NEWSLETTER 2003

40571 Fremont Blvd.Published: Summer 2003
Fremont, CA 94538Editor: Ms. Vandana Rao
(510) 226 0520Publisher: Master David Bell

 


 

A Subtle Peace
By: Isabella Stryker

The term and concept ‘peace’ flies around a lot these days. Peace from war, peace from stress, peace from chaos, peace of mind. I used to think that peace was attained through years of daily meditation.  I thought that countries could create it by accepting their citizen’s differences. I visualized peace like a vast empty space without a color, life or shape; a space where disturbances can never enter.

While I not claiming that peace emanates from me and all aspects of my life, I can share the tiny glimpses I’ve experienced and their incredible impact upon me. The vast space I once envisioned altered. I have realized through experiences with Chi Kung, Tang Soo Do, Yoga and meditation that peace is not external and beyond us. I truly believe peace is consciously created and built from within.

My experiences with Chi Kung started when I began training at “The First Tang Soo Do of Fremont” in May of 2001. I note this as the beginning rather than my first actual Chi Kung seminar because Master Bell weaves the practice into our training. Before I began my own Chi Kung practice, Master Bell would use his Chi and knowledge to heal injuries, take away headaches, back aches, stuffy noses, and other forms of physical, spiritual or mental stress.

I can remember Master Bell once used his Chi to clear my sinuses. While gliding his hands by my face and head, without touching, I felt pressure moving through my face. It wasn’t painful; rather it was simultaneously subtle and strong. At first I wanted to pull away because I knew the sensation was foreign, meaning it wasn’t coming from my body. Instead I stood there feeling my congestion diminish.

Needless to say I became more interested when Master Bell discussed Chi Kung. After class he showed me a standing-moving pattern. Practicing this for the first time I experienced physical movement without intention. In other words, at one point my hands and arms towards and away from one another effortlessly. When I stopped and told Master Bell what I felt he said calmly, “That’s your energy.”

Although Master Bell invited me to several introduction Chi Kung seminars I did not accept until September of 2002. The timing couldn’t have been more perfect. I had recently dealt with personal tragedies, which had left me unbalanced and chaotic. The seminar was incredibly straightforward and simple. I expected complex forms of meditation, in-depth and lengthy reading, and intense group discussions about life experiences. Past seminars and workshops I’ve attended on meditation, transpersonal psychological practices, and hypnotherapy always packed technique and information leaving little room for experience. The Chi Kung seminar, however created ample space for me to truly observe and absorb my journey.

Since the introduction seminar last September I have attended two other seminars. My personal practice, however has allowed me to develop a clearer and stronger relationship with Chi Kung. Sometimes I am restless and anxious; lying in bed wishing I could just go to sleep, yet my mind keeps racing in circles like a kitten chasing its tail. Then I remember Chi Kung lying patterns and usually fall asleep within ten minutes.

I approach my morning and daytime Chi Kung practice differently. The lying patterns tend to calm my Chi and put me in a deep state of relaxation. During the day, especially in the morning, I find the standing and moving patterns more suitable. I use them to wake me up, reduce headaches, calm anxiousness, and create balance throughout my body.

Being a fulltime student and working over twenty hours per week, my schedule is challenging. Maintaining a healthy balance between mind, body and spirit and life’s demands is delicate. I easily become ill when I neglect my personal health and Chi Kung has helped tremendously with this. I have only gotten sick once in the last year, which is a huge accomplishment for me.

I have also used Chi Kung during classes where the teacher is becoming incredibly boring and doesn’t notice the class nodding off to sleep. Using the sitting pattern with my palms up, asking for energy, suddenly I am more alert, attentive and awake. Similarly, before exams I’ll sit at my desk, unbeknownst to my classmates, diminishing my nervousness by practicing Chi Kung sitting patterns with my hands under the desk.

Knowing my own energy and consciously trying to balance it opens other doors as well. I am becoming more aware of the energy people and situation emit. Some energy feels invigorating and positive, while others are invasive and draining. In the past I have given too much energy and aid to those in need, causing, me great grief and chaos. I have worked diligently over the years to put energy onto healthy and rewarding people and situations. I feel that Chi Kung augments this process and journey, placing it upon a new level. I can detect disturbances with more agility and usually remove myself or help someone if need be. One evening I used my Chi to help a close friend with a stomachache. I truly helped her without feeling drained; this was very gratifying.

I could go on and on about the benefits Chi Kung brings to my physical, mental, and spiritual health. Living in a society that places extreme emphasis upon science and the mind, however, I find it necessary to discuss how I experience my energy. Really we’re defining the intangible and the invisible; energy’s subtlety perplexes the mind. I use the term mind because I believe the majority of our society operates primarily from this perspective. Most institutions, namely science and medicine, believe our mind is the center of human existence and experience. The body is the mind’s vehicle, not its partner. The spirit, well science cannot and does not comment upon this.  Most people reared in Western society struggle believing that energy might not only reside in their minds.

Socialized in the west, I too struggled with this. Even though I have been drawn to Eastern and traditional practices, there’s always been a voice that says, “Okay, we felt something weird, we saw something strange just happen, but did it really happen?” My journey with Chi Kung and meditation challenges me to create peace with my mind. Silencing my mind is the only way I fully experience my energy and my spirit. I cannot always do this; thus my experience is always different. But when I ask my mind to soften and become quiet, my energy and spirit become more present. These little glimpses are glorious and inspiring, for in them I experience my truest self. It is incredibly subtle, yet precise and unmistakable. In these moments I feel peace.        

 


 

The Spirit of the South Pacific
Master David Bell

I met Master Stephen Washington; of Adelaide, South Australia, in 1992 with his family at a world championship for Tang Soo Do, in San Diego, CA. We continued to meet over the years as the world championships were held every two years in different parts of the United States. He would always show up with a very vibrant, warm hearted Australian Team. The families would greet us with little souvenirs of Koala Bears, and always with the invitation to visit them   “Down Under”. Before the passing of my instructor; Master Frank Waller, we had started to make plans to some day bring our schools to Australia and visit our friends on their land. May 6, 2003 landmarks the 10th Anniversary of “The First Tang Soo Do of Fremont;” after loosing two key mentors in my life and a reminding hit from American society…, I decided to visit the South Pacific!

 It’d been thirty years since I’d been out the country. I closed the school for the month of February 2003. Australia, Fiji by way of New Zealand…the trip was 90% set. I had not decided where to stay in Australia; I mention to Master Washington, asked if he could recommend a resort near him. It was like I had just insulted him, he wouldn’t think of it; “the way you get to know the OZ, is to stay with the OZ”. I knew then this would be a trip I would never forget.

Thirteen and a half hour airplane ride from San Francisco to Sidney, then two and a half on to Adelaide. There he was to greet me, the small framed man we called, Master; the one who became my friend over a decade ago. I rented a car trying to assure that I would not inconvenience him. We were on our way; driving on the wrong side of the road …I’m in Australia! After about 30 minute drive we arrived at Master Washington’s home to be greeted by his beautiful wife (Ms. Linda), daughter, Kylie and her two little ones. I could feel the energy from the Washington’s and how pleased they were to have me visit. I was equally pleased and humble to be made feel so welcome.

After relaxing and resting though the weekend, we started visiting the schools on Monday. I have to admit, I was not prepared for the welcome from the students and how glad they were to have me visit; only one other time had anyone had ask for my autograph. February 11th was my forty eighth birthday and no better people or place to have a party than up stairs in the bar of the Dojang.  I spent the week just watching and observing, trying to take part in every class I could. Between classes, lunches and riding around though the country side sharing thoughts and ideas with Master and Mrs. Washington, was just more than anyone could ask for. Coming to the end of the first week Mrs. Washington wanted to make sure I wasn’t getting bored and I wanted to make sure I wasn’t getting to far under their skin, I decide to take a fairy boat over to Kangaroo Island for the weekend. Even on my own the people of Australia was so receptive and warm.

I started the second week with some wine country tours. After receiving so much from everybody I wanted to share a little of myself. Mrs. Washington had mentioned the interest in Yoga; so, I gave her the okay to put together a class of her friends and some students of Tang Soo Do. This was just too much fun! I also got a chance to share some Yoga and Chi Kung training with Kylie and some of the senior Black Belts. Being with students so strong in their own person; and yet so humble and receptive to something new and different, with the obscene of  the ego virus that plague so many Black Belts was simply amazing. Connecting to the earth’s energy in Australia was for me as simple as a thought. Conveying this concept to the students became easy as quieting down to a deep breath.

All of the students were so hospitable offering their best to make sure I felt welcome. During the week we visited one school in the city of Adelaide and to show the humbleness and egoless of the people; I had left my belt back at Master Washington’s home school and without any question or hesitation, Bill Hayes, gave me his belt to use. He only asked if he could keep the stripes on it when I was done!

It was all too special to be able to reunite with the Sabato Family, Bruno and Olivia, and to meet their son, Joshua. The family that filmed me, at the 1992 World Championship; the last of my hay-days as a competitive fighter, and gave me a copy of that tape. Thanks for the beautiful dinner and welcome into your home. There are so many beautiful memories and lessons of Australia. I think the last night of any visit probably is one most remembered. This one was no exception, when Master and Mrs. Washington along with the family and the Tang Soo Do students presented me with the flag of Australia, signed by everyone; and made me their honorary citizen, I really thought I mite loose it!

Friday morning, February 21st; two weeks had gone, Master and Ms. Linda nervously helping me pack, saying good-by was going to be hard no matter how we did it. I had the rental car, so we said good-by at the home and I left the two in the front yard. As I drove away I blow the horn, said to myself “My Australian Family, My Friends!”

Adelaide to Sidney for an overnight, and on to Auckland, New Zealand only for half day; just enough time to understand that people would see you for who you are (a person) until you, prove yourself different.

Just the idea I had in my head of Fiji would relax me.  Tropical type Island Country;  very green, high energy, a lot less commercial then any vacation spot in America. I arrived at night, a little tried from the trip over from New Zealand.  A beautiful voice rang out with an intriguing shell lei, offering a gesture of welcome, “Can I help you Sir…”  After about an hours drive from the Nadi Airport Fiji, I arrived at the property of the beautiful Outrigger Reef Resort for a five night stay. The service reminded me of the time I worked on a commercial cruise liner… ‘I’m on vacation!’

 The package was full of tours of the country, but the most joy was really getting to know the native people of Fiji. I was very fortunate to have a day and a different night driver;both understood exactly what I wanted. Special thanks to my now dear friend, Jone Lomani Kedraika; which means, John Bell, who invited me to his village to meet his family. He had talked about me so much to his beautiful wife, Josifini, that she calls us brothers. She sent the day preparing a lovely welcome dinner and greeted me with the most beautiful fragrant flower lei. That night, remains in my mind as ‘simply magic.’ It was interesting hearing all the stories from Josifini’s uncle and her farther, who is village chief. The people of John’s village invited me to stay with them on my next trip to Fiji. That invitation was quite an honor and again, I am very humble. As for that beautiful voice, I have not heard from again.  

In traveling the South Pacific, I found the people to be very receptive of this American, “Thanks, to You All!” However, my message to you; “In your quest to mimic any part of America, be very careful you don’t loose your own Golden Treasures. Your ability to Share, Care, Love and Trust is the Center of your Peacefulness.” 

                                                                                                                                     


 

My Mind on My Body and My Body on My Mind
By Rina David

 

A year ago, I never thought I would be participating in yoga class twice a week, much less writing about what I have gained from it. Like many people unfamiliar with the art of yoga, I was skeptical and even refused to acknowledge it as exercise. My response to an invitation to join a yoga class was less than enthusiastic. “I could be getting so many things done in the hour and half I would be wasting on sitting still and breathing. If I wanted to do nothing, I can do that at home.”

Truth was I wasn’t getting anything done, at least not for myself.  I would go to work, and when I got home after a long commute, I “decompressed” by sitting in front of the television and flipping channels until I got tired.  On the evenings where I was lucky enough to have some energy left over, I would run errands and take satisfaction in checking off my laundry list of tasks. I was in a rut. I wanted to do something about it, but I didn’t know what I wanted to do, and was too tired to think about it.  All I knew was that my opinion on yoga had not changed.

So how did I end up in yoga? I wish I had a better answer, but to be honest, I ended up in yoga class because I lost a challenge to my husband. In his desperation to get me in to a healthier routine, he challenged me to find a physical activity we can both enjoy that fit in our schedule. If I could not find one, he could take me to yoga class. I accepted the challenge on one condition; if I felt that yoga involved as much exercise as sitting in front of the television, I would not return for any more classes.

After the first class, I quickly ate my words.The first few months, I struggled with the ideas and pace of yoga. My mind was distracted by infinite cycle of thoughts. Are we done breathing yet? What does it mean to quiet my mind? I have to remember to buy orange juice on the way home.What does it mean to put my mind to my legs? Even if I could, how do I do that? Oh, an ambulance went by. How am I supposed to breathe when I’m in so much pain? There are people looking in the studio. They’re laughing at us! They’re laughing at me! Why are we going so slowly? Why do I have to wait for everyone else to touch the floor when I can do it in one shot? How long do I stay in this pose? Why do I sleep so well after class?

As the poses got more challenging, the questions answered themselves and the distractions slowly faded. I learned to focus my thoughts on the areas being stretched, not the pain.  After some time, I came to a realization that during class, there is no option to think about anything else. If I thought about anything else, mid-stretch, the experience became a complete failure, and my body would collapse in pain. Yoga class became a time for me to think about my body and mind. 

To “think about my body and mind”, sounded like a cliché to me, but it’s actually the essence of a yoga class. At first, I believed it was about focusing my mind on the stretch for the sake of twisting myself into a stunning pose. “My body will do what my mind asks it to do!”  This belief is not entirely wrong, but is trivial.  After all, what good does it do me to turn myself into a pretzel?  I realized during one class, that instead of being bored during the breathing exercises, I could use that time to ask myself how I felt, physically and emotionally, and to look for trapped tension so I can use the stretches to “wring” it out of me (the huge beads of sweat that formed on my fingers and toes during a stretch and the relief I felt afterwards was enough to convince me that this was indeed happening).  I realized during another class that it didn’t matter if I could or couldn’t do the poses as shown in the books and magazines on the first or the tenth try.  The reward was in trying my best.   With every try towards perfecting a pose, I gained more strength, endurance and the ability to focus; perfection would come with time - my own time. The poses featured in magazines, which I initially set as goals for myself became guides.

It’s been a year now since my first class.  In the big scheme, I am still a novice. I still have tendencies to go back to my unhealthy ways, I still get motivated to go to class for the wrong reasons (to be the first to conquer some crazy pose of the month featured in a magazine), and the dynamics of my microcosm has not changed drastically.  But I realize that is not the point.  Asking yoga to change my world and me is like believing that taking a beauty pill (should such a thing exist) would get rid of all my imperfections over night. Yoga isn’t magic. It’s an exercise that brings out my innate strength, endurance and the ability to focus and deal with tensions in my life differently.  In other words, I’m “laid back”- with my mind on my body and my body on my mind.


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