Beware the Rampaging Hun, by Steven Alpern, L.Ac.

Beware the Rampaging Hun, by Steven Alpern, L.Ac.

 

Beware the Rampaging Hun

by Steven Alpern, L. Ac.

Human beings engage an amazing adventure in life. An individual Shen (Spirit) resides within the jing (essence), which has been consolidated by mixing the jing of both parents. A person is born, who experiences the interactions of life, acts to sustain his or her individuality, and records everything that happens. Individuals have the opportunity to deepen their understanding of themselves and the universe through their presence and cultivation until the final crowning of life, when they return to the Dao.

Everybody cultivates something; a few even do it with conscious intention. Our lives are a qigong practice, because we breathe life into every moment. Many modern people cultivate some form of food stagnation through intemperate eating habits, which follow common compulsions. Far more than satisfying needs for sustenance, these people use food and drink to address desires, including the desire to be distracted away from unresolved emotional or spiritual struggle. This particular means of coping with emotional distress also provides “excess” humors (blood, fluids) into which the embodied spirit can embed its unfinished business.

Habituated lifestyle choices support and nourish each individual’s particular mix of qi and blood stagnations. Many modern people nourish and support “adrenal exhaustion,” which we might label yuan (source) qi depletion, by overtaxing themselves and accumulating stagnations. That process is further sustained when “exhausted” individuals develop dependence on stimulants to activate their qi in the morning. A healthy person arises and is awake, because wei qi – the post- natal expression of yang (activation) – moves to the exterior with the opening of one’s eyes. When wei qi is entangled in various stagnations, the individual often needs to stimulate it to come out, so he or she can engage the activities of the day.

The habituated interpretations and reactions that an individual cultivates become the context through which all of his or her interactions flow. Attachment to entanglements begets struggle. When individuals experience their interactions through entangled interpretations they form conflicted emotional relationships with their lives. Generating smooth flow of qi and blood from that experience requires either suppression/repression of unresolved struggle, or substantial conscious attention to releasing blockages and stagnations. The former may appear functional in the short-term by displacing entanglements and stagnations into dormancy, but that capacity is limited.

The Neijing (Inner Classic) articulated profound theories for differentiating the struggles of individual human life. Individuals typically project habituated interpretations, which are contained in the distinct channels, onto current circumstances and events processed through the primary channels. The unresolved byproducts of everyday life colored by those unconsciously projected interpretations accumulate in either the luo vessels or divergent channels. They may be embedded in various humors at myriad locations, depending on specifics of the individual’s process for suppressing or repressing them.

Individually embodied spirits engage and accumulate experience through the combined agency of the five aspects of Shen (Spirit) – the five shen. Each of these shen is associated with the primal movement of one of the five phases (wuxing), is contained within its zang (vital organ), and expresses interactions through its paired fu (storehouse). Together the five shen provide both the motive force of the individual’s life, and his or her capacity to learn and grow.

shen (Fire) – the light of awareness which allows sensory input
yi (Earth) – the ability to contain consciousness and embody
po (Metal) – the ability to identify with the body’s immediate needs
zhi (Water) – the willingness to polarize toward the world as an individual
hun (Wood) – the capacity to accumulate individual experience

Each individual’s life relies on his or her ability to use and contain the light of awareness to fulfill the embodied spirit’s immediate needs. Doing so exercises the individual’s willingness to maintain his or her separate life, which then records all experience. Individuals grow and evolve through life by integrating into both their spirits and bodies the processed results of their experiences and actions.

Among the primary channels in the familiar “time-clock” sequence, the liver is last. It accumulates and stores the emotional residue of all experience, which has been processed by the other channels. In somatic theory the liver “stores blood.” Since blood is the mother of qi, stagnations of accumulated blood support qi stagnations, so the liver and gall bladder are also responsible for enforcing the smooth flow of qi. This is done through both:

  • generating forceful and assertive impulse to penetrate through any blockages or accumulations
  • displacing unresolved struggles or conflicts away from the primary channels into dormancy. It’s no wonder that Chinese medical thinkers chose so many gall bladder points in representing the daimai, since it provides the constitutional capacity to suspend unresolved issues.

The classical Chinese worldview identified three hun, which is the aspect of spirit that resides in the liver. These represent three modes of being, through which individuals accumulate experience:

The hun of Nothingness — dis-identifies from any meaning or significance that may be projected onto circumstances and events (a particular ideal of Buddhism and Daoism)

The hun of Oneness – dis-identifies from the perception of separateness (a particular ideal of Christianity and many other religions)

The hun of Duality (or Causation) – identifies with the meaning and significance the individual’s point of view projects onto circumstances, events, people and things.

The uncultivated consciousness of virtually all individuals exhibits the Hun of Duality. While accumulating the emotional residue of experience, that hun places the individual either above (superior to) the embodied spirit’s experience or inferior to it. The Hun of Duality arises from the individual compulsively grasping at the veracity of his or her projected point of view. When an

individual’s hun runs rampant, his or her self-talk maintains a superior (or inferior) position relative to all experience. That orientation impedes new inputs from entering, or distorts them to match the individual’s impacted interpretations about life.

Though each person’s “rampaging hun” exhibits a primary orientation – either above or below, each also projects a complementary one to preserve the sense of balance that each soul requires. A few sample pairs include:

  • Anger/pride and sadness
  • Rage and shame
  • Arrogance and depression

These are functional pairs, as they arise directly out of each other. For instance, a person dominated by rage always feels extremely superior – to the point of not recognizing the legitimacy of another’s needs and feelings. In their rage they do something terrible and hurtful. In a calmer moment, they recognize the nature of their act, and become ashamed. The shame of their violent acts haunts them, and they feel worthless, as shame moves the embodied spirit to the lowest of lows.

Eventually, the individual’s attachment to survival recognizes that IT must get the personality extracted from the pit of its self-imposed hell. The force that raises the embodied spirit out of shame is the very same that becomes rage when it gets stuck on some event or circumstance that challenges the individual’s sense of value. This cycle continues until the person recognizes his or her folly.

Likewise, anger or unbridled pride naturally pushes other people away, and then the embodied spirit can experience the sadness of isolation and alienation. Sadness naturally descends, so it brings the angry individual under better control. It may also mire him or her in depression or insecurity. Overtaken by this gloom, the individual rebels against his or her perceived victimization, and asserts his or her being and value.

The more wildly one oscillates between the poles of these functional pairs, the more completely the rampaging hun dominates the individual’s personality and experience. Such people are often emotionally volatile and unpredictable, because the internal component of every experience can shift so wildly. This situation expresses somatically as internal wind, which the embodied spirit often tries to control by weighing it down with either dampness or phlegm. Those factors and stagnant blood, which is the somatic version of stagnant emotions, accumulate to block vital function.

The flux of experience generally comes fast and furious, especially because of the individual’s projected entanglements. Each “new experience” combines the events and circumstances that occur (externally), and the individual’s (internal) disposition toward them. That disposition is unconsciously projected onto everything that occurs. There is one enduring question that almost every rampaging hun can benefit from considering:

Would you rather be right or be happy?

True happiness is far more than feeling well entertained by life. It entails letting go to allow Liver blood to nourish Heart qi. Rather than being entangled in stagnation, such an individual cultivates release and liberation. Are the emotional conflicts sustained by the rampaging hun worth devoting one’s life and vitality toward maintaining?

In addition to miring individuals in their own dramas, the rampaging hun is blind to the subtle workings of Dao. The hun of Duality separates the individual’s awareness from the complex fabric of influences that support us all, and enrolls in the delusions of its own point of view. The Dao, including its expression within the microcosm of an embodied spirit’s physiology, can only be know by seekers who are willing to notice and release the “monkey mind” to be present in the moment. We are most dangerous when we think we understand. Beware the rampaging hun!

Mr. Alpern teaches seminars on the divergent/distinct channels. For more information about his seminars, contact Golden Flower Chinese Herbs.

Illustration conceived by Matthew Sweigart, drawn by Laila Rodriguez.

30for30!!! Celebrating 30 years in the Healing Arts!

30for30!!! Celebrating 30 years in the Healing Arts!

meridian chart 11-17Join with me in Celebrating thirty years in the Healing arts! Take 30% Off for all my books, chart, DVD, and Mp4 Digital trainings, with the coupon code: 30for30!!! Now through my birthday, August 22, 2017!

It was on just such a summer day, July 1987 that my full-time professional Shiatsu career began. The SweatLodge leader (my first lodge of many!) was making prayers about how we would each serve in the coming Earth Changes. When he said, “Some people will be movers and shakers, but most of us will just help people out, day by day!”  I heard my calling loud and clear. “Just do Shiatsu! You can do this!”

In my Leonine personality type, I’d always made up this story that I was supposed to do great things. And yet, that was such a daunting prospect it actually stopped me from moving forward. An example of this was my feelings about my singing. I always wanted to sing like Pavarotti. But since I was in no way capable of singing like Pavarotti, then I didn’t pursue my singing as a career at all. (May be a good thing that i spared the world… but not really…) Being myself is the actual key that was difficult for me to unlock.

Then in that SweatLodge, my two years of Shiatsu study at the Ohashi Institute finally came together in something that I was very capable of. A baby step forward, just “helping people out day by day.” And from that beautiful moment my full time practice has unfolded, now over three decades! I am humbled and grateful for the many gifts, and the many beautiful healings, with many amazing and wonderful people, on this powerful and meaningful life journey!

To celebrate with me, you can now order any or all of my titles for 30% off!  On the checkout page, simply enter the coupon code: 30for30!!! in the coupon field, and WahLah, your price will melt down 30%!  Offer good from now until my birthday, August 22nd, 2017. For those of you planning to enroll in my HeartMind Shiatsu Professional training, this is a great time to purchase all your books and charts for the training!

Let’s all help the human race to a brighter future, simply helping out our brothers and sisters… day by day!!!

30for30!!!

Come IN from the Cold and Warm UP this Winter!

Come IN from the Cold and Warm UP this Winter!

Elevate Your Healing Bodywork Practice!

with Matthew Sweigart, CI

February 3-5, 2017
Friday evening: 6-9pm, Saturday & Sunday: 10am-5pm
Registration open now!

Come IN from the cold and warm UP this winter! Come share warmth and connection with fellow travelers on the healing path. Enjoy this inspiring, hands-on exploration of the healing arts.
This workshop will include fun, invigorating movement, healing touch, and profound self development as you give and receive innovative, heart-centered bodywork.
You’ll learn one safely performed Flying HeartMind Shiatsu lift that will astound and amaze you and keep your clients coming back for more!

Elevate your practice to the next level!

Free Demo Jan. 26th, 6-8pm
Bodywork Bistro Living Arts Center
3825 Iris, Suite 300, Boulder, CO

Weekend Workshop Fees
$267 by Jan. 26th  ($297 thereafter.)

*This course is included in the 500-hour HeartMind Shiatsu Professional Training.
* Based on the popular Harmonizing Heaven & Earth DVD and Companion Manual.

The Five Freedoms, and the Five Elements

The Five Freedoms, and the Five Elements

In my recent Pathways of Qi, Exploring the Meridian Medicine Wheel workshop in Chicago, I introduced the idea of the five freedoms. These are essential to exercise in the presence of unconditional love for a true, full and deep sense of wholeness and self-acceptance. They offer a sure way to escape the struggle of toxic shame and self-deprecation, and to claim and exercise them is a significant piece of ongoing personal cultivation.

The five freedoms simply stated are: 1) to perceive, 2) to think, 3) to feel, 4) to want and 5) to choose. In order to live fully from our authentic and realized self, we practice affirming our five freedoms.

  1. We affirm our own unique perceptions of the world around us. We have the ability to see, hear, smell, taste and feel the truth of our experience. No one else can tell us what to perceive, though conversations with others regarding their perceptions may shape our perceptual experience. What is essential here is to know that ultimately it is our right and responsibility to trust and grow our own perceptions.
    ———–
  2. We affirm our right and responsibility to think for ourselves. No one can do our thinking for us, though perhaps many have through the art of persuasion tried to influence our thinking. Even education in a system can be a subtle form of external conditions shaping our thoughts. Again, what is essential here is to realize that we are ultimately responsible for our thoughts, and knowing when and how to express them in a good way. Sinclair Lewis’s character Babbit was a perfect example of someone who struggled to find his own original thoughts. Of course, this is a caricature of a human being, but it can be hauntingly real if you tend to be overly influenced by the strongly expressed opinions of those whom you invest with authority.
    ———–
  3. Affirming your rights and responsibilities to your feelings is an essential skill to develop in order to live a highly functional life with a minimum of victim thinking. To me, this area is the one that ultimately is completely our own. No one can tell you what to feel. No one can make you feel anything. Your feelings are your own. No more can you say “you make me mad.” Rather say,” I find that I am mad when I reflect upon your behavior and your words.” And that is where your work begins. To own your feelings is to have the ability to be strong in your authentic self-expression. To know what you are feeling in any giving moment or setting is to have in your consciousness the power you need to be fully alive. To learn to navigate your own inner emotional landscape and to fully own the rights and responsibilities that go with your emotional being is perhaps the single most important task you can undertake.
    ———–
  4. To affirm your right to what you want, and what you desire is another essential step on the path of personal freedom. And it is founded on the previous three freedoms. If you are free to perceive, think and feel for yourself, you will be clear about what you want and desire in your life in any given moment. And here the art of being in relationship is most sorely tested. The fact that there are so many choices, and so many things, places, experiences, available to us to chose from, and that everyone has their own unique set of tastes and needs, the art of doing things together that everyone in the party agrees they also want is a high art indeed. of course if we were completely alone, we might always in every moment find that what we want is never in conflict with what others want. Yet this is not the case. We live in social settings, and in order to maintain social harmony, there are often compromises, or delays and a need for a great deal of flexibility. But the clearer you are about your own desires, you can use them to point the way to your best outcomes. And like the Rolling Stones song tells us, “you can’t always get what you want, but if you try sometime, I think you’ll find, you get what you need!”
    ———–
  5. Finally the right to chose is the last essential step on the path of freedom. Based on all the previous freedoms, your own personal choice is before you. No one can ultimately make any choice for you. You must make it inside yourself, and then work to actualize it in the world. Make a commitment to the world you wish to live in, the choices you make to devote your time, attention, energy and love to, and watch your world come into focus and begin to yield fulfillment and satisfaction. yet at the same time, see that this freedom demands stepping up to your rights and responsibilities. If you have chosen for  yourself, then you have no one else to blame. This is not easy! For many, the idea of having another person chose for them can lead to a sense of relief. Gosh, I admit, sometimes it’s just hard to know exactly what the right choice is. And giving that over to a trusted friend or advisor can really help guide the way. But that is the key… a trusted friend or advisor must also always know that ultimately your reaction to the choice and alignment with the choice is essential. For myself, I like to use a “non-human source” as a guide. Some sort of divine or spirit being to help guide me. There’s a lot to be said for the line in the Lord’s prayer “Thy will be done!” To align yourself with the divine purpose for you is a profound key to fulfilling this final freedom.

So now that we are familiar with the five freedoms, how do these relate to the Five Elements. For this, I draw the link to the daily cycle of energy flow.

Perceptions I see as related to the Metal Element and the Wei Qi field. Our contact with the world around us is the first edge of experience.

Thoughts relate to the Earth Element, our nourishment and rumination energies. We take things into us, and we roll them around in our mind’s eye. The spirit level here is known as the Yi. The Yi is the rational intellect and it falls in the purview of the Spleen Channel energies.

Feelings / Emotions I give to the Fire Element, the element of the Heart and Small Intestine, Triple Warmer, and Pericardium. These energies are deeply related to our inner world of truth, interpretation and essential self-awareness and realization. There is a strong argument to be made for the emotions to be rooted in the Water element as well, but here is where I see Water being most closely related to realm of wants and desires.

Water governs the deep, driving forces that shape our motivations into life. Our Zhi, our will forces are here in the Kidneys, and they arise from within us, even from our unconscious. One can even say that Heart is the awareness that we are conscious of, and Kidney the awareness that is revealing itself as we go along. There are few places in life where this is more clearly revealed than in our wants and desires. An old German song speaks of Hans, who has everything he wants. But what he wants he doesn’t have, and what he has, he doesn’t want! And yet, he has everything he wants! We can all relate to this in one way or another as we seek that elusive feeling of fulfillment and satisfaction along the journey of life.

And finally, to chose, simply put, this is the realm of the Wood Element. Our Gall Bladder and Liver are charged with the task of making the strategic choices at each step of the way. To weight the two sides (or many sides) of any given situation and to take the ultimate responsibility of making the choice. And then once the choice is made, to learn and grow, striving ever onward in life toward the goals and rewards that await a “job well done.” 

So these are the correlations. And in the task of fully embodying your five freedoms I encourage you to look and see where you may be weak or strong, need attention, or can rest confidently in your sense of achievement. If you struggle with your emotions, practice Fire Element cultivation. If you are not sure about what you perceive, check your Wei Qi field and develop your Lung and Large Intestine Qi. Apply this to each of the five freedoms, and use the Five Elements and their corresponding meridians to access the energy you need to more and more fully realize those freedoms in all areas of your life. And any place where you see your freedoms being compromised, slow down, pause, take a break and honestly assess where you are at. Then affirm once more your right and responsibility to be fully in your perceptions, thoughts, feelings, desires and choices.

I encourage you to take this into your life and put these five freedoms into action. In so doing, you will eradicate the monster of self-deprecation and banish the demon of toxic shame from running your life forever. And further, make a commitment to surround yourself with others who affirm your right to your five freedoms, and also claim the right to their own. It can be a lot of fun to be in a dedicated group of beings on the path of freedom. Let freedom ring!

And… See you in class!

Matthew

 

 

 

The Bitter Flavor & the Fire Element

The Bitter Flavor & the Fire Element

 

Colorful-spicesImparting the wisdom of Traditional Chinese Medicine, this is the second in a FREE series of talks that will teach you how herbs and spices can support your internal organs, your energetic balance and your overall health, literally spicing up your life!

Wed., April 6th
6-7pm
Savory Spice Shop
2041 Broadway St., Ste. 1
Boulder, CO 80302

This week’s talk will focus on the Fire Element and the Bitter Flavor.  Learn how the Fire Element expresses itself in your body, mind, and spirit and some signs and symptoms that your Fire energies may be out of balance, such as disturbed sleep, trouble speaking, high or low blood pressure, getting easily chilled or overheated.  Learn some distinguishing features between exaggerated Fire and depleted Fire, which will tell you when to avoid Bitter flavors for better internal balance or when to start incorporating more of them into your diet to support your health.

Then an expert at the Savory Spice Shop will go into detail about some bitter herbs and spices and how to incorporate them into various recipes so that you can bring your body into balance by spicing up your life!

jess-87These talks will be led by Jessica Van Antwerp, an AOBTA nationally Certified Shiatsu Practitioner and Certified Instructor of HeartMind Shiatsu. She has been studying Traditional Chinese Medicine since 2009 and strives to live in harmony with Nature using the Elements as her guide. Her passion for her work comes across through her teaching style, infused with case studies and personal stories, as well as humor and light-heartedness.

Five Element Flow – HeartMind Shiatsu 102

Building upon the content of 101 students now learn the Theory of the Five Elements and how they manifest through the organ networks to enliven body/mind/spirit. The traditional correspondences of the Elements are the cornerstone of the course, grounding students in the basic attributes of each of the Five Elements and how they express themselves in Nature and in Humanity. Students begin to discern the signs and symptoms of each of the Elements, and in this way, begin to practice the art of creating treatment plans tailor made to the specific needs of each client. Yoga-inspired Meridian Stretch Exercises are practiced as both a tool of treatment and assessment, and traditional  shu point assessment methods will be introduced.

103: Balancing Yin & Yang

In this level students learn the art of pattern recognition through a study of kyo/jitsu deficiency excess model of Master Masuanga’s Zen Shiatsu system and the use of the Four tools of Assessment: Looking, Asking, Listening/Smelling and Touching. All previously learned material is integrated into flowing sessions led by movement, awareness and pattern recognition with multiple points of contact using thumbs, palms, forearms, elbows and knees. Additional elegant positions and movement combinations are introduced.  Much like vinyasa flows in yoga, various sequences of movement and acu-point stimulation are practiced to give students a full range of technical approaches for clinical application.  Masunaga’s Front and Back Assessment Areas are studied, and effective assessment palpation practiced. A semi-private tutorial with the Instructor is required between 103 and 104.

 

203: Five Elements, Organ Networks, Yin Yang, Deficiency Excess

In Five Elements, Organ Networks students deepen their understanding of Organ Network energies, particularly focusing on the nature of yin and yang and excess and deficient patterns in great detail the psycho-physical realm.  Leon Hammer’s seminal work, Dragon Rises, Redbird Flies, provides the springboard for the study and treatment of the signs and symptoms of life energy patterns in body, mind and spirit. Students learn to discern between Yin Deficiency and Yang Excess, Yang Deficiency and Yin Excess and how these patterns of disharmony manifest and how they might best be treated to restore balance and harmony to the entire system.  Of particular interest is the process of development and maturation over time, the recognition of enduring patterns, and the choices we have to shift to new and more powerful ways of being in the world. Students apply these principles to their own life, and by extension discover how they can use these powerful insights to assist clients in the treatment room.

202: Classical Chinese Medicine Patterns and Syndromes

In this level, students learn the rich and detailed tapestry of human wellness through an in-depth study of Etiology, the discernment of External Pernicious Influences, the Internal Endogenous Causes of Dis-ease, and the Five Fundamental Substances and Spiritual Essensces.  These topics are covered through a lively combination of guided meditation, selected readings, lecture and discussion.  In addition, tongue and pulse Assessment are introduced as tools for discernment of signs and symptoms. Practical discovery of the various patterns and etiologies as well as effective clinical strategies for treatment are explored. Much time is given to Supervised Clinical Practice throughout this level leading to a refinement of skill and increasing treatment room confidence.

 

201: Meridian Extensions, Six Divisions, Eight Temperaments

Students deepen their work with the Masunaga Zen Shiatsu method through study of the Meridian Extensions and Six Divisions of Yin and Yang in body, mind and spirit. We explore the various manifestations of yin and yang, especially as expressed through Temperament and Personality. Yin Yang theory is creatively descibes the changes and transformations that occur in any natural system throughout time and space The recognition of the stages of transformation in any living system leads to deep and powerful insights into health and balance. By understanding the interactive dynamics of Yin Yang and the Five Elements, students learn to treat deficiencies or excesses in any element through any other element as a function of Creation and Control Cycle dynamics. In this class, we explore the application of this transformational theory to both the physical and psycho-spiritual body. Masunaga Meridian Extensions, Eight Temperaments theory of Yves Requena and Five Element Creation and Control  Cycle theories inspire and inform our study and practice.

 

104: Clinical Application

Incorporating the content of the previous three levels, students embrace a total overview of the body/mind/spirit energy to effectively meet clinical challenges that may arise in their practice.  Additional tools of Extraordinary Vessel Theory along with extensive Clinical Supervision and Discussion bring students to the place where they can confidently integrate HeartMind Shiatsu services in a professional clinical setting. With successful completion of this level students earn a certificate of satisfactory completion of the HeartMind Shiatsu Basic Training.

 

102: Five Element Flow

Building upon the content of 101 students now learn the Theory of the Five Elements and how they manifest through the organ networks to enliven body/mind/spirit. The traditional correspondences of the Elements are the cornerstone of the course, grounding students in the basic attributes of each of the Five Elements and how they express themselves in Nature and in Humanity. Students begin to discern the signs and symptoms of each of the Elements, and in this way, begin to practice the art of creating treatment plans tailor made to the specific needs of each client. Yoga-inspired Meridian Stretch Exercises are practiced as both a tool of treatment and assessment, and traditional  shu point assessment methods will be introduced.