Planes, trains, and automobuses

We were eagerly looking forward to riding the Amtrack Empire Builder from Saint Paul, Minnesota to Portland, Oregon for the inaugural World Domination Summit. We had reserved a family sleeping compartment for the two of us  with windows on both sides of the train car, which would’ve saved us 4 nights in the hotel (two each way). I had packed my bags before leaving for work this morning, including post it notes we were planning to use to work on our elevator pitch during the 36 hour train ride. We were even looking forward to sampling the cuisine in the dining car.

Then this morning we found out that the train bridge in Minot, North Dakota is under water due to spring flooding caused by heavy rains. They are evacuating all 10,000 residents. The newly renovated train station is under water. Amtrack has another train, the SW Chief, that goes from Chicago to Los Angeles. But no availability until Friday. We wouldn’t get to Portland until Sunday.

Our remaining options were to drive or fly. Driving 1700 miles over three days is certainly doable, but then you have to turn around and drive back. For a weekend conference, it hardly makes sense. No post-it elevator pitch brainstorming. Lots of South Dakota and Montana. Too little Portland.

So we cashed in our train tickets and got on the first flight to Portland, with a short stop in Phoenix. We’ve already had a crash course in applying “Action Trumps Everything,” demonstrating flexibility and offsetting the disappointment of our imaginary train adventure with more time in Portland.

And if there was anyone from Minot who was planning to attend WDS, our thoughts and prayers are with you.

Posted in Serving Others, Uncategorized Tagged with:

Hormel Institute Recommends Plant-based Diet for Cancer Prevention

In an ironic twist, the Austin Minnesota-based Hormel Institute published an opinion recommending a plant-based diet for cancer prevention.

The full article appeared in the February 2011 issue of Nature Reviews Cancer. The authors suggest that the main cancer preventative benefits result from specific phytochemicals in the plant, but they also suggest that each individual may benefit most from a unique combination.

The USDA has even replaced the food pyramid with a new image that shows half a plate of fruits and veggies. Now if they could just get rid of the dairy and make the protein (meat) section smaller.

Pass the veggies!

Posted in Nutrition

Exploring the Chart of Inner Luminosity

image This wall hanging at the Twin Cities T’ai Chi Ch’uan Studio is a symbolic representation of the human body and the spiritual forces that dwell within it. The chart was carved in stone at the White Cloud Temple of Beijing by a Daoist monk named Liu Cheng-yin in 1886. The Daoists believe that qi may be visualized as energy, breath, or luminous spirits. Practicing Qigong keeps the spirits happy and well-nourished, which helps to maintain the health of the body.

These explanations of the Qigong philosophy behind the images on the chart come from The Way of Qigong, by Ken Cohen.

The boy and girl working the water treadmill represent the need to balance Yin (feminine) and Yang (masculine) energy. They also represent the right and left kidneys, which in Chinese medicine are considered reservoirs of sexual potency. The accompanying inscription says “Kidney water reverses its course.” This means that by practicing meditation, the waterlike sexual energy is conserved and made to flow upward, repairing the spine and brain and recharging the body with vitality.

Next we see a man plowing with an ox. The inscription says, “The iron bull tills the earth and sows the gold coin.” This means that Qigong requires the perseverence of a farmer and the stamina of a bull. The earth element, related to the spleen, is also a symbol of qi acquired through a balanced diet and harmonious lifestyle.

The four circular yin-yang symbols suspended above a flaming cauldron represent the lower dan tian, the “field of the elixir,” below the navel. The dan tian is like an alchemal vessel. By practicing abdominal breathing, the internal energy begins to cook. Eventually it “steams,” healing, repairing, and energizing the body. The four yin-yang symbols are radiating energy in all directions.

The weaving maid and the boy standing above her symbolize the unity of Yin and Yang. The weaving maid is Yin, the ability to store energy, to go inward, to maintain tranquility. Inner quiet is a prerequisite for energy cultivation. According to Chinese legend, the weaving maid spins a silken garment out of moonlight, which we see as the Milky Way. Here, the silken garment is the internal energy rising up the spine.

The boy represents Yang, the active and outgoing. He stands in a ring of blood; he is the spirit of the heart and the middle dan tian. According to Chinese legend, the cowherd boy and the weaving maid were once lovers. Because they neglected their duties the ruler of the heavens, the Jade Emperor, changed them into stars at opposite ends of the sky. One night a year, the seventh day of the seventh month, celebrated as Lover’s Day in China, the lovers cross the heavens and meet. In the Chart of Inner Luminosity, a bridge of qi joins the distant lovers. Thus Qigong means to unify internal energy. The boy also represents spiritual wisdom, innocence, simplicity, and youthful vitality regained through Qigong practice.

We see the stars of the Big Dipper constellation protruding from the cowherd’s crown. This means that a Qigong student should absorb qi from the stars and seek harmony with the cosmos. Daoists believe that the Dipper handle is like a lightning rod, drawing qi from the stars into the Dipper bowl. During the course of the year, the handle of the Dipper makes a 360-degree rotation. Since it thus points to all the stars, it is a reservoir of astral power.

The forest is the wood element and the liver. It represents the largest organ in the body and thus has a prominent place in the Chart. The liver, according to Chinese medicine, controls the even flow of qi. A healthy “forest” is extremely important for success in Qigong. However, we cannot improve our health by focusing on only one organ exclusively. Kidney-water helps the liver-wood to grow. Wood provides the fuel for heart-fire. Heart-fire creates ashes and nutrients that are necessary for the farmer to reap a good harvest from the earth (spleen). The earth produces gold and metal, the element and energy of the lungs. Metal becomes a molten liquid, feeding the kidneys. The organs thus form a circle of mutual interdependence.

The twelve-tiered pagoda represents the throat and the back of the neck. During meditation, qi is pumped from the sexual center, up the spine, passing the middle dan tian and internal organs, to the throat, continuing over the crown and then down the front of the body. The throat is an area where the qi is easily stuck, a result of poor posture, tension in the neck, or the concentration required to keep qi flowing upstream. From a Western psychological perspective, qi may be impeded at the “pagoda” because of difficulties in self expression and communication. The pagoda may also symbolize the importance of having a high vantage point, of not getting bogged down by details.

To the left of the pagoda we see a rectangular pool of water with the word “drawbridge” written next to it. The pool is the mouth and saliva. The bridge is the tongue. The pool provides water that prevents the mouth from drying out during breathing exercises. Saliva also absorbs qi during meditation; the meditator swallows saliva periodically and imagines it dropping into the lower dan tian, replenishing it. The tongue forms a bridge between two major meridians, the Governing Channel that follows the spine and extends over the crown, ending at the upper palate, and the Conception Channel that begins at the tip of the tongue and descends to the perineum. Touching the tip of the tongue to the upper palate closes the circuit so qi can circulate and flow without leaking.

Above the pond are two circles, representing the two eyes and the sun and moon. The Qigong student closes his eyes and turns the light inward, illuminating the inner world. By practicing self-awareness, he becomes a sage such as Lao Zi, the meditating figure above the right eye, or Bodhidharma, the founder of Zen Buddhism, the figure standing under Lao Zi with up stretched arms. The presence off Lao Zi and Bodhidharma, esteemed founders of Daoism and Zen, signify the importance of meditation as the means to awaken intuition and wisdom. They also represent the fundamental unity of different spiritual paths, all leading to the same goal.

Continuing up the spine, we see the head as a series of sacred peaks. Mountains are funnels that draw down stellar and heavenly energy; this energy is concentrated in caves. Daoists go to mountain caves to meditate and commune with heavenly power.

Posted in Meditation

Cultivate Your Inner Hayseed

One of the most complicated and intelligent people I know chose hayseed as his screen name. It bothered him when people assumed that he was a bumpkin because he chose to live in the country. The meaning I think he identified with the most would be “A simple, unsophisticated person.”


Tom Kooy said it most eloquently:

A profound loss.  An amazing man—brilliant, versatile, a renaissance man of the highest order.  He was selfless, magnanimous, generous, and the true “salt of the earth”—Gary shared with all of us a wisdom, a work ethic, and a form of leadership and mentoring that has shaped each of our
lives.

I personally owe him so much…and his mentoring and advocacy continues, where I have been so rewarded by knowing Gary, and all he did for me and my career, as I have sought to pay forward that generosity to others along the way…giving others an opportunity to grow, to shine, and only because he did that for me.  That’s a true legacy.

Gary, you will be deeply missed!

When Gary hired me to work at the Bureau of Criminal Apprehension, one of the things he said that made a lasting impression was “When you go home at the end of the day, you’ll feel good about making a difference and making the world a better place.” That is a good day at work, indeed.

Posted in Serving Others

Spit!

Indignation : anger at perceived (or supposed) affronts. You perceive it, so you hold on to it. Something bad may have happened to you. There is a Chinese proverb that says “the year reveals the day’s mystery.” You may not realize until a year later what bothered you about something that happened today. This can lead to resentment and stops the flow of qi when you are circulating the energy during the microcosmic orbit (small universe). These feelings of resentment most often are held in the solar plexus.

4 Tongue Positions during Meditation

  1. Down and flat into jaw, keep tip against teeth. Where it is when you breath from your chest (flight/fight/freeze) when your adrenals kick in. Keep your tongue here during cleansing breath – the Taoists called this Buffalo Breath.
  2. Up and flat against the roof of your mouth. Engages your diaphram. Tongue up,breath down. Tongue down, breath up.
  3. Tip up against palate, pointing towards your sinuses- increases saliva, increases circulation (beginning of meridian) .
  4. Tip back to beginning of soft palate at 45 degree angle. Key is to stay relaxed. Connects to energy center in third eye (pineal gland).

Safety -> Begin & end at the same place
1. Tan-ti’en: pick a number, start there at lower tan-ti’en,do repetitions
2. Come back to your body
3. Place : return to the same place

Three Part Ending – do the ending in the reverse order you went in

Homework: spit! Notice your saliva before, during, and after meditation. Taste, texture, amount – it changes during your meditation (Alchemy!) Mantak Chia wrote a whole book on spit, called Golden Elixir.

 

Posted in Breath, Meditation

It Takes Lots of Practice

image

Dorothy Hopkirk Ackerman passed away March 10th. Her memorial service was held on March 19th. She was 91 when she died. She and Gene Ackerman had been married almost 70 years. One of the people who spoke at the service was a vibrant young black woman who had been one of Dorothy’s hospice workers. She stood up and described how Dorothy looked at Gene with such loving eyes, even when Gene was being difficult. She had asked Dorothy how she was able to do that, and Dorothy replied “It takes lots of practice.”

It’s easy to love someone when they’re being kind and generous, wooing you or otherwise making you feel like you’re the center of the universe. It’s much more difficult to love someone when they’re being mean, stubborn, attacking you or making you feel worthless.

Being a mother is great practice for learning how to love. My mother was 22 when I was born. She used to tell people it was like babysitting, except the parents never came home. That’s the problem—you need to already know how to love before you’re qualified for the job of parent. It is pretty easy to love a baby, especially when they smile at you and look at you like you are the most amazing person they have ever seen. Babies don’t know how to do anything other than look at people with love in their eyes.

It takes lots of practice to remember how to look at someone with love in your eyes when they’re being difficult.

Posted in Serving Others

It’s a small universe after all

Is the universe expanding, exponentially and infinitely in all directions? Or is it just me?

We live “in” the universe, and a universe lives within us. Eastern medical philosophy recognizes that everything is holographic; wholes within wholes. For example, the condition of organs within your body can often be observed with accuracy by looking at areas of your tongue. Your ear, hand and foot map out your entire body energetically, and contain trigger points used in acupressure techniques which correspond to and affect all other parts of your body.

The Auricle Speaks

Auricular (ear) medicine is now proven to be effective for analyzing areas of problems, and treating the entire body from the external ear. It originated in China where medical workers charted more than 200 sites on the ear which showed direct correspondence to disease appearing elsewhere in the body. The techniques have also been developed in France and Germany over the past 50 years.

Ear reflexology is not only effective in the treatment of a wide range of common diseases, it can also be used with good results in the treatment of difficult emotional states.

So your ear is a complete information system that reflects your entire body holographically.

The food that you eat is new information you are introducing to the world of your body. And you, with your unique bundle of features, experiences, thoughts and emotions, are in turn a reflection of the greater world you live in too. (Granted, the reflection may be a bit kaleidoscopic. There’s always a lot going on.)

Back to the Universe

How very like an atom, with its spinning components, is our solar system with its spinning planets? And how like an atom, or, think big — like a molecule — are we, sitting here on this 8,000-mile thick earth?Edge University

In the practice of Spring Forest Qigong, the founding master Chunyi Lin suggests the following key:

“I am in the Universe. The Universe is in my body. The Universe and I combine together as one.”

March is Small Universe Month

For 30 days, we will contemplate the small universe within the larger universe, at least for a short time each day.

This contemplation ranges from thinking to experiencing, following a prescribed practice technique, and so becomes a meditative exercise: doing the “Small Universe”.

So, meditate on that.

Posted in EnergyHealing, Spring Forest Qigong, The Universe

Many Teachers, One Master

Teacher Disciple
There is a saying in India that a person can have many teachers, but only one master. Some of the common elements in this relationship include:

The establishment of a teacher/student relationship.

A formal recognition of this relationship, generally in a structured initiation ceremony where the guru accepts the initiate as a shishya and also accepts responsibility for the spiritual well-being and progress of the new shishya. Sometimes this initiation process includes the conveying of specific esoteric wisdom and/or meditation techniques.

Gurudakshina, where the shishya gives a gift to the guru as a token of gratitude, often the only monetary or otherwise fee that the student ever gives.

    Traditionally, in Chinese martial arts, sifu was used as a familial term and sign of respect as in the general usage.

    The term takes on a more intimate context when a student becomes a formal student or disciple of the teacher. The acceptance as a student is a very formal event, usually requiring a discipleship ceremony called bai shi. After the ceremony, the relationship is defined as a more direct parent/child context and usage takes on this term rather than a generic sign of respect for skill and knowledge.

    The Cantonese word sifu is translated into English as master. It can refer to either a master carpenter or a Master-Parent. The ambiguity arises when the Student chooses a Master who does not reciprocate the commitment. It can lead to disappointment and misunderstanding.

    To paraphrase the Grail Knight from Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade: one must choose, but choose wisely.

     

    Posted in Sanskrit Language, Serving Others, Spring Forest Qigong

    Installing Love

    Tech Support: Yes, how can I help you?

    Customer: Well, after much consideration, I’ve decided to install Love. Can you guide me through the process?

    Tech Support: Yes. I can help you. Are you ready to proceed?

    Customer: Well, I’m not very technical, but I think I’m ready. What do I do first?

    Tech Support: The first step is to open your Heart. Have you located your Heart?

    Customer: Yes, but there are several other programs running now. Is it okay to install Love while they are Running?

    Tech Support: What programs are running?

    Customer: Let’s see, I have Past Hurt, Low Self-Esteem, Grudge and Resentment running right now.

    Tech Support: No problem, Love will gradually erase Past Hurt from your current operating system. It may remain in your permanent memory but it will no longer Disrupt other programs. Love will eventually override Low Self-Esteem with a module of its own called High Self-Esteem. However, you have to completely turn off Grudge and Resentment. Those programs prevent Love from Being properly installed. Can you turn those off?

    Customer: I don’t Know how to turn them off. Can you tell me how?

    Tech Support: With pleasure. Go to your start menu and invoke Forgiveness. Do this as many times as necessary until Grudge and Resentment have been completely erased. I loved this!

    Customer: Okay, done! Love has started installing itself. Is that normal?

    Tech Support: Yes, but remember that you have only the base program. You need to begin connecting to other Hearts in order to get the upgrades.

    Customer: Oops! I have an error message already. It says, “Error – Program will not run on external components.” What should I do?

    Tech Support: Don’t worry. It means that the Love program is set up to run on Internal Hearts, but has not yet been run on your Heart. In non-technical terms, it simply means you have to Love yourself before you can Love others.

    Customer: So, what should I do?

    Tech Support: Pull down Self-Acceptance; then click on the following files: Forgive-Self; Realize Your Worth; and Acknowledge your Limitations.

    Customer: Okay, done.

    Tech Support: Now, copy them to the “My Heart” directory. The system will overwrite any conflicting files and begin patching faulty programming Also, you need to delete Verbose Self-Criticism from all directories and empty your Recycle Bin to make sure it is completely gone and never comes back.

    Customer: Got it. Hey! My heart is filling up with new files. Smile is playing on my monitor and Peace and Contentment are copying themselves all over My Heart. Is this normal?

    Tech Support: Sometimes. For others it takes awhile, but eventually everything gets it at the proper time. So Love is installed and running. One more thing before We hang up. Love is Freeware. Be sure to give it and its various modules to everyone you meet. They will in turn share it with others and return some cool modules back to you.

    Customer: Thank you, God .

    Posted in Positive psychology, The Universe

    Lou Bedor’s 10 Life Lessons

    Lou Bedor

    Last week I went to the funeral for Lou Bedor, father of my best friend Margaret. It was the best life celebration I’ve ever attended. One of the highlights was this top 10 list from the euology given by his youngest daughter Mary Ellen.

    As I wrote this eulogy I considered about talking about my Dad’s background – where he graduated from, his career information, his military background, etc., but as I thought about all those things – saying them just would not sufficiently honor my Dad. You see, all those things were just a means to an end for my Dad. My Dad was one of those really great guys – he was a great co-worker, husband, friend and Dad. A friend of mine described my Dad as “the salt of the earth” – a very humble, caring, unpretentious person. So in order to honor him in a way that I think is appropriate, I have decided to share Dads top 10 life lessons:

    • Number 10 lesson: Be charitable
      Dad led by example here. We grew up watching and participating with Dad as he set aside time to drive handicapped people to church, deliver meals for loaves and fishes, and meals on wheels and for other various charitable entities. He also was very active in his church by being involved on various committees, lecturing, and singing in the choir. He also made a point to set aside money – even though at times I am sure mom and Dad didn’t have a whole lot – to send to charities in need.
    • Number 9: Be competitive and be aggressive
      Some of you might think this is an unusual description of my Dad, but again, he led by example. Probably the place this came out the most in was in a good old-fashioned game of cards. Years ago, mom and Dad started the Friday night poker tradition, but one of the other games they played was a card game called 500. If you were Dad’s partner you can hear him saying now – “if you have one bower you bid 7, two you bid 8 and 3 bid 9! You have to count on the kitty and your partner’s cards!” He believed you had to play aggressively to win. Of course, Dad was always a gracious winner (a trait I have yet to master myself) and he certainly encouraged having fun in the process but make no mistake about it – Dad was out to win and so were we all! We will all fondly remember the numerous cribbage games we played with Dad and I am sure will carry on the tradition and hopefully all remember it’s OK to be competitive and aggressive as long as you are respectful in the process.
    • Life lesson number 8: Get your education – it is what will set you up in life
      Both mom and Dad were tireless in their encouragement of continued education. It was an expectation in our household that you worked hard in school. Dad felt strongly that education was the key long-term life success. Mom and Dad were very proud and celebrated the fact that all of their children attended college, many have advanced degrees, and all their grandchildren have attended college and many also have graduated. I had the chance to visit with my Dad a little over a week ago before he fell seriously ill, and the first conversation he had with me was about my children – he wanted to be sure they were all set up to finish their educations and he was particularly proud of the fact that my son Sasha had been awarded a sports scholarship and would be attending college next fall. You can hear him now as he asked me to remind Sasha to “get his grades up!” Sasha has assured him he will do just that.
    • Lesson Number 7: Have a sense of humor – don’t take yourself too seriously
      Dad had a tremendous sense of humor and was actually very funny. He could literally make us all laugh by a movement of an eyebrow. He wasn’t a story or a joke teller – he was clever and witty and often found laughter in tough situations. My sister Margaret shared a story recently that demonstrated his ability to find humor in frustration. As Dad’s body gave way and his eye site deteriorated, he would often find it difficult to find things – especially his watch and/or wallet. One night they were planning to go to dinner and could not find Dad’s watch. Dad was visibly upset and Margaret suggested they go to dinner and continue the search when they returned. At dinner, Dad pulled his sleeves up as he prepared to eat. On this now exposed forearm sat the watch they were looking for. Margaret gently pointed out the fact that the watch was on his arm and as Dad looked at it he said to Margaret “well Teresa said I’d find it sooner or later”. His sense of humor and ability to laugh at himself definitely made his later years in life much easier on him and those around him.
    • Lesson Number 6: Make time for yourself – it will allow you to be more present with others
      As a working parent with three children I now realize the importance of the example Dad set here. Dad through his whole life set aside time for himself. He sang in a singing group with his friends, he golfed, played tennis, and since 1958 went to Demontreville, a Jesuit retreat house– 37 times – for a full weekend for prayerful reflection. He knew you have to take care of yourselves to be effectively there to take care of others.
    • Lesson Number 5: Ask for what you want, you might just get it
      No one was more masterful at this than my Dad. He didn’t ask for much but was not afraid to let people know what he wanted and was the master of the art. He would start lobbying for what he wanted right after Christmas ended! For example, if he wanted any athletic equipment – he would start dropping hints to my brother John. I remember back in the early 80’s when the first oversized PRINCE tennis racket that back then was $200 – he dropped the hint to John. John just knew his next move was to figure out when Dad’s birthday or anniversary, or father’s day – whatever was the upcoming Dad to celebrate Dad was and let us all know he wanted this, how much to chip in, and it was taken care of. If it was a tennis related item it went to Teresa – Twins tickets – Susan – clothes – that went to me. He was very subtle in his approach but the life lesson is a good one. You can’t get what you don’t ask for – and the follow up to this is be appreciate of all you get and everything people do for you and Dad was certainly all of that. Everyone always wanted to do something for Dad.
    • Lesson Number 4: Be tolerant of others and if you don’t have something nice to say – don’t say anything at all
      I can honestly say I don’t recall ever hearing my Dad gossip or say anything bad about anyone. Expressions like “to each his own” come to mind when I think about Dad. He lived his life being very open-minded and even if he disagreed with someone’s point of view – he respected people for their opinions. He felt it was a waste energy to spend time talking poorly of other people.
    • Lesson number 3: Celebrate your children and grandchildren – brag about your children and grandchildren
      Family was Dad’s number 1 priority. There are so many things I love about my Dad – but one in particular is he had a great, loving relationship with everyone one of his kids and all his grandchildren. He celebrated all their accomplishments – professionally, academically, physically – and he not only celebrated them I have to say he was an out and out bragger! Being with family was always first and there are numerous stories of how he went out of his way to support his kids. And he was always there – not just to celebrate. If we needed help – we always knew we could call him. It didn’t matter if he was driving in the freezing cold to help you change a tire – getting up in the middle of the night to bring you another set of keys because you locked them in your car – heading over to help you kill a bat (or in Susan’s case to get a bird out of the house) – he was always there. If someone was in the hospital – you knew where Dad would be. He never made you feel ashamed for asking for help or that he as put out by helping you – in fact, quite the opposite. He was a wonderful, supportive loving father and grandfather and gave us all a great roadmap by which to parent our own children.
    • Lesson number 2 -Friends are family
      For Dad – family wasn’t limited to just “blood relatives”. Mom and Dad both treasured their friendships with the Bachs, Clemens, Hendricksons, Gleasons, Mary Jordon, the Howards, Pat Green, the Incarnation group, Dad’s IRS buddies – and passed along that wisdom to all of us. There are many people here today that I know if you asked them – they would say they are part of the Bedor family even if there is no formal relationship.
    • Lesson number 1: Believe in something greater than yourself – life’s journey will be very difficult and lonely if you don’t
      For Dad, that was a strong Catholic faith. To illustrate this point and in closing, I’d like to share a very personal story about a conversation I had with my Dad. As a parent, I can’t think of anything that could rock your faith more than dealing with the death of a child – regardless of the age of that child. A number of years ago I, myself, became seriously ill and dangerously close to losing my own life. After 5 long weeks in a hospital, it was actually my Dad who took me home that day. After we got settled, we sat down to talk as we had for every day the 5 weeks before – and I asked Dad a question that had been weighing heavy on my mind as I said “Dad – were you ever afraid I was going to die?” My Dad answered that question without skipping a beat as he replied “Afraid – no – scared perhaps – but not afraid – because I knew that if you died, you be with God, you’d be with your mother – that you’d be just fine and that I would see you again real soon”.

    Well Dad – anyone who knows you well – is very confident that today you are with God and you are indeed just fine. Say hi to mom, and thanks for reminding us – that as we all struggle to cope with your passing – that our time here on Earth is actually very short, and if we believe, – we are assured that we will all see you again, real soon.

    Posted in Positive psychology, Serving Others