This week I would like to share excerpts from the chapter about the Trigram Mountain, or in Feng Shui terms “Inner Knowledge,” from the book Journey To Mastery: Feng Shui for Life by Dr. Kathryn Mickle, Ph. D. This will be the 7th discussed here on my blogs of the 8 Trigrams used in Feng Shui, Taoism and also Taekwondo. I really enjoy learning about these 8 Trigrams and their associated elements. I have also liked learning about the Feng Shui and life-style connections made in this book. I have found the Mountain chapter to have a lot of good insights and suggestions so I will try to share as much as I can that may be useful for other people too.
“The trigram represents a mountain that is static and in repose. For us, this part of the bagua is a time of stillness, a period of waiting and solitude in order to really get to know ourselves… it is across from the relationship trigram, and both represent the element earth and the qualities of yielding and receptivity.”
To quiet the mind- this trigram relates to practices of meditation, such as those I have practiced as part of my study of martial arts. These practices can help a mind to gain a new larger perspective on life rather than being caught up in situations that may seem problematic. “From the viewpoint of Eastern practices, we strive to get a tranquil state in which we let our thoughts flow through our mind without analyzing or judging them… These practices suggest allowing thoughts to rise and settle in your mind, like waves in the ocean. They tell us not to grasp or cling to thoughts and not to solidify them. Be like an ocean looking at its own waves… as your attitude changes and you don’t take thoughts as seriously, the whole nature of your thoughts change.”
Some suggestions for quieting the mind, including meditation- “Use things that inspire you such as readings, poetry, quotations, aromas, flowers- things that take you beyond your normal mind-set. A good place to meditate is the self-knowledge part of your home” [the associated direction is Northeast]. “There are three methods that are very common to enhance a quiet mind or meditation: watching the breath, using an object, and reciting a mantra. Watching the breath means being aware of breathing while in a relaxed state. When inhaling, breathe in relaxation and, when breathing out, be aware of letting go and releasing tension, frustration, etc. Rest in the natural gap between the in and out breath. Don’t concentrate totally on the breath but become more mindful of your breath and of being in the present. Instead of just watching the breath, start to think of yourself as being one with it. The breath is not only calming your mind but it is sending more oxygen to the brain and massaging your digestive organs.
Using an object is another way of focusing your attention. For learning to control the mind and also to improve the skill of visualization, it is a good exercise to concentrate on something like a flower or a crystal.
Sometimes gazing at a picture can get you lost in the scene until you lose conscious connection with it. In a practice called ocular divergence, you stare just beyond an object until you see a blurred vision as both sides of your brain start to blend together. This exercise helps to balance the left and right brain so that you are able to access the logical and creative sides of yourself.
Reciting a mantra or a word over and over again gives you something to concentrate on and takes your mind off your thoughts. In some Eastern practices, a mantra is more than that, however. It is the essence of sound and the embodiment of truth in the form of sound. It can also purify the channels of the body and charge your breath with the energy of sound.
For example, the mantra Om Ah Hum contains the principle syllables of the Sanskrit language. What is taught is that OM is the fundamental sound behind the cosmos and contains unlimited ability and, in the human body, it is the sound in the head… Om is said to be the short form of “I am,” which is the eternal immortal sound… Ah is said to be the fundamental sound of growth, the first sound made by all life in the beginning, the sound of manifestation… Hum is the sound of the potential of life and the sound of material things. It is the sound of the center of the body, the tan tien… There is a Buddhist Qigong practice that suggests chanting these three sounds with your hands in prayer position… Inhale and raise your hands above your head, bringing your hands together, touching the crown of your head and chant OM. Lower your hands down to your throat and chant AH and continue lowering your hands to your heart area and chant HUM.
Research has found that when a person engages in a repetitive prayer, word, sound or phrase, the physiology of our body changes. There is a decrease in blood pressure, heart rate, rate of breathing and slower brain waves. These changes are the opposite of those brought on by stress so these sounds can reduce stress in the body as well.”
For these practices to have a positive impact, we must actually practice them- this means making a commitment of time in which to practice. It may not sound that hard, but I know from experience that it is. Here are some suggestions for making time-
“If you can take the time, just as you wake up, record your dreams because they are a good indicator of where you are emotionally. Also, if you take the time to think quietly about an issue that is bothering you, as you go to sleep, you will see that you are receiving some kind of answer in your dreams. At first, they may be hard to decipher but, if you keep on recording them, you will find that they start to make some sense, when you go back and read them.
In the early morning, a physical practice like Tai Chi or Qigong will relax as well as energize your body so that you will be reillient and able to handle anything that happens… these practices emphasize a physical movement which shows you how to handle life- yield, pull back, stand in openness and move only when it is time to move. [ I like this idea.- Ms. Doll] If you do this enough with your body, it starts to show itself in your life. Something which would have brought a drastic reaction in the past now does not disturb you in the same way.
The other time that is very important to quiet the mind is the time just before you go to bed. It is best to go to bed with as quiet a mind as possible so that, while you sleep, you are open to the spirit realm. Using the practice of the Healing Sounds (… at the end of this chapter/ post) helps clear emotions from the affected organs and balance the body so that you have a better rest…
Many of us already know that this kind of practice would help us in our lives but we still do not do it… I suggest that you make a conscious effort to try it, for at least thirty days, and see if it makes a difference. I guarantee that as you get in the habit of doing this daily, you will miss it when you stop… As you start doing this regularly, you will access your inner power.”
Inner Power, as discussed in this chapter, is differentiated from the common usage of the word “power” as in power over other people or worldly power. It is a power that comes from within- “Inner power means taht you remain strong and confident because you know that real power does not exist at the level of the world… The important thing is to note the difference between reacting to a situation and having your own power. When you are reacting to a situation, you are pitting your power against something but you are not coming from strength. When you are coming from your own power, you are sure of yourself and your own decisions because they are not influenced by anyone else.”
Since the author blends Western and Eastern practices in her therapy work, she talks about the different damages that emotions can do to organs, from Qigong philosophy. “Certain emotions damage certain organs and, conversely, cultivating certain virtues can heal the damage. In Chinese terms, a virtue means a power that can be cultivated and this power can create health.
Anxiety, sorrow, grief, sadness and depression take their toll on the lungs… The lungs are healed by the Chinese virtue yi, translated as courage or righteousness, a sense of integrity and dignity. Lungs are associated with the season of autumn and the element of metal.
Chronic fear causes diseases of the kidneys, adrenals and lower back… In Qigong theory, the kidneys also control memory and brain function and fear and stress can create learning disabilities and can damage memory. When the kidneys are healthy, the feeling is gentleness like calm water, the element associated with the kidneys. The virtue associated is zhi, meaning wisdom and clear perception.
Anger, inappropriately expressed or suppressed, damages the liver and leads to muscular tension and various elements such as headaches, eyestrain, hemorrhoids and irregular menstruation… The positive emotion of the liver is kindness, the Confucian virtue wren, meaning the companionship of a good friendship. The associated element is wood.
Impatience, hastiness, arrogance, excitability, excessiveness or cruelty overstimulate and damage the heart, leading to heart disease as well as insomnia, hysteria and psychosis. The positive virtue of the heart is li, meaning ritual but, more than that, the state of mind required for ritual, one of sacredness, reverence, love, honor, orderliness and sincerity and the element associated is fire.
Worry, obsessive thinking and preoccupation damage the spleen and its associated organs, the pancreas and stomach, causing gastric upsets, elevated blood pressure, weakened immunity and a tendency toward catching colds. The cultivation of xin, feelings of fairness, openness, acceptance, trust and faith heal the spleen. It is associated with the element earth and can be balanced by spending more time in nature.”
Dr. Mickle also discusses using hypnosis to facilitate finding the sources of suppressed emotions and the importance of recognizing and accepting emotions rather than suppressing them. “The ultimate aim of both Western and Taoist practices is to feel the emotion but not let it take hold.”
The practice of the “Six Healing Sounds” is reprinted in this book from the teachings of Master Mantak Chia. I have discussed some of his other practices here in this blog. The six healing sounds exercises are taught occasionally at my martial art school, but since I have not been lucky enough to attend one of these sessions I am interested to read and share this section of the Inner Knowledge chapter:
This is to relieve the lungs from any buried sadness, grief or depression. As you become aware of your lungs, take a deep breath and raise up your arms slowly so that your palms are facing your body. When they reach to the top of the head, turn your hands so that the palms face upwards and extend them above your head. Look up through the space in your hands. As you exhale, you put your teeth together and say the sound “SSSSS” like a snake sound. As you say the sound either out loud or under your breath (subvocally), imagine that you are releasing sadness from your lungs. When you have let all your breath out, gently bring your hands back to your lap. Now smile into your lungs and imagine a beautiful diamond white covering them and concentrate on the positive virtues of courage, righteousness, surrender and letting go.
Start again with your hands on your lap and focus on your kidneys. Place your legs together with your ankles and knees touching. As you bend forward, take a deep breath and hold onto your knees, one hand holding the other one. Straighten your arms so that you can feel a pull at your lower back where your kidneys are located. As you exhale your breath, make the sound “WOOO,” like the wind in the trees or like blowing out a candle. At the same time, pull in your stomach and imagine that you are releasing any buried fear from the kidneys. When you have exhaled, focus on the kidneys and imagine them covered with a bright, dark blue light and concentrate on the feeling of gentleness. When you have fully exhaled, open your legs again and put your hands palm up on your legs.
Sit again in the upright position, your hands resting on your lap. Become aware of your liver on your right side under your diaphragm. Put your hands out to the side, palms up and bring them slowly up until they are over your head where you can clasp them and turn them over so that your palms face the ceiling. Bend slightly to the left, so that there is a gently [gentle] pull on the right side where your liver is located. Exhale the sound “SHHHHHH,” like telling someone to be quiet. Imagine that with that sound you are releasing all anger from your liver. As you finish exhaling, imagine your liver a bright spring green and focus on the feelings of kindness.
The heart exercise is done exactly the same way as the liver exercise except that you lean to the right stretching the left side or the heart area. As you exhale, the sound is “HAWWWWW” and, as you say this sound, you can imagine releasing impatience, anxiety, arrogance and hastiness. Imagine a bright red covering the heart and feel love, sincerity, respect and honor.
Take a deep breath and lean forward, placing the fingers of your two hands together with the backs touching. Place these fingers, like a knife, slightly under the left of the sternum. Press in with the fingers as you push our(?) your back. As you exhale, the sound is “WHOOOOO,” similar to the kidney sound but more gutteral. As you exhale, imagine getting rid of excess worry. Come back to the sitting position and see the spleen and the associated organs, the pancreas and stomach, covered with a deep golden yellow and concentrate on the feelings of fairness, compassion and trust.
Triple Warmer Exercise
This refers to the three energy centers of the body. The upper level, which consists of the brain, heart, and lungs, is considered hot. The middle section with the liver, kidneys, stomach, pancreas and spleen is considered warm and the lower level with the kidneys, bladder and sexual organs are considered cold. This exercise is meant to balance the temperature of these three levels of the body. This one is done lying down on your back. Close the eyes and take a deep breath. As you exhale, imagine that a big steamroller is pressing out your breath starting at the top of your chest and ending at your lower abdomen as you say the sound “HEEEEEEEE.” Imagine your body temperature balanced. This is a wonderful exercise to help you go to sleep at night.”
Dr. Mickle concludes “These exercises help release emotional blocks from your body, either from the present or buried from past experience. At bedtime they remove the tensions of the day and help you have a restful sleep.”
I release all emotional blocks.
I take quiet time for contemplation every day.
I flow with my emotions and allow no emotion to damage my body.
Feng Shui for the Mountain/ Northeast section of your environment:
A shelf of books, colors blue or earth tones, quiet sitting space for contemplation, pictures of mountain scenes, anything that reminds you of inner knowledge, meditation or contemplation.