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The Fire Element of Kai Chi Do: Purification

Kai Chi Do follows the course of Five Elements – Root, Air, Fire, Water, and Earth – and the Fire Element is purification – dissolving resistance so your Life Energy can flow freely and fill your body and mind.  The Fire Element raises Energy with a powerful aerobic workout combined with breathwork.  This will get your heart pumpin’ and your blood flowing.

This video clip shows less than a minute of Fire.  We did the Fire Element for 10 minutes.  And when we were done, our sweet friend Tina summed it – she said, “That was a good one!”

Believe it or not, we all do Kai Chi Do at our own pace.  And the more you do it, the more your body gets conditioned – you get stronger, more flexible, and have greater endurance.

The music is Hot Sensations from IceSun at Jamendo.com, generously shared under a Creative Commons license.

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Spiritual Games for New Years Eve

Only through time, time is conquered.
T.S. Eliot, Four Quartets

We like to play spiritual games on New Year’s Eve.  We stay home, have a quiet intimate evening with our family or a few friends, drink a little Martinelli’s sparkling apple cider at midnight (truly living on the edge!), and we play spiritual games.

Each year we do an activity with the clear goal of raising our awareness and uplifting our consciousness and having fun all at the same time.  The games always help us to look over the previous year – give ourselves acknowledgment for achievements and identify what we’d like to do better – and develop clear intentions for the upcoming year.

So we thought we’d share some of these consciousness games with you, and maybe you’ll give one or two a try and get on the wavelength with us.  If you do – we hope you’ll leave a comment and tell us how it worked out for you!

  • Bright Spots: Charles encourages people to identify “Bright Spots” every day.  New Years Eve is like the Bright Spots of all the Bright Spots – your personal Top Ten for the year.  Bright Spots are points of awareness. They’re not always happy spots but they’re moments when you realized something very important to you.  They’re little epiphanies and insights that help you steer in the direction of what you want including who you want to be.  It’s especially fun and useful to keep a journal of these from year to year.
  • Gratitudes: List all the things you are grateful for in the past year.  This game may be familiar but it is still very powerful and profoundly uplifting.  Gratitude feels good and the more time you dwell on the things you feel grateful about, the better you feel.
  • Reviewing your Goals: Make 3 lists: 1. Things I Accomplished in 2010, 2. Things I Hoped to Accomplish This Year but Didn’t, 3. Things I Intend to Accomplish in the Coming Year.  Looking back and reviewing the year allows you to give yourself credit where credit is due, to use your disappointments or frustrations constructively, to see your progress, and to declare your direction for the coming year.  It helps you to identify goals and is an invitation to the Universe to assist you in meeting them.
  • Wheel of Fortune: This is a visioning tool developed by Catherine Ponder, and written in her book The Dynamic Laws of Prosperity.  Take a large piece of oaktag type paper (approx. 24″ by 36″) and make a small circle (maybe 4 or 5 inches in diameter) in the middle of the page.  Then divide the page into 4 quadrants with the circle in the middle.  The inner circle represents Source or Core Energy.  Label the four quadrants: 1. Spirituality and Personal Growth, 2. Relationships and Family, 3. Fun and Recreation, and 4. Business and Finance.  Then build the Wheel of Fortune.  This is a visioning tool.  Use pictures and words to represent your vision, what you want, for each of the quadrants, and use a picture or word in the center that represents Source to you.  We’ve had amazing results with this tool.  We make it a collage of pictures from magazines and personal photos, and sometimes we write affirmations or just  a single word in each quadrant.  Be as specific as you can.  We hang the Wheel somewhere we can see it throughout the year.  One year, when we first moved to Florida, we cut out a picture of a couch from a magazine, and added it to our wheel in the fun and recreation quadrant.  When we actually bought a couch and brought it home, we discovered that our couch had the EXACT same palm frond print that was in our wheel picture!  Exactly!  We also discovered that it’s very important to believe what you want is possible.  In other words, when you look at your wheel throughout the year, you want it to trigger your confidence and desire (not your self-doubt and resistance).  It’s your thought and emotion that makes the magic of the wheel.
  • Vision Board: A vision board is very similar to the Wheel of Fortune, but the collage has no center and no quadrants.  It’s a “gestalt” of your vision for yourself, a unified sum.  The vision board was made popular in a book called The Vision Board – Secrets to an Extraordinary Life by Joyce Schwartz who talks about how the Vision Board activates The Law of Attraction to fulfill your desires. You can see examples of Vision Boards by clicking the icons at the bottom of the I have a vision.org website.
  • Mask Making: We did this one year and totally missed midnight.  We were all so captivated by the activity that we completely lost track of time.  By the time we looked up and took a breather, we realized it was 2am and we were all energized!  By the way, this is a great one to do with kids, but adults become very kid-like when they’re making a mask.  It’s great to do with a buddy, who will apply the materials to your face, but it can be done alone using a mirror.  Here’s what you’ll need: Quick drying plaster gauze (you’ll need one or two rolls per mask), water based KY jelly, scissors, a dish of warm water, feathers, beads, any other stuff you might want to attach to your mask face (like yarn, shells, small coins, glitter, sand, small mirrors, sequins, plastic “gems”).  You’ll also need glue, paints (water-based, we use Crayola “Washable Paint” or acrylic or tempera paint), paint brushes, a cup of water to rinse your brushes, a paper plate to use as a paint palette, and newspaper or plastic tablecloth (to protect your workspace). We buy most of these products at Michaels but most craft supply stores carry them.  It’s helpful, if you’re able, to have a microwave on hand for making the quick drying gauze  just a little bit quicker, for the impatient among us.  Here’s how you make your mask: Cut the plaster gauze into small strips, vary the sizes and shapes – such as 1 inch by 2 inches, 2 inches by 4 inches.  You’ll want to apply the smaller strips in small contours – like around your nose and chin – and bigger strips on areas with larger contours – like your forehead and cheeks.  Your buddy applies a nice layer of KY jelly to your face including your lips, your eyebrows (not on your eyelids – your mask will have holes for the eyes), and apply a smidge of KY to protect your hairline from sticking to the gauze.  Then wet one strip of gauze at a time, run it between two fingers to squeeze excess water out of it, and apply the strip to your face.  Leave “holes” for your eyes and your nostrils (so you can breathe!), but do apply gauze to the rest of your face (keep your lips closed) and gently shape the gauze to the contours – your lips, the crease beside your nose, your cheeks, your forehead, your chin.  Once you have a few layers of gauze on all of your face (except the eye holes), sit quietly for 10 or 15 minutes while the gauze dries.  You want it to be firm enough that it will hold its shape when you take it off your face.  Once it is firm, gently shimmy it off your face.  If it’s kinda firm but still needs to harden, put it in the microwave for a few seconds – Don’t overcook!  Then begin to paint and decorate your face mask.  We use the mask to express the part of ourselves that we feel in the present moment or a part of ourselves that we hope to express in the new year.
  • Fire Meditation: We love the fireplace in our home, but a candle is just as wonderful for meditation.  The fire is about purification, releasing and liberating yourself from any struggles or conflicts of the past.  Connect with your breathing, connect each breath while you concentrate on the flame with one-pointed focus.  Begin to relax into the flame. Allow the flame to become a part of your energy as your relax. And use your breath to continue to relax fully and completely into the energy of the flame.  Relax your mind.  Don’t try to make it “about” anything.  Let go of your notions of what you should get out of the meditation and just allow yourself to experience quieting your mind and being with the flame.  Come into your center by holding your hands in prayer before you put out the flame. And relax into the energy that’s been released. Allow yourself to integrate the moment.
  • Breathwork: We love conscious connected breathing.  Take circular breaths, relaxing into each breath, pulling on the inhale, relaxing on the exhale, and connected each exhale to the next inhale.  Pulling in Life Energy with each inhale and releasing resistance with each exhale.  Gently. Gently.  This is great to do with a buddy.  You breathe with their support.  Then it’s their turn to breathe with your support.  The role of the support person is to create a safe space, to be loving and accepting and attentive to each breath.   You do this breathing exercise for about 20-30 minutes, until you feel a sense of completion.  It’s surprising, but you may have feelings come to the surface.    Just watch them and let them pass, don’t get too attached to them or try to figure them out.  Just go with the flow of your breath.
  • Dakini Oracle: The Dakini Oracle is a deck of cards with illustrations on them and a short phrase.  They are similar to Tarot cards, but we like the Dakini because the pictures are so evocative and easy to interpret (and we find them less structured than Tarot).  Shuffle the deck while you hold a question in your mind, fan the deck and choose 6 cards.  Lay the cards face down from left to right.  The first two cards represent the past, the middle two cards represent the present, and the two cards on the right represent the future.  Now, we don’t consider this fortune telling.  It’s not the cards or some outside being telling you about your future.  We think it is you talking to a deep inner part of yourself.  And we believe that it helps clarify your own understanding of where you have been and where you are heading.  And if you don’t like the cards you got, choose another card and lay it on top of the first pick — You can change your future and you can change your perception of the past or present.  It’s your choice.  And using the Dakini helps you make your declarations about how you want your life to be.
  • New Years Affirmation Tattoo: Develop an affirmation that loves you.  This isn’t a goal affirmation.  This isn’t something you want or hope to achieve or fix.  Write an affirmation of loving words that you want to tell yourself.  If you saw the best in you, what would you say?  Begin with the words, “I am…”  or pick a single word that you know represents your best intentions and make that your affirmation.  Write your affirmation in washable paint or washable marker (washable!) on your body.  Pick the spot – do you want it on your forehead?  Across your chest?  Over your heart?  If it’s in a spot where you’ll need to read it in a mirror, then look in the mirror and write it on yourself backwards!

And if you hit the sack early tonight, give these games a try on New Years Day!

And – just a note – You may not have received yesterday’s post in your email because it was a BIG file!  I interviewed Phyllis Singer about “The Depths” movements that we use to begin each Kai Chi Do, and it was AMAZING!  If you haven’t seen and heard it yet (it’s got audio!), check it out here.

Many blessings in the New Year!

Mandala photo art by Bill Brown at Flickr Creative Commons attribution 2.0

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How many SA breaths does it take to hit The Zone?

One of my favorite parts of Kai Chi Do is the moment when the SA breaths and the movements calm  my mind.  It happens within the first few minutes, and POW! – I’m in The Zone.

Now you have to understand – this is Susan talking.  I’m a person who doesn’t normally enjoy anything that resembles exercise.  It took me years of procrastination and Charles’ unwavering acceptance of me, just the exercise-avoidant way that I am, before I gave Kai Chi Do a try. Years of meditation took me to The Zone on a few memorable occasions.  Breathwork got me there – most of the time – in about a half hour.  And meditation and breathwork didn’t give my body a tune up.  This is different.

Here’s a quick video of Charles.  He says it’s “a good wake up”.  You can do a minute of SA breaths and a few basic movements along with the video.  (And take it from me – Kai Chi Do is not a spectator sport.  To get the high you’ve got to give it a try, so stand up before you click the Play button).

When you’re done, leave us a comment and tell us:  How many SA breaths does it take for you to hit The Zone?

[flowplayer src=’http://kaichido.com/wp-content/uploads/2010/09/good_wake_up.flv’ width=640 height=360 splash=’http://kaichido.com/wp-content/uploads/2010/08/Good-wake-up.jpg’]

Please be patient if it takes a moment for the video to load.

The music is Stand by Sly and the Family Stone.  Watch them singing it Live at the Tokyo Jazz Festival in 2008.

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