My thoughts on martial arts


The practicing of a martial art is a unique process. Many would liken it to education, or a manufacturing process. I would argue that martial arts are a complete change process that is greater than both.

A manufacturing process takes raw materials, and uses machinery or tools to change the materials into something else.

Education is a process for the giving and receiving of systematic instruction.

However, a martial art educates the raw materials (people) on how to change themselves. The teacher shows the students what to do. Then, through repetition of actions, the students refine their strength, movement and reflexes. They become more healthy, flexible, fast and strong. This improvement in health and body mechanics produces a change in the students' consciousness (i.e. if the reflexes are better and the body moves faster, the mind becomes sharper). This improved consciousness then has an effect of making the body work better. 
You can now see that a virtuous circle has been set up whereby the body improves the mind, and the mind improves the body. This process continues regardless of age, ability or gender. All that is required is to keep practicing.  

Be happy,

Rich

Religion - what went wrong.

Religion attempts to explain two things:
1. Why you are here.
2. What will happen to you after you die.
Your beliefs are between you and your chosen deity. Your religious experiences are between you and the deity(s) you choose to communicate with. 
So why all this religious trouble? It happens when people start speaking to each other about their beliefs.
Your beliefs are your own. They are part of what makes you special. But other people are different, so don't tread on their toes. Better still - don't speak about them.

Now, here's some ideas that might be less popular:

Religion is not law. Law is law. Law does not claim to tell you what happens when you die. Law does not attempt to explain why you are here. So why should religion try to make rules? Also, religions are not fair to all peoples because they are, by their nature, mutually exclusive. So therefore they are unable to rule all people equally. 

Religion is not a reason why someone should be your friend, enemy or anything else other than another human being. If I have to explain this one, you need more help than I have time to give.

Religion is not a reason for doing anything on this planet (good or bad). Religion is - however - how you feel about yourself.

Rant over.

Rich

Friday, 22 February 2008

War

A friend just sent me an email with a quote:

"War doesn't decide who's right.... just who's left."

Brilliant!

Whoever said that really knew yin and yang.

Rich

Yin and yang - another view.

Our society is obsessed with Yang. Yang is substantial, powerful, fast, light. Something has got to be higher, faster, sleeker, sexier.... the list is endless. Everything mechanical is Yang. Everything bright is yang. Everything fast is yang. If it grabs your attention, it's probably yang.

With all this going on, it is hard to see the yin.... Yet on a universal basis, consider what is greater?... All the planets and stars (yang)... or the empty space they occupy (yin)?

On a fundamental level, 'nothing' is the greatest thing in the universe. Space is nothing - space does nothing, yet the universe expands, and the planets still revolve around the stars. 

On a more down-to-earth level, a house is useful because of the empty space in which we occupy. A cup is useful because of the empty space into which we pour drinks. 

Buddhists say that "With our thoughts, we make the world."

Once you see the value in what isn't, you will start to enter a whole new paradigm. 

Be happy,

Rich

Friday, 15 February 2008

The breath is life

Many hundreds of years ago, the Chinese decided that we were all born with a set number of breaths. Once all those breaths were used up, you died. 
It's very easy to see how this idea came about. Those who had unhealthy, short, quick breaths did not live as long. Qigong and Tai Chi all have breathing at the core of their systems, and Taoists worked very hard to lengthen the time it took to take breaths. In reality, they are all improving the cardiovascular system, which makes a person more likely to live longer.
So let's have a go at living longer:
1. Without forcing it, slow down your breathing.
2. Stand or sit up straight, so you don't compress your chest and stomach.
3. Reduce tension around the neck and shoulders by regularly stretching and limbering.
4. Use your stomach to breathe, rather than your chest.
5. Without forcing it, make the transitions between inward and outward breaths as smooth as possible.
And be happy.
Rich

Saturday, 12 January 2008

The Blame Game

Interesting thing, blame. It's like violence in a rough pub on a Friday night. One person starts, then before you know it, everyone else is piling in. 

Here are some reasons why the blame game is played:
  • The false belief that punishment will prevent an accident from happening again. (Something we are taught as children.)
  • The false belief that you should be perfect all the time.
  • Inability to view your friends/colleagues as human beings.
  • Unwillingness to be part of the solution (lazy).
  • Fear of retribution (see first reason).
  • Inability to work out a solution (so I'll blame someone else).
From a business perspective, I cannot believe that anyone goes to work thinking "Today, I will bring the company (that I rely on to afford clothes, food and shelter) down from within." 

If you are able to rise above the tit-for-tat games that people play, you will find a remarkable transformation in the attitude of everyone around you. And when the excrement hits the fan, you will find them turning to you first. And that's what you want, because that's how you increase your value to your friends/family/work/employees. 

Be happy,

Rich