Matwork Mastery

Matwork Mastery

Treat yourself to a nourishing three days of foundation training in this year’s Matwork Mastery course held in beautiful Nevada City, CA., August 13-15, 8:30am-2:30pm.

Happy Independence Day!

Happy Independence Day!

As I reflect on the theme of this day in the U.S.A., I am struck by this idea that “set the nation free!” It’s an inspiring and exciting idea, that “we the people” could rise up against an oppressive government, take that government into our own hands, declare our independence from tyranny and become a free people!

This most Western idea is inspiring and exhilarating, and yet, it carries with it an inherent challenge. One government was overthrown, yet still a new one was put in its place. And the new one was written with a charter to not repeat the sins of the former heads of state. That is a huge charter to live up to, and into.

Now there’s an important thing to understand here. Independence actually does not exist in isolation. It is truly only ever understood in relation to its “opposite,” dependence. Dependence is the predicate to independence. And it follows that one actually creates the other. The quality of ones independence is directly related to the quality of ones dependence and vice versa! This is a fundamental truth of a dynamic relativity.

In the case of the American Revolutionary War, the dependence on the British government in the colonies, was perceived to be oppressive, and burdensome. “Taxation without representation” and other concerns of the arrangement were considered a deep crime against sensibility, unjust, unfair and tyrannical. What the “good British fathers” were doing with their levy exacted from their colonies was deeply wrong, mistrusted, held in contempt and reason for revolt!

Men of strong mind and body stood up to fight the power. Armies were formed, and slogans were written, and with strong will the seats of power were wrested from the oppressor, and the United States became a free nation. Lofty ideals, and a new set of guiding principles were forged in the fire of this revolution. And new levers of government were put in place.

And yet, government it still is. Taxes are still levied, a common treasury is maintained, and assets are built for the generally agreed upon public good. In this new “democratic” way of government, a transparent and rousing public debate is maintained as the root of making decisions for our common path forward. A “representative governing body” with “checks and balances” takes the helm. This brilliant conception was built to thwart the possibility of ever being run by the whims and machinations of another tyrannical leader, who might rise to power, making decisions from his/her own fancy, rather than truly for the people.

That is the idea. And you see here that our “independence” is based upon our experience of the “dependence” that came before. Now, at more than 200 years of age, this idea itself has become the new seat of power. And the definitions of independence that it relies on, still harken back to those heady days of revolution. The “stern remorseless sweet ideal,” to revolt against tyranny is still exhilarating, and can be exhausting.

Let’s think about this a minute. As children we are dependent. If our parents are good and kind, and capable, they take good care of us. They create a good home, shelter, clothe and feed us as we learn and grow. In time, we come into our independent abilities. Then, as we take our first faltering steps out the door into the world, we receive their continued support and love. And we return that love with gratitude to them for their kindness and constant support.

If on the other hand, our parents were rude, rough, unloving, prickly, incapable, even cruel and abusive we do our best to grow up as fast as possible, run away, and slam the door shut behind us, never to look back. And when we do look back, as we inevitably will, we look back in anger and pain, and blame them for their abuse and our pain. And sadly, this keeps us locked in that very pain we were trying to flee.

You see, the quality of our independence is directly relative to the quality of our dependence. If our dependence was oppressive and manipulative, our independence is likely to be fierce, and fiery and reactive. If our dependence was loving and kind and and respectful, our independence will likely reflect these virtues as well. Ultimately, there is no running away! Slamming a door in anger, though it may feel good at the time, can actually keep your more attached to what you think you have left behind. And so the question is, what kind of independence is that?

We are all dependent, and we are all independent, all to various degrees, in various stages. If we would truly be independent in a healthy way, let us take care to create healthy and balanced dependence to begin with. We needs must create a healthy and balanced interdependence on one another, to build for our common interest and our common good. And to continue to discover that good interest together, if we ever wish to live in true independence and freedom.

Of course, this is all well and good, and yet it is also easier said than done. Yet it is possible. Some new tools are simply going to be needed to truly do it… rather than just say it! Establishing a healthy living, breathing and mutually interdependent world, where true freedom is experienced by all, is indeed a noble work. And that is the subject for my next article. Stay tuned for my next post, where I will explore a set of tools designed to help establish healthy freedom, in the context of a healthy, balanced interdependence.

The Three Treasures and the Path of Healing

The Three Treasures and the Path of Healing

In ancient, traditional Hawaiian healing practice and philosophy, honor is given to the three part nature of life. There abide the sub-conscious, conscious, and super-conscious aspects of Being. The subconscious, they call the Unahiplili, or the “friendly unconscious.” This is the realm of the primal bodily mechanisms of organs, blood, and moisture. These systems operate without the need for any conscious intervention. The conscious is called the Ohane, the Spirit of the Will. Forces that arise in the Ohane focus our minds, the choice to live in love and gratitude, and to allow it to move through you and permeate all aspects of your Being. The super-conscious is called the Aumakua. It is the pure spirt essence that shines in the light of your eyes and is carried on your breath. The Aumakua is the place where all experience can be purified and cleansed of all attachment.

In Classical Chinese Medicine these three aspects of Being can be seen reflected in Three Treasures; the Jing, the Qi and the Shen. The Jing is the friendly, primal unconscious, the Qi is the Spirit of the Will and the waking consciousness, and the Shen is the Purity of Spirit. All three, when  operating harmonically, combine to create healing action. With your HeartMind, where the Qi of true consciousness resides, you communicate with your Jing (essence of Being, embodied in this life) through conscious gratitude and love. With an established connection between Qi and Jing, then you have the power to directly beseech your Shen (spirit) to help you rise in a spirit of grace and gratitude.

This is using the Three Treasures for the sacred art of healing.

With grace and gratitude, directed through your HeartMind consciousness, form a pearl of light. Take this pearl of light, and with your sacred breath draw it throughout your body. Let this pearl be “sticky.” It attracts the pain of buried unresolved emotion stored in your body. This can include physical injury as well as mental and emotional anguish.

In spirit there is no injury. Spirit cannot be injured. The injury at the level of spirit comes when we forget that we are connected to spirit. The art of healing is remembering your connection to spirit and honoring it with gratitude.

The ego does not own the healing, though it may want to. Be aware, your ego is a good source of consolidation for your confidence and your presence, and the place where you have choice. That is all. Dance with it. And let it be. And when you enter the healing space, let it be observing, on the side, if anything, knowingly get your ego out of the way of spirit. And to keep the ego occupied in a healthy way, use it to keep an eye on the horizontal realm of time and space.

Healing takes place in the spiral realm of time. Time is not linear in this realm, time spirals in circles moving through time. There is a linear time, and that is the world where we make agreements to meet, and where we keep appointments. Where we are conceived, gestate, are born, grow old and die. This is important for the ego to track. For when we drop into the spiral time of healing, we must keep one aspect of self anchored in awareness of linear time, lest we spiral out with the healing energy into infinity.

And of course, we will spiral out into infinity in the healing space. In the healing infinite space all time can be accessed. That injury that happened when you were a child, that injury that happened to your mother, father, grandmothers, grandfathers that was left unhealed and turned into a heavy stone. With spiral time you can visit there with grace and gratitude and release it back to the eternal.

Your HeartMind holds your ego. With practice you hold it lightly, in truth and higher vibration. It can then travel between the worlds. It can drop into the deep places, where the stones of pain and hurt can be found. And it can rise to the high places where infinite love, compassion and non-judgment rule the field of action.

And in the purity of life unfolding, even the lower, deep places are not only the realm of pain and hurt, they are also the realm of manifestation and “getting things done.” The bowels digest the food, make the nutrient rich blood, eliminate the waste products of living. Like a tree dropping leaves or sloughing off bark or bud skins so that the flowers of life can emerge.

We are flowers, we are trees, we are flowing rivers of life. The waters of our rivers nourish the growth of our being, and also carry away the silt that would clog us up. It is carried off to where it can nourish other forms of life. The lotus grows in the mud, muck and mire of the swamp. The flower that it yields is fragrant. We smell the fragrance of the lotus and it transports us to higher states of being. And still we breath in and we breath out. And the fragrant oxygen we breath in feeds us, while the fragrant carbon dioxide we breathe out feeds the lotus. It’s a circle. Honor the circle. It’s all a circle.

As I child I was raised by spiritual people. They were religious people, but not in the sense of wearing the cloth, or being members of an order, but rather good, plain common people who lived from love in their hearts, with love of the divine in the traditions in which they were raised. My father was a simple, fun loving man who laughed heartily and ate with gusto. One of my vivid memories of Dad’s down to earthiness came every spring on long family drives through the Ohio countryside. The farmers dutifully spread manure on the fields in spring, and as we drove alongside the fields we kids would wrinkle our noses. Dad would take a deep breath, and say with a big smile, “Smell the fresh country air!” We responded with “Oooo Dad, you’re crazy!” But inside, I knew exactly what he meant, and to me, the smell of manure on the fields was one of profound beauty.

The lower realms indeed, the gritty lower realms of life are life itself unfolding, life itself. This is a cherished beauty of life. And in this dance of nutrient density, combined with warmth of sun and life giving waters, the seed breaks open its shell, the root anchors deep in the soil and the sprout shoots to the sky. And indeed, the earthy smells of Ohio countryside in Spring are juxtaposed in my mind to the fragrance of Springtime blossoms in Charleston, S.C. balanced by the oh so fragrant smell of the marshes at high and low tide.

In pain and injury, some judgment has taken hold to squeeze out the growth of this cycle. Some cling to the bud, or flower, some deny the dropping of the chafe back to earth, some are repelled by the fragrance of the muck and mire. And this reaction actually stagnates and solidifies into a sour encrusted cancerous canker. With breath of grace and and gratitude we may move this encrusted canker once more. We may release the clinging and judgment and allow the processes of life to dance forward.

In this we use breath, exercise, good food and herbs, healing touch and body mobilizations and a lightness of spirit to engage with all life. We experience the luminescent pearl of spirit and it dances through our body clearing away the detritus of daily living that we might be fresh and new in each moment, receiving the lightness of being and releasing the stones of pain and hurt.

This healing is brave, courageous, honest and intentional. It is the act of not denying the pain, or trying to ignore or suppress it, but rather to feel it, with loving non-judgment. It is a part of the magnificent process of living, growing, blooming and dying. To envelope all in higher love and gratitude, that is the grace of spirit radiating through all. We are in our essence, pure spirit, unencumbered by pain and suffering. The path of healing is to learn to yield with grace to this ultimate truth.

Professional Training to Launch in January!

Announcing the launch of our Professional training!  Along with some important foundations of the HeartMind philosophy.

Check out this quick video.

Four Archetypes, Part 4 of 4 – The King and It’s Shadows

So, the King is the last of the four major Masculine archetypes I’ve been describing in this series of articles…. In a world that has grappled continuously with the reigns of kings, queens, emperors, empresses, chiefs and lords and ladies for millennia, this archetype is perhaps the most charged of the lot. A lover, a warrior and a magician all have their parts to play, but the king… well the king is so grandiose in it’s scope that it is often bewildering to even approach the idea of a mature and healthy embodiment of this archetypal energy.

At it’s most basic level of application, the King archetype ultimately has nothing to do with all those world leaders that have filled the history books and current day news headlines, and everything to do with personal sovereignty. And achieving personal sovereignty, though it has long been a part of the human experience, actually entails a few important skills to embrace and actualize in human life.

To begin, I would reference my blog post on the Five Freedoms. To be fully alive and well in your mature expression of your King (or Queen) energy, the instruction is that you need first to become well acquainted with your Five Freedoms, and own them. The freedom to Perceive, to Think, to Feel, to Desire and to Chose are at the root of your personal sovereignty. And are essential to affirm and empower.

Now the problem is the living in relations with others, we are almost always at odds to one degree or another on perceptions, thoughts, feelings, desires and choices. So the quest is how to come to a healthy dialogue and reconciliation of differing points of view. This is truly a high art, and necessary for any one who wishes to embody and cultivate a mature sovereign energy.

When this is challenged, or the abilities are not yet developed, two very deep shadows can show themselves. These are the Tyrant and the Abdicator. If you are uncomfortable in another person expressing their sovereignty because it appears to be so oppose to your own, you may engage in the proverbial power struggle, where you act to enforce your perceptions, thought, feeling, desires and choices upon them. This is a classic tyrant, who can end up oppressing all other’s individual expression. If they gain enough power, they succeed in moving their own agenda forward through shear will and force.

The other side of this coin is to simply abdicate your own power, and allow the perceptions, thoughts, feelings, desires and choices of others rule your day. This is a sad choice, because you end up going down the road of never getting your own needs met. And at the same time, you may end up blaming others for your poor experiences. Of course, you were the one who brought it on yourself all along.

The King archetype with its shadows of Tryant and Abdicator falls right into the Drama triangle of Victim, Perpetrator, Savior. IT is a very slippery slope. In my own experience this has shown up in times when I have not felt competent at a given task. Because I was persecuted as a child for any sign of incompetence, I learned to see incompetence as bad, Rather than being able to admit my incompetence and then begin to take measured tasks to gain competency, instead I would have to hid the fact that I was incompetent, and then pretend that I was. My pretender self became very adept at fooling people. The good thing was that it took the heat off me in my childhood. The bad thing is, it is ultimately maladaptive, because the original sought after skill is never fully attained.

It is only through not subjugating yourself to a tyrant, and not ignoring the need for growth that we can walk solidly forward on the path of the five freedoms, and ultimately to the development of a mature personal sovereignty. This is the gif tot he mature King archetype, coming fully into your personal power, with truth as your guide, and no need to lord over others as a tyrant, or to succumb to other’s dictates and then end up in a blame game.

Best of wishes to you, as you move forward on your path of growth. May a mature and happy personal sovereignty be yours!

Matthew Sweigart

Please plan to join me in one of my upcoming trainings, and put these lessons to use in your life!


Beware the Rampaging Hun, by Steven Alpern, L.Ac.

Beware the Rampaging Hun, by Steven Alpern, L.Ac.


Beware the Rampaging Hun

by Steven Alpern, L. Ac.

Human beings engage an amazing adventure in life. An individual Shen (Spirit) resides within the jing (essence), which has been consolidated by mixing the jing of both parents. A person is born, who experiences the interactions of life, acts to sustain his or her individuality, and records everything that happens. Individuals have the opportunity to deepen their understanding of themselves and the universe through their presence and cultivation until the final crowning of life, when they return to the Dao.

Everybody cultivates something; a few even do it with conscious intention. Our lives are a qigong practice, because we breathe life into every moment. Many modern people cultivate some form of food stagnation through intemperate eating habits, which follow common compulsions. Far more than satisfying needs for sustenance, these people use food and drink to address desires, including the desire to be distracted away from unresolved emotional or spiritual struggle. This particular means of coping with emotional distress also provides “excess” humors (blood, fluids) into which the embodied spirit can embed its unfinished business.

Habituated lifestyle choices support and nourish each individual’s particular mix of qi and blood stagnations. Many modern people nourish and support “adrenal exhaustion,” which we might label yuan (source) qi depletion, by overtaxing themselves and accumulating stagnations. That process is further sustained when “exhausted” individuals develop dependence on stimulants to activate their qi in the morning. A healthy person arises and is awake, because wei qi – the post- natal expression of yang (activation) – moves to the exterior with the opening of one’s eyes. When wei qi is entangled in various stagnations, the individual often needs to stimulate it to come out, so he or she can engage the activities of the day.

The habituated interpretations and reactions that an individual cultivates become the context through which all of his or her interactions flow. Attachment to entanglements begets struggle. When individuals experience their interactions through entangled interpretations they form conflicted emotional relationships with their lives. Generating smooth flow of qi and blood from that experience requires either suppression/repression of unresolved struggle, or substantial conscious attention to releasing blockages and stagnations. The former may appear functional in the short-term by displacing entanglements and stagnations into dormancy, but that capacity is limited.

The Neijing (Inner Classic) articulated profound theories for differentiating the struggles of individual human life. Individuals typically project habituated interpretations, which are contained in the distinct channels, onto current circumstances and events processed through the primary channels. The unresolved byproducts of everyday life colored by those unconsciously projected interpretations accumulate in either the luo vessels or divergent channels. They may be embedded in various humors at myriad locations, depending on specifics of the individual’s process for suppressing or repressing them.

Individually embodied spirits engage and accumulate experience through the combined agency of the five aspects of Shen (Spirit) – the five shen. Each of these shen is associated with the primal movement of one of the five phases (wuxing), is contained within its zang (vital organ), and expresses interactions through its paired fu (storehouse). Together the five shen provide both the motive force of the individual’s life, and his or her capacity to learn and grow.

shen (Fire) – the light of awareness which allows sensory input
yi (Earth) – the ability to contain consciousness and embody
po (Metal) – the ability to identify with the body’s immediate needs
zhi (Water) – the willingness to polarize toward the world as an individual
hun (Wood) – the capacity to accumulate individual experience

Each individual’s life relies on his or her ability to use and contain the light of awareness to fulfill the embodied spirit’s immediate needs. Doing so exercises the individual’s willingness to maintain his or her separate life, which then records all experience. Individuals grow and evolve through life by integrating into both their spirits and bodies the processed results of their experiences and actions.

Among the primary channels in the familiar “time-clock” sequence, the liver is last. It accumulates and stores the emotional residue of all experience, which has been processed by the other channels. In somatic theory the liver “stores blood.” Since blood is the mother of qi, stagnations of accumulated blood support qi stagnations, so the liver and gall bladder are also responsible for enforcing the smooth flow of qi. This is done through both:

  • generating forceful and assertive impulse to penetrate through any blockages or accumulations
  • displacing unresolved struggles or conflicts away from the primary channels into dormancy. It’s no wonder that Chinese medical thinkers chose so many gall bladder points in representing the daimai, since it provides the constitutional capacity to suspend unresolved issues.

The classical Chinese worldview identified three hun, which is the aspect of spirit that resides in the liver. These represent three modes of being, through which individuals accumulate experience:

The hun of Nothingness — dis-identifies from any meaning or significance that may be projected onto circumstances and events (a particular ideal of Buddhism and Daoism)

The hun of Oneness – dis-identifies from the perception of separateness (a particular ideal of Christianity and many other religions)

The hun of Duality (or Causation) – identifies with the meaning and significance the individual’s point of view projects onto circumstances, events, people and things.

The uncultivated consciousness of virtually all individuals exhibits the Hun of Duality. While accumulating the emotional residue of experience, that hun places the individual either above (superior to) the embodied spirit’s experience or inferior to it. The Hun of Duality arises from the individual compulsively grasping at the veracity of his or her projected point of view. When an

individual’s hun runs rampant, his or her self-talk maintains a superior (or inferior) position relative to all experience. That orientation impedes new inputs from entering, or distorts them to match the individual’s impacted interpretations about life.

Though each person’s “rampaging hun” exhibits a primary orientation – either above or below, each also projects a complementary one to preserve the sense of balance that each soul requires. A few sample pairs include:

  • Anger/pride and sadness
  • Rage and shame
  • Arrogance and depression

These are functional pairs, as they arise directly out of each other. For instance, a person dominated by rage always feels extremely superior – to the point of not recognizing the legitimacy of another’s needs and feelings. In their rage they do something terrible and hurtful. In a calmer moment, they recognize the nature of their act, and become ashamed. The shame of their violent acts haunts them, and they feel worthless, as shame moves the embodied spirit to the lowest of lows.

Eventually, the individual’s attachment to survival recognizes that IT must get the personality extracted from the pit of its self-imposed hell. The force that raises the embodied spirit out of shame is the very same that becomes rage when it gets stuck on some event or circumstance that challenges the individual’s sense of value. This cycle continues until the person recognizes his or her folly.

Likewise, anger or unbridled pride naturally pushes other people away, and then the embodied spirit can experience the sadness of isolation and alienation. Sadness naturally descends, so it brings the angry individual under better control. It may also mire him or her in depression or insecurity. Overtaken by this gloom, the individual rebels against his or her perceived victimization, and asserts his or her being and value.

The more wildly one oscillates between the poles of these functional pairs, the more completely the rampaging hun dominates the individual’s personality and experience. Such people are often emotionally volatile and unpredictable, because the internal component of every experience can shift so wildly. This situation expresses somatically as internal wind, which the embodied spirit often tries to control by weighing it down with either dampness or phlegm. Those factors and stagnant blood, which is the somatic version of stagnant emotions, accumulate to block vital function.

The flux of experience generally comes fast and furious, especially because of the individual’s projected entanglements. Each “new experience” combines the events and circumstances that occur (externally), and the individual’s (internal) disposition toward them. That disposition is unconsciously projected onto everything that occurs. There is one enduring question that almost every rampaging hun can benefit from considering:

Would you rather be right or be happy?

True happiness is far more than feeling well entertained by life. It entails letting go to allow Liver blood to nourish Heart qi. Rather than being entangled in stagnation, such an individual cultivates release and liberation. Are the emotional conflicts sustained by the rampaging hun worth devoting one’s life and vitality toward maintaining?

In addition to miring individuals in their own dramas, the rampaging hun is blind to the subtle workings of Dao. The hun of Duality separates the individual’s awareness from the complex fabric of influences that support us all, and enrolls in the delusions of its own point of view. The Dao, including its expression within the microcosm of an embodied spirit’s physiology, can only be know by seekers who are willing to notice and release the “monkey mind” to be present in the moment. We are most dangerous when we think we understand. Beware the rampaging hun!

Mr. Alpern teaches seminars on the divergent/distinct channels. For more information about his seminars, contact Golden Flower Chinese Herbs.

Illustration conceived by Matthew Sweigart, drawn by Laila Rodriguez.

Four Archetypes – Part 3 of 4, The Magician and Its Shadows,

We all love a good magic show. Magic is, well… magical, delightful, surprising! Done well, it can be entertaining. It can be transformative. It can be frightening and freaky as well. It can be trickery, and prestidigitation, slight of hand that feels a bit like you’ve been cheated. Beyond the wiz bang of disappearing items and sawing people in half and escape artistry, and an Illusionist based magic, there’s a deeper kind of everyday magic. It’s the magic of manifestation. How a thought or a dream vision you have, can become materialized into reality right before you. How a struggle or challenge you have had can be transformed into a triumph of insight and revelation.

Mature Magicians are quite simply the purveyors of this every day supportive magic. This is the kind of magic that is founded in wisdom and awareness. And there’s a serious level of training and skill development to learn to apply the wisdom teachings into every day life. How to care for yourself, how to eat, how to deal with pain, how to deal with pleasure, how to answer the great eternal questions, who am I and what am I here for? These are the essential province of the mature magician, and a good magician, possessed of wisdom tools can help you transform out of the most dire of situations into the heart of realization and transcendence.

This is why magicians are so sought after in our world. They lead us from darkness to light, from ignorance to awakening, from the mire of self deprecation to the depths of self-appreciation. Indeed the mature magician is a powerful, important and esteemed resource in the community. And developing it within yourself, so that you can experience personal empowerment as a co-creator of your life, is essential work. A myriad of life skills fall into line with this great endeavor, and skilled guidance along that journey can make all the difference in the world.

So, what of the shadow aspects that can show up when the immature magician is running the show? Here we look to two aspects that are important in identifying these shadowy figures. The Trickster and the Know-it-All. The trickster and the know-it-all are indeed shadowy representations of the magician, and once you become aware of them, you can begin to dance more deeply with this process of transformation.

Let’s first look at the trickster. In many indigenous cultural teachings the trickster shows up as a teacher. A teacher of some renown and presence. The reputation of the trickster is one of great caution, and ultimately a level of acceptance is involved that can lead one through an encounter with the trickster to a level of greater self realization. But face it, it’s no fun to be played a fool. And yet everyone does, at one time or another. Be it wishful thinking, or desire for quick results, or a willingness to be easily mesmerized into a pretty illusion that seems to promise so much, it is just darned easy to be trapped by the trickster. The old adage “All the glitters is not gold, can keep you alert to the designs of the trickster showing up in your life.

In one Oglala story, the trickster is seen as the one who delights in making people look ridiculous! Now, that may ring a few bells, as you contemplate any manner of foibles and follies that have been a part of your life. And it’s not just on the receiving end of these tricks that you may find yourself. You may yourself be guilty of practicing an occasional trickery yourself. It so often seems that maybe the best way to get something you seek is to kind of make a play, to joke around, maybe even to tell an outright falsehood. How many times have you pretended to be something you were not, just because you thought, “if I really show who I am, I will be rejected!” Or, how about that art of the “bluff” in any brilliantly played poker hand? Yes… you see, in certain situations the trickster gets rewarded. (I hate to be topical, but a master trickster tricked his way right into the white house, and the whole country gets to play the fool here.) But you see, fools can ultimately awaken us to wisdom.

In many senses, I believe that wisdom is simply one side of a two-sided coin, with foolishness on the other side. if we did not ever get fooled, we would likely never find our way to wisdom. And so, the trickster plays at being a magician, and in a high sense of the word, could be a truly masterful magician in many ways. But its the unconscious trickster that is perhaps the most dangerous. The self-serving trickster, with no regard for the greater consequences that could play out for years, that is the one to be on the look out for.

Oh my, my story bank is so full of trickster stories, that I hardly know where to contain myself in this short piece on this  shadow of the magician. At this point, I will rest from exploring the trickster, and let this suffice for now, and move on to that other tricky little shadowy aspect of the magician. The Know-it-All.

There are perhaps equal volumes that could be written on this fine character, but suffice it to say, know-it-alls are a bore, and they keep you disempowered. Knowledge is power they say, and all too often this know-it-all character is actually involved in a subtle, or not-so-subtle power grab. They love throwing their weight around, spinning stories as apparent fact, grabbing the ownership of the pool of meaning, and allowing no others to contribute their perceptions or thoughts into the conversation. They do this as a way to protect their own fragile position. Ultimately, they are not powerful at all. At times, however, they are indeed in possession of important knowledge and insight.

Now when you get a know-it-all in a position of power, that’s when it can get most dicey. A know-it-all may indeed possess exactly the needed knowledge to help transform a given situation. But it’s the way they hold it, and then hold everyone else hostage, that makes the application of that knowledge a shadowy undertaking. We’ve probably all had disdainful professors or teachers who delighted in lording it over us, calling us stupid, and rather than lifting us up, and helping us to attain new insight or perspective they merely work to enforce their will upon us, and grandstand their supreme perspective on the situation. In the shadow of the know-it-all, nobody grows, nothing is ultimately transformed.

You see, the mature magician knows a great deal, an incredible amount actually. But this is like that penetrating truth so artfully stated in the tao the ching. “He who says he knows, does not know. He who knows, does not claim to know.”

This is the work, indeed the high art of exploring the development of the mature magician. To penetrate into the mystery of life and to do so with compassion, wisdom, understanding, and a supportive desire to help others help themselves. The immature magician too often will leap into the rescuer role, not realizing that rescuers perpetuate the presence of victims. The true art here is to rise to the level not of rescuer, but of coach. To coach and support people to be the stars of their own life, empowered to be fully who they truly are. There is the magic indeed. A good coach is a mature magician.

I hope you will take this to heart, and reply with your own stories or awareness of your magician in training! We are all on a long journey to arrive at our fullest expression of our truest self. Thank you for awakening your awareness on this grand adventure.

And stay tuned for the 4th and final installment in this series, Four Archetypes, Part 4, The King and it’s Shadows. In that next piece, I will explore the Mature King/Queen, and take a look at the revealing shadow figures of Tyrant and Abdicator.

Until next time… watch for the tricksters and know-it-alls, and rest in your own empowered place.

Solar Eclipse 8/21/2017, Letting Your Heart Light Shine!

Solar Eclipse 8/21/2017, Letting Your Heart Light Shine!

A total solar eclipse will be taking place on Monday August 21st, and be visible across a wide swath of the continental United States this year. There is great excitement, all over the United States for this rare and inspiring celestial event. Many are planning special trips to just be on location to witness the eclipse at totality. Campsites and hotels are booked out, and appropriate solar viewing equipment is selling like hot cakes. But beyond all the physical, material aspects of viewing and experiencing an eclipse, there are questions of “What does it all mean?” “What is the significance of this event?” “How will it effect my life?” And “How can I best be prepared for it?”

Now, I’m not an astrologer or astronomer by trade, but there are a few graspable concepts from astrology and astronomy that are well worth taking into perspective as you seek answers for how this total solar eclipse might affect you.

First and foremost, please understand that from an astronomical point of view, a solar eclipse takes place at the new moon, or the “dark” of the moon. This takes place when the moon is in the same part of the sky as the sun. In the case of the eclipse, the face of the moon will actually appear to cross over the face of the sun, passing in between the Earth and the Sun over a broad strip of the earth. The moon, in effect, blocks the sunlight, and for the time of the eclipse we actually experience what it is like to be in the moon’s shadow in the middle of the day.

From an astrological perspective, the new moon is generally considered a time of going inward, and a time of new beginnings. The night is dark, the stars are their brightest, perfect for inward contemplation and setting down plans for the next cycle of your life. With this particular new moon, we need to further understand that this eclipse is taking place while the sun and moon are together in the astrological sign of Leo the lion. This happens to be my birth sign, so I have a significant amount of first hand experience with it’s characteristics.

Leos generally like to be the center of attention. They love to be on stage, with all eyes on them. The sign of Leo the lion is a fire sign, and as a fire sign it seeks to generate heat and shine the light. One can say from this, that Leo craves stardom. And for each and everyone of us, whether Leo or not, the energies of August cause us to take the time we need to explore the ways in which we are, or can be, the star of our own story.

Now what is interesting this year is that there are actually 2 new moons in Leo… the first happened just a couple of days ago on July 23rd, and the next will be on August 21st the day of the solar eclipse. With two new moons in Leo this year, a rare event in itself, and the second one being an actual total solar eclipse, there is special emphasis given to how we formulate our sense of our own inner stardom, how we clarify the vision of who we are, and who we can be in the world. The important admonition here is that the best way to actualize who you truly are as the star of your own life, is to find your way to connect directly to your heart.

Now we all have experienced an overbearing Leo from time to time. They can be demanding, extroverted and obnoxious. And so, that energy is possible to become exaggerated during this double new moon in Leo with a solar eclipse year. And that is also why it is extra important to connect into and through your heart at this time. That is perhaps easier said than done, but with practice, you will be able to get closer and closer to this realization. The problem is that we in the West are so often conditioned to come from our head, or our belly, and the entire region of the heart is nearly unknown territory.

So, that is where the work lies. During this special Leo time period, between these two important new moons, leading up to the total solar eclipse, your work is to find the pathway into your own inner heart space. You need to come to know your heart space, your heart’s truth, your heart’s deepest feeling and knowing. From there, you can become the true star of your own life. Not just a showboat with an obnoxious need to demand the lime-light, but a true warrior of the heart, with truth and compassion at the core of your shining light.

pathways-of-qiThe light that shines thus from the heart will warm and enlighten, not scorch and burn. Take time to fin your pathway into your inner most truth in this auspicious time, and share your light with the world!

For myself this is a special year. I will turn 58 years only on August 22nd, the day after the eclipse. And this is the completion of 30 years in my career as a Shiatsu Therapist and Instructor. These three decades have been packed with incredible healing experiences, challenges, growth, triumph and disappointment. And it strikes me as fitting that my 30th anniversary as a shiatsu therapist is being attended by such a powerful celestial event.

heartmind-shiatsu-meridian-gestures-and-functions-chartAs my gift to you, I’ve created a special offer from my heart to yours. I have created a special coupon 30for30!!! for all my books, chart, DVD, and Mp4 digital training programs. This month you will be able to buy all my extant works at 30% off the regular retail. Just log onto the store, make your selections, and in the coupon filed write in 30for30!!! and you’ll see 30% melt off the price of your purchases.

And for those of you attending my Pathways of Qi weekend in Boulder, Colorado, August 19 and 20th, I’m offering an extra special Eclipse Preparation 30% off fees for the event. Simply select the Pathways of Qi / Exploring the Meridian Medicine Wheel course in the online store and enter the coupon code: save30%pathways. This will reduce the weekend price to just $187 for the entire 12 hour course. I’m excited to be guiding this journey, at this auspicious time, to apply the ancient wisdom teachings of the Pathways of Qi to the essential journey to the center of your heart, to know your hearts truth, and to shine the light on your true nature as the star of your life story!

I am so happy to share these timeless teachings with you, and so grateful that you have chosen to make HeartMind your trusted source for healing, wisdom and support along your life path.


30for30!!! Celebrating 30 years in the Healing Arts!

30for30!!! Celebrating 30 years in the Healing Arts!

meridian chart 11-17Join with me in Celebrating thirty years in the Healing arts! Take 30% Off for all my books, chart, DVD, and Mp4 Digital trainings, with the coupon code: 30for30!!! Now through my birthday, August 22, 2017!

It was on just such a summer day, July 1987 that my full-time professional Shiatsu career began. The SweatLodge leader (my first lodge of many!) was making prayers about how we would each serve in the coming Earth Changes. When he said, “Some people will be movers and shakers, but most of us will just help people out, day by day!”  I heard my calling loud and clear. “Just do Shiatsu! You can do this!”

In my Leonine personality type, I’d always made up this story that I was supposed to do great things. And yet, that was such a daunting prospect it actually stopped me from moving forward. An example of this was my feelings about my singing. I always wanted to sing like Pavarotti. But since I was in no way capable of singing like Pavarotti, then I didn’t pursue my singing as a career at all. (May be a good thing that i spared the world… but not really…) Being myself is the actual key that was difficult for me to unlock.

Then in that SweatLodge, my two years of Shiatsu study at the Ohashi Institute finally came together in something that I was very capable of. A baby step forward, just “helping people out day by day.” And from that beautiful moment my full time practice has unfolded, now over three decades! I am humbled and grateful for the many gifts, and the many beautiful healings, with many amazing and wonderful people, on this powerful and meaningful life journey!

To celebrate with me, you can now order any or all of my titles for 30% off!  On the checkout page, simply enter the coupon code: 30for30!!! in the coupon field, and WahLah, your price will melt down 30%!  Offer good from now until my birthday, August 22nd, 2017. For those of you planning to enroll in my HeartMind Shiatsu Professional training, this is a great time to purchase all your books and charts for the training!

Let’s all help the human race to a brighter future, simply helping out our brothers and sisters… day by day!!!


Four Archetypes – Part 2, The Warrior and its Shadows!

Four Archetypes – Part 2, The Warrior and its Shadows!

The Warrior Archetype is directly related to our sense of our personal power and our alignment with what we hold most dear. A healthy mature warrior behaves in alignment with values that have been tested and cultivated in the crucible of experience. These values are also aligned with an aspect of the “greater” society which surrounds the warrior. The pivotal question in exploring and discovering your core values is “Whom do you serve?” And that doesn’t just have to be a person, but it can show up as a set of principles.

I once had a conversation with a gentleman from India. We met casually one day at a local park. We were both Dads, and our children were off playing on the monkey bars and swings. It was a cordial conversation. In my naivete, as a middle American white male, I asked him, innocently enough “Do you have a guru?” Even after I spoke it, I felt self conscious that I may have projected my ignorance upon him. Gratefully, he was kind enough, and took no offense, and simply responded calmly. “No, I do not generally follow men. But I follow principles.” I nodded my appreciation for his kind reply, and our children’s needs variously swept us away.

The point here is that the mature warrior has contact with and is dedicated to a set of principles that are a guiding force in his or her life. Sometimes these will be principles and values that are espoused by others. One’s culture, ones lifestyle, ones choices all align around a set of values for living a good life. And the warrior stands for those values, is willing to fight for those values, and would even put their life on the line for those values.

A good test for your values is to use some form of “truth-0-meter.” This is where you test your values against what you consider to be your highest truth, the one which you hold most dear. There is a certain voyage of discovery to find out just what these are, but one of my favorite clues is to test something for its relative weight or light. If a feeling is heavy and dark, that is an indication that it is a non-truth. If it is light and airy, and gives a buoyancy to your step, that is an indicator that it is a truth. Truth will always lead to lightness, and buoyancy. Non-truth, to heavy darkness and a sense of suffering.

When a warrior aligns with such truth, there is no argument that can be made, nor that needs to be made. It simply is. Now there are many ways in which we will fight around on our journey to truth, fact, and the many stories that get made up along the way. The mature warrior sorts through the obfuscations to get down to the deepest truth that for them they hold most dear. That is a journey indeed. As one of my favorite quotes from Anon reads, “The road to truth is under construction!”

Add to this that our judgements and feelings do not actually derive from actual events, but rather from the stories we tell ourselves about those events, and then you have recipe for seeing that this is quite a large undertaking. The work you must do here, is to own your stories, to sort them out, and to see how you have been reacting to a clever story that you have told yourself. That is true warrior work, indeed!

Now, along the way to this truth, and the actions you need must take to stay in alignment with it, there are two likely shadow characters who show up. These are shadows of the mature warrior. They could be called immature warriors. They are the Bully and the Coward. Already, those terms may have set off lights in your consciousness. One person I shared this with even said, “Oh yes, and there are cowardly bullies, and bullying cowards!” Indeed the Bully and the Coward show up with some regularity and interchangeability in our worldly walk.

First, you can see that Bullies are likely in possession of only a half-truth, or an “alternative fact.” They tend to stick very strongly to their guns, and need to put up a large blustering front. They rarely walk easily and confidently, but rather cut through the air with a swagger and a demanding aspect, as they use a level of brute force, and prey on others fears or perceived weaknesses. If you are watching out for your own inner bully, look for a feeling of not being fully in alignment with a deeply recognized truth. You’ll tend to justify yourself, act defensively from fear, rather than love, and then use power in a way that doesn’t feel clean or good.

Now for Cowards, it is the flip side of that coin. Fear will tend to run the day. Standing in your truth, especially in the face of other strong figures who do not agree with you, causes you to slink away, and avoid conflict at all costs. As such, the Coward stands up for nothing. They are, in the words one friend once used “A fart in the wind!” Nothing there, spineless, retiring, non-combattive and ultimately you can’t count on them for anything substantial.

Now in many respects the Coward has a self preserving instinct that could save their life. “He who runs away, lives to fight another day!”  In such instances, cowardice may actually be wisdom! And the bully, well they may unwittingly be moving the needle forward for a cause that may well be beyond their knowledge. There havoc a bully can wreak ultimately can lead to a level of reconciliation of some deep problem in society. Pain can be a powerful motivator for change. In either case, the grasp on a deep and enduring truth is essentially missing in the bully and the coward. If you do not know what you are fighting for, then your fighting will be anemic, and you may end up being brash and stupid. And if what you’ve been fighting for eventually proves to be false, then in the best of worlds, pray that a deeper truth may reveal itself.

Years ago I saw a PBS series on the history of the Western United States. The Indian Wars brought about the decimation of all but a remnant of Native American culture, and left deep scars across the land. In one particularly poignant interview, a native American descendant shared his experience of reconciling this terrible history. He told the story of his four-day vision quest, where he went up on the mountain to fast and pray for truth and insight into the pain of what his tribal family had been through and what his just response should be.

He reported wrestling with the demons of anger and vengeance, spending days plotting the violent acts he would commit to gain retribution for the wrongs done to his people. He shared that before he went up on the hill, he always wore a black hat. And his heart was black with the pain and suffering of this terrible history. Then, upon the dawning of the last day of his quest, he was reduced in tears, and when he saw the sun rising, he knew that he must forgive. The past was the past. What was done was done. Taking revenge would only lead to more suffering and perpetuate the cycles of pain and retribution. He must forgive, and dedicate himself to peace. He swapped out his black hat for a white hat.

That is warrior work! The work of a mature warrior is to wrestle with the great forces, to not act rashly out of reaction, from clever stories told inside your head, to watch out for the rising of the bully or the coward. To plumb deeply into the depths of your truth, and live from that place. “Whom do you serve?” Indeed. Here is where the work is to be done.

Let these stories inform you on your own Warrior’s journey. Added to the Lover’s shadows of Mama’s Boy or Addict that we explored in Part 1, you can begin to get a fuller picture of how various strong archetypal forces can be identified and worked with appropriately on your road to mature balance in this world.

Stay tuned for the next post in this series. Four Archetypes – Part 3, The Magician and its Shadows!  In this next post, I will explore how the good magician serves the world, and how the Trickster and the Know-it-all can enter in and really mess things up!

And remember, this is not about judging these shadows as wrong. The work is merely to identify them. And the thing about a shadow is, that it is actually a natural result of a shining light. The trick is to not get lost in the shadow as if it were truth. Rather, you call it out, see it, turn toward the light, and put the light firmly back in the driver’s seat!

Until next time, keep your eyes open for the Bully and the Coward.  Dig deep for the honest truth that resides and abides. That is the foundation for a true, mature Warrior stance in the world.