The Dragon Journals
The Dragon Journals

Journal Archives: July 2001 - September 2001.

7th July 2001

Saturday
Qigong class this morning... and we continued with 'dragon dancing' which we had begun last Saturday. This aerobic exercise, whirling, turning, feeling yourself move as one unit, is a culmination of several classes in linear walking (just what it sounds like, walk in a straight line but with good posture!d), 'ba' step practise, circle walking (again just what it sounds like!), quiet sitting and quiet standing.

Class Was FUN!

On a related note, I have started working out and yes, it does make a difference in my bagua practise (martial as well as health!). Now if only someone could put 36 hours into a day for me?

8th - 30th July 2001

Where did the month go?

There have been ups and downs.

The "downs": still not practising much when in England. Had to be told that my post-natal breathing needs a lot of work, well, actually more like it's crap (although it is strangely enough something I thought I was better at merely because I try to breathe that way normally). Despite plans it has not improved much over the month either. Also despite working out and exercising more I have not lost a lot of weight and still carry excess fat in strategic locations (thighs buttocks waist!). And sadly missed the intensive workshop covering the basics of Baguazhang Shuaijiao as it was held at The Gompa while I was in England (bad timing, I didn't know about it until after trip was booked). And some personal stuff... a friend's health was in jeopardy.

The "ups": no I was not merely imagining it, improvements in my bagua are now noticeable (received some nice positive feedback from Neil). Have been to England and once again have walked in the Lake District, my endurance and strength is somewhat improved due not only to those walks but also to a lot more walking in general. Have renewed motivation to get strong, fit and lose excess fat. Finally a new resolve to research and inform myself a bit better about what is happening with my teacher. And on the personal stuff, my friend is out of hospital and recovering.

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7th August 2001

Tuesday, 5:30am...
Returned yesterday from England to a heat wave in Toronto. I am now looking for an air-conditioned gym, recreation centre or other location where I can practise daily because in this heat, bagua outside is grueling. Breathing Toronto smog doesn't help either ! *grin*

More updates this weekend, I'm off for work now...

19th August 2001

Sunday, 6:00pm, Toronto
So much for regular updates! In addition to work 'catch up' I also decided to look into buying a house and so managed to effectively fill any time left for pleasurable pursuits, with stress-inducers. Sound familiar?

Last weekend I also returned to the Saturday morning qigong class, but having missed 3 classes I felt out of place and too far behind. I decided to leave the qigong until the next session - we have covered so many topics already that there is plenty for me to practise on my own between now and then! Unfortunately I didn't think to take notes, so will mostly work from memory. Note to self: next time, take notes!

Photos from England have been developed, and there are some that will grace this site once scanned. Sadly not too many bagua playing photos turned out well, but no matter. England's Lake District inspires regardless.

In terms of my bagua diary, I find myself having to re-set up a regular practise schedule now that I am back from holidays. Reminding oneself of proper posture and trying to incorporate the appropriate principles in one's daily life is indeed important, but it does not replace regular training (which I hope to have appropriate setting for, in my as-yet-undiscovered new house/yard). Back to square one! Bummer. At least the heat has eased off somewhat!

22nd August 2001

Wednesday, 8:00am, Toronto
I read the newsgroups on occasion and discover (most recently) that training in our system involves balls (all shapes and sizes), and of course the weapons training and other items for which our local group is not yet advanced enough nor has the facility even if we were. This leads me to wonder about my own place in this organisation. Will I ever learn?

Back to square one, indeed.

25th August 2001

Saturday, 9:00am, Toronto
Ahhhhhhhhhh, Saturday mornings at home, sleeping in, coffee, computer, sunshine...

Thursday was martial class, enough to jump-start my practise again, that AND feeling overweight and out of shape! It's morning and I'm going to start playing qigong shortly (trying for morning qigong and evening martial)... then it's in the shower, and off to look at prospective neighbourhoods. Hoping to buy a house with a yard not only big enough, but also one we can change to suit us! **dreaming of setting up posts and heavy bags and other equipment**

Right, it's morning, the sun is shining and the day awaits. Bagua now :)

27th August 2001

Monday, 10:30pm, Toronto
Practise - again - the 'make or break' proposition. This is true of anything in life and seems to be underscored in martial arts, where discipline is both mental and physical.

Here's a quote from the Jiulong Baguazhang yahoo newsgroup (if you want to join there is a link to is on my links page), from Shifu Garza, one of Dr. Painter's top 2 students (whom he has made Shifus in their own right). I think if this subject interests you at all, then his words are a better phraseology than mine:

"Re: [JiulongBaguazhang] Practice practice practice:- Dear Group, The greatest "secret" of all the classical internal martial arts can be expressed in one word, practice (and more practice). And not just blindedly running through set moves or forms, but in studiously concentrating on that practice. This includes researching and discovering how the principles work for you and then slowly developing through your practice the skills and knowledge to truely understand all that is given to you through your teacher.Shifu Garza"

Working on it...

30th August 2001

Thursday, 11:30pm, Toronto
A few thoughts for your consideration, that recent experiences have inspired...

What is excellence?

There are those who claim to aspire to excellence, who pride themselves on their high ideals. Speaking largely and loudly of how to achieve it, what it is, and how much hard work and dedication it requires.

They have high ideals and form "teams" to support each other. In actual fact many such groups find themselves, in the name of "teamwork" catering to the lowest common denominator. Rather than encourage the weakest team member to push themselves to rise to the challenge, they are content to bask in their superiority by working at the same pace as their weakest link. As a result they lose whatever personal excellence they have achieved and none of the team shows any real accomplishment.

Do such people understand excellence in the same way as those who live it?

Don't get me wrong, there do exist teams that support each other and challenge each others' weaknesses in a manner that allows them to each grow individually and thus strengthen the group. As they each learn individually, they share their knowledge and respect each other. The only time the entire team slows for their weakest member is when challenged by others outside the team.

I believe the second group to be rare. If you find yourself to be amongst such people count yourself fortunate.

Excellence, true excellence is more often a lonely place. Those who show excellence do not aspire to be "the best", they tend to believe "if you don't give it your all, don't bother doing it." They neither challenge others nor join teams, nor do they cater to the lowest common denominator. They don't seek excellence. They live it.

These, my humble and probably misguided thoughts, are my reflections tonight on excellence. What does excellence mean to you?

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1st September 2001

Saturday, 10:15am...
Sitting today was not ideal due to a far too busy mind, also referred to (I think!) as 'monkey mind'. Thoughts jumping everywhere, I sat for only 5 minutes. Also, having woken up at 7:10am, now, wide awake, I know that I'll sleep later...

For now, just a quick site update. Today looks like a good day for an outdoor play so after lunchtime I'll have another bagua play and will post photos later (if they turn out!).

3rd September 2001

Monday (Labour Day holiday), 1:15pm...
Yet another short sitting session yesterday, but followed in the afternoon by an aerobic workout. No photos taken since I didn't play outside but may still do so today. Here's what's been distracting me (aside from the usual work, home life and other pleasant distractions):

New House

We 'close' (take possession) on October 15 and plan to move in by the end of October. Good sized basement, and with a walkout to the nice trees in the yard for bagua!!!

10th September 2001

Monday 10:15pm...
Random thoughts tonight regarding 2 recent (within the month) experiences, and with not a lot of time to update, I thought I'd start with a 'cut and paste' of a true series of newsgroups postings.

To 'set the scene', let me share with you that a newsgroup member afflicted with tremor, had emailed me upon reading this website (!) to find out if the health testimonial was mine (it is). He requested that I join the newsgroup support group that share information and tips regarding coping with this rare condition, since nobody had suggested qi gong as a possible solution or therapy. Here's what happened when I gave his suggestion a try:

"From: ehlana@e...
Date: Sun Sep 2, 2001 11:58 pm
Subject: New member, old tremor...

Hi all,

My name is Sandy and I have joined this group today partly out of curiousity, partly out of being invited (Paul Chu sent an email to me after finding my website). On his suggestion I'd like to relate my story and what works for me. I hope nobody minds my sharing; if on the other hand it helps anyone at all then I would be happy.

The (condensed version) story is: -diagnosed with E.T. at the age of 19, told not to worry about it -tried medication during mid-20's to calm the shaking, it interfered with exercise so I stopped all medication -also diagnosed with nystagmus (supposedly unrelated) -also have muscle twitches regularly -diagnosed in early 30's with "muscular neuropathy" that is rare but hereditary, can't even remember its name. Apparently my dad has it but he is in his 70's and exhibits no symptoms. Also supposedly not related to the E.T.

I have now been dealing with the tremor for over 15 years. In my personal experience (and I've noticed that experiences tend to vary somewhat), exercise helps only slightly. If I'm hungry, I shake no matter what. Stress makes it worse. It's everywhere in my body but only the shaking hands were noticeable by others.

Just over 2 years ago, more by chance than by planning, I decided to attempt to learn a martial art, something in which I've long had an interest. This art is a Chinese 'internal' art (similar to t'ai chi chu'an) and the group leaders held 2 separate types of sessions: 1. martial (fighting) and 2. qi gong (chi kung) which is for health and 'wellness'. Being new I tried both classes.

For me, my interest in fighting has led to better health. I don't care if it's mind over matter, my tremors have lessened to the point where some days, they are not noticeable at all. Leg cramps at night have completely stopped. If I practise daily my symptoms disappear. If I stop practising they return.

If anyone wants the details they are on my website: www.dragonjournals.com (see chapter 5 and the page entitled "health benefits" for specifics on my health improvements).

I'd be interested in hearing if anyone else has tried qi gong (chi kung) and if so, for how long and with what results.

However my main interest is to encourage someone else to give it a try. It works for me.

Cheers and stay positive... :)

Sandy"

Tomorrow I'll update you on the response (or shall I say lack thereof?) Some people I suppose are just afraid of the unknown and can't leave the comfort of their disability. ! More later...

11th September 2001

Tuesday, 11:05pm...
No updates tonight. Instead, allow me to express my condolences for those affected by the terrorist attacks in the US.

12th September 2001

Wednesday 9:15pm...
On Monday night, I was reviewing the postings in the "tremor" and "Essential Tremor" newsgroups. Sadly enough, I received only a marginal response to my introduction, and the few responses I did receive, did not show much interest or care.

One person was glad to hear it because she was starting "kempo karate" and was glad to hear it had helped someone else. I don't recall discussing kempo karate...

Another asked me, what is muscular neuropathy? This one surprised me, the words are a general descriptive made up of 3 parts: muscle/nerve/sick (muscular/neuro/pathy) and I would have hoped that doctors are at least explaining such terminology to patients. Perhaps not.

So for now, I've stopped posting on the newsgroups. On the plus side, when I described my frustrations in the Jiulong Baguazhang newsgroup, a couple of members replied with theories as to why I did not receive a positive response (lack of familiarity, passing health responsibility on to their doctors, distrust in what may appear to be spam/sales pitch). So this gives me some food for thought as to my next approach.

In the meantime, I'm off downstairs to sit and see if I can breathe through my ermmmmmmmmmm see if I can breathe deeply, i.e. post natal breathing. And sit quietly. I need it.

21st September 2001

Friday 10:55pm...
I've been to the doctor this week for my annual physical. Somewhat overweight (no surprise to me, after 2 years of having quit smoking, you can't "just lost weight later" no matter what the doctor says *grin*). Of course I am once again motivated to get fit, lose the extra pounds of fat, put on some muscle, and just generally be healthier.

It is SO easy to try to make someone else responsible for your health! Trust me, I know. After my experience with the tremor newsgroups (I've decided to start into the subject but introduce it more slowly this time), it is evident that so many of us blame our doctors, our gene pool, our lifestyles (as if we have no control over them), ah! Why blame ourselves? I'm fat because I'm getting older, it's natural... I shake because my doctor hasn't found the right medication for me, I've no time to exercise because my job takes all my time... yup, I do it too, if anything can take the blame but me, I'll put it there! Why not?

It absolves me from taking responsibility for myself, my actions, my health. It's the easy way. In the short term, it makes me feel better. And so, even though I'm planning to take care of myself (once in awhile something kickstarts the resolution), I am sure that some "reason" will crop up that prevents me from doing so. If I can kickstart my brain, maybe this time, I'll have learned enough to ignore the excuses, see them for what they are, and continue improving my health.

And on that note, having done my bagua tonight, I'd like to bid you good night, and wish you also the best of luck in learning to take care of yourself better.

POSTSCRIPT
Having recently found out about a lost friend at the WTC, and subsequently a few work-related crises, pages haven't been updated and it's been a struggle to continue to do my bagua. And yet it is what I need now to help me through. So updates here will begin again in October, just in time for Founder's Day (October 3). Until then - Sandy T.


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