Valley Spirit
T'ai Chi Ch'uan, Ch'i Kung, Yoga, Gardening, Walking


Reflections, Notes, Suggestions, References, Questions and Answers, Links, Quotations
Valley Spirit Taijiquan Journal/Blog
Notes and Observations about Fitness and Well Being.

March 2004

Index to the Valley Spirit Taijiquan Journal

Michael P. Garofalo



March 31, 2004, Wednesday


Use the method of looking/seeing called ping shi or "level gaze."  

"This method of seeing is called ping shi, "level gaze."  The eyes are relaxed
with a soft, wide (peripheral) focus, not trying to see anything in particular.  When we
look at specific objects, we tend to think about them.  We focus on this by excluding
that.  The level gaze by contrast, encourages intuition.  It is interesting that ping shi
is almost synonymous with nei shi, "inner gazing," the eyes open and seeing, yet
not loosing awareness of inner bodily sensations.  Nei shi combines sight with

"Ping Shi also facilitates emotional calm.  When we are in emotional distress,
the eyes become either glazed - not seeing the outside - or narrowed, a sign
of exclusive and imbalanced focus."

  -  Kenneth S. Cohen, Way of Qigong, p. 378.  

This method is discussed by Kenneth S. Cohen in The Way of Qigong, pp. 277-378, 
Footnote #15 for Chapter 10.  

The Way of Qigong: The Art and Science of Chinese Energy Healing.  By Kenneth S. Cohen.
Foreword by Larry Dossey.  New York Ballantine Books, 1997.  Index, notes, appendices, 
427 pages.  ISBN: 0345421094.  One of my favorite books: comprehensive,
informative, practical, and scientific; probably the best qigong text.  Chapter Ten, 
Standing Like A Tree, pp. 133-147, discusses standing meditation.  

March 30, 2004, Tuesday

An injury to my big right toe has kept me from exercise the past few days.  I saw my
podiatrist,  Dr. Swain,  on Monday.  He recommended resting the toe for a week.  Nothing
really serious, for now, but diabetics must keep a close eye on foot wounds.  I've decided
to not do some yoga postures, but to continue to walk and lift weights.  I will avoid bending
the toe very much.  

Prepared numerous documents in new formats for the new websites:

Fitness and Well Being



This reorganization has been extremely time consuming.  Links and cross links must
be changed from relative to absolute URLs.  

The reorganization, however, allows me to develop topics outside the umbrella of
Taijiquan and Qigong.  Qigong uses meditation techniques, but Meditation has
far wider examples and methods than Taoist ones.  Of course, I also want to be able
to segment my information services into alignment with my teaching objectives.  


March 29, 2004, Monday

"The peerless master moves with his group from place to place in the mountains.  His small
band contains two highly advanced American disciples.  After Babaji has been in one locality
for some time he says, 'Dera danda uthao,' 'Let us lift our camp and staff.'  He carries a
symbolic danda (bamboo staff).  His words are the signal for moving with his group instantaneously
to another place.  He does not always employ this method of astral travel; sometimes he goes
on foot from peak to peak."
-  Told by Swami Kebalananda to Paramhansa Yogananda in 1920, Autobiography of a Yogi, p. 294.
It is interesting to compare stories about saintly masters who live in mountainous regions and are
Maha-avatars or Immortals -  Ones who have transcended the flesh, can perform amazing feats
and miracles, and possess great spiritual insight.   Babaji is said to cast no shadow and can
walk on snow or mud and not leave footprints.   Jesus Christ has some of these attributes. 
Compare these stories with those about the famous Taoist Immortal, and apocryphal founder 
of Taijiquan, Master Chang San Feng.



March 28, 2004, Sunday

We went to Chico today.  We did some browsing and checked out books from the 
California State University at Chico, University  Merriam Library.  I found some very
good books on Taoism and Yoga.  

Another beautiful day for walking and Taijiquan.  I've been doing more Yang style
long form practice, particularly on the last 5th Section.  

I prepared a one page announcement flyer for posting on gym walls.  

Add New Exercises to Your Cross Training Program
Challenge Your Body and Mind
Benefit from a Traditional Chinese Fitness System

Class Content:

Five Animal Frolics: The Bear
Entering Tranquility Relaxation Method
Eight Section Brocade Energy Exercises (Qigong)
Practice Drills for Yang Style Taijiquan
Pushing Hands: Yin-Yang Sensitivity Training
Yang Style Standard 24 Movement Short Form




March 27, 2004, Saturday

5 students in my Tai Chi class today.  I learned to face the front of the room most of the
time so my students can see me move.  With Eight Section Brocade or Five Animal 
Frolics I will do some facing towards them and some facing away from them.  It is too
confusing to do any 24 Form drills facing them.  Right and left are reversed visually if
you face them.  It is however important to show a move from different angles so that
they can see the placement of the body.  I encouraged them to always face the same
direction when beginning practice.  

Worked on start up and editing of Yoga website.  Consolidated files from Cloud Hands.  

Another beautiful early Spring day for walking, outdoor Taijiquan, gardening and home
improvement.  Clear skies to Mount Shasta - 100 miles north.  


March 26, 2004, Friday

Began the total reorganization of the large Taijiquan website into: 
, Yoga, Health and Taijquan.  This project will take a couple of 
weeks to finish.  

Lakers demolish the Kings in an important NBA basketball game.  Yes!
My LA roots are hard to forget.  

Nice walk in the cloudy skied afternoon after work.  Taijiquan in a 
light rain .... aahhh!


March 25, 2004, Thursday

A great day of workouts: walking, taijiquan, weights, and yoga.    
Updated and reorganized the Meditation webpage.


March 24, 2004, Wednesday

Reading Ashtanga Yoga books.

Ashtanga Yoga " Practice Manual" An Illustrated Guide to Personal Practice.  The Primary and
Intermediate Series plus Three Short forms.  By David Swenson.  Foreword by K. Pattabhi Jois.
Ashtanga Yoga Productions, 1999.  263 pages.  MGC.  ISBN: 1891252089.

Ashtanga Yoga: The Definitive Step-by-Step Guide to Dynamic Yoga.  By John Scott.
Foreward by Shri K. Pattabhi Jois.  New York, Three Rivers Press, 2000.  Index, bibliography,
143 pages.  MGC.  ISBN: 0609807862. 

Walking and Taijiquan at dawn.  Work all day.  Yoga at night with Lauren and weightlifting.  
Feeling pretty good!  

Lakers demolish the Kings in an important NBA basketball game.  


March 23, 2004, Tuesday

Walking and taijiquan in the early morning.  Work all day at school   Yoga class with
Gudrun.  I made the mistake of eating a large Mexican meal a few hours before
Yoga class - not a good decision.   I need only a banana and a cup of yogurt a 
few hours before Yoga class and that is all.  

Reading Tantra: The Path of Ecstasy.  By Georg Feuerstein.  Boston, Shambhala, 
1998.  Index, bibliography, notes, 314 pages.  ISBN: 157062304X.  I believe that
the idea that the body, living beings, the world are somehow the same as, or share
the same essence as the divine/spiritual is important to me.  Taking eating, 
drinking, exercise, resting, playing, sex, dancing, gardening as spiritual or sacred
acts is appealing.  I am attracted to the ideas about the supernatural/diving forces 
being a duality of God and Goddess, Passive and Active, Wisdom and Creative 
Action, Shiva and Shatki.  I've always been interested in Goddess myths, Godess 
rituals and rites, Goddess worship.   I like the egalitarianism, down-to-earthness, 
humor, and crazy wisdom of Tantra.  Tantra emphasizes direct transmission of 
spiritual insights by means of a guru-disciple relationship, and respect for lineages.  
It talks about the Coiled Serpent Power of Kundalini rising up the spine into the 
center of the mind.  

I spoke with Krishna Das, a gentleman working with Dianna Smith at Ananda Sangha
to help persons with Kriya Yoga.  He gave me a number of good ideas, suggestions,
and encouraging words.  He recommended I start with Meditation, Energization 
Exercises, reading Yogananda, and studying Raja Yoga.  He is sending me the 
Meditation Lessons (Part 1) and more information.  



March 22, 2004, Monday

Walking, Taijiquan forms, and gardening ... what a delightful day.  

I slept very little last night and the night before.  Consequently, I was extremely tired
after I returned from a half-day of work for the school.  I napped and then tried my
best to relax at night and get to bed early.  

A read a very informative article about chanting based on Hindu and other Indian
traditions.  It was called "Can You Say Om Namaha Shivaya" by Phil Catalfo in Yoga Journal
May 2000, p. 88+.  A group chanting session is called a Kirtan.  Krishna Das (Pilgrim Heart)
and Jai Uttal (Footprints, Beggars and Saints) are two popular chanters.

Article on doing mula bandha "To Infinity and Beyond" by David Life, Yoga Journal
May 2000, pp. 74-79.   


I spoke with Dianna (De-anna) Smith on the telephone today.  She is the Kriya Yoga Coordinator
for Ananda Sangha in Nevada City.  We developed a Kriya Yoga action and study plan together.

March - August 2004   

Study The Art and Science of Raja Yoga.  By Swami Kriyananda (J. Donald Walters).  
Study Kriya lessons from Ananda Sangha.  
Read books by Paramhansa Yogananda.  
Meet with Dianna Smith in May 2003 at Expanding Light
Daily practice of Energization Exercises, Hong-Sa Meditation
Develop a Home Altar
Awakening the Kundalini Practices

September - October 2004

Sadhana: daily spiritual practices
      Energization Exercises, Hong-Sa,  Aum, Kundalini Yoga
Attend Raja Yoga Intensive at Expanding Light  October 3-10
Attend Kriya Introductory Class at Expanding Light October 29-31.
Take Discipleship Ceremony  October 30
      Commitment to ideas, values and lifestyle advocated by Paramhansa Yogananda
      Commitment to practice Kriya Yoga methods and principles

November 2004  - March 2005

Kriya Initiation Weekend and Ceremony    March 2005



March 21, 2004, Sunday

Prepared practice assignments for Lesson 1 for the students in my 24 Form class.

Lately, I have been reading many books and magazine articles on the subject of Yoga.  

Updated a number of webpages and documents on the 24 Form Taijiquan.  

Prepared a webpage on Meditation to organize my reading, notes, and research.    

Look into Rupert Sheldrake's "theory of morphogenesis."  After learning something
an energetic or cognitive breakthrough occurs that make further learning and
relearning more efficient and effective.  


March 20, 2004, Saturday

I taught a Taijiquan class at the Tehama Family Fitness Center.  12 students 
attended the class.  This was the first time I had taught at the TFFC.  
My reflections: 
-  I will try talking less next time.  I will try to not repeat myself from lesson to lesson.
-  I need to end the class by reviewing follow-up practice assignments, doing some cool
down and easy Energization/Relaxation Exercises, concluding with a guided
standing meditation session, and closing with a salute.  Don't try to teach new
material during the final twenty minutes.  .  
-  Do Push Hands before the break.  
-  Shorter Break period - 5 minutes maximum.  
-  Learn everyone's first name:  Roberta, Marguerita, Robin, Tim, Jim, Kim

-  Many students had a hard time with the introduction to Grasping the Sparrow's Tail.  I will 
develop and use left-left leg-hand coordination drills in Lesson 2.  

Left-Left Leg-Hand Coordination Drills Ideas:   

    1.  Feet shoulder width.  Inhale and place left hand on chest, exhale and step left 
leg out 45 degrees to the left and onto left toe as you your extend arm out 45 degrees.  
Inhale and bring left hand back to chest as you return left foot back to parallel with 
right foot.  Repeat on right side.  
     2.  Left toe kick straight ahead, and left soft forward punch straight ahead.  Repeat 
on right.  
     3.  Lift left knee up then slap/brush left knee with left hand, step forward.  Lift right 
knee up then slap/brush right knee with right hand, step forward.  Have students line
up in a single line at the back of the room.  

Left-Left: Left leg and left hand.
Right-right: Right leg and right hand.  

When in doubt step left leg out.  Most Taijiquan 24 Form moves open with a movement
to the left.  


March 19, 2004, Friday

A long walk, taijiquan, and lots of outdoor gardening and home maintenance chores today.
I was very energetic and got a lot accomplished.   The house is now more ready for the 
higher temperatures of spring and summer: lattice shades over windows, screens with
darker screens in place, evaporative cooler cleaned and new pads in place, etc..  

Prepared a handout for my Taijiquan class on Saturday.  

"Results of a study published in the March 8, 2004, issue of the Archives of Internal Medicine 
showed that tai chi seems to improve functioning in the heart, blood vessels and lungs among 
healthy people as well as those with heart conditions, including patients who have had coronary 
artery bypass surgery. Practicing tai chi also appears to reduce pain, stress and anxiety and 
may improve memory, concentration and digestion.
So far, there's no hard evidence to explain how tai chi might affect health in these beneficial 
ways. The researchers from the Tufts-New England Medical Center in Boston, who conducted 
the current study, now plan to investigate exactly why tai chi works and who it can benefit 
the most."
Dr. Andrew Weil's Weekly Newsletter, March 18, 2004



March 18, 2004, Thursday

Yoga class with Samantha, then weightlifting at TFFC.  I need to focus on getting my
nutrition program developed and implemented.  She teaches a YogaFit style and there
is lots of Vinyasa style techniques.  I need to research Astanga-Vinyasa more.  

Continued my extensive reading program in Yoga.  


March 17, 2004, Wednesday

Updated my webpage on diabetes.  

Yoga workout with Lauren.  We discussed Tadasana.  "What does feet at shoulder width
mean."  More a setting with the feet in line with the armpits.  There is a tendency for men
to perceive their shoulders wider than they are, and to position the inside of the foot in 
line with the actual or imagined outside of their shoulder.  Do women have a tendency
to imagine the width of their hips as wider than they actually are? 


March 16, 2004, Tuesday

Attended the performance of River Dance in Redding with Debbie, Jordan and Karen.  
Walking and Taiji practice this afternoon helped me get back into my body-spirit.  A very
warm spring day.  


March 15, 2004, Monday

Work and a long school board meeting tonight keep me very busy today.  No exercise.  


March 14, 2004, Sunday

Updated my webpage on Yoga.  

Reading Yoga books by Beryl Bender Birch.  She teaches a style of Ashtanga Yoga.  

Beyond Power Yoga: 8 Levels of Practice for Body and Soul.  By Beryl Bender Birch.  
New York, Simon and Schuster, A Fireside Book, 2000.  Index, charts, bibliography,
notes, 256 pages.  ISBN: 0684855267.  An introduction to Ashtanga Yoga (Eight Limbed
Yoga Path) or Raja Yoga.  Personal experiences and practices.    

Power Yoga:  The Total Strength and Flexibility Workout.  By Beryl Bender Birch.  Photographs
by Nicholas DeSciose.  New York, Fireside Book, Simon and Schuster, 1995.  Index,
286 pages.  ISBN:  0020583516.  MGC.   Her Axioms of Power Yoga are:  "1. You have to be
hot to stretch.  2.  Strength, not gravity, develops flexibility.  3.  Sports do not get us in shape.
In fact, sports get us out of shape.  4.  All injury in sports is caused by structural and muscular
imbalance.  5.  Muscular imbalance and structural irregularities don't fix themselves.  6.  Even
iron will bend if your heat it up.   7.  Stopping training doesn't correct an imbalance.  8.  No matter
how you fit you are at what you do, when you start something new you have to ease into it.  
9.  Stretching doesn't equal warm-up."  p. 274.  

Lots of outdoor work on the house and garden.  Put up window screens and door screens, and
worked on the swamp cooler - preparing for the hot days of spring and summer.   Karen and I
worked in the vegetable garden.   

Walking and Taijiquan in the morning.  A beautiful spring day!   


March 13, 2004, Saturday

"Incessant wanderers, the Taoists also appropriated breathing methods from other cultures.
By the time of the Tang Dynasty, they had incorporated the Indian arts of pranayama, mantra,
Kundalini yoga, and Tantra wholesale into the art of qigong.  They appropriated methods of
Buddhist breathing and exercise such as Bodhidarma's Muscle Change and Marrow Washing
Classics and the Vase Breathing methods from Tibet.  Nor did these eclectic collectors stop
there.  They raided the whole of Chinese martial arts methodology and took the working habits
of farmers, fishermen, craftsmen, and even drunks as templates for their exercises."
-   Deng Ming Dao, Scholar Warrior, p. 39

A beautiful day for outdoor work around the house and in the garden.  I worked mostly in
the back yard and on the back porch.    


March 12, 2004, Friday

After six days in a row of Yoga practice and other exercises, I rested today.  I had also 
worked every day this week for the Corning School District on my job.  I was tired!
I even went to bed early.  Aaaaahhhh .... rest, relax, sleep.  

Rereading the fine book Scholar Warrior by Deng Ming Dao.  



March 11, 2004, Thursday

Yoga class with Gundrun Vopat tonight: fast paced, energetic, demanding.  The workout left me 
very energized and awake until quite late.   I spent the evening rereading the fine introduction
to Yoga by Georg Feuerstein.  Many of his comments about Tantric and Hatha Yoga resonated
with my experiences with Taoist Yoga's psycho-spiritual practices.   

Yoga: The Technology of Ecstasy.   By Georg Feuerstein.  Los Angeles, Jeremy P. Tarcher,
1989.  Index, notes, 344 pages.  ISBN: 0874775205.   MGC.     

March 10, 2004, Wednesday

Updated my webpage on Taiji and Health.  

"The skin is no more separated from the brain than the surface of a lake is separate from its
depths; the two are different locations in a continuous medium.  To touch the surface is to
stir the depths."
-  Deane Juhan, A Handbook for Bodywork, p. 43


March 9, Tuesday

Updated my webpage on walking.  I have enjoyed long walks since my high school days.
I now enjoy long walks on country roads.  Walking is my favorite fitness activity.  There are
now many excellent books on walking for fitness, stress reduction, pleasure, adventure,
and psycho-spiritual reasons.  



March 8, 2004, Monday

Update my webpage on Health and Fitness.  I am now studying to become a personal
fitness trainer certified by the American Council on Exercise.  They offer a complete
home study program of textbooks, manuals, audiotapes, and videos.  They offer a
16 hour Level 1 seminar on the topic.  Finally, candidates have to take and pass a 
thorough examination on the subject.  I intend to take the seminar this summer and
the examination at the end of summer.  There are numerous organizations and 
business operations that provide classes and certification for fitness trainers.   



March 7, 2004, Sunday

Updated some of my references to the Shambhala myth and ideology.  



March 6, 2004, Saturday

March 5, 2004, Friday

I have been doing careful reading of the excellent book by Deane Juhan about the
human body.  This is a detailed study of anatomy and physiology.  

Jobs' Body: A Handbook for Bodywork.   By Deane Juhan.  Foreword by Ken Dychtwald.
Barrytown, New York, Station Hill Press, 1987.  Index, bibliography, 365 pages.  
ISBN:  0882681346.   


March 4, 2004, Thursday

The 4:15 - 5:30 pm class with Kevin Weaver at the Tehama Family Fitness Center was
cancelled for lack of participants in January, 2004.  Kevin teaches classes in the
early morning (8-10) on Monday, Wednesday and Friday.   My normal work schedule and
numerous substitute teaching assignments does not permit me to attend his morning 
classes.  Consequently, I no longer study with Mr. Weaver.  

I pulled the following from my webpage on my personal practice.  


April 2003 - January 2004

Kevin Weaver

Senior Instructor
(Instruction Line: Kevin Weaver is a senior instructor authorized to teach by 
Master Lenny Valvallet (Mr. Douglas Armstrong), and Mr. Valvallet was a student of 
Kuo Lien-Ying in San Francisco.  According to Mr. Weaver, Grandmaster Kuo privately 
taught Master Valvallet a form of Tai Chi called "Madarin Temple Taijiquan."  It features a 
number of differences from Kwang Ping Taijiquan.  It includes many movements that 
require balancing on one leg and lifting the other leg, multiple repetitions of kicks, 
multiple repetitions of the same move (e.g., walking forward and turning the ball, 
casting seeds, etc.) and many movements not found in the Yang style, Sun style
or Chen style of Taijiquan.  The form is unique and rare - but grounded on standard 
Taijiquan principles and philosophy.   I attend these classes as often as possible, and 
think Mr. Weaver is an excellent qigong and taichi instructor, a very decent person, 
and a powerful and flexible athlete.         

Tehama Family Fitness Center
Monday, Wednesday, and Friday mornings (8-10 a.m.), 
and in the afternoon at 4:15-5:30 p.m. in 2003.
Red Bluff, California

Temple Chi Kung
Mandarin Temple Taijiquan - a variant of Kwang Ping Yang Taijiquan of Kuo Lien-Ying
Taoist Breathing Exercises
Muscle/Tendon Changing and Marrow/Brain Washing Chi Kung
Standing Meditation
Eight Star Qigong
Balancing Exercises


March 3, 2004, Wednesday

Attended my first yoga class with Laurel.  I had lifted weights before the class.  


March 2, 2004, Tuesday

I was given a 90 minute free class in Phoenix Rising Yoga Therapy by Gundrun Volpat 
this afternoon.  She is working on her certification in this style of Yoga with her mentor.  She
needs to do so many hours of formal practice with students.  I was very fortunate to be able to 
receive instruction in this method for free.  

Highlights for me included:  beginning a practice session with specific and vocalized intentions as 
to what you wanted from the practice, vocalizing my bodily feelings and getting repetitive reinforcement from the therapist highlighted their importance, slight rephrasings of my statements by the therapist helped provide some expanded vocabulary about to use about my bodily feelings, verbal summarization at the end helped me focus on future needs and plans.  It was revealing to me to reflect on my statements about my "holding back," going at 80%, "keeping a reserve" of energy and attention when I'm in active mode, avoiding injury by not going to the limit, keeping a "margin for error."  This is both beneficial and problematic - something for my reflection on over the next few weeks.  

Attended yoga class and lifted weights at night.  




March 1, 2004, Monday

Answered mail and updated links sent to me.  

Doing some walking and taijiquan again.   


Workshop Notes:   

2004 November - Sacramento, California
YogaFit Level 1 Workshop - 2 Days
Hatha Yoga Asanas and Teacher Training

2004 October - Nevada City, California
The Expanding Light - Ananda Yoga Center
Kriya Yoga Workshop  - 2 Days
Program leader: Dianne Smith
Text: "The Art and Science of Raja Yoga" by Swami Kriyananda
Text: "Lessons in Meditation" by John Novak

2004 October - Nevada City, California
The Expanding Light - Ananda Yoga Center
Raja Yoga Intensive  - 7 Days
Program leaders: Anandi Cornell and Uma Meshorer
Text: "The Art and Science of Raja Yoga" by Swami Kriyananda  

2004 August - Oakland, California
American Council on Exercise
Personal Fitness Trainer Certification Examination   

2004 June - Portland, Oregon
Yang, Jun.  A Yang Style Master who is the great grandson of Yang Cheng-Fu.
Yang Style T'ai Chi Ch'uan Long Form Intensive Workshop - 3 Days

2004 May - Nevada City, California
The Expanding Light - Ananda Yoga Center
Yoga Therapy for Diabetics  - 3 Days
Program leaders: Craig Roberts, D. Ch., Gyandev McCord
Ananda Yoga, Nutrition, Exercise, Meditation, Sadhana   

2004 March - Nevada City, California
The Expanding Light - Ananda Yoga Center
Instructor: Brooke Dunwoody
Ananda Yoga Weekend Retreat - 2 Days
Ananda Yoga, Energization Exercises, Meditation, Sadhana

2003 October - Monterey, California
Paul Lam, M.D., T'ai Chi Ch'uan Master
Tai Chi for Diabetes - 2 Day Instructor's Workshop
I received a Tai Chi for Diabetes Instructor's Certificate    

2003 October - Chico, California
North Valley Tai Chi Chuan
Tai Chi Circles Workshop - 2 Days
Circles in the Yang Form, Silk Reeling Qigong, and Bagua Circle Walking

2003 July - Arcata, California
Sifu Elaine Waters
Push Hands and Tai Chi Body Mechanics Workshop - 2 Days    

2001 April - Chico, California
Grandmaster Doc-Fai Wong
Chi Kung and Push Hands - 1 Day

1990 April - Mt. Baldy, Zen Center, California
Sifu Robert Moore and Sensei Frank McGourick
Tai Chi Workshop - 2 Days

1989 May - San Diego Mountains, Julian, California
Master Abraham Liu
Short Form Workshop - Cheng Man-Ch'ing Style - 3 Days 










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Valley Spirit Tai Chi Chuan Club

Red Bluff, Tehama County, North Sacramento Valley, Northern California, U.S.A.
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