Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Alban Arthan, the "Light of Arthur"

In the Old World, in the Old Religion, it was common for a person to become a God or a Goddess, and for a God or Goddess to become a person. Divine attributes became Earthly powers and Earthly powers became Divine attributes. In the Old World, the Gods needed people as much as the people needed the Gods. At this time of year, and during this Yule-tide season, I’d like to talk briefly about two deities, Epona and Arthur.

Epona is the horse goddess. Known throughout the Celtic world, her center of worship was Gaul. She was also worshipped by the Romans and December 18th is her festival and feast day. She is called Rhiannon in Britain, and her name is known now as the root of the word “pony.” She was venerated by all connected to horses, like cavalry, grooms, farriers, etc and her likeness was found in stables. She can be evoked by all who need help to reach their destination, both physical and spiritual. Hanging a horseshoe over a door was to invoke protection from Epona and to be lucky by her visiting.

 The King Arthur we know now is a later manifestation of an older Celtic warrior king who became a God. His sister Morgan, and wife Guinevere, are both aspects of the Goddess. Arthur wields the divine sword of truth, Excaliber. He has all the attributes and abilities of a person who walks between the worlds. Indeed, he did not die but is alive in Avalon, having sailed on Solomon’s barge, waiting to come back to save Britain from her darkest future peril. December 21/22, the Winter Solstice is called Alban Arthan, the light of Arthur. It is also called Yule which is from Old Norse meaning “wheel,” and gives us the Old English word “jolly.”  The Winter Solstice shows the great turning of the wheel of the year. Arthur is the Mabon, the child of light, full of hope and potential, and he is the Og, the king of light, who achieves great deeds for the people. Arthur is in Tir na n’Og, the land of perpetual youth, and he is the perpetual youth. Invoke King Arthur when you need guidance, protection, strength, and courage, especially during times of great darkness, or the absences of the light!

Be safe at this time of year, both during travel and when encountering so many people. Blessed Yule!

Friday, December 13, 2013

Carleton T'ai-Chi class...THANK YOU!!!!

There is an old saying that when the student is ready the master will appear. I found this to be true in my own life. I've also found the opposite, when the teacher is ready, the students appear! Since September I've been teaching T'ai-Chi to group of 13-28 students through the Carleton College rec center. I found a group of students, who appeared, and have greatly added to my teaching enthusiasm and inspiration. A few had done T'ai-Chi  before but many of them were brand new. What I find so fascinating about this group is that they are willing to try anything! I have had them do the "Cloud Hands" posture and the "Golden Rooster Standing on One Leg" posture not only many times, but many repetitions with their eyes closed! They practice, they work, they laugh, and they truly appreciate the healing benefits of this ancient art.

Last week I was asked to come early, and before class I was treated to a holiday concert. Five members of the class (Wu Feng, the five breaths!) played instruments while the rest sang a Christmas Carol with the lyrics adapted to fit their T'ai-Chi class experience. I admit I was moved and even teary-eyed. Of course when the concert was over we went right to work. That's just the way they are. Below are the lyrics.

(To the tune of"Let it Snow")

Oh, the weather outside is frightful,
But our class is so delightful,
And since we've no place to go
Let it snow, let it snow, let it snow.

Ray's T'ai-Chi means we are improving
Because he has us moving
We're smooth and soft and slow
As we practice the moves we know.

When we finally learn the form
Then we'll know this is truly the norm
So if you'll really help me now
Then I can say " I know how!"

The class is slowly learning
And my friend, we're still a yearning
Just to do our best, and so
Let it snow, let it snow, let it snow.

Without the help and encouragement from Jane, Larry, RenĂ©e, and Mikki, I would never have found this group of amazing students. What does the future hold? For sure a demonstration at Chinese New Year…

Saturday, December 7, 2013

a follow up to my last post

I had lunch last week with Joanne Von Blon, another founding mother of Twin Cities T'ai-Chi Ch'uan Studio and a close and personal friend of Sage Cowles R.I.P. She told me one of her fondest images and memories of Sage was when Joanne and Phil and Sage and John were vacationing and backpacking in Africa. One morning Joanne got up and saw Sage practicing T'ai-Chi Sword, using a stick, in the wilds of Africa...

Saturday, November 23, 2013

Sage Cowles, a founding mother of Twin Cities T'ai-Chi Ch'uan Studio, R.I.P.

 "The body is central to the learning process, not a second-class citizen separate from the mind.”
-Sage Cowles

 I just learned of the passing of Sage Cowles, a local legend in the dance community and a philanthropist who raised the level of art in Minnesota to the excellence it enjoys today and will enjoy for years to come. Whoever reads this blog, I would like you to know about Sage the Tai-Chi practitioner.

Sage was one of a group who, having traveled to China and witnessed T'ai-Chi being practiced in the park, sought out  instruction in the Twin Cities. Sage was one of the founding mothers of Twin Cities T'ai-Chi Ch'uan Studio which began by having classes held in her dance studio in 1982. Sage and three others helped found the Studio, which now is a non-profit, full time studio celebrating its 20th year as a non-profit ( with 11years before that as a commercial school).

I had the privilege of working with Sage as her teacher, and quickly became her student as well. She gave as well as she got and I use many of her moving, stretching, and training concepts,  which she learned and experienced from a lifetime of movement, to this very day. Sage studied privately with me as well as taking group classes and learned Master Liang's complete system of Tai-Chi including weapons and pushing hands. Sage was one of the demonstrators for my "Farewell to the Master" demonstration in 1988 on the occasion of Master Liang leaving Minnesota.

I recently got to talk to her about my explorations into the dance world and sharing Tai-Chi and others arts with dancers and performers. Sage was delighted and gave me much support and encouragement. I will miss her smile and enthusiasm and openness.I will miss her friendship and support.But not too much because I have secret for all my students. You get a "Sage lesson" every time I lead the stretching and warm-up. It was Sage who taught me that when you bend and stretch your hamstrings, you can "relax your abdomen and lower back" to get the most out of your stretch with the least amount of pain.How many times have you heard that? For some of you, it's been decades. Thank you Sage.

Monday, November 11, 2013

When the student is ready...

"Education is not the filling of a pail but the lighting of a fire." --William Butler Yeats

  ..the teacher will appear. Mine did. On July 29th 1977, in Boston. The day I met Master T. T. Liang. From that day on, my life changed, and it was a good thing considering my upbringing and family situation. Master Liang taught me, inspired me, corrected me, and introduced me to people and concepts and outlooks and teachings that I fear I would have never known. He encouraged me to learn from many teachers and read many books, and to practice, practice, practice! Oh the love and excitement and joy I experienced in those early days stays with me at this very moment!

“The mediocre teacher tells. The good teacher explains. The superior teacher demonstrates. The great teacher inspires.” 
-William Arthur Ward

Master Liang was more than patient with an impatient, uneducated, slightly rough young man who was eager to learn all he had to teach. I not only learned Tai-Chi, Praying Mantis, Ch'in-Na, and weapons, I learned a lot about Chinese history, philosophy and culture.

 “Those who know, do. Those that understand, teach.”

Master Liang introduced me to four other teachers: Master B.P. Chan, Master William C.C. Chen, Dr. Leung Kay-Chi, and Sifu Lo Man-Biu. Master Liang wanted me to learn from many people and make my own way after an extensive investigation. He never said he was my master or that I was only to study with him.

 “I never teach my pupils, I only attempt to provide the conditions in which they can learn.”
-Albert Einstein

I was introduced to my eldar classmate Paul Gallagher through Master Liang and immediately took him as one of my teachers, learning all things Taoist as well as the T'ai-Chi Classics, Pa-Kua, and much much more. I also saw an older version of Master Liang's teachings and would compare and contrast with what I was learning in my weekly private lessons with Liang with what Paul had learned ten years earlier.

 "Every truth has four corners: as a teacher I give you one corner, and it is for you to find the other three." --Confucius

Master Liang not only taught me T'ai-Chi Ch'uan, be he taught me how to learn, and how to teach, a passion I follow as my vocation and life task. I was given my first students and teaching assignments from Master Liang. The first group of students I ever taught the 150 Posture Long Form was at the New England School of Acupuncture, a class Master Liang could not attend, so I got the gig!

 "Tell me and I forget. Teach me and I remember. Involve me and I learn."
- Benjamin Franklin

I was accepted as a disciple on November 11th, 1988 in St Cloud Minnesota. That was a culmination of years of study, practice, sacrifice, hardship, breakthroughs, and joy. I took my discipleship seriously and have continued Master Liang's mission of spreading T'ai- Chi as the "Whole World's Exercise" echoing Liang's feeling that T'ai- Chi is for everyone regardless of age, health or ability.

 "It is not what is poured into a student that counts but what is planted."
-Linda Conway

I miss my teacher daily. I also get to check in with him in my daily practice and teaching. His presence is felt in my Studio by others besides me, including Liang's daughter An-Le and son, Joseph , both who commented on the feeling of their father's presence and personality being there. I feel blessed to have had such an influence in my life. I am still reaping the benefits and seeing all the goodness planted into my life all those years ago.

  "A hundred years from now, it will not matter what kind of car I drove, what kind of house I lived in, how much money I had in the bank...but the world may be a better place because I made a difference in the life of a child."
- Forest Witchcraft

You can have many teachers, but you can only have one master. I have experienced this and have studied with many high level masters and teachers. Only one taught all of me; body, mind, spirit, emotion, and heart. Only one took a chance to trust me and give to me beyond measure, and in the end, point me on my path.

                                                                  Thank you Sir!

"A teacher affects eternity; he can never tell where his influence stops."
-Henry Adams

Saturday, November 2, 2013

Guest Choreographer at Carleton College

 This year I was chosen to be the guest artist and co-choreographer for Semaphore, Carleton College’s dance and performance company. I had worked with Jane Shockley, adjunct professor and Senior Lectureror of Dance, at Zenon Dance Company and Dance School. Our classes combined Modern Dance and T'ai-Chi as well as introducing meditation, qi-gong, and various martial art styles. Jane asked if I would like to compose a piece together. We agreed that we should show movement representing alchemy, ritual, martial arts, weapons, and dance, with an overall feeling of sacred movement.

Throughout this Summer, Jane and I talked and researched and danced until our ideas started to jell and a piece formed. In September I got to spend five days with Semaphore and we taught and refined the movements and let the muse join us for some amazing teaching and learning. It was a real pleasure to work with such talented and eager students. One of the dancers said that the piece was more about letting the audience into the performance than for the dancers to perform for the audience. Indeed , the work, titled Azoth, has a transformational personality of its own.

Since September, Jane has been putting on the finishing touches as well as leading the rehearsals for the upcoming performances. I am excited to see the piece performed and more to the point, to see how it has transformed! A lot of work, time, and inspiration went into the creation of this dance. It has more the feel of ritual, or sacred movement, with some nice martial arts punctuation.

 Azoth will be performed two nights, 11/8 & 11/9, at 7:30 PM at the Weitz Center for Creativity. You can see this work by contacting the college and “buying”tickets, which is reserving free tickets. Go to the bottom of this link;

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Workshops in Delaware 2013

 I am excited to return to Delaware and work with people at both Ming Tao Tai-Chi and Rigby's Karate Academy. Last year we covered some advanced concepts and training as well as revisited basics and practice methods. I have some new looks at familiar subjects and will give many insights into your Tai-Chi, regardless of style, level, or ability.

For information on the complete set of workshops or just the Newark area seminars, contact Diane at;

Or just the Dover seminars contact Reese and Judy at;

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Health as Wealth

                                                             (53 year old hamstrings!)

The most valuable asset you posses has little value until you loose it, or it becomes compromised...your health. I don't have riches or IRA's or investments in Swiss bank accounts. I do have my health. My body feels better and performs better now in my 50s than it did in my 20s, and I was in great shape back then! I have an appetite like I always have had and enjoy my food and other hungers even more now.My flexibility is more so and my strength has changed, not diminished.My mind is still sharp and my memory even surprises me!

I have made many deposits into my health account. I chose sleep, and good food, and exercise many times over quick pleasures and "time-killing." T'ai-Chi and meditation have kept me from a lot of colds and helped with injuries both physical and mental. I have pursued learning and teaching and the simple study of life, mainly through observation. Although I have spent a lot of money on teachers and teachings, most of my greatest accomplishments have been only for the price of my time and energy. Ever heard of "paying attention?" You pay with your attention, not your credit card.Walking in the woods is still mostly free, yet it pays back ten-fold on my state of mind.

My teacher, Master T. T. Liang, always said "Health is a matter of the utmost importance." He passed away peacefully at age 102, after decades of teaching people and changing lives for the better. We have wealth beyond money or gold in our health. This becomes apparent after a certain age, but still needs to be taught to young people.With the looming crisis of childhood obesity and diabetes, not to mention all the stress even the very young are carrying now, health needs to be taught in the home, at school, and in the public.We could ask our government to spend money on paying health teachers to be on staff at our schools and investing in the health of our youth instead of making more weapons and bombs. There are so many forms of exercise beyond the normal sports programs. As long as it gets kids moving and helps reduce stress, that is criterion enough. What about retirement homes? The elders in our society need mental and physical movement and stimulation.

How is your bank account? Not the one you deposit and withdraw money from, but the health account that you use for your daily life? How is your "retirement plan?" Where your heart goes, there goes your wealth. Is your health in your heart? I wish you all glowing health, well-being, peace, and longevity.

Saturday, September 28, 2013

A Woman's Worth

 I love Marianne Williamson! I learned so much about myself as a man by reading her writings on women. Sounds contradictory doesn't it? For all my men readers let me suggest A Woman's Worth We can learn a lot from this book about women, men, and being ourselves no matter what our gender is.

 Here are two of my favorite quotes;

“Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us. We ask ourselves, 'Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous?' Actually, who are you not to be? You are a child of God. Your playing small does not serve the world. There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won't feel insecure around you. We are all meant to shine, as children do. We were born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us. It's not just in some of us; it's in everyone. And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.” 

-Marianne Williamson , A Return to Love
“Joy is what happens to us when we allow ourselves to recognize how good things really are.”
-Marianne Williamson

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

a day of rest

"When you rest, you rust ."

Actually, you only rust when your rest becomes becomes permanent! We all need to rest. Rest our minds, rest our bodies, rest our energy, even rest our dreams and desires. Yet we are being told that we must keep going, doing, improving. Where will it end?

Many spiritual traditions encourage a day of rest. The concept of "going on holiday" from Europe and the idea of "stay-cations" are all a good start. Sports medicine is now finding out that the best gains from our workouts are made when we rest and let the body repair to a stronger state. Constant wear-down leads to wear-out. A day off can let the body do its repairs and maintenance.

The Tao Te Ching says, "Oversharpen a sword and it will soon become dull." This is not an excuse to sit on the couch for the rest of your life! Rest and activity must find a healthy balance.

With smart phones, computers, and all the technology of "social media," we can never get a break! Another line from the Tao Te Ching says, "Stillness is the master of unrest."

How about a day of rest? One day where you unplug from work, technology, and take a break? Take a walk in the woods, or sit outside and look at the clouds and sky.Unplug the phone. Daydream. Read a book.Talk to a real live person face to face. Be with yourself. Sounds scarry doesn't it? No, it sounds wonderful!

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Great Healing News!

I heard some amazing news yesterday. Let me give a little background first.

I have a student,CG, who studied with me for eight years learning both Northern Praying Mantis Kung-Fu and Pa-Kua Chang. At his first class, as the class intensified, he walked over and sat down right in the middle of class. I went over and asked what's going on? He said he was born with a heart defect and that he was having a little trouble catching his breath. He gradually went on from there to eight intensive years of study in which he could keep up in both speed and power with all his classmates. Gradually he left class to pursue school and other things, yet we always remained in contact. This was a few years ago.

Fast-forward to 6 months ago. CG called me and asked if he could begin taking private lessons again. At our first lesson he told me that he just got back from the doctors and they had told him that he was on about a 10 to 15 year track to a heart transplant! He said he wanted to begin private lessons for two reasons: one was to sharpen his self-defense skills, and two was to try to heal his heart or slow the degeneration. And so we began.

CG began a vigorous course of Taoist Meditation, qi gong, and internal martial arts. As he felt his internal energy quite easily, I had him end all his practices with simply putting his hands on his heart and directing the healing flow of energy inward.He listens to my meditation CD and meditates 45 minutes every night before going to bed and ends each session with directing his ch'i, or vital energy, inward for healing and rejuvenation.

And now yesterday CG begins our private class by telling me that he just came back from his six month checkup with his doctor. This included EKGs, MRIs, blood work etc. When his doctor got the results back the change was drastic and notable.CG's heart function six months ago was at 31% but now it was functioning at 39%!! The doctor said his improvement was so drastic that he could start coming back once a year instead of every six months.CG's parents had both come to his doctors appointment. His father broke down and cried, and his mother looked at him and said "what is it that you do with Ray in those private classes?"

All the work, healing, progress, and determination came from this young man. I helped with knowledge and experience, and a healthy dose of encouragement. I don't know where this will go or how this will end but for now, I'm almost as happy as CG.

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

An inspiration, and her name is Fidelma

Her name was Fidelma (A Druid Priestess)

"She had yellow hair. She wore a speckled cloak fastened around her with a gold pin, a red embroidered hooded tunic and sandals with gold clasps. Her brow was broad, her jaw narrow, her two eyebrows pitch black, with delicate dark lashes casting shadows halfway down her cheeks. You would think her lips were inset with Parthian scarlet. Her teeth were like an array of jewels between the lips. She had hair in three tresses; two wound upward on her head and the third hanging down her back, brushing her calves. She held a light gold weaving rod in her hand, with gold inlay. Her eyes had triple irises. Two black horses drew her chariot, and she was armed....."

Monday, July 15, 2013

Train Art

Train Art
By Ray and Naja

"For my pallet and brush,
A rail,
And a train."


I have always been fascinated with railroad pennies. When I was a kid I remember being shown pennies that had been squished on the railroad tracks. One time a kid showed me his house key which he crushed on the rails. I've always felt that our nation was being crushed by industrialism. The future is being crushed by national debt. Mother Earth is being crushed by human meddling. Dreams are crushed, hopes are crushed, and yet everything is an opportunity for change.

"We will crush you!"

When the object is crushed on the rail it might not be as high as it was, but it is much wider and broader. The Chinese have a saying "a frog in a well" meaning a person who can see very high, but not broadly. When a frog looks up from the bottom of a well it can see the sky, but only a little bit. The height limits its width of perception. Of course the frog thinks that its vision, and opinion of that vision, is the true definition of the sky. When the frog comes to the top of the well, it realizes that in the height of its perception was also the very narrowness of its understanding. When I see the pennies or other objects flattened out it helps me to see where I've been narrow in my insight and feelings.

As a student, teacher, and practitioner of both Eastern and Western Alchemy, where we turn base metals into gold, I am fascinated by the many stages of change and refinement. This is not only in the material world, but more importantly, in the spiritual and emotional world. I see my Train Art as a tangible example of the changing and refining of materials. The penny, plus the rail, plus the train, plus a brief moment in time, affects not only the penny, but the holder of the penny. With the help and creative eye of my partner Naja, we bring you a new way of looking at art, alchemy, and life.

No animals were harmed in the making of my art.

Contact me directly for information about Train Art and purchasing and design.

Sunday, July 7, 2013

Second Guest Post

“Personal Development” and the Taoist Warrior

Some years ago, I put together a program of training which combined Taoist Qi and
meditation training with various high-level personal development techniques which were being taught by “success” coaches in the West.

The program became known as “Taoist Warrior Training.”  I ran this program
successfully for several years, and participants informed me that it had a very positive impact on their lives.  Sifu Hayward very graciously invited me to share this brief description with the readers of his blog.

So what IS the Way of the “Taoist Warrior?”…

The Way of the Taoist Warrior is to “Live Large”--finding and following your Bliss-that
which gives you utmost energy and makes you feel most deeply aligned with “the Force.” It is about discovering and respecting your own particular “Internal Economy,” or level of Qi which  makes you feel most resourceful, centered, and energized.

It is about finding your own unique balance of physical, emotional, and spiritual forces
which, focused in powerful synergy, can fulfill your personal “Life Dream”---that sense of vision, purpose, and joy you’ve always had somewhere deep in your soul, and which most ultimately gives meaning to your life.

It is not necessarily about more “success” or “achievement,” though that may come as a
by-product. It is, however, about exquisite health, a feeling of inner power, harmony and
balance, and a feeling of abiding joy and good humor in the everyday real world.

So what does “Taoist Warrior” Mean?

The Taoists were the Sages of China who revered, observed, and followed the total way of Nature, or Tao. Their goal was to achieve a perfect balance in life between their physical energies, their spiritual destiny, and the Tao-or the “Source of the Force.”

Although many Taiji aspirants today deplore the term “Warrior,” the Warrior ideal does
not connote aggression or violent activity, but referred to a Sage who could face all of life’s challenges, even (especially) very unsettling ones, or even life and death combat, with equanimity and centeredness. The Warrior has such a firm center and internal power that s/he can always maintain flexibility and balance even in the most adverse circumstances.

Though the Warrior’s own sense of internal power and integrity is immense (tremendous Yang), in dealing with others, a Warrior is flexible and gentle (Yin). It is this balance of the highest level of both Yin and Yang qualities which makes the true Taoist Warrior.

In the ancient days, the Warriors were usually very multifaceted individuals. Often they
were astronomers, scientists, chemists, physicians, strategists, and protectors of the people.  In our time, the concept can be applied to a well-rounded individual who acts with a sense of unerring inner purpose, yet is always aware of the Larger Picture. And whose primary concern is always to maintain a state of attunement with the Tao or “The Force."

A short story of how this all began…a bit of personal history which will put the idea into

All of my life I have been fascinated by the “grand life”—how to live to one’s best
potential while radiating an aura of joy and positive energy. I guess that was my “quest.”
It was a varied and fascinating quest which brought me into fortuitous contact with some
remarkable human beings—martial arts masters, master healers, and people of great spiritual insight from Swamis and Zen masters to Catholic contemplative  monks. . A journey of constant discovery and challenge…

After being a weightlifter and Karateist, Taiji  seemed to me like the ultimate ideal—an exercise whereby one could become stronger through relaxation and which promised “startling stamina beyond the ordinary stages of retrogression and decay.”  A long, healthy life with abundant energy and mental acuity—that was for me!

So I trained and practiced assiduously and had the good fortune to work with some remarkable teachers who totally embodied not only the Taiji  “forms,” but what seemed to be something larger and of even greater value—a kind of Life Strategy.

Unlike many of the martial arts masters of the media, who are often portrayed with a
“macho,” sometimes even sociopathic image, these teachers seemed to embody a tremendous power, but also a genuinely “human touch.” They were people of compassion and absolute integrity, sometimes even puckish, childlike good humor. Yet each of them embodied tremendous inner power as well.

I began to see that the “Strategy” was perhaps even more valuable than the Taiji 
exercises and forms. But that the “forms” somehow led to the Strategy. And the teachers would give broad hints about The Strategy, but never seemed to provide any specific details about how to achieve it.

As I continued my studies, I sadly noticed Players, sometimes even highly talented Taiji
and other martial art Players who seemed to lack the Strategy—whose lives seemed to be off center or who were consumed with the very power they seemed so intent on developing. Often they had tremendous difficulties in their financial or personal lives.

So my quest continued…

I decided to look at Western approaches to “Success” and read scores of books, attended
seminars by some of the best known “Success Gurus,” and truly had a ball doing it! There was something expansive and liberating about it all, and some wonderful and very generous people associated with these programs.

Interesting to me, many of the “success” approaches seemed to emphasize Yang energy—be more, do more, imagine more, never give up, keep on affirming and visualizing----until you reach your goal. And then set an even bigger goal and start all over again!Was this “what it was all about?” The contrast between that and the serenity and joy of my Taiji  masters created a question in my mind. Was there perhaps a “softer and gentler way?”

I was immensely surprised by the fact that only a relatively small percentage of people
who attended the “Success” programs really seemed to experience profound changes in their lives. Frequently I met people who, a few months down the road, had reverted to the status quo of their drudgerous lives (as they described them to me) and who remembered the powerful --and usually very expensive seminar-- only as a momentary “high.” For some reason, they just could not follow through, even though they had invested large amounts of time and money.

This truly amazed me—until I realized that the key to ALL life success is ENERGY. Just
energy—the energy to follow through in realizing your dreams. Can you have a creative,
exciting career if you feel tired all the time? Can you have a passionate, vibrant relationship if you’re always feeling “run down?” It seemed that the answer was no, that the single most critical requisite of “success” in any arena of our lives is energy.

So I began to explore Energy.

It was obvious to me from my decades-long study of Taiji and Chinese healing arts that
the Chinese had developed a superlative “technology” for cultivating, harnessing, and enhancing personal energy. After all the concept of Qi was central to all of Chinese culture—not only medicine and martial arts, but even architecture, painting, and cooking! So maybe Qi was the “missing” ingredient to success and even to a truly viable Life Strategy.

As I began working to combine Eastern and Western approaches to the “grander life,” the greatest revelation of all appeared brought by a teacher who pretty much just “showed up” on my doorstep one day when I felt I had hit a dead end. She showed me how to understand the relation between mental intent and the actuality of our everyday life. What we vibrate in resonance with infallibly appears in our life.

Of course, like most people, I had already heard lots about setting goals, focusing the
mind, creating a vision of my life, etc., etc. I all but dismissed the new revelation as just more of the same “old stuff,” when I began to see that what my previous learning had lacked was that mental focus was not enough. Of infinitely greater importance was that one’s inner personal core had to be in a harmonious and precise vibrational frequency which matched whatever we were visualizing or focusing on. And there had to be a feedback mechanism to verify that the match was actually happening. Once I discovered and worked with this “revelation” a whole series of gateways opened up for me.  I had at last found the “softer, gentler way,” that fully unified principles of the Tao with Western approaches to “success” and personal development.

So that’s what this program evolved into—a synergy of Chinese “energy technology”
with state of the art western discoveries in personal development—and all of that joined with the critical cornerstone of it all—being able to sense and adjust our moment by moment vibrational core to be perfectly in sync with real-world daily life as well as our personal vision of the grander life for us.

I am still traveling on my Way of refining  “The Strategy.”

©   Paul B. Gallagher   2013

Thursday, June 27, 2013


"Therapy "-Origin: mid 19th century: from modern Latin therapia, from Greek therapeia 'healing', from therapeuein 'minister to, treat medically'

I have been in therapy for almost 2 years now. I went because my marriage was ending. I began seeing a therapist who was suggested by someone who I highly respect. I have heard that it's rare to find the right therapist for you the first time but I did it. Her name is Kristina Lund. She has helped me in ways big and small and I've learned so much about myself and feel that therapy with her has made me whole. At first I went every week, and then when I told her that I had the best summer of my life last year, she said I didn't need to come every week,once a month is fine. I continue to go once a month. Just as I get regular massage and exercise regularly I also need to check in emotionally. I have worked with sacred psychology through my lessons with the Order of Bards, Ovates, and Druids. The coursework defined therapy as "healing by becoming whole." I was not only working on my spirit, but my psyche and emotions through this amazing self-paced, home study course. I'd like to share a quote with you from one of the lessons.

"Many spiritual and esoteric teachings present us with the goal of perfection. We are urged to develop our "higher selves," mastering or eliminating the desires of the "lower self." But Druidry, in common with other Earth Religions and the newer disciplines of the spiritual psychologies, presents us with the goal of wholeness or completion rather than perfection." In Druidry, we are not seeking perfection, but wholeness and at-one-ness with all nature."

Friday, June 14, 2013

The Keepers of Four Secrets

There is an old proverb which states "Man is God's secret, power is men's secret, and love is women's secret." I've studied this extensively, meditated and pondered upon it, and have now changed the wording and made an addition so that this proverb reflects for me, the secrets of my life. Here is my wording:

"People are the Divine's secret, Power is Men's secret, Love is Women's secret, and Play is Children's secret."

We all heard and read that man is made in God's image. Of course God is male, the patriarch, a guy with the big white beard sitting on a throne up in the clouds. I sought that God, prayed to that God. I talked that God. I followed that God mainly through Sufism. It wasn't until I questioned and embraced the Sacred Feminine that my spirituality became whole and I truly found myself. I was also able to find the Sacred Child, the divine baby of light, born of the Sacred Masculine and the Sacred Feminine. My work with T'ai-Chi has given me so many examples of opposites in harmonious union and blending. The  yin-yang symbol is not of two, but of three: active, passive, and neutral. By embracing all aspects of the divine in my life I was able to embrace all aspects of myself. One concept that I got from my work with the Order of Bards,Ovates, and Druids is that we are in a relationship with the gods. We are not at their mercy nor are we bad children who always have to get punished or manipulated by them. Our lives and deeds and energy are just as important to them as they are to us. In a nutshell, they need us as much as we need them.

What does it mean to be a powerful man in 2013? Is power about conquering, dealing death, taking, dominating, subjugating all to your will? What is power used for? For eons men have been hunter-gatherers and the warriors who protected the tribe. They used their power to hunt and kill for food and to protect the weaker members of the tribe. Not a lot of that happens today in Minneapolis Minnesota. I haven't seen too many woolly mammoths on University Avenue! Power out of balance is what's filling battered women shelters and the news with man-on-woman violence. Men not knowing how, why, or when, to use their power. In the old days older men had to teach the younger men how to use their power but now I feel older men have to teach younger men how not to use their power. Women now are also physically powerful in sports, martial arts, business, and all aspects of American society. ( I know, I can see that glass ceiling...) They too will have to learn the double edged sword of power. Only power with understanding and balance is true power.

It takes a lot of power to love. To love unconditionally. To be swallowed up and drown in that ocean of bliss, and joy, and sometimes, pain. Having three children of my own I've experienced the depths of love.Love is so powerful. It causes the salmon to swim upstream against unbelievable odds, just to return to their spawning grounds to mate and continue the love. Love can overlook so many faults and heal so many wounds. Love can give the highest of pleasures and the deepest of pains.  The Tao of Love has taught me how to give and receive love. My lover is the teacher and example and the source of love. It is through their love ,understanding, and forgiveness, that women have been letting impatient,selfish ignorant,arrogant men into their lives as lovers. Is it better to love or be loved? Ask a woman!  Stealing a line from the Tao Te Ching, "the love that can be told is not the eternal love."

Play and imagination, daydreams and wonder, are our treasures in childhood. To be creative and happy as an adult we need to have these treasures be with us as we grow, as we mature. Play is so essential. When every thing is serious or becomes a life or death situation, even when it's not, stress levels in adults soar and what quickly follows on the heels of stress is disease and illness. Play can be very powerful and is not to be underestimated. Children who are abused or neglected play and make believe that everything is okay. Or they play that all the troubles with themselves and their families and their abusers are their own fault. Play and imagination can become reality. There is a line in the Tao Te Ching that says "can you become like a child?" If someone called you childish, or said you are acting like a child, or said don't play around, would you take this as an insult? And yet in the media everyone is striving to look younger,act younger, be younger, and failing miserably. One of the secrets that children know about play is how to be in the moment, and out of the moment, at the same time.

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

My First Guest Post

(A paper submitted by my son, Yaseen, which he received praise and a "P" for in school)


Raymond Hayward exits his car on the corner of Raymond and University. He had navigated through the sea of warehouses to the Twin Cities Tai Chi Chuan Studio. He passes the familiar sign as he unlocks the door and climbs the stairs to the second floor. A few students mill about in the hallway, stretching and talking about this topic or that. He unlocks the main door the wide variety of students from early twenties to late sixties. Students wander inside and a few head to the changing rooms to get changed into loose-fitting, comfortable clothing, along with Ray. The class starts with some meditation and warm ups then the students are broken up into groups based on how much they know. Ray walks around helping anybody who needs it, or he takes them into the room with padding on the walls for a private lesson. After class, people start leaving and a few ask him questions, he happily helps them. Once everybody leaves Ray leaves, ready to continue on the morrow.

Twin Cities Tai Chi Chuan, established in 1981 was made to teach self-defense and calming techniques as well as promote a healthy body, state of mind and lifestyle. It was founded by a group of people who wanted to study Tai-Chi to prepare for a bike tour in China, afterwards they just kept learning. They moved to their own space in 1984. Next year Sifu Ray Hayward, who had been studying with Master T.T. Liang learning the Yang style of Tai-Chi, joined the group and began teaching, so when the first teacher, Jonah Friedman, moved to Taiwan, the Studio had a new chief instructor in Sifu Hayward. In 1982 Ray met Paul Abdella and they began learning Martial Arts together, and eventually Abdella became another instructor in the studio. In 1993 they moved to their current location on University Avenue. Thirty-two years later, they are still here, helping people become healthy and learn martial arts.

The Yang style of Tai Chi, which the Studio teaches, was founded by Yang Lu-ch’an in 1820. The Yang style eventually led to the development of three other styles of Tai-Chi. Tai-Chi has many health benefits and is good for self defense, many people practice it entirely for its health benefits. It is a hard and soft style that is often practiced moving slowly.

Raymond Hayward is the main instructor at the Twin Cities Tai Chi Chuan Studio. He has embraced martial arts since he began practicing it 40 years ago. Hayward began teaching when T.T. Liang asked him to help him teach the newer students.

He holds the studio in high regard. “We provide a safe and friendly place for people to gain health and self defense skills.” Hayward says. With a large community of over 100 students, TCTCC still thrives despite the troubles with the economy and the light-rail preventing parking and access. Hayward thinks the future is bright for the Studio, “we will be able to continue providing quality instruction.” He credits the success of the community to a wide variety of students and a solid system of martial arts.

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Wedding Officiant

I am a registered minister with Ramsey County in Minnesota. I can perform weddings and other rites of passage. I specialize in Druid and Earth-Based Wedding Rites and base my work on the rituals of the Order of Bards, Ovates, and Druids, of which I am a Druid Graduate and Mentor. I can help you with your wedding, hand-fasting, renewal, or other ritual. I am also connected to my Scottish Ancestry and can offer a Scottish themed wedding as well. 

I can assist you with;
Naming ceremony
Commitment ceremony
Renewal ceremony

Monday, June 10, 2013

How do I look?

Body image causes lots of stress in our culture. Does this dress make me look fat? Is my stomach flat? Is my penis or breasts too small or too big? (In medieval Europe big penises were considered “grotesque” while in ancient China small breasts were the most desirable.) Will I be attractive to others? Do I look in shape? I need to fight the fat, run away from food, and freeze until I’m noticed. Think of how stressful peer pressure can be. In our imagination, we have people spending more time and energy looking and judging us than they actually do in reality. There is a saying, “Don’t worry about what people think of you. What they are really thinking about is what you think of them!”

The media trains us to look and judge. We can become stressed when we try to counter that system, which has pretty much perfected the desire market. Sex sells. It also makes lots of stress and for all its pleasure and enjoyment, we don’t seem happy or relaxed or at peace with our sensuality, but appear to be even more preoccupied and unsatisfied and unhappy with our bodies and our sexuality.

There, I said it. Unsatisfied.

Are we happier or more content with more sex? The stress of body image is robbing us of the joy, contentment, fulfillment, and relaxation that comes from healthy intimate relations.

Gender roles are giving us lots of stress. Thousands of years of genetics made men into hunter-gatherers and women into healer-lore keepers. How can we undo that in a few decades? Yet this is where we are. How stressful! Men are confused about what power to have, what power to use, and what power to let go of. Women are emerging into their many roles which they were denied for eons. Yet women are the only ones who can conceive, carry, and birth babies. No wonder ancient men worshiped the Goddess and women's ability to create another life! Confusion about who we are in our gender can cause huge amounts of stress.

Two books I recommend are;

The Tao of Love and Sex by Jolan Chang
A Woman’s Worth by Marianne Williamson

In the words of Billy Crystal, "You look MAHVELOUS!!!"

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Running Water Does Not Become Stagnant

Every few years or so, I write something about the benefits and need for students to take private lessons. Just recently I had a string of private lessons with people who had been here for over ten years, but who hadn’t taken a private in a long time. Most were shocked to get a couple of pages of corrections, helpful hints, and general updates. If you didn’t change the oil in your car would you expect it to run smoothly? Do you only shop for food once a year? What about checkups with your doctor or dentist? How about brushing your teeth? I won’t even go there! The point is that your solo form is as much a part of you and your daily life as the few maintenance examples I just gave. Let’s have a quick look at what group classes can and can’t do for you, and then some (more) words about private lessons.

Group classes are the main classes I teach. They serve many purposes. These classes teach many different styles and sequences and provide access to teachings on a wide scale of times and days. In group classes I give lessons that cover a variety of levels and abilities. Many of my lessons are arranged so that everyone can get something for their practice. I don’t teach to the lowest common denominator, but try to aim for somewhere in the middle of the experience and knowledge of the people present at any particular class. One thing I can’t do is to give a lot of individual attention to any one person in a group class. That doesn’t mean that if you don’t receive a correction, everything is perfect. I will point out things to individuals, but group classes are a democracy with everyone having equal access to the material and teacher.

Private classes are a whole different story. What reasons are there for studying privately? Some people simply can’t make any of the classes in the schedule. Others want to study a subject not in the current schedule, or want to go over a past class. Some people are really fast learners, while others need private classes to just catch up and keep together with their classmates. In a private class, the teacher and subject are really focused on you and your practice. Master T. T. Liang used to say “you can’t see the dirt on your own back,” meaning we can see others mistakes while they are doing the solo form, but can’t see our own mistakes and needs. In a private class, you will be corrected, guided, taught, and given homework, all tailored to you, your level, and your wants and needs. Individual lessons can make a huge difference for you when you get back to group classes and see that many people are working on your self-same corrections. Or you may see your lesson carefully constructed to fit a large group.

So now, are you ready to schedule a private class? I would suggest one per season, that’s only four a year. At the very least, once a year should be a must. If you have been learning and practicing Tai-Chi for more than five years, you NEED to check in one-on-one with your teacher regularly. My fee does not reflect the worth of the lesson, attention, or experience you have access to in a one on one class. Some private lessons with Master Liang were absolutely priceless. Some classes with Master Choi were two hundred and fifty dollar an hour, and worth every penny! If you are behind in your solo form corrections and can’t afford a private lesson, I will provide one for you either below my sliding scale fee, or just give you one as a gift. I can do two people’s solo form correction at the same time and my fee can be split. It’s that important.