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Steady At the Helm

Alignment – Breath – Consciousness flows

Consciousness is seated in the heart – thymus gland. The Heart -Thymus are the spiritual core of life on this planet. This is because they provide direction based upon wisdom and clarity. Otherwise there is just chaos.

Due to the onslaught of a new pathogenic factor in the world today, immunity is at the forefront of our thoughts. Without a strong immune system, we cannot fight and maintain a healthy life. The heart – thymus are in charge of directing the flow, manufacture, and quality of our T cells. These cells are crucial for our first line of defense against viruses, infections, as well as abnormal cell growth (Cancer.) It is also believed that the thymus produces a hormonal elixir that plays a role in regulating aging. Unfortunately stress, poor diet, lack of exercise, negative thought forms, overuse of recreational and pharmaceutical drugs and environmental toxins can cause premature atrophy and weakening of the thymus. How do we keep our thymus function robust? How do we rejuvenate a weakened thymus gland? Luckily, consciousness building tools like the I Ching and other spiritual ancient teachings of self development help us maintain the integrity of the heart-thymus equation. These tools help strengthen us physically, emotionally, and invoke mental transparency leading to better focus and clarity. I personally gravitate towards the I Ching as a guide because it utilizes the observation of the inner processes of nature as its structure. The inner processes are the Eight Trigrams that we have been studying. We can simply enhance our health and immunity by learning the inner gift of each process. The ancient scholars understood that each process of nature has a structure and alignment. The process is mathematical since the building blocks are the binary power of yin and yang. By studying the philosophy of structural image, we open doors to the self and subconsciousness. Many health problems originate on the subconscious level and these tools help clear negative emotional dust. Pure consciousness flows through the Acupuncture meridians to nourish, communicate and defend against pathogenic factors. I believe the pandemic is teaching us to reflect within and ponder making important life changes. Spending more time at home helps us catch up with reading, exercise, and self development rather than always on the run. When we go outside we crave being by nature as well as small gatherings of friends, family, and events.

“Look deeper into nature, and then you will understand everything.”

(Albert Einstein)

In the past, I would exclusively fly British Airways to London. I was impressed that the pilots would always come out and greet the passengers at the end of the flight. They had the experienced look of a fighter pilot maneuvering a spitfire during World War II etched in their face. Since I am flying over an ocean, I feel comfort knowing the plane is in steady hands. This is the essence of the Mountain Trigram. The earthly experience filled with trial and error, happiness and despair, mistake and success. We start off life as young fools, but ultimately, we live and learn.

The Mountain Trigram is composed of a solid yang line on top, a broken yin line in the middle, and a broken yin line at the bottom. This structure represents the vertical alignment of the earth essence ascending to consolidate at the top. The earth essence is blocked by the top line, so it consolidates and becomes stable and firm. Essence is the spiritual backbone of our multidimensional being. Mountains have a unique essence. They are majestic. This is why we strive to climb them. They are earthly but reach up to heaven. The are formed by the upheaval of plates in the earth or volcanic activity. This clashing of plates mimics our lives. We have to get banged around before we develop a deep sense of wisdom.

Gravity is constantly pushing us into the ground. As we age, our footing and overall balance is not as firm as in our youth. The practice of alignment both physical and spiritual is crucial for our health. The key is alignment and breath. As we sit and sync with the universal breath, we feel the alignment of the polar opposites, Heaven and Earth. The Mountain trigram takes root in the Earth and reaches up to Heaven. The two yin lines are Earth and if your remember, Earth is receptive. Mountain’s earthly receptivity is opposite of the Thunder Trigram which is receptive and aligned with the heavenly energies. As we breathe into the earth, we cultivate our inner mountain…..strong, steady, upright, firm, unyielding, and majestic.

Life as become more complicated and rife with obstacles. We are craving leadership both in our native country as well as the world. Autocrat and autocrat wannabees are on the rise. They take advantage of the decrease in mental clarity and short attention span due to stress and pressure in day to day living. Negative ideology and disinformation is spreading like a disease. Social media is not helping. With elections looming, our democracy and values are on the ballot for now and for years to come. I hope we have learned the lesson that experience, character, integrity, truth, and just plain common decency matters. We need leaders that think with clarity before action and are deeply rooted in the virtues of the Mountain Trigram. Someone who has cultivated life’s experiences and has learned from mistakes and even failure. George Washington is an example of a leader rooted in Mountain. It is said that Washington lead with the gift of silence. He was quiet but lead with a big stick. The ability to quiet down and listen is inherent in our DNA. The gift of silence directs us to look within and listen to our inner leader – our inner master. By cultivating and meditating on the Mountain Trigram we root our thoughts deep into the earth and feel the ascension of these thoughts crystallize and take shape as a plan based upon wisdom rather than folly.

So, if you have a conflict, obstacle, and decision in your life, and the Mountain Trigram appears in your mind’s eye, the universe is telling you quiet down, sit as upright as a mountain peak, be receptive, and align the energy of heaven and earth. Breathe into the earth and feel the essence ascend through your entire being. Ponder your prior mistakes, successes, and failures and let that experience shape your decision and change making process. Let the wisdom of the past crystallize into bright and brilliant plans for the future. Let go of any chaos in your life. Chaos is like a tornado uprooting your entire being. The Mountain mindset is too strong, firm, and rooted to be offset by any nonsensical chaotic behavior. With today’s world events and generalized fear, we are navigating through choppy, uncharted waters. Now more that ever we need to sail through life slow and steady at the helm.

Please stay safe, be well, and climb to the mountaintop of your dreams.

 

 

Inertia Blues

In life, every once in awhile we need to shake things up. Life can become too routine, mundane and predictable. Sometimes we need to knock down the old in order to bring on the new.  A thunderstorm always brings a crispness to the air. Big change.

When the air surrounding a lightning bolt rapidly expands, the air heats and compresses 10 to 100 times the natural atmospheric pressure. This compressed air will then explode outward from the center forming a shock wave of compressed particles in every direction. This shock produces the loud rumble of thunder.

A solid line represents pure yang, the creative essence. This pure essence wants to express itself on a lower level of vibration, so it splits in two. Even though the line is broken, it still has the seed of pure essence. The thunder Trigram consists of a broken, yin line on top, a broken yin line in the middle, and a solid yang line at the bottom. The two top double yin lines represent receptivity and acts as a descending path to the solid, essence, yang, bottom line. This creates a spark. The creative energy is aroused and ascends unimpeded. If you deeply ponder this Trigram, you observe a vertical, receptive, alignment.  By being receptive to the heavenly force, we ignite something deep within our core…the thunder in our life, and then powerfully project our creation upward and horizontally outward. In all stages of self development we need the dynamic force of thunder.

The word disease means not at ease.  Anxiety seems to be getting worse in modern society. Long term anxiety leads to depression. Everyone seems overwhelmed, and the overuse of technology is not helping.  Many of my patients report that they feel much less anxious when the are immersed in their work or service activity. When we align with our work-service, we sync with our soulful, creative purpose. We become at ease.

In life, we don’t always make the best decisions. In fact, in many ways, life is one big mistake. With all our flaws, we are still unique in our own little way.  When we awaken our inner gift, and do something in life that we truly love, we build character and come as close as possible to being perfect human beings.

There is much talk today about posture. Gravity is always pushing us down so we consciously try to align our structure to withstand it. Yoga, Tai Chi, dance and most exercise emphasize being graceful and upright. Consciously and sub-consciously we strive to align spiritually. We do this by our sitting meditation or being quietly receptive to our natural surroundings.   Deeply, the mode of consciousness reflected in the Thunder Trigram is transformation.  We transform first by receptive alignment and then like a lighting bolt hitting our crown, we awaken with clear vision to a new vibratory rhythm and give birth a new spiritual identity or simply the essence of who we truly are.  This sets in motion our inner sculptor. We then we chip away our old outdated beliefs and negative thought forms until we transform our frame of mind to the present truth or simply what makes sense in this day and age.  Destruction is the foundation of life and letting go is a very difficult process. We break down in order to build a better vehicle for our journey. The driving fuel in our life becomes our creative essence.

So, if you are have a conflict, decision, or simply hit a crossroad in your life, and the Thunder Trigram appears in your mind’s eye  –  quiet down and feel the receptive alignment so you can spark an idea or plan,  break out of your inertia and make things happen!   Chip away the rock of negativity and awaken the simplistic beauty of the real you,  transform deeply and dynamically from your heart, and ignite the creative force of Thunder so you can find a purpose in life bigger than yourself.

Insight

 

In the days before meteorologists, in order to forecast the weather, humans would observe the clouds as well as the direction and intensity of wind. They would know if there is a fog about to blanket the sky or whether a cold rain is shooting down from the north. The wind never lies or betrays. It can caress your face with a gentile breeze and cool you from a summer heat, or it can penetrate deep to your bones with a frigid gust. Either way it is always straight with you and when the wind cries, you listen.

The Wind Trigram consists of a solid, yang line on top. A solid, yang line in the middle, and a broken, yin line at the bottom. The image represents the cosmic life breath descending to earth. Heaven exhales.

All the lessons of life are represented in nature. Let’s review what we have learned so far. The Heaven Trigram is the initiating force of the universe. Heaven represents pure will power. It is the essence behind all manifestation. The Fire Trigram represents clarity and consciousness. As clarity increases, we broaden our consciousness, and the intelligence becomes keen, active, and abstract. The Water Trigram represents a subtle, stream of consciousness awakening us to seize the moment and truly pay attention. The Earth Trigram reminds us to be humble and cultivate silence in order to increase receptivity to a deeper wisdom.

Since the Wind Trigram is composed of two solid, yang lines above a broken, yin line, you can visualize the gentile influence of the cosmos flowing down and being distributed within the energy body of the earth. The Earth is composed of channels called Ley lines. They are similar to the Acupuncture channels in the body.  When the Earth is healthy, these channels flow and nourish gently like a summer breeze.  When we don’t have a gentile approach to Mother Earth and disrespect it by over developing land and dumping atmospheric pollutants, the Earth becomes ill. The channels become blocked and this leads to the Earth’s core temperature rising as if it has a fever.  In order to compensate, extreme weather like hurricanes and tornadoes become more prevalent. These severe storms are just a physical manifestation of a deeper imbalance working its way out.  Of course, as above so below, the Wind Trigram represents our need to cultivate gentleness, otherwise we stir up own inner tornado which can lead to many serious health disorders.

As I walk up Madison Ave., in NYC, I realize that we take our lungs and air for granted.
I observe a sea of bus traffic spurting out noxious fumes. Since I am one of many walking along, I think this is normal and fine. I can’t help thinking how nice it would be if I was walking by the ocean or along a riverbank. The sages of yesteryear understood that Qi (energy) is in the air. They would flee to natural environments to live. They knew that fresh mountain and ocean air is electrically charged and saturated with Qi energy. Not only will this charged air energize, it will calm the nervous system so you sleep like a baby at night. When we take a deep breath, the Qi in the air penetrates to the Acupuncture meridians as well as all the cells to rejuvenate and heal. You feel uplifted and light. The Wind Trigram represents the subtle essence and healing power in the air. As our consciousness expands, we crave exercises like Yoga, Chi Kung, and Tai Chi which are based upon breathing into a posture or movement in order to cultivate a sense of peace and wellness.

In the south of France, houses are built to withstand a very strong wind from the north that they call the “Mistral.” It is joked that the wind is so strong that it can blow the ears off a donkey. It comes without warning straight from the Alps, and acts as a funnel as it heads south down the Rhone River Valley. When the mistral blows, people clear the streets and lively Provence cities become ghost towns.  Wind can penetrate deep and will find any nook or cranny to blow through in order to express itself.  It is invisible but has very visible results. The sages studied the inner process of wind leading them to assign this trigram to a quality of deep and penetrating.  In many ways the Wind Trigram represents the whole study of the I Ching and philosophy in general. All philosophy is very deep and you need to shine your inner flashlight in order to truly comprehend its vast terrain. As humans, it is in our DNA to take on deep subjects in order to learn, expand consciousness, and move forward. The end result is insight, the ability to intuitively apprehend the inner nature of a subject or situation. This virtue is imperative when we are confronted with an obstacle or decision. Insight is a form of wisdom that is developed over time. As life kicks us in the ass, and we make mistakes, we develop insight into how to conduct our life in a balanced manner. We are able to share our deep experiences with others in order to help them build character and tread the rocky path smoothly.

What is the inner lesson behind this Trigram? Why bother studying it, and the I Ching in general? Many I Ching contributors have expressed that one of the main goals of a society is to invoke heaven on earth. We discussed Heaven as an essence, a very powerful subtle quality that you can compare to the sap or root of a tree.  It is the backbone.  So when the sages are discussing heaven on earth they are commenting on cultivating positive virtues in order to transform into what they describe as the superior man or women. Not superior in a ego sense but superior as being an upstanding citizen with integrity and character. Superior by caring about the needs of your community, country, and the world. A team player. If you meditate on the image and structure of the Wind Trigram you feel the essence of heaven infusing the earth the same as our own soul infuses its quality on our personality. The cosmic life breath communicating its influence of transformation so eventually we become the soul …..heaven on earth.

So, if you have a obstacle, conflict, or decision, and the Wind Trigram appears in your mind’s eye, inhale and exhale deeply the cosmic life breath and be aware of the quality of the air you are breathing into your cells.  Live your life as gentile as a willow tree in the breeze. Ponder deeply, and use your developed insight to guide your every move.

 

 

 

Moments

If you sit by a freshwater stream and listen carefully, you will hear a sacred sound. This is the sound of the eternal present. If you observe the flow, you will notice some branches and rocks causing obstructions. The stream will slow down, sometimes swell, then build up strength and move on. Our life is like the stream. It is rife with all kinds of obstacles. What is the best approach to handle these conflicts and obstructions? Do we burst through them? Do we run away? Do we take a deep breath, gather our reserves, and then when the time is right move gracefully ahead?  The latter approach is always the best.

The Water Trigram is structurally composed of a broken, yin line on top, a solid, yang line in the middle, and a broken, yin line on the bottom. The two outer yin lines temper the strong, yang line in the center. Take some time and meditate on the image. The Chinese name for this Trigram is Kan.

When you think of water many images appear… rivers, streams, lakes, oceans, etc.. Water is soft but when in motion it can be very strong. It can chip away rocks and like a tidal wave, it can destroy.  It is flexible on the outside but strong and firm on the inside. Like the ocean, water can be deep, mysterious and in some ways dangerous. This is why the traditional interpretation of this Trigram is danger, abyss, caution, and pay attention. With all that is going on in the world today, I cannot think of a more timely Trigram to explore.

Let’s look back on the Trigrams we studied. The Heaven Trigram expresses taking the initiative and moving forward with strength. The Earth Trigram expresses receptivity, softness, and flexibility. The Fire Trigram expresses clarity and wisdom gathered from life’s bumps in the road.  Structurally with it’s strong, center, yang line bordered by two yin lines, the Water Trigram represents a stream of consciousness flowing from a more subtle source which reaches out to build a cohesive channel of communication. An example of this cohesiveness is the Acupuncture meridian system. When these lines of communication are strong, we are more aware of ourselves as well as the environment around us. Our attention and focus is keen. When it is weak, we become easily distracted and get overly involved in useless self centered endeavors.

Water sustains life and is part of a integrated cycle of transformation and renewal. Water vapors evaporate to the clouds forming rain which then nourishes streams, rivers, lakes and oceans which all lead back to the clouds for a new cycle.  Nothing is in isolation. The Water trigram not only represents the inner connection to our own energy field, but our interconnection to everything in the universe. Traditionally when you consult the I Ching and the Water Trigram appears, you might be frightened because it is indicating that there is danger ahead. On a much deeper level, the Water Trigram is warning us that the real danger is severing our universal interconnection leading to separateness rather than oneness. John Lennon reminded us of this danger in his beautiful song “Imagine.”

A central premise of the I Ching is that nothing in the universe is at random. The past, present, and future are playing out at once. When we study the I Ching, we tap into the universal mind which is beyond time and space. Currently there are many lectures on the value of being present. It is true that we dwell too much in the past and future. For thousands of years the I Ching has been teaching us via the Water Trigram the benefits of being in the here and now. Being in the moment slows us down to an even pace. We see the essence of life. Our senses become acute, and we pay attention and feel the beauty around us. You truly appreciate and cherish the people in your life, all beings on the planet, and the environment.

So, when the Water Trigram appears in your mind’s eye, be like water, stay soft with a strong inner core. Be receptive to your inner stream of consciousness and what your intuitive mind is directing.  Flow gracefully and evenly through life. Truly seize the moment. Hug your loved ones. Don’t put up walls and barriers but feel the oneness. Get in gear and cut down on useless distractions. Pay the utmost attention to political issues, policies and elections.

“Sunlight and the city is barely awake
As all the seconds in our lifetime drift away
So live every moment and hold me so tight
A second changes day to night”

(Ray Davies, In a Moment, Working Man’s Cafe, 2007)

 

 

Rainbow Bridge

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As I look around my hometown, New York City, I am reminded how everything is in a state of flux and change. A favorite store goes out of business, a new bland designer one takes its place. Condos going up everywhere, at the expense of older, distinguished buildings being demolished. The ancient Chinese observed and explained life’s transformations in the classic book of change, The I Ching. Let’s continue to examine the I Ching’s inner core, the eight Trigrams. All of the trigrams represent processes of nature. We began with the initiating, persevering Heaven Trigram, as well as the receptive Earth Trigram. We now move on to the Fire Trigram. This Trigram is composed of a yang, solid line on top, a broken, yin line in the middle, and a solid, yang line at the bottom. The yin, inner line tempers the strong yang of the top and bottom. The Chinese name for this Trigram is Li which is translated to light or “bright.” When we think of being bright, it often represents a academic student with strong intelligence. The brightness of Fire Trigram truly represents intelligence, but not limited to a strong concrete mind, (left brain) but equally as important, a strong creative mind (right brain). The bridging of these two hemispheres leads to Li, transparency and clarity. In relation to the Fire Trigram, the consciousness of transparency means letting the inner light shine through. The intelligence then becomes active, leading to ideas and revelations, which in turn leads to an awakening within ourselves to move forward and make changes in a clear, wise, manner.

The analytical left brain generates a keen mindfulness. There is no confusion but only clear and precise thinking. The left brain urges us to ask questions and get to the bottom of a problem. It is the brain that makes us curious, so we seek the facts. We look from the outside in order to determine what is real and unreal. We achieve this through precise definition with clear boundaries. Like a muscle, the left brain needs exercise. If you don’t use it, you lose it. Unfortunately, due to life’s pressures, it is often the brain that we cannot turn off. It becomes the monkey brain, filled with worry, anxiety, etc. leading to insomnia and other psychological imbalances. It needs to be tempered by the intuitive, creative right brain.

The intuitive, right brain lights up when we get involved with creative endeavors. This can be by participating or observing. Art, dance, music, writing theater, writing, reading, builds our aesthetic perception, and imagination. We look at the divine picture and have a urge to create from the inside out. Our mind becomes fertile with ideas. The intellect is illuminated with a direct intuitive perception leading to pure truth without the interference from the reasoning mind. The intuitive brain needs tempering from the analytical, grounded left brain. Otherwise we become to dreamy or spacey.

Through all of our self development exercises the two brains begin to bridge. We no longer categorize everything in black and white. Our thinking is in the abstract. We realize that there isn’t anything in the universe that is totally identical, so we discern the unique essence behind the appearances. We observe the patterns and look at the big picture. Our mind is wide open. Experiences in life that we take to heart become more important than just gathering information. The abstract mind draws upon life’s lessons, the what and why of everyday conflicts in order to gain true knowledge and wisdom. This is the radiance, the”Li” of the Fire Trigram.

“Just along as I am in this world, I am the Light of this world.”

(Jorma Kaukonen, Quah, 1974)

 

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