|40571 Fremont Blvd.||Published: Summer 2003|
|Fremont, CA 94538||Editor: Ms. Vandana Rao|
|(510) 226 0520||Publisher: 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
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
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.
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!
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
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!’
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
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
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.