The four pillars represent the energy that exists and impacts one’s constitutional energy during a particular lifetime such that during certain years, depending on your four pillars, you may have certain energetic flows or tendencies in your life influenced by the energy of the year.
The energy of the wood horse can bring much activity since the element of wood feeds fire. Thus, people need to be mindful to engage meditative practices and make active efforts to slow down if they were born in the year of wood horse (e.g. 1954, 2014 to name a few years).
Since we are comprised of all five elements, we can all benefit from the suggestions for balancing the wood element.
On a health level, take extra time to de-stress physically with more active forms of qi gong and taiji to benefit the heart, people born in the year of a wood horse may tend to have more challenge with cardiovascular issues because of heat and activity.
Our ocean journey meditation on the website and meditative drum track can help to balance the fire and align you for welcoming in the many possible opportunities that tend to exist in this type of year for building abundance.
During the winter holidays, we often spend our time engaged in busy activities that tend to be more yang (active) in nature. Yet, the nature of the winter is ruled by the element of water, which is about stillness, introspection and quiet collection of energy.
The water element is represented by the kidneys in the Chinese medicine system and has a strong correlation with the season of winter. During winter the energy of the kidneys may move to deeper levels of the body, mind and spirit, resulting in a tendency towards greater vulnerability on the physical, emotional and spiritual levels. This is a time where we may feel a challenge with will power or find old fears returning as we face holiday gatherings. We may also notice an increase of water element physical manifestations such as low back pain, knee pain or fatigue.
We can nourish our kidneys to help us balance both emotional and physical manifestations of winter time by:
Gently massaging the inner ankles with a blend of basil and cedar wood essential oils.
Performing the Ocean Qi And Taoist Five kidney movements.
Eating more fish and seafood (but be sure to include cilantro pesto or seasoning as this herb detoxifies radiation and heavy metals that may exist in fish).
Taking five minutes or more meditative breaks that encourage your brain states to slow to a alpha or theta state (listen to the drum track designed by Eric Dannebaum for a rejuvenating break for your brain).
Drum Meditation Music (allows the drum to simply wash over you –simply focus on the sounds and relax):
Ocean Journey Meditation (listen and allow yourself to be guided in deeper awareness of the water/winter elements of self):
The winter solstice also offers an opportunity to align with the water element. Take a moment this winter to introspect on your journey throughout the year and digest the experiences as the calendar year draws to an end.
Allow yourself to truly create a space to embrace all that you are with the intentionality of allowing the lessons, insights to resonate through all three dan tines or energy centers of the body.
When you align with your ability to connect with your essence in a quiet way, you then fuel the processes that allow you to move from this more yin or less active state, to a state of manifesting your desires, dreams and abundance in life.
This week, our board member and co-founder, Dr. Deborah Healy, was interviewed by News4 San Antonio on the topic of bullying, a behavior that has increased not only among youth but also among adults, as we have seen with the recent reports of bullying occurring within the football industry.
Please clink on the link below to view the complete interview with Dr. Healy:
Bullying, on an energetic level, is the projection of energy through behaviors that have at their heart, the negative intention of harming another person’s esteem and core energy. Bullying can occur in many forms including ostracizing, criticizing, physically intimidating, verbally attacking or emotionally demeaning others.
When people experience bullying, they may feel a decline in their energy life force. This decline can lead to depression, lack of self esteem, lack of interest in life, feelings of isolation and suicidal thoughts.
Dr. Healy emphasizes the importance of prevention in terms of educating young people and adults about bullying by:
Cultivating skills and tools that allow one to recognize when bullying is occurring.
Encouraging people to act or speak out when they are observing or experiencing bullying.
Building self esteem and positive social connections that allow people to resist bullying.
She also speaks about the need for appropriate interventions to help those who have experienced bullying, as well as getting help for those who are choosing to solve problems by engaging in bullying behaviors.
For additional resources, Dr. Healy recommends visiting these resources (click on these website links below).
Creative expressions help us to nourish physical and emotional well being by facilitating higher levels of alpha brain wave states which occur when we focus on a creative process. Alpha brain waves states are naturally calming and help us to process stressful emotions, which often have negative impact on health.
Often times, artists describe themselves as being in “the zone” when they fully immerse themselves into the creative process. Artist Naomi Hutchinson, has spent a lifetime creating intricate, needlepoint tapestries and handmade Japanese dolls, representing different Japanese historical eras, and wearable art that flows from using yarns and other textiles in creative ways. At age 80, she often describes the process of creating her art as meditation that not only calms the mind but also stimulates mental processes and activates fine motor skills through the delicate work.
Creative projects also encourage an integration of the use of our right and left brain hemispheres. It is the left brain that organizes how we approach a creative project and guides us to have structure around the materials and processes that we use. Yet, on the other hand, our right brain allows us to access symbolic language and abstract thought patterns to express many different facets of our experiences, thoughts, beliefs and emotions such that we learn deeply about ourselves, others and our world when we create art.
The next time you feel stuck on a physical, emotional or spiritual level, allow yourself to connect with your ability to be creative. You don’t have to be a trained artist to be artistic. Simply let go and try your hand at painting, coloring with markers, sculpting, creating collage, bending metal, or simply sketching with an ordinary pen or pencil. Let your hands flow and take you on a journey of simply expressing yourself — for the creative flow is quite liberating and can move you forward in new ways that can resonate through all areas of your life.
Drumming, as a musical expression and therapeutic tool, stimulates all parts of the brain to induce deeper states of the alpha and theta brain wave states associated with deep relaxation.
Dr. Barry Quinn, a licensed clinical psychologist, discovered that alpha brain wave patterns doubled in only thirty minutes in patients that were assessed as being “highly stressed,” after these patients experienced a drumming session. Cortisol (stress hormones that can negatively impact the body if they remain elevated frequently), and blood pressure decreased, while immunity (natural killer cells) increased in the patients that experienced drumming.
In addition, researchers have found that drumming can facilitate the brain shifting into the theta frequency range, a state that facilitates integrating experience through accessing abstract symbols and images, versus organizing experience through concrete language associations and labels. It is a state of very deep relaxation that some people describe as a twilight state, or near consciousness, often used to facilitate hypnosis. In this state, we are able to break through some of our emotional patterns that are reinforced by thought patterns of the conscious mind and ego, and begin to liberate ourselves from habits, actions and ways of being that may not serve us best and may be root factors in certain health challenges.
Also, in the article, “Using Percussion to Improve Attention-to-Tasks in Children with Autism,” authors and registered nurses Brenda Guiza and Barbara R. Demuth found that the sound of “drumming generates dynamic neuronal connections in all parts of the brain even where there is significant damage or impairment such as traumatic brain injury, stroke, Parkinson’s disease, Alzheimer Disease and Attention Deficit Disorder.” This suggests that drumming can help the brain to re-organize how experience is perceived and processed and may stimulate the brain to develop new nuanced neurological responses to experiences.
Thus, drum music impacts the physical body, brain and neurological systems profoundly to facilitate growth and healing across many layers of being and existence.
At El Tule Institute, we include the healing music of master drummer Eric Dannenbaum (click on his name to access his site) to accompany our qi gong movements and meditations during our donations-based classes because his subtle, yet powerful drum rhythms encourage participants to experience new states of relaxation and self awareness in a very accessible way as they move their bodies and breathe more deeply through the qi gong forms.
Take a moment to enjoy one of our original qi gong compositions by clicking on the arrow “play button” below.
Chi gong can be conceived as “Chinese Yoga.” The word “chi” means life force and the word “gong” means cultivation. Chi gong is a unique approach to fitness; it is a lifelong tool to enhance both physical and emotional wellness. It is a movement practice beyond exercise.
Its slow meditation-like movement and emphasis on breathing instills a new level of awareness of the connections between body, mind and spirit. Chi gong elevates exercise to a mindfulness practice, where breath and intention support the physical form giving practitioners a new path to longevity.
Our signature classes focus on stress reduction with the intention to improve wellbeing, relaxation, which allows participants to recharge and restore their physical and emotional balance. The meditative emphasis will invite participants to unwind into a new level of relaxation supporting participants to be ready to embrace life’s joys and challenges.
In our qi gong workshops, we will raise awareness to connections to the meridian system (used in acupuncture). With the components of intent, meditation, breathing techniques, emotional stillness, and physical movement, health prospects can be boosted in quantum leaps.
Our Chi Gong practice is unique. Founder Kay Hutchinson’s traditional training is a gift of vast energetic depth. Kay’s teachings hold a rich body of knowledge sourced in the lineage of three powerful strands of Taoist masters:
• Dr. Arnold Tayam’s (medical qi gong, qi gong movement and infinite bagua): Grandmaster Sun Zhi Jun, Grandmaster Liang Shouyu, Grandmaster Feng Zhi Qiang, and Grandmaster Jia Shusen.
• Jeffrey Yuen 88th Generation Jade Purity Priest
• Master Hua Ching Ni (Cosmic Tour Bagua)-74th generation Taoist master.
Our co-founders, Dr. Deborah Healy and Dr. Martha Perez, in addition to being educators with over 20 years of experience individually, are also qi gong instructors with over 500 hours of practice and 100 hours of classroom instruction with Kay in the Taoist Five, Five Treasures and various forms of bagua circle walking.
Over the years we have presented many series of workshops including the virtual Five Wisdoms taught via Zoom by Martha Perez, as well as the in-person gentle elemental activations taught at both Casa De Luz space and the Northwest Public Library classroom space.
We have also created private, one-on-one consultations and energy sessions for individuals who are artists, healers, musicians, writers, and dancers.
Our dream to form a community connection around energy based healing began a few months after Dr. Arnold Tayam’s visit to Austin and his and Infinite Bagua workshop, which began a ripple of energy that we three trees carry forth daily. We give gratitude always to shifu Tayam and the many other spiritual friends, family and colleagues who continue to inspire us in new ways to cha cha chiiiiii!
Compassion is that willingness to make personal sacrifices to truly be there for another person during crisis and beyond–and to extend that gift of truly asking and wanting to know, “How are YOU today?” It’s a simple thing that can empower greater connectivity between people and flows from our ability to develop empathy–the ability to connect with another person’s feelings and states.
When you have high levels of empathy, you take that time to ask how others are, listen to the answer, and most importantly, act on the answer. Compassion is the action that flows from empathy–it is the act that shows rather than states that you care or that you love others.
Take a moment when you next meditate and breathe into the awareness of the needs, desires and feelings of those around you. Ask yourself, “How can I further the nourishment of others?” For when you look outward, it is astounding how much growth occurs internally to further your own prosperity, abundance and dreams.
Nestled on a hill top overlooking madrone forests and streams that nourish a rugged landscape of limestone cliffs, the Wild Basin visitor center was filled with participants breathing and moving as one, and discovering that mindfulness, clarity and peace is accessible to each and every one of us through the simple yet powerful art of qi gong.
So often people have this idea that being mindful or meditating requires one to empty one’s mind of all thoughts and be silent and still. While this is an ideal, it is rarely practical in a world that constantly requires us to over utilize our left brains filled with language, thoughts and a constant stream of intellectually processing our experiences.
Qi gong movement offers an opportunity for our minds to engage with focus, a conscious intent of guiding and regulating the energy in our bodies, a regulation which then impacts our thought patterns, feelings and biochemistry. Thus, qi gong allows us to achieve a state of deep mindfulness, by becoming aware of and working with the union of our body, mind and spirit in a way that is easy to learn and that provides positive results immediately.
During the Wild Basin qi gong workshop, one participant shared that the gentle qi gong movements, accompanied by the mesmerizing sounds of drummer Eric Dannebaum, allowed her to achieve what she has always imagined as the meditative state. She shared that this peaceful state has always eluded her despite trying on numerous occasions to meditate.
Many people can relate to this struggle of trying to meditate only to have the left brain create distractions that make it challenging to relax and be present in the moment.
The participant shared further, “I wasn’t even trying and yet I got there so effortlessly as I moved my body.”
How does qi gong create this effortless flow into mindfulness and meditation?
Qi Gong activates the right side of our brains while quieting the left brain. The left brain tends to create a constant stream analytical chatter which keeps us in our heads and makes it difficult to align all parts of ourselves to consistently and optimally manifest positive thoughts, feelings and actions in our lives.
A powerful example of how the chatter of the left brain creates blocks to insight and peacefulness is the experience of neuroscientist Jill Bolte Taylor, who experienced greater states of clarity, blissfulness and what she described as “Nirvana” when she experienced a stroke that literally shut down the functioning of her left brain.
This Harvard trained scientist, who spent her days studying the intricacies of the brain, discovered her ability to attain a more enlightened and expanded view of life when the stroke on the left side of her brain quieted the constant streams of more concrete thoughts and awakened the right brain’s more abstract flows that often resonate more with the spirit.
Yet, we do not have to physically shut down the left brain to experience deep levels of clarity, insight and peace in our lives. Those states are immediately and easily accessible to us when we incorporate qi gong into the every day flow of our lives. As little as five minutes every hour, can transform our states of being by giving our ever active left brains a mini-vacation so that our right brains can remind us of our wholeness, potential and true essence.
In the fall of 2012, five ladies gathered to explore the concept of a open space that nourishes creative energies. During what seemed to be originally a “woman focused” meeting, one of the husbands of the ladies playfully interrupted the meeting by showing the group these incredible images of the El Tule tree growing in Mexico. Its roots formed sculpture-like nodules that resembled gnomes, angels and other shapes.
From this humble start of evoking the energy of El Tule, emerged three women trees who carried forth the commitment to form the El Tule Institute, a non profit organization devoted to researching and manifesting cultural diversity through artistic expression and educational leadership.
This journey has taken the three trees, Martha Perez, Kay Hutchinson and Deborah Healy on a beautiful journey of gratitude celebrating the wisdom and abundance of El Tule with laughter creativity, synergy and sheer wonder in feeling blessed to share dreams and watch them manifest organically through the free flowing structure of El Tule Institute.
We invite you to join us on the journey to discover how many ways our branches can bend, dance in the wind, stretch to the ground and extend up into the sky.
Come play and grow with us!
We give special thanks to artist Daj’zha Vu, whose strong yet ethereal colors in her sketch of three trees, captures the femininity, strength and receptivity of that which we three trees feel each time we engage the spirit of the El Tule tree.
Visit Daj’zha’s blog, to learn more about how she created her art of three trees.