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August 15, 2001

Meditation Excercises

In order to more easily enter and control a meditative state, it is helpful to train your mind and senses so that you can more easily maintain your concentration and awareness. Many people are able to easily jump right into basic meditation practices (especially some children). But many people have serious problems with concentration and find their thoughts scattering quickly. The following exercises should help to develop your mind’s basic skills. They may seem a far cry from sitting in deep meditation and solving all of our problems, but you’ve got tolearn to walk before you run.

Observance:
Many of us skate through life never really noticing anything we don’t have to. The richness of sensory input all around us goes completely unnoticed until it offends or pleases us into noticing. Try walking down the street without the dog or kids or any other distractions. As you walk, notice things around you.
Purposefully seek out mundane things to look at. Notice colours, textures, and try to absorb as much detail as you can. Do not limit this exercise to sight alone. Notice the ambient noise around you. Try and distiguish what caused each seperate sound. Do the same with smell, touch, even taste (next time you eat, try to really taste what you’re eating.). Also, focus your attention inward. Notice how things feel such as the sensation of warm and cool in various parts of your body. Spend as much time as possible simply observing the details around you and interpreting them. You’ll find that this alone can bring on a sense of calm and appreciation that you’ve never experienced.

Awareness and Control:
Lay on a bed or floor with no distractions. Close your eyes and notice how you feel.
Conciously scan through your body, searching for various sensations. Sense how long your arms and legs are. Notice hot and cold sensations in your body. Also look for areas of muscular tension or relaxation. Now try to control them. Experiment with warming you hands or feet simply by focusing on the effect. Seek out areas of tension and relax the muscles in that area. Imagine your body expanding or shrinking. Focus on the sensations that this causes. It can be highly entertaining, but don’t get distracted. (This exercise has a tendency to cause a natural sense of euphoria.

Balance:
Stand in a natural, comfortable postion (but don’t over do it; and slouch.). Close you eyes and begin to slowly rock back and forth very slightly. Search for your body’s center of gravity. Look the point at which your body doesn’t naturally fall forward or back. Now repeat this process from side to side. Make your movements more and more subtle until you are perfectly in balance. Now notice exactly how this feels. Note the feeling well and try to acheive it at various points throughout your day.

Active Visualisation:
When we are children, we “pretend” constantly. For this reason children are inherently skilled at imagining and visualising.
For adults, we’ve got to go back to basics. Try sitting comfortably, away from distractions, and closing your eyes. Now visualize a simple two-dimensional shape. Try aeither a square or circle. Picture the shape as vividly as possible in your mind. (if you’re having trouble, stare at a picture of one for a few moments first.) Once you can do this consistently and can hold the image for as long as you want, try manipulating the shape in your mind’s eye. Turn the square into a circle and back. Now turn it around. Change it size, and so on. Now find a small, ordinary object (brush, ball, vase, whatever.). Spend several minutes observing the object. Look at it from various different angles. Note it’s colour and any patterns on it. Now close your eyes and visualize the object. At first you may get just a glimmer, but practice and keep concentrating. Soon you should be able to see the object in your mind’s eye, turn it around, change it’s size, etc.

Passive Visualizaion:
Try using your visualisation and attention skills to see something in your mind’s eye.
Try to eliminate any pre-conceived notions of what you’ll visualise. It needn’t be anything at all, as long as there’s a picture in your head. Approach the experience with a sense of curiosity. It may take some practice. But eventually, you’ll be able to allow your subconcious to place an image into your concious mind without any prior idea of what it will be. A similar exercise is to stare at clouds, cracks in a wall, or similarly abstract designs and look for familiar images in them.

© Ray Baars, 2001

Ray Baars is a Qi Qong Teacher (internal form), and Energy healer, having praticed and taught Tai Chi / Qi Qong since the late 70’s.
Ray was taught by Master Chu and Master Zuchetti, and teaches both in America and here in the UK.

July 19, 2001

Searching for the Feminine Archetype

I often wonder what the world would be like if women were in charge of it instead of men. It would definitely be an altogether different place. Moreover, it’s hard to escape the sneaking suspicion that it would probably be a far better place too. In watching the attack on New York, and the resulting military response, this masculine aspect to events is most striking. Men planned and carried out the attack on the USA. Government men around the world speak words of aggression in response, and rapidly commit masculine military strikes, depriving many innocent people of their lives and homes; all in the name of peace and the sanctity of human life. Nowhere in any of this do we see the feminine archetype present – only the masculine. Indeed, such is the domination of the masculine archetype, the feminine does not seem even slightly relevant.

In his excellent book, “The Alphabet Versus The Goddess”, Leonard Shlain provides compelling evidence for an astonishing phenomenon present in human history. His essential contention is that the rise of literacy in the form of alphabetic writing has led to an over-emphasis upon masculine left-brain thinking at the expense of the feminine right-brain. This has resulted in a decline of the feminine archetype within the cultures where literacy has been introduced. Not only has the Goddess herself declined as the primary deity, in favour of her masculine competitor, but women themselves rapidly become subjected to extreme debasement.

Shlain is not alone in this contention. In fact, he is in good company. Neither Socrates, Buddha or Christ wanted their teachings committed to writing, but instead subscribed to the oral tradition. Their teachings were only preserved in written form decades or (in the case of the Buddha) centuries after their deaths. More recently, anthropologist Claude Levi-Strauss stated:

“There is one fact that can be established: the only phenomenon which, always and in all parts of the world, seems to be linked with the appearance of writing…is the establishment of hierarchical societies, consisting of masters and slaves, and where one part of the population is made to work for the other”.

In essence, the conflict is between Word and Image, and the way our brains accept and integrate information from both. The masculine left-brain function is primarily associated with logic, numeracy, abstraction, analysis, reduction, writing and speech. The feminine right-brain is non-verbal and its language is that of image. It controls non-logical states, views things in concrete fashion rather than abstract, and is connected to intuition. It is both creative and nurturing, and is holistic in viewing things in an “all-at-once” fashion.

Thus, the two are very different and both have valid contributions to make. Ideally, a balance of both is required. Yet, throughout history, it has been the masculine left-brain that has dominated, and this can be traced back to the profound change that writing has had upon us.

The earliest written work that continues to influence the modern world is the Old Testament. Moreover the Jews, the first race to derive their entire religious effort from the written word, soon came to display this split between masculine and feminine functions. Immediately, we see the battle between Word and Image displayed. Of the Ten Commandments, the first is that there should be no other gods besides Jehovah. The second is that there should be no graven images or likeness of ANYTHING in heaven, on earth, on in the oceans!

Thus, in the first two commandments alone, we see the function of the right-brain/feminine function completely banned. Moreover, the previous rich diversity of gods and goddesses, representing all the aspects of creation’s mysteries in which we are immersed, are replaced by an abstract, single, “male” God who is “out there” somewhere, and definitely NOT part of Creation itself. We can only learn about this abstraction through the written and spoken word (left-brain & masculine), and NOT through image and creativity (right-brain & feminine).

In addition, and in contrast to the all-inclusive nature of other religions of the time, Judaism was peculiar in being the only religion in which God had seemingly created a “Chosen People” with whom he would share himself in exclusion to all other nations upon the earth. This divisiveness is a distinctively masculine function, and contrasts sharply with the more holistic all-inclusive universal character of the feminine archetype.

Indeed, this “chosen people” characteristic was later adopted from the religions that took Judaism as their root; namely Christianity and Islam. Here too, the abstract monotheistic male god, separate from and often condemning his creation, and who gives his revelation only through the written and spoken word, was adopted in preference to the accepting embracing Mother Goddess, who speaks through the vast diversity of Creation, as well as through image and inner intuitive seeking.

These religions, in their most extreme forms, adopted intensely repressive attitudes towards women. There is plenty of evidence to suggest that the founders did not necessarily display antipathy towards women themselves. However, their later male adherents definitely did display such tendencies, which has led to the repression, and even persecution, of women throughout the centuries. The most extreme example of this is the Witch Trials in both Europe and America.

It was only in the 20th century that women’s rights began to truly recover from the negative bombardment that has been inflicted upon them for millennia. Interestingly, this was also the era that brought us Television, Cinema, a huge surge in interest in Art, and more recently, Computer Graphics. This may be no coincidence, since all of these communication media are IMAGE-oriented. They stimulate the right-brain feminine side. As a consequence of these new technologies, traditional literacy has been under attack in the Western world, and has even started to decline.

The act of writing itself is now, for the first time in history, being carried out by both hands at once, through the use of computer keyboards. Thus, the left-brain/right-hand dominance is breaking down, and giving way to a more brain-balanced mode of putting words into print.

This is not so much an issue of Feminism, and of women having the right to be jet pilots. The more important issue is the welfare of the feminine principle itself. When this was debased with the decline of the Goddess and right-brain activity, women themselves were “literally” denigrated. When the feminine archetype is restored to its rightful place in our civilization, as is beginning to take place, the fortunes of women themselves must necessarily rise too.

At present, the trap women find themselves in is that they can certainly succeed in a man’s world. However, to do so, they often end up behaving more like a man than most men do! In other words, a woman in today’s world may eventually get the top position she seeks, but somewhere along the line, she has lost some, or even most, of her femininity. Conversely, a man who seeks a top job must always over-emphasize his masculine traits, and rarely reveal his feminine ones.

This demonstrates that the male left-brain archetype still dominates our culture. It does not matter what physical body you happen to have been born with, success in our culture requires the adoption of the left-brain mindset. A woman has to adopt it in order to compete equally with men. She cannot easily do so on her own terms, as a fully feminine women. The most desperately needed place for the feminine archetype at present is the arena of international politics. Here, the absurd polarization of left-brain dominated men threatens the whole human race with potential annihilation. Absurdly simplistic analyses of extremely complex issues are trotted out, and acted upon violently, without any effort to seek to understand or empathize with the deeper issues involved. This situation is the masculine tendency for analysis and reduction carried to ridiculous extremes.

So what can we do? Decide that in your personal life, you will work to develop your right-brain qualities to their fullest extent. This can be a difficult challenge for both sexes, such is the dominance of the male archetype and the power of alphabetic literacy upon our brains. Seek to promote these qualities in your life to the fullest extent possible, and encourage others who are trying to do the same. At the same time, it should be said that people who are overly biased towards the right-brain function should develop their LEFT-brain skills. Remember that it is balance that is sought and true brain integration. Both sides have their vital parts to play. One is not better or worse than the other. They are just different.

Let us hope that this new millennium, and the raising of consciousness that all metaphysical people are hoping for, will herald the permanent reinstatement of the feminine principle in society. If this can be progressively achieved, the world must surely change beyond description. And for the better!

Copyright 2001, Asoka Selvarajah. All Rights Reserved.

Dr. Asoka Selvarajah is an active writer/researcher on personal development and esoteric spirituality. Asoka’s work helps people achieve their full potential, deepen their understanding of mystical truth, and find joy in their true soul’s purpose.

Subscribe to his FREE ezine, Aspire To Wisdom, and receive his brand new E-Book “Inner Light Outer Wealth” for FREE at: http://www.aksworld.com/AspireToWisdom.htm?MMOU
You can visit his website at http://www.aksworld.com?MMOU

June 5, 2001

Qi and Qi Gong

What is Qi Gong and Qi?
Qi is an energy field created by all living things. It surrounds us, penetrates us, and it binds the universe together.

Most westerners do not understand the nature of Qi and what role it plays within their lives. It seems mystical and therefore unbelievable; so they never bother to learn any of the many secrets of what Qi Gong can do.

The truth is that while Qi energy is poorly understood by western science, it is not mystic, nor is it unbelievable. Chinese doctors have been performing major surgery for years, using Qi manipulation instead of anesthetic (pain killers). Chinese medicine has relied on Qi manipulation as it’s primary treatment for well over 3000 years. It is, in short, very real. But sadly, poorly understood.

What is Qi?
Qi (pronounced “Chee”) is an energy field that exists in and around all living things and throughout the universe (“may the force be with you”, to use a famous phrase, from an equally famous film).
Qi is now understood to be of a bioelectricty nature, a kind of energy field generated by the electric and magnetic potentials of living creatures. It has been well-known for thousands of years. The Indians call it Prana. To the Japanese, it is Ki. Even the ancient Greeks knew of Qi, calling it Pneuma. This energy field is more than simple electricity, as it exists in empty space (without conductors).
Western science has a difficult time fully explaining the nature of Qi (so they tend to ignore it!). Within our human body, Qi is concentrated in vessels and flows through channels called meridians. These meridians are similar, but not identical to the blood circulation and nerve bundle systems.
If Qi becomes stagnant or unbalanced, the result is poor health or even death.

Concentrations of Qi can be felt, developed, dispersed or projected through simple concentration and self-knowledge.
This way a person may maintain health and vitality through specific exercises and meditations.
This is the heart of any Qi Gong training.

What is Qi Gong?
Qi can be defined as a Universal energy. A more narrow definition refers to the vital energy which flows through the body of all living things. Qi Gong is the art of cultivating this energy for the purpose of health and long life. For the purpose of understanding Qi, it can be thought of as an electrical energy or heat.

There are a large number of differing styles and forms of Qi Gong. Each seeking to cultivate, preserve, strengthen, and smooth the flow of the body’s natural energy.
All styles can be divided into the external styles (known as “Wai Dan”) and internal styles (known as “Nei Dan”). Both included the same fundamental goals, but go about achieving them in widely different ways.

Wai Dan as an easy way to think of external qi gong in that it builds energy from the outside inwards.

Nei Dan Internal Qi Gong goes about building energy through meditation and breathing exercises.

What are the fundamentals of Qi Gong

  1. Qi is directed by the mind. Through concentration and intent, you can direct your body’s energy to go wherever you like.
  2. Stay relaxed as tension causes Qi to stagnate.
  3. Mediate regularly.
  4. Practice regularly.

Don’t get discouraged.

Remember, Perceive it to Achieve it…

© Ray Baars, 2001

Ray Baars is a Qi Qong Teacher (internal form), and Energy healer, having practiced and taught Tai Chi / Qi Qong since the late 70’s.
Ray was taught by Master Chu and Master Zuchetti, and teaches both in America and here in the UK.

October 18, 2000

Peter Pracownik – The World of

Search by Peter Pracownik

The stunning artwork of Peter Pracownik is known and loved by millions, he is the creator of two of the most popular tarot decks (the Dragon Tarot and Lord of the Rings), but is probably most famous for his stunning dragons. His pictures has been licensed all over the world and can be found adorning a huge range of products from posters and postcards to cigarette lighters and pocket knifes.

The Temperance Dragon by Peter PracownikBut he is far more than a commercial phenomenon, Peter is recognised as a leading light in the world of New Age/Fantasy art and his work has been exhibited all around the globe to much acclaim, including a one man show at the MGM studios in Hollywood. His artwork has also been used on album covers (Peter is also a musician and audiophile, with a vast collection of vinyl albums) to award winning effect.

For those of you who have never seen Peter’s work (or more likely have seen it but never known who it was by), here is a taster of what you have been missing. The images shown on this page have been taken, with permission, from Peter’s own site (to see more stunning dragon pictures visit www.peterpracownik.com).

Trying to give a representative view of Peter’s work in such a small space is simply impossible, he is both prolific and diverse in the subjects he chooses to cover, yet somehow he manages to imbue each piece with its own unique magic. The first image is the Temperance Dragons (above left), they sit, diligently emptying goblets in to a moonlit pool. To me this picture has a certain elusive charm about it, some special quality that permeates through so much of Peter’s work.

The Earth Dragon by Peter PracownikIn our second example the majestic Earth Dragon (right) wraps itself in a protective coil around our Mother Earth. This particular image also featured on a special Millennium coin. As you look upon Peter’s dragons you always sense that they exist as protectors, guardians or guides, they never appear menacing or sinister.

Yet, as I said earlier, dragons represent just one aspect of the diverse range of subjects covered by Peter’s work, a quick look at his website shows categories from extra-terrestrial encounters to fairy tales. Literature is another source, with works inspired by Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings and Lewis Caroll’s Alice in Wonderland.

Excalibur by Peter PracownikBut it is Peter’s huge knowledge of myth and legend that provides the basis for so much of his output. The Arthurian legend (see left), Celtic tradition and sacred imagery from around the globe are blended to truly magical effect. Stonehenge, Glastonbury (where Peter lived for some time), Nostradamus, Wizards and Unicorns have all added to the extraordinary spectrum.

Well that just about wraps up this whirlwind tour of Peter’s work. As you might have gathered, this article has only scratched the surface, but if you would like to see more of these incredible pictures or find out about the man himself, then don’t forget to check out his website – it’s well worth a visit. And keep yours eyes open when your out and about, you never know when you might come face to face with one of Peter’s creations.

Before a sign off, I would like to leave you with one final thought – Art is an intensely personal thing, and in a world where art can, apparently, take the form of a pile of bricks or an unmade bed, we all have to find our own definition of it. For me, I like to believe the purpose of art is to take the audience to places beyond the realm of their experience, to delight and arouse their senses and to stimulate the imagination – by that definition alone Peter Pracownik is a true Master.

Search by Peter Pracownik

To find out more about Peter and his work you can visit his website www.peterpracownik.com