Autumnal Greetings 2016

Autumn 2016

One leaf knows it is autumn

Dear Qi-friends,

Autumnal greetings from the peaceful and calm Norrtälje bay (in sunny Sweden)!

In China, we have a famous proverb: YiYeZhiQiu 一葉知龝 , which means ‘one leaf knows it is autumn.’ This red leaf caught my eyes as I was strolling with my daughter in the nature reserve last week … it reminded me that my one month summer vacation (Swedish style) was drawing to an end and that I would be writing this newsletter soon.

Autumn Begins 7 August … 

Although autumn begins on August 7, 2016 and the Cold Water cosmological energy might bring some welcomed cooling for a brief spell (especially in those areas that have been experiencing an unusual heat wave), ShuHuoZhiQi 暑火之氣, or Hot Fire Qi, will be in full force before completely retreating around August 25th.

Expect to have some extremely hot days until then! This will especially hold true for those of you who have experienced an uncommonly hot summer these last couple of months.

HanShuiZhoQi 寒水之氣 – Cold Water Extreme

However, HanShuiZhoQi 寒水之氣, or Cold Water energy, will dominate the remainder of the fall season, with some areas experiencing atypical rainstorms, hail storms and/or snowstorms.

Cold Water Caution! 

This extreme Cold Water influence may cause some difficulties for those of you who have potential weakness in gastrointestinal function, any kind of joint problem, an over heavy body, poor hearing, and/or lower back pain. This harming influence will be strong from September 22nd through November 22nd.

Cold Water Prevention

To avoid the deleterious influence of Cold Water energy and maintain balance in your life, please center your diet around healthy foods and place more emphasis on eating foods with pungent flavors. Also, please keep up with your daily Qigong practice.

Drinking plantain tea everyday will have special health benefits for most of us during this coming autumn season.

2016 Teaching Schedule Update

In order to support our Qi-friends cultivation, we will continue to expand my teachings in the states and throughout Europe.

Two upcoming retreats full

We are excited that many cultivation friends from around the world will be joining us in our next two upcoming retreats:

1. Our two year GanZhi Advanced Daoist Arts Program, in which I will systematically teach the relationships of the GanZhi to Chinese cosmology, astrology, the Yijing, classical chinese medicine, and internal alchemy, is full. We will be welcoming a international group of students to study here in Sweden every 6 months for the next two years.

2. To commemorate the 15th year of the passing of one my most influential teachers, Grandmaster Yang RonJi 楊榮籍 , I will be sharing (for the first time) the first 12 movements of the HuaShan 24 form. For this training, we will be meeting in a retreat style setting in upstate, New York. Although registration for this event is full, you are welcome to join us for part 2, in October 2017.

Still time to join a weekend course!

There are still a few spaces left in several of my upcoming weekend events this fall (in New York city; in Stockholm, Sweden; in Strasbourg, France; and in Aberdeen, Scotland). If you would like to participate, please check out the teaching schedule on my website for details.

Looking Ahead to 2017

During our extended spring 2017 teaching trip to the Pacific Northwest area of the United States, I will offer several events to support our local Qi-friends in Portland, Oregon…

Fire Dragon Shamanic Martial Arts Form Retreat

For years, students have been asking me to teach them the Fire Dragon Shamanic Martial Arts Form. I have finally decided to offer training of this special form from the EMei Shamanic Lineage. In a five day retreat, we will learn and practice this powerful form, which is based on the Yijing Eight Trigrams Arrangement.

Dai XinYi Chopstick form

I will be continuing teaching the Dai XinYi Teacher Certification series. In the next session, held in February 2017, I will be teaching the XinYi Chopstick Form. Each workshop in this series is open to the general public, to students of all levels, and is offered independently, meaning you are welcome to join us for as many of these trainings as you like, in any order that fits your schedule.

2016/2017 Winter/Spring Highlights

Best wishes for a healthy and happy harvest season from Karin and I,

Master Wu


Happy Longevity Peach Day! … and happy summer :)

Santorini - October 13, 2014


9 April 2016

Dear Qi friends,

Happy Longevity Peach Day! Happy birthday to the Spirit of North! Happy birthday to Grandmaster Zhao!

Traditionally, Longevity Peach Day is the day when the Queen Mother of the West would invite all the immortals to KunLun Mountain in celebration. During the festivities, she offered Longevity Peaches … eating one Longevity Peach was known to bring 3,000 years of life!

Spirit of the North is XuanWu 玄武 – and is also the spirit of Water Element.  In Daoism, we believe XuanWu brings new life energy into the world and protects all beings.

Grandmaster Zhao ShouRong carries the lineage of the Dai Family style of XinYi (Heart Mind) internal alchemy and martial arts system. He was born on this special auspicious day, the third day of the third month in lunar calender.

Karin, Zenna, and I hope the spiritual energies of these two immortals (and Grandmaster Zhao) will bring happiness, health, and prosperity into your lives.

Good News!

I would like to share a couple of pieces of good news with you before I share more about the cosmological influences that will be influencing us all this summer.

  • The registration for our newly launched GanZhi Advanced Daoist Arts program is full! This two year course will be held in Sweden. If you would like to be added to the waitlist, please send us an email.

  • Session three of the Lifelong Training Program is also full! This session will meet at a beautiful lodge nestled in the base of Mt. Adams in southern Washington state (USA).  It will be great to spend a week cultivating with old Qi friends.

  • Our publisher, Singing Dragon, is offering a free online Qigong festivalon April 21-22, 2016. Please check out the link – there will be a lot of interesting information available! For this event, I have donated one of my most popular previously published articles, The Pure Yang Mudra part I.

  • My wife Karin is busy writing the GanZhi BaZi Workbook! This book will provide essential and practical information on Chinese astrology … including the secret method (never before published) of how to calculate the astrology chart without a Chinese calendar book or a questionably accurate GanZhi app. Our goal is for the book to be available during the 2016 winter holiday season.

Summer Greetings

You may be wondering why I am sending you all this summer seasonal newsletter almost one month ahead of schedule. The answer is twofold:

Teaching trip in the Pacific Northwest

First, we will be leaving Sweden on Monday for a long teaching trip in the Pacific Northwest region of the United States. We will have an entire month of back to back teachings scheduled, which will prevent me from doing any writing!

Third month of Spring – the Dragon month

Secondly, the third month of spring this season has unusual energetic pattern – one that differs from the general spring pattern I wrote about in my last newsletter. As such, I would like to give you a specific guidance about the upcoming Dragon month:

RenChen 壬辰 (Yang Water Dragon)

Even though many friends who are living in the northern hemisphere have enjoyed some nice warm spring energy, this month, RenChen 壬辰 (Yang Water Dragon), will carry in some Cold Water energy. Some friends may have already experienced snow storms during the last couple of days.

Please still follow my previous recommendations for the spring Qigong practice during this Dragon month.  However, please do not continue eating the cooling foods I mentioned in my Spring 2016 newsletter. Until 5 May make sure to consume food and drink with warming energy, such as ginger tea and adding cinnamon spice to your warming foods (like lamb stew).

Feeling Hot, Hot, Hot!

From the Daoist cosmological perspective, the starting point of the summer season falls on May 5th this year. The energy of Mars will definitely dominate the summer – the power of Fire will be in full effect! I predict that many of us will experience an extremely hot summer, especially during the period of May 20 – July 20. This heat wave could last all the way through to the first month of autumn (until September 7th) in some areas.

Supporting patients through the heat

Clinically, practitioners will see that many of their clients will present with problems relating to heat disease, such as poor hearing, nose bleeds, cough, abscess, skin sores, red eyes, thyroid hyperplasia, sore throat, and even sudden death.

Starting on May 5th, please guide your patients to consume foods and drinks that are cooling in nature.

As I mentioned in my last letter, drinking high quality green tea will be a good choice to help disperse the heat this summer. I recently got some fabulous green tea shipped to me from my friends in China – the first harvest of the year! 🙂

Those of you who are tea aficionados may be able to notice the high quality nature of this tea and even its powerful Qi in the photo down below.

Cultivating with the heat

As always, the best way to maintain your balance throughout all the changes life brings is to continue your daily Qigong practice.

The Monkey Internal Alchemy Meditation practice I have shared before (from my book, XinYi WuDao) is still a powerful choice to help you balance your energy.

Regardless of your specific cultivation practice, please remember this advice:

The enlightened being cultivates while facing brightness

Wishing Peaceful Qi to you and your families from the three of us,

Master Wu

Cultivation yields transformation – come join us!

In order to support our Qi-friends inner transformation process, I am expanding my 2016 teachings. Below please find an overview of upcoming training opportunities. Please click the event name for details.

Autumnal Greetings 2015


Dear Qi friends,

Greetings from the sunny and cool Stockholm archipelago! After several weeks of long, cold and rainy summer days, everyone is now out basking in the sunshine. Even in the big capital city, it is not at all unusual to see women and men sunbathing in tiny bathing suits in city parks or even just a small patch of grass as soon as the sunlight breaks out of the thick clouds or after chilly storms.

Alternating weather patterns ahead

Actually, this alternating weather pattern of warm/hot and cool/hot will be the typical pattern weather pattern for this coming autumn. Yes, autumn is here! According to Chinese cosmology,  autumn starts today, August 8, 2015!

The effects of excess heat

These climatic variations may cause excess heat in the body, which can weaken heart and kidney function, and be difficult for those who suffer from migraine headaches. Eating fresh watermelon and peaches (in this first stage of Autumn) will help the transition and smooth out excess heat in our bodies

Monkeys and your lungs!?!

Autumn is known as the Metal season and it is a great time for you to spend more time practicing Qigong. As you know, Qigong strengthens your internal and external Qi as well as your lung function. You will be able to easily eliminate excess heat in the body if your lungs are functioning well.

The Monkey cultivation practice from my book, The 12 Chinese Animals will be a great way to strengthen your lungs!

Continued trainings offered in Europe and US

To continue support our Qi-friends’ cultivation practice, we have been expanding our teaching in Europe while maintaining our teaching schedule in the United States. We just returned from a long teaching trip in the Pacific Northwest of the U.S. and will soon be headed back to the west coast of Sweden for two lifelong training retreats.

Chinese Astrology and Shamanic Shaking in Nottingham, England

In September, I will again be offering some brief teachings on Chinese medical astrology and the Chinese shamanic shaking tradition for friends at the British Acupuncture Council.

Daoist Internal Alchemy in NYC

In October, I will be offering some intensive trainings for my senior students and will also will teach a special Daoist internal alchemy form in NYC, which will be open to the general public.

Learn more!

If you are interested in learning more, please check my website ( for details.

In support of your ZhengQi 正炁 cultivation from Karin and I,

Master Wu

The Purpose of Cultivation – an interview with Master Wu

Master Wu, thank you so much for agreeing to talk to Singing Dragon. I think you have just celebrated ten years of living in the West. Have you found over that time that our understanding of Chinese medicine has changed?

The Western understanding of Chinese medicine has definitely changed in the last ten years. I have noticed two main changes, with respect to the general public and the practitioners themselves. In terms of the general public, more and more people recognize the efficiency of Chinese medicine to meet their health care needs. More people are embracing Chinese medicine treatments because they want minimal unwanted side effects (or better yet, none at all) and also want to build up their health in order to prevent a future illness. In terms of Chinese medicine practitioners, I have seen that more practitioners are looking to understand the roots of Chinese medicine, and are emphasizing their own personal cultivation (for example through meditation, Qigong practice, studying the Yijing, Chinese astrology, etc.) to help them deepen their knowledge of Chinese medicine. Also, I see more practitioners are educating their patients about how important it is to strengthen their own Qi by improving their daily lifestyle habits and having a commitment to some internal cultivation practice.

How can Western practitioners best prepare themselves for studying Chinese medicine?

In terms of studying Chinese medicine, there is no difference in preparation for a Western practitioner or an Eastern practitioner. The best way to prepare is to do personal cultivation. In the Chinese medicine traditional education system, before the Master teaches you anything about medicine, they always first stress that you learn to be a good person and to cultivate your virtue. A good doctor first needs to be a good person, and have a good heart to help others. Traditionally, you didn’t learn medicine as a business venture to make tons of money. For the Master to share knowledge with you, he/she has to be clear that your deep purpose and drive is to help others. The HuangDiNeiJing (the Yellow Emperor’s classic text of Chinese medicine) emphasizes that you have to be careful not to teach certain skills to the wrong person – the wrong person, meaning someone who does not carry a high level of virtue.

You are lecturing at the Confucius Institute in London in February on the topic of Qigong as the basis for Chinese medicine. Can you say a little about why this is such an important topic?

Yes, Qigong is the source of Chinese medicine. The whole system was discovered by ancient enlightened beings who made profound connections about their bodies and Nature while in heightened Qigong states. According to the QiJingBaMaiKao (Investigations into the Eight Extraordinary Vessels), a book by the Ming Dynasty’s famous herbalist LiShiZhen’s, the subtle energies of the inner pathways of the body (for example the pulses, the points, the meridians, and even the organs themselves) may be seen only by those who cultivate Fan Guan (literally, ‘reverse observation’), or the ability to look within with clarity. LiShiZhen concluded that only high-level Qigong practitioners could see the meridian systems. Before the modern term Qigong became popularized, all Qigong cultivation practices (including seated meditation) were known as Guan, which itself means ‘observe or observation’, and implies self-observation.

Also, to develop an appropriate herbal formula for someone requires an understanding of Qi harmonization. Chinese herbal medicine was first taught by the ancient shaman king ShenNong (Divine Farmer). Actually, the first Chinese book of herbal medicine, ShenNongBenCaoJing is named after him and it is generally accepted that he wrote it as well. Our legends say that, through tasting the herbs, he was able to feel the different quality of Qi in each herb and understand how it relates to the Qi of the organ and meridian systems in the body. This kind of sensitivity and awareness was possible because he was a very high level Qigong practitioner, and was able enter into heightened states of consciousness and perception.

There would be no Chinese medicine without the ancient shamanic Qi cultivation practices of Qigong.

Would you tell us a little more about Qigong? Many people in the West are confused about what it is.

Qigong is modern, popularized term for an ancient method of physical, mental and spiritual cultivation. It can be translated into English as Qi cultivation, spiritual cultivation or working with the Qi. By the way, by Qi, I mean the vital energy of the universe that keeps everything alive. Qigong practice models a harmonious way of life and has been used throughout thousands of years of history by those who wish to attain Enlightenment.

Qigong involves working with the three parts of the body (Jing, Qi and Shen). In Chinese, Jing means essence and represents the physical body. The physical body is our structure and our container. It holds our essential life energy, our Qi body and our spiritual body. We can strengthen our physical bodies by practicing special Qigong postures. As I mentioned before, Qi translates as vital energy of the entire universe, including of course, the vital energy of your body. Your breath is deeply connected with the Qi body. Qi can also be translated as ‘vital breath’. In Qigong, we cultivate our Qi body by maintaining awareness of our breath and by learning techniques to regulate our breath. This will increase our vital energy or life force. The Shen means spirit, and represents our spiritual body. In general, our mind is related to our Shen. Once we pay too much attention to the external world or worry too much about what is going on in our life, we weaken our Qi. If we are always looking outside, we leak our spiritual Qi. In Qigong practice, we learn to look within in order to preserve our life energy.

How does it relate (if it does) to practices such as Yoga?

I have never practiced yoga, so I don’t have the personal experience to be able to talk about how it relates to Qigong. However, a number of my students are yoga practitioners by profession, and many of them connect their Qigong practice with their yoga practice. They have found that elements of their Qigong practice complement their yoga practice so that in general, the practices enhance each other.

What is the purpose of your cultivation/Qigong practice?

From the view point of Daoist practioners, the Daoist tradition is the immortal tradition. The purpose of Daoist cultivation practices is to become immortal. This often begs the question of what exactly is meant by immortality. In Chinese, the word for immortal is Xian, which is an image of a person who lives on a mountain. Throughout history, many Daoist masters have referred to themselves as ShanRen– Mountain People – because they spend long hermitages in the mountains (or anywhere in nature), cultivating their true humanity. Another word for immortal is ZhenRen– real or true human being. From the Chinese ideograms, we can see that the concept of an immortal is of one who has cultivated good health, happiness, and humanity and embodies these qualities in everyday life.

The idea of immortality or everlasting life has nothing to do with yearning to live forever. On a superficial level, of course no living being can escape death. Death is simply a part of the universal Five Elements natural cycle. However, death is always accompanied by the process of rebirth. In this way, there is no death. In the Immortal’s tradition, we have an expression – XinSi ShenHuo, which translates into English as “allow your heart to die so that your spirit will live.” I interpret this to mean that by embracing death and bringing it gracefully into our hearts, we understand the knowledge of immortality. This, to me, is enlightenment.

Yes, our lives are short – no matter how long we live, compared with the long stream of the time of the Universe, our lives are just a momentary sparkle. Sometimes, when people physically die, their spirits remain very much alive. The quality of our lives is not measured by the time we spend in this world, but how we learn to transform our personal emotional energy into a force that can help others.

You are also teaching a couple of workshops in the UK in February. They sound very interesting – can you tell us a little more about the practices?

Of course. I am excited to be teaching Fire Dragon Qigong in London and Five Elements Qigong in Oxford. Both are traditional Chinese Qigong forms.

Fire Dragon Qigong embodies the spirit of the rising dragon, which is an auspicious symbol of transformation in Chinese culture. Regular practice of this form establishes free flowing Qi in the 12 meridian systems of the body. It also helps transform areas of stagnation, thereby bringing the physical and emotional bodies into a balanced state of well-being. Actually, according to the Chinese calendar, the year of the Dragon begins on February 4, 2012. I will teach Fire Dragon Qigong that same weekend in honor of the Dragon and the great global transformation that will happen in 2012.

The Five Elements theory lies at the heart of classical Chinese philosophy and healing principles and is the foundation of Chinese cosmology and Chinese medicine. The Five Element Qigong form helps harmonize the Five Element’s Qi in our bodies and organ systems with the Five Element’s Qi of the Universe. Regular practice will help us smoothly navigate change in our lives.

What in your view are the greatest benefits of practice for people looking for a healthier lifestyle?

In the traditional Chinese healing system, the definition of medicine is something that embodies these three qualities: vitality, joy and harmony. Anything may be considered medicine, and doesn’t necessarily have to be a physical object. Instead, medicine is any object, event, thought or action that increases your vital energy, brings you joy (that you then can share with others), and helps you live harmoniously with yourself, with your family and friends (and society as a whole), and with Nature. In Chinese tradition, we consider Jing, Qi and Shen to be the best and most important medicine in the world. The greatest benefit of a regular Qigong practice is that you learn to access and optimize your own best medicine within – your Jing, Qi and Shen – to support your daily life.

Does a knowledge of Chinese medicine increase the benefits of Qigong?

Yes and no. In my experience, everyone who has a regular practice of a traditional Qigong form receives benefits from their practice. In ancient times, Chinese medicine was discovered through the practice of Qigong, and it gave a pathway of understanding the Universe through each individual body. In this way, the benefits of Qigong practice precede formal knowledge of Chinese medicine itself. In modern days, we often go the opposite direction, and use prior knowledge of Chinese medicine to help guide the practice. People who have taken time to study Chinese medicine may have a better idea of the specifics of how the Qigong form is working in their bodies. In spiritual cultivation practice, there is a phenomenon called “knowledge stagnation”, where having a lot of knowledge and thinking too much about what you think the practice will do becomes an obstacle to experiencing what is actually happening. On the other hand, advanced Qigong practitioners can use their knowledge of Chinese medicine to really deepen their practice. Either way, as long as you continue your daily practice with an open heart, Qigong will improve your health and deepen the relationship you have with yourself and with the Universe.

You have for some years been teaching an interesting Lifelong Learning programme, where students spend several days on retreat learning intensively from you. Could you tell us a little about this, and about the change and development you see in the students that follow through the programme?

In China, the traditional relationship between the student and Master is like parent and child, so that the Master can continue to give students guidance and support through their lives. Also, in different stages of practice of even the same Qigong practice, students will experience different phenomena, some subtle and some strong. Having step-by-step guidance helps the students understand the changes and keeps them from getting discouraged.

The purpose of the Qigong lifelong training is to create a family-style community of practitioners who are dedicated to supporting each other in their cultivation practice. We meet annually to share our experiences with the practice and to learn how to go deeper on this path to Enlightenment. Our intensive, week-long retreats provide the opportunity to learn a form in such a way that the practice becomes a part of the students, a part of their body and a part of their spirit, and this makes it easier for the practice to become part of their daily life. The retreats offer a different level of experiential learning than a few hours’ workshop or a weekly class can provide.

Over the last ten years of teaching in the West, I have seen many changes in my students – recovery from a disease process, increased energy, strength and flexibility, uplifted spirits, better relationships with others, healing practitioners who report greater success with helping their patients, etc. It is always nice for me to see how close my students grow towards each other during the retreats and how friendships grow into relationships that feel like family. We enjoy having a big Qi family!

Is Qigong a practice in which progress for all students occurs at roughly the same rate?

Not really. Different people have different bodies, different health conditions, different commitment levels (in terms of daily practice) and so have different experiences with their Qigong practice. Even the same person will have different experiences with their Qigong practice. Sometimes you will experience areas of plateau before you reach the next level, sometimes you will feel like you are moving ‘backwards’ in your progress and suddenly shoot forward, and sometimes it is just steady. After almost 40 years of practice, I feel I learn something new from my practice every day, even from the same form, again, again and again.

Would you tell us a little about your own experience with Qigong? How old were you when you began to practice?

I started to try some Qigong practice when I was about five years old, and began to take my practice really seriously when I was about 11. Originally, I practiced Qigong to have some fun. Surprisingly, I discovered many health benefits through the practice. In my first years of my memory, I was very sick, and every week I would have a terrible fever and my parents would take me to the hospital for medicine. I realized that I didn’t have to use medicine to recover when I was 11, and recovered through my Qigong practice even faster. So, I decided to stop taking any medicine and dedicate myself to my Qigong practice. Also, when I was young, I was very nearsighted and needed glasses. One summer break, I spent about one month in nature, practicing Qigong. At the end of the month, my eyesight improved so much that I didn’t need glasses anymore. Anytime I am feeling sick, have low energy, or something in life happens that affects me on the emotional level, I always practice Qigong and it helps me recover quickly.

Did you find it hard to keep up the practice during your education years, and how did you manage it?

Not at all. I followed the traditional way, as taught by my Masters, and got up early, at 4 am, to practice at least 2 hours every day. I lived on-campus during high school and university, and would be done with my practice before anyone else had gotten up. I always felt like I had more time to do everything I wanted than my classmates did. I think I had more energy than everyone else because of my Qigong practice.

Do you go back to China to visit the Masters who taught you?

Yes. Almost every year I go to China to see my Masters and spend time with them. It is the same way I go to visit my parents, just like family.

I know you are the lineage holder of several lineages. Would you tell us a little about what this means, and how the lineage holder is chosen?

In China, traditional arts and disciplines are passed on through a discipleship system. In this system, the acknowledged Master of a given discipline teaches a small circle of students. Traditionally, the Master will always design many obstacles for the students, making it difficult to continue studying. Most students will drop off because of these obstacles. When the Master feels the time is right, he/she will select the next “lineage holder” from the close-knit circle of students who have had the perseverance to carry on. The lineage holder is then responsible for preserving the entire system of knowledge and passing knowledge to others.

Your beautiful calligraphy appears on the covers of your books – would you tell us a little about the relationship between Qigong and calligraphy?

Calligraphy is a form of Qigong — it is movement within the brush and painting with your breath. When we practice calligraphy, we are working with our three treasures, Jing, Qi and Shen, which is the same as any Qigong practice. When we make a piece of art, we need to have the same three elements found in all traditional Qigong forms – correct posture, breathing and visualization techniques. In fact, in the Daoist tradition, we use the calligraphy brush as a tool for healing and spiritual cultivation. One special kind of calligraphy created by a Master is used as talismans for healing and for FengShui purposes.

It seems it all connects up – Qigong, Healing work, Calligraphy, Qin music, Yijing prediction, FengShui. Do they all support one another?

All of these are different styles of Qi arts and Qi cultivation. These practices are Qi vehicles for human beings to connect to Nature and live in harmony. On a superficial level, these practices may seem different or unrelated, but yes, they do connect up. The entire Universe is like an invisible Qi web, which connects everything. As LaoZi states in his DaoDeJing, the universal web is vast, and nothing can escape from it.

Master Wu, thank you so much for answering all these questions. We truly appreciate it, and the Singing Dragon in London is really looking forward to your visit in February!

Please visit Master Wu’s website at to find out more about his visit to the UK in February 2012 as well as his writing, teaching, music and calligraphy. You can find his four books published with Singing Dragon – Chinese Shamanic Cosmic Orbit Qigong, The 12 Chinese Animals, Seeking the Spirit of the Book of Change, and Vital Breath of the Dao, as well as his DVD Hidden Immortal Lineage Taiji Qigong – on the Singing Dragon website

Master Wu’s Award Winning Book!

Congratulations, Master Wu!

Seeking the Spirit of the Book of Change – 8 Days to Mastering a Shamanic Yijing Prediction System by Master Zhongxian Wu was not only a finalist in the 2009 Foreword Book of the Year Awards, but also won Bronze medal in the independent publisher awards (mind body and spirit category) at the largest publishing event in North America—BookExpo America (BEA)!


Clear and insightful…You hold in your hands one of the finest interpretations of the I Ching on the planet.
–Brian Luke Seaward, Ph.D., author of Stand Like Mountain, Flow Like Water

Publisher’s Product Description

“The Yijing” (“I Ching”) or “Book of Change” is one of the oldest of the Chinese classic texts and has held a key place in the Daoist tradition for thousands of years. Explaining the ancient Yijing system of prediction based on the Xiang (symbolism) and Shu (numerology) knowledge of Bagua (the eight basic trigrams), which have not previously been written about outside China, this book makes the “Yijing” accessible to the Western world in a new and fuller way. In the space of just eight days, Master Zhongxian Wu leads the reader towards a deep understanding of the Eight Trigrams of the “Yijing” and how to apply this knowledge in practical ways in daily life. Master Wu explores the numerology and symbolism of “Yijing” and clearly explains how the reader can use the “Yijing” divination system for themselves. This remarkable book provides a user-friendly eight day program that will be a fascinating read for anyone with an interest in learning more about the “Yijing” or Chinese philosophy and culture as a whole, as well as those who wish to learn how to use the “Yijing” for practical purposes.

When a tree falls in the woods …

When you are sorrowful look into your heart and you shall see that you are weeping for that which has been your delight. (Kahlil Gibran)

In the Chinese 5 Element system of medicine, the Wood element is typically the symbol of spring and new life energy.  The energy of the Wood element is the driving force allowing the potential inherent in the seed, symbolizing pure wisdom and knowledge buried beneath the surface, to burst from the ground and grow towards the sun, the symbol for our heart’s destiny and true path. I find trees inspiring, I appreciate their infinitely inventive strategies, how through twisting, turning, and skirting obstacles, they seem to show great foresight in order to continue their stretch toward the heavens.  They feel benevolent to me, supporting the gracious maturation of generations of animals and insects.  With their upright posture and deep rootedness, they strike me as having a noble quality.  I admire their great strength, so strong, yet with graceful flexibility, they sway and bend in even the most turbulent storms.

One day, after spending time in an ancient forest in the wilds of Alaska, I gained another insight into the nature of the Wood element. Shaken by the chaotic cacophony of a giant tree falling in the woods, I was struck, quite palpably and painfully, by the fragility of life.   It was almost incomprehensible, that something so massive, so strong, and so deeply rooted, could come crashing down to the forest floor.  After hundreds of years, the tree finally released its grip on the earth, and I could not look into the enormous, gaping hole remaining without a sense of anguish.  I found myself wondering how the hole could ever be filled. Marveling at the once totally hidden root system, now exposed in its far-reaching complexities, I was humbled by how shamefully easy it is to take for granted that all goes on beneath the surface.  I felt a sense of grief and heartache for the thousands of organisms that were now displaced — innumerable critters made their home in is roots, on its leaves and branches, relied on its strength and endurance during blustery storms, and sang songs of love from high in its tree tops – what would become of them?  After sitting some time with the fallen Grandfather tree, it became apparent that the forest was still thriving.  Perhaps the tree was simply listening to a Voice calling it home, asking it to return back to the earth from whence it came?  At that moment, it struck me that death is simply a sacrifice we all make, and is an opportunity to become the very source of nourishment for all that is to follow.


  © 2013 Karin Taylor Wu, ND

The Wisdom of Twelve

This is an excerpt from the introduction of my new book, “The 12 Chinese Animals – Create Harmony in Your Daily Life Through Ancient Chinese Medicine”, published by Singing Dragon and ready for purchase in Fall 2010.  It was also recently published in The Empty Vessel, a Eugene, OR based journal on contemporary Daoism.  I hope you enjoy reading about the wisdom of twelve.

The Wisdom of Twelve[1]

Living in harmony within family, among society, and with nature is the ancient Chinese way of life. People in China have been enjoying living in a very harmonious society for thousands of years, since at least the time period of the  Western Zhou Dynasty (1122 BCE – 771 BCE). In Chinese, we have an expression to illustrate this style of life, ye bu bi hu, lu bu shi yi (夜不閉戶, 路不拾遺), which means there is no need to close your door at night when you go to sleep, and you will be able to get your belongings back easily if you lose them because no one will take them away. In ancient China, there were no religions, no police, no taxes, and no lawyers. There was only a special kind of wisdom to guide Chinese people to cultivate their true humanity.  This true humanity contains the spirit of love, compassion, faith, courtesy, justice, and humbleness. With this true humanity, people are able to respect each other, support each other, and create a harmonious community together.

You might wonder what this wisdom is.  This wisdom is still being held in some ancient Chinese classics; Yijing (I Ching), is one of them. Yijing wisdom has guided countless Chinese to live in harmony in their daily life for thousands of years. One of the most important concepts in the Chinese wisdom traditions is trinity; three in one, is one. Yijing contains three secret and sacred layers of wisdom: symbology, numerology, and philosophy. This book will give you a little taste of this ancient Chinese wisdom.  By understanding the twelve animal symbols and twelve tidal hexagrams from Yijing wisdom, you will be able to learn a way to find your inner peace and live in harmony with your family, your community, and with nature

The wisdom of Yijing is vast; it looks like a tree of the universe. The roots of the tree embrace the entire earth and the tips of the tree hold the whole heavenly realm. There is a very tiny branch on this tree, called the twelve animal symbols system, which is related to your birth, your energetic life cycle or destiny, twelve tidal hexagrams of Yijing, and the cycle of nature. It is also a small sub-branch of the Yijing prediction system. As I emphasized in the Afterword of my book Seeking the Spirit of The Book of Change: 8 Days to Mastering a Shamanic Yijing (I Ching) Prediction SystemYijing prediction is magic, but it is also an art, a way of life, a way of nature, and it is a way of the universe. It is a way to express the great universal compassion, which gives birth to all beings and protects them.[2] The spirit of Yijing prediction or Change is to help people find a way to Change their lives and experience living in a consistently peaceful state, especially during difficult situations.  This prediction system provides a way for people to live in harmony.

Life is magic! Twelve animal symbols of Yijing wisdom is a way to help you to understand this magic, to help you live a harmonious life. In this book, I will share with you how these twelve animal symbols can help you understand your destiny.  By using the wisdom of the animal symbols as guides, you will be able to better understand your personality, and make choices that influence your health, relationships, career, finances, the colors you wear, and the food you eat, so that you live up to your greatest potential. It will be easier for you to apply the wisdom of the twelve animal symbols in your life if I provide you with  some fundamentals about the number 12, Chinese astrology and animal symbols, and the 8 trigrams and 12 tidal hexagrams of Yijing.

I. Numerological Meanings of 12

In ancient times, people lived closer to the cycles of nature and followed the way of nature. This harmonious lifestyle is patterned in a Chinese phrase, ri chu er zuo, ri luo er xi 日出而作,日落而息, which means ‘Sunrise, go to work; sunset, go to rest.’ Through their observation of nature, ancient Chinese understood 12 as an important number in their daily life.

In Chinese, the number 12 is Shier十二. It is a symbol for the universal clock, i.e. Shier Chen十二辰, representing both time and space. In Chinese cosmology, we certainly recognize the number twelve as contained in the twelve Chen辰 in a day (1 Chen is equal to two hour segments), the twelve months of a year, the twelve spiritual animals related to the Chinese zodiac, and the 12 years of a life cycle. The number 12 is described as the twelve Earthly Branches in Chinese tradition. The branches are representative of the waxing and waning of the two primal energies of Yin and Yang throughout daily or yearly cycles. As I explained in my book, Vital Breath of the Dao, the chaotic primordial Qi gave birth to two types of Qi:  heavy Qi and light Qi.  These two types moved in opposite directions.  The heavy Qi, Yin Qi descended to form the Earth, while the light Qi, Yang, rose to form Heaven.  These terms, Yin and Yang, allow people to understand any phenomena as the expression of opposites.[3] For example, in the cycles of nature, you have to understand the concept of night which is considered Yin, in order to understand the concept of day, which is considered Yang.  It is said that the knowledge of twelve Earthly Branches comes from ancient Chinese through thousands of years of observing astronomical phenomena.

The number twelve represents the energetic changes our bodies experience in a twelve Chen day, the twelve months of a year, and 12 years of a life cycle. In Chinese medicine, the number 12 also corresponds to the 12 organ meridian systems in the human body.  The human body itself is seen as a microcosmic representation of the macrocosm of the Universe. The number twelve stands for the 12 different energy patterns found in nature. Ancient Chinese shamans used the 12 tidal hexagrams of Yijing to describe the 12 energetic patterns of the microcosm (the human body) and the macrocosm (nature, and the Universe at large).

II. Chinese Astrology and 12 Animal Symbols

Are you familiar with Chinese astrology? You may think of the twelve animals of the zodiac commonly printed on restaurant menus. In actuality, Chinese astrology is vastly more complicated than this.

In the West, most information available to the public on how to find your Chinese animal symbol is incomplete and misleading. Many Chinese animal sign or horoscope books and popular websites will tell you that each animal symbol starts from the Chinese New Year in the Chinese Lunar calendar. This is, in fact, an incorrect method to find your animal symbol.

Generally speaking when most people talk about Chinese animal symbols, they are referring to the yearly animal symbol. For instance, if you were born in 1951, most readily available resources will tell you that your animal symbol is Rabbit, based on the assumption that 1951 is the Year of Rabbit in the Chinese zodiac system. Actually, being born in 1951 does not always mean you will have Rabbit as your animal symbol. Furthermore, according to Chinese astrology, you have at least 4 animal symbols in your birth chart! The yearly animal symbol is related to the energetic year in which you were born, the monthly animal symbol is related to the energetic month in which you were born, the daily animal symbol is related to the energetic day in which you were born, and the hourly animal symbol is related to the energetic hour in which you were born. I emphasize the energetic year, month, day, and hour because they are different concepts than those of the regular solar calendar.

Chinese Astrology is based on ancient Chinese cosmology and the Five Elements theory. Each individualized chart is a life reading that gives insight into a person’s past, present, and future. Through the chart, one can obtain guidance about health, career, relationships, and more.

An individual Chinese astrology chart is constructed with a Heavenly Stem and Earthly Branch for each year, month, date, and time of birth. The combination of a Heavenly Stem and Earthly Branch for each parameter is called One Pillar; all together they are called the SiZhu or Four Pillars. Each Pillar is composed of a Heavenly Stem and an Earthly Branch.  Thus, there are two characters per Pillar. With a total of Four Pillars, the entire chart is composed of eight characters. As such, the name for Chinese astrology is BaZi (eight characters).

It is said that Heavenly Stems and Earthly Branches existed even before the invention of the Chinese characters, which the oldest recorded evidence dates back to 8000 years ago.[4] Numerous examples of the symbols for the Stems and Branches are seen in the unearthed ancient Chinese oracle bones from the Shang Dynasty (1766 to 1111 BCE).

As you can see, for any particular individual, there will be eight characters (BaZi) that reflect his or her personal energies. These are derived from all the Heavenly Stems and Earthly Branches, within the Four Pillars, that support the body. In other words, by understanding the energy of the macrocosmic Universe at a particular time, we can understand the microcosm of the individual.

In Chinese tradition, we commonly use the 12 animal symbols to represent the 12 Earthly Branches in the astrological chart, because it is easier for people to understand their destiny through the symbolic meaning of the animals. These 12 animal symbols are Rat, Ox, Tiger, Rabbit, Dragon, Snake, Horse, Goat, Monkey, Rooster, Dog, and Pig. In The Beginning of this book, I will introduce the way to find your fundamental power animal symbols. You will then be able to learn the wisdom of your personal animals in subsequent chapters, which will support you living in harmony with your family and friends, your community, and with nature.

III. Eight Trigrams, 12 Tidal Hexagrams, and the Cycle of Nature

There are 12 very important hexagrams in Yijing system, known as the 12 tidal hexagrams. Each hexagram represents the energetic pattern of its related animal symbol in Chinese astrology. We often use the wisdom of these tidal hexagrams to give people guidance during a consultation.  Bagua, or Eight Trigrams, form the basis of Yijing. The entire Yijing text book is made of 64 hexagrams, and each hexagram is made up of two trigrams. Let me share some information about the trigrams before we further discuss the 12 tidal hexagrams.  I hope it will help you better understand each hexagram in this book.

Bagua is the model of the universe. Everything in existence, including every part of the body, can be classified by one of the trigrams. Ancient shamans understood this connection and they brought this connection into their interpretations of their divinations.[5] Trigrams are symbols made up of three lines, representing Heaven, Earth, and the Human Being, and reflect the universal energy. The Eight Trigrams are: Qian 乾 (Heaven), Dui 兌 (Marsh or Lake), Li 離 (Fire), Zhen 震 (Thunder), Xun 巽 (Wind), Kan 坎 (Water), Gen 艮 (Mountain), and Kun 坤 (Earth). Each line in a trigram will be either a solid line (–) or a broken line (–). The solid line is called the Yang 陽 line and the broken line is called the Yin 陰 line.

Now, let us let take a look some information about the 12 tidal hexagrams. The 12 tidal hexagrams are used to depict the energetic cycle of nature.  In Chinese, we call these hexagrams Shier Xiaoxi Gua 十二消息卦. Shier means twelve, while Xiao means decrease, reduce, waning, and xi means increase, gain, waxing; together, Xiaoxi means information, waxing and waning of the tides, or the changing faces of the moon. Gua means trigram or hexagram. In general, we translate Shier Xiaoxi Gua 12 tidal hexagrams.

These 12 tidal hexagrams stand for different energetic stages of the cycles of nature or life patterns. These 12 hexagrams help us to understand the 12 month yearly cycle of nature, to learn the 12 meridian systems of the body, and to make sense of the different stages of the life. The 12 tidal hexagrams are: Fu 復 (Rebirth), Lin 臨 (Deliver), Tai 泰 (Balance), DaZhuang 大壯 (Prosper), Guai 叏 (Transform), Qian 乾 (Strengthen), Gou 媾 (Copulate), Dun 遁 (Retreat), Pi 否 (Break), Guan 觀 (Observe), Bo 剝 (Peel), and Kun 坤 (Flow). These 12 also reflect the continuous cycle of energy change, for example, the rhythm of day turning into night, or the change of seasons.

You can look at the energetic pattern of the 12 hexagrams together and see that they depict a pattern of steadily increasing, then decreasing intensity.  This is the natural wave pattern of life.

Hexagram Fu 復 (Recover) Lin 臨 (Deliver), Tai 泰 (Balance), DaZhuang 大壯 (Prosper), Guai 叏 (Transform) Qian 乾 (Strengthen), represent the six waxing stages of the rising Yang energy pattern, until Yang reaches its peak.

Hexagram Gou 媾 (Copulate) Dun 遁 (Retreat) Pi 否 (Break) Guan 觀 (Observe Bo 剝 (Peel) Kun 坤 (Flow) illustrate the Yang energy dropping to its nadir and Yin energy rising to its zenith in the six stages of the declining Yang energy pattern.

Together, these 12 tidal hexagrams symbolize a perfect wave of life. I am sure that all of us have experienced times of great joy and times of sorrow. No one could live in their climax of life all the time. The Yijing wisdom of these 12 tidal hexagrams gives us great guidance to live harmoniously through different life stages. We will discuss some details of the hexagrams as they relate to their associated animal symbol later in this book. Traditionally, these 12 hexagrams are also used to describe your energy state during specific internal cultivation practices like meditation, Qigong and Taiji. I will share different internal cultivation methods connected with the 12 tidal hexagrams at the end of each chapter in the book. I hope you will be able to use the practices to better understand the wisdom the 12 animal symbols and the 12 tidal hexagrams, and to strengthen your life force and find your inner peace.

The chart below illustrates the aforementioned correspondences.

NumberOrder Earthly Branch Animal Hexagram Chen/Time Meridian
1 Zi Rat Fu 復 (Rebirth) 23:00 – 00:59 Gall bladder
2 Chou Ox Lin 臨 (Deliver) 01:00 – 02:59 Liver
3 Yin Tiger Tai 泰 (Balance) 03:00 – 04:59 Lung
4 Mao Rabbit DaZhuang 大壯 (Prosper) 05:00 – 06:59 Large intestine
5 Chen Dragon Guai 叏 (Transform) 07:00 – 08:59 Stomach
6 Si Snake Qian 乾 (Strengthen) 09:00 – 10:59 Spleen
7 Wu Horse Gou 媾 (Copulate) 11:00 – 12:59 Heart
8 Wei Goat Dun 遁 (Retreat) 13:00 – 14:59 Small intestine
9 Shen Monkey Pi 否 (Break) 15:00 – 16:59 Bladder
10 You Rooster Guan 觀 (Observe) 17:00 – 18:59 Kidney
11 Xu Dog Bo 剝 (Peel) 19:00 – 20:59 Pericardium
12 Hai Pig Kun 坤 (Flow) 21:00 – 22:59 Triple burner


Karin Elizabeth Taylor Wu provided editorial assistance for this article.

© 2010-2013 Zhongxian Wu

[1] This article is part of the Introduction of Master Wu’s new book, Twelve Chinese Animal Symbols.

[2] Wu, Zhongxian. Seeking the Spirit of The Book of Change: 8 Days to Mastering a Shamanic Yijing (I Ching) Prediction System. London: Singing Dragon. 2009: 213

[3] Wu, Zhongxian. Vital Breath of the Dao – Chinese Shamanic Tiger Qigong. St. Paul: Dragon Door Publication. 2006: 56

[4] Wu, Zhongxian. Vital Breath of the Dao – Chinese Shamanic Tiger Qigong. St. Paul: Dragon Door Publication. 2006: 10

[5] Wu, Zhongxian. Seeking the Spirit of The Book of Change: 8 Days to Mastering a Shamanic Yijing (I Ching) Prediction System. London: Singing Dragon. 2009: 67

The Year of the Tiger

This is an excerpt from my latest book, “The 12 Chinese Animals – Create Harmony in Your Daily Life Through Ancient Chinese Wisdom”, which will be published by Singing Dragon and available for purchase this coming fall.  I hope you enjoy reading about the Tiger!

Tiger and Tai (Balance)

1. Introduction

In the West, most information available to the public on how to find your Chinese animal symbol is incomplete and misleading. Many Chinese animal sign or horoscope books and popular websites will tell you that each animal symbol starts from the Chinese New Year in the Chinese Lunar calendar. This is, in fact, an incorrect method to find your animal symbol.

Generally speaking when most people talk about Chinese animal symbols, they are referring to the yearly animal symbol. According to Chinese astrology, you have at least four animal symbols in your birth chart! The yearly animal symbol is related to the energetic year in which you were born, the monthly animal symbol is related to the energetic month in which you were born, the daily animal symbol is related to the energetic day in which you were born, and the hourly animal symbol is related to the energetic hour in which you were born. I emphasize the energetic year, month, day, and hour because they are different concepts than those of the regular solar calendar. For instance, LiChun 立春 is the marker for an energetic year animal symbol. LiChun means the beginning of spring season, and it is one of the 24 JieQi. In Chinese cosmology, we divide one year into 24 JieQi, with each JieQi lasting approximately 15 days. In English, we commonly translate JieQi as Solar Term or Segment.  24 JieQi symbolize the 24 sun positions in the sky and the 24 energetic patterns of a year.

LiChun time of 2010 is February 4 at 06:47, which is the moment the energetic year for 2010, a Tiger year, begins.  This Tiger year will end following LiChun on February 4, 2011, at 12:32. This article will share with the wisdom of the Tiger symbol and its associated Yijing hexagram, Tai.

2. Tiger

The tiger has a wild nature and needs a big space or territory for living. Tigers act slowly and carefully while stalking their prey, and move very quickly and with great power once they start to attack. In the Chinese tradition, Tiger is a symbol for caution, valiance, power, optimism, attraction, and ambition. It is the third animal symbol in the 12 Chinese Animals System. We use Yin寅to represent the Tiger symbol in the 12 Earthly Branches. Yin represents dawn in the daily cycle, and the first month of spring in the annual cycle. It can represent either a time or a place in which Yang energy (life energy) is awakening its new stage in a new life cycle.  We use the tidal hexagram Tai to symbolize Tiger.

Having a Tiger animal symbol in your Chinese birth chart suggests that you are careful, graceful, powerful, enthusiastic, friendly, and attractive.  As a Tiger animal person, you have great caution and vitality, which will help you achieve your goals. You have strong desire to get things done once you have a plan formulated. You have a tendency to be very direct when you communicate with others, so you would be wise to learn to sometimes express yourself in a softer way.  Doing so will help you reach your destination, no matter how difficult the situation is.

General speaking, you have pretty good luck in life. People will gladly support your leadership if you show respect for differing opinions. You would do well to choose an independent job, like being your own boss, a writer, designer, or organizer.  When you work directly with people, remember to continually cultivate your tranquility and flexibility; otherwise, you may come across as being haughty or angry. The important thing for you to remember if you are in a relationship is to learn how to assuage your anger and to truly honor your partner’s opinions.

If Tiger is your yearly animal symbol, you are elegant, graceful, and talented. You have potential to do great things by helping others. Please cultivate your patience and do not to be egotistical when you are in your flourishing time, otherwise, your life might take a turn for the worse. .

I will categorize some general Tiger features here for your further interest.

Personality: You are careful, graceful, powerful, enthusiastic, friendly, and attractive, and can sometimes be easily angered, have difficulties taking advice, or have challenges with authority. You take great vigilance before you move into actions that will help you achieve your goals. You are vivacious, like fast growing spring bamboo shoots, which will help you achieve your ambitions. Your emotions can also act just like bamboo in your garden, quickly taking over all the space if left uncontrolled. So, please practice being calm and flexible, in order to help you cool down your firey desire. Managing your firey nature will help you reach your destination, no matter how difficult the situation may be.

Health: You have strong life energy and good health potential. It might weaken your immune system if you suffer from an unresolved grief. Also, being easy to anger can potentially cause a weakness in your gallbladder system and/or problems with your thyroid.  Relax and cultivate more peace in your daily life — this will greatly benefit your health.

Relationship: A Horse, Dog, or Pig person may be your soul mate, or at least can be your very close friend. A Rabbit or Dragon person will make a great business partner for you.  Be careful around a Snake person because it is easy to have some conflicts between the two of you. Try to make peace with a Monkey person – sometimes, you to get into fights for no real reason. You will have simple relationships with other animal symbol people.

Career: With your good leadership qualities and cautious character, you can suit yourself well as a writer, designer, organizer, or as a self-employed person.

Finance: You have good luck with money. Not only can you can easily make money by your efforts, but you also have some chance at coming into an inheritance.

Color: Green is your spirit’s original color, and will always help you feel deeply connected with your spirit. Red is the color that will help you find your own potential energy and talent. Dressing in red color when you have an important social activity, such as public speaking or lecturing, will help bring your talent out. White color will help you feel grounded. As yellow or brown is your financial color, these two colors will bring you good luck in your finances – so have some of them in your office! Black is your spiritual source color, and having it in your cultivation room or bed room will nourish your body physically and spiritually.

Food: White color vegetables, pungent spices (like garlic and onion), fermented foods, mulberries, poultry and wild bird game are good for you.

3. Tai (Balance)

Tai is the tidal hexagram that represents the energetic pattern of the Tiger animal symbol. The Chinese character Tai means stable, great, maximum, safe, peaceful, luxurious, arrogant, and balance. The symbol of the hexagram is made with three Yang lines at the bottom and with three Yin lines on top.  This symbol represents Yang Qi, or life energy, getting stronger than the previous pattern Lin, in a natural cycle. The combination of three Yin lines and three Yang lines within the hexagram indicates the balance state of Yin and Yang. Tai represents the time or place where you can easily achieve your goals because you feel comfortable, peaceful, and harmonious.

In an annual cycle, Tai represents the Yin month, which occurs from approximately February 4th to March 6th in a solar calendar. This is the first month of spring season according to Chinese cosmology. It is also the time that new sprouts and buds are growing, and when hibernating animals are awakening in certain parts of the northern hemisphere. It is the season where nature begins to show signs of the new cycle starting. Yin symbolizes showing off your energy or talent during peaceful times or situations, just as it is the time when nature bursts forth with new life energy and shows off its beauty during the spring months.  Yin also represents the wisdom of choosing the right environment to be able to accomplish your life mission.

Let us discover more information about Tai from Yijing wisdom. Hexagram Tai is made up of two trigrams, the top trigram is Kun (Earth) and the bottom trigram is Qian (Heaven). It is an image of Heaven below the Earth. Heaven is the symbol for circulating and strengthening new life energy or power. Again, Earth is the symbol for holding yourself stable or centering your mind. Hexagram Tai is a harmonious energetic pattern of Heaven and Earth, in which the Heavenly Qi (rain) is descending and the Earthly Qi is ascending. It is image of a powerful person with a gentle attitude. Tai is also the image of you in meditation:  Steady your body and mind, then regulate your breathing to be slow, smooth, deep and even.  Bring your breath into your Dantian (lower belly) in order to circulate your Qi.  This will allow you to feel your Qi free flowing in your body to maintain balance and peace in your whole physical and spiritual body.

4. Conclusion

The wisdom of the Tiger symbol and its related hexagram Tai, Balance, advises us that we should be gentle, soft, and humble in our power and hold our strength within, no matter who we communicating with. It also tells us that a balanced or harmonious situation is always made with Yin energy embracing the Yang energy, or the soft embracing the hard. This same principle applies to health as well.  If you can learn to keep your inner spirit strong, while maintaining a relaxed body and mind, it will be easier to preserve your health and to recover from illness. The reason all traditional Qigong forms have powerful healing functions is because the practices follow this Tai philosophy. I hope you can try some inner cultivation with me at Tai time; it is a time for you to be aware of your inner power and wisdom, and to bring balance to your life:

At anytime when you need help bringing balance to your life, or when you want to enhance a current state of balance in your life, light a candle in front of you and start this meditation.

First straighten your back and feel that your body is stable like a mountain. Then, make the Tai mudra by placing each thumb on the palmer crease of the index finger. The palmer crease of the index finger is related to hexagram Tai.  Keeping your fingers relaxed and close together, please place your left palm close to your navel, facing earth,  and place your right palm, facing heaven, above your head. Adjust your breathing to be slow, smooth, deep, and even. Feel each breath connecting with your skin, small intestines, stomach, and gallbladder. Meditate as long as you can. Before ending, please say a little prayer –

“May the Spiritual Lights transform all the grief energy to joy,

May the Spiritual Lights transform my ego to have great compassion,

May the Spiritual Lights transform all conflicts in the world to bring balance and peace!”

© 2010 Zhongxian Wu

Balancing the Effects of Emotional Trauma

Each of us is a wholly unique individual.  It only makes sense, then, that each person’s health challenges are uniquely tailored to best suit their distinct set of needs. As such, in our view, there is no definitive natural medicine ‘protocol’ for any one condition.  However, there are several predictable patterns in many patients suffering from psychological stress.  Below find a brief synopsis of our approach.

The three main physiologic systems we find need to be supported in people experiencing psychological stress are the gastrointestinal system, the endocrine system and the nervous system.  When multiple systems are affected, it is essential that the patient recognize that re-establishing homeostasis within the body is a process that necessarily takes time, often years, to completely take hold.

The gastrointestinal system:

The cornerstone of every health care program recommended by the practitioners of Blue Willow Health Center is promoting a strong foundation for health by prescribing dietary and lifestyle changes specific to each individual’s biochemistry, biomechanics, emotional and hereditary predispositions. We find that a great many people with multi-system imbalances experience an exacerbation of symptoms when eating common food allergens, namely gluten, dairy and caffeine.  Until we discover and address the underlying cause of the food sensitivities, we strongly recommend patients avoid aggravating foods.  We emphasize the important link between the nervous system and gastrointestinal system:  the enteric nervous system is a collection of over 100 million nerves (more than are found within the spinal cord) that sends and receives impulses, records experiences and respond to emotions. It is a network of neurons, neurotransmitters, proteins and a complex circuitry that enables it to act independently, learn and even remember.  The enteric nervous system plays a major role in our emotional lives.  For example, major neurotransmitters such as serotonin, dopamine, glutamate, norepinephrine and nitric oxide, are found there, as are enkephalins (a member of the endorphins family) and benzodiazepines – the family of psychoactive chemicals that includes such ever popular drugs as valium and xanax.  It is our medical opinion that addressing GI health is paramount when treating those with debilitating psychological and/or emotional issues.

Aside from identifying and eliminating food sensitivities, here are some other mainstays of promoting GI health:

  • Food hygiene:  It is important to sit down to eat regularly timed, well balanced meals, and to chew eat bite thoroughly.  We recommend patients NOT eat in front of the television, while reading (or even worse, while driving), so that the body can focus its energies on digesting and assimilating the meal.  We advise people to prepare most of their meals at home, preferably purchasing local, organic foods.  We also suggest eating 5 cups of brightly colored vegetables a day, with at least one serving of dark green leafy vegetables.

(Although we strongly recommend staying well hydrated (with a baseline water intake of one half the body weight in ounces per day), we do not recommend drinking beverages while eating).

  • Apple cider vinegar:  Drink 1/2 teaspoon, in water, 10-20 minutes before each meal to stimulate the digestive process, thereby enhancing absorption of nutrients.
  • Daily probiotics are recommended to help repopulate the gut with healthy bacteria, a balance all to often disturbed by the widespread misuse of antibiotics and the depletion of minerals in our soils.
  • Castor oil packs, nightly, over abdomen will not only stimulate lymphatic flow (which optimizes immune function), stimulate liver function (to enhance detoxification and metabolism of hormones), but also promotes relaxation before bed to assist in the body’s ability to fall into deep, restorative sleep.

The endocrine system:

Cortisol, the so-called ‘fight or flight’ hormone, is excreted by the adrenal glands in response to stress.  Bombarded with the daily stress of a modern, fast paced lifestyle, the addition of constant emotional or psychological stress will place an undue burden on the adrenal glands, which are incessantly trying to keep up with the stress by pumping out more cortisol.  Sustained, excess cortisol causes a host of medical problems, eventually causing decreased or improper functioning within the entire endocrine system.  The number one way to support a challenged endocrine system is to establish a daily routine, thereby allowing the body the opportunity to re-learn how to function in a predictable manner.  All life adheres to relatively predictable rhythms…diurnal, lunar, seasonal, annual, etc.  Evolutionarily, we are programmed to live in tune with the rhythms of nature.  It is only relatively recently that humans have begun to control their environment in such as way that we no longer abide by these natural rhythms.  By a regular meal time, sleep and exercise routine, the body will not have compounded stress of not knowing when then next meal is coming, when it will have time to excrete waste products, or if it will be getting adequate and restful sleep.  This measured predictability will ensure the body will have an easier time bouncing back from the inevitable vicissitudes of life.

Other recommendations for promoting endocrine balance:

  • Sleeping at least 7 hours each night, in total darkness.  Sleeping in total darkness is strongly suggested because light — even from a night light — suppresses the function of the pineal gland. The intricacies of the workings of the pineal gland are still undiscovered, yet we it is vitally important in regulating hormonal balance.  René Descartes, who dedicated much time to the study of the pineal gland, called it the “seat of the soul”, and believed that it was the point of connection between the intellect and the body.  Today, we know that melatonin is produced by the brain’s pineal gland.  Melatonin is important in the regulation of the circadian rhythms of several biological functions, and is also a pervasive and powerful antioxidant with a particular role in the protection of nuclear and mitochondrial DNA.
  • B vitamins are generally associated with brain and nervous-system function by having a direct effect on important neurotransmitters in the brain, such as serotonin, norepinephrine and dopamine, and generally decline under stress as a result of increased cortisol level.
  • Magnesium: It is well known that stress increases the body’s need for magnesium. In fact, genetic differences in magnesium utilization may account for differences in body responses to stress.

The nervous system:

Along with regulating the functioning of the entire body, the nervous system effectively monitors stress in the body.  If the nervous system senses that a situation is stressful, it causes physiological changes within the body to occur.  Some of these physiological changes include increased respiratory rate, accompanied by shallow breathing, increased heart rate, and the release of adrenaline and cortisol into the bloodstream.  This is the response of the sympathetic nervous system, also known as the fight or flight response.  All these changes are necessary for the body in sudden stressful situations, but are extremely damaging to the health when experienced chronically.  If the sympathetic nervous system is constantly telling the body to be on a state of high alert, the parasympathetic nervous system is unable to direct the body to calm down and relax.  It is in the state of relaxation, the parasympathetic state, that we ensure proper oxygenation of the blood and tissues, repair and regenerate damaged tissues and cells, and digest and assimilate nutrients.  For optimal health, it is vital that each of us establish a balance between the activity of the sympathetic and parasympathetic nervous systems.  To promote a parasympathetic state, we have each patient focus on at least 108 deep, full breaths a day.  Breathing correctly is critical in maintaining the level of oxygen for energy, keeping the correct pH levels in the body, and enough carbon dioxide for bodily functions.  The improper balance of oxygen and carbon dioxide created by shallow breathing can create an agitated state, and is known to contribute to anxiety, panic attacks and even phobias.

Other common ways to balance the nervous system:

  • Plenty of essential fatty acids, both in the form of freshly ground flax, pumpkin, sesame and sunflower seeds (eaten daily) and of high quality fish oils (EPA, DHA and Cod liver oil).  Essential fatty acids play a critical role in the functioning of the central nervous system.  Investigations have linked omega-3 fatty acids to a number of neuropsychiatric disorders.
  • Routine, B vitamins and magnesium work on this level as well.

Natural medicine is an art form:  there are no panacea or magic bullets in this system of wholistic medicine.  Each individual has his or her own unique set of symptoms and reactions which will, in turn, dictate the approach the practitioners at Blue Willow Health Center take to creating an individualized treatment plan.  Aside from these basic lifestyle recommendations and supplement suggestions, we specialize in gentle and effective supportive therapies geared towards restoring normal physiology.  As wholistic practitioners, we recognize that physical, emotional and spiritual aspects of imbalance must be addressed to uncover the underlying cause of the imbalance, and often work in collaboration with trained mental health specialists.  At Blue Willow Health Center, our goal is to inspire, motivate and empower each patient to make healthy choices a part of daily life.  We spend time cultivating relationships with each patient, teaching them the principles of ideal health, so that together, we restore physiologic homeostasis.  This is the path towards optimal health.

© 2013 Karin Taylor Wu, ND

Magnificent Magnesium

It is becoming increasingly evident that keeping the level of minerals in balance in every tissue, fluid cell and organ in the human body is a vital aspect of establishing and maintaining optimal health.  On the cellular level, an imbalance in minerals is one of the basic causes of degenerative disease.  As a result of unsound food production practices and the rampant over-processing of our food, many people in the in the United States are extremely deficient in minerals.  According to the National Academy of Sciences in Washington, D.C., approximately 70% of the US population suffers from a particular mineral deficiency: magnesium.  Magnesium deficiency is considered one of the most under-diagnosed deficiencies in the US.[1] Over the past century, as the mainstay of our collective diet has moved away from whole grains, green vegetables and legumes, there has been a progressive decline in dietary intake of magnesium in the US, from an average daily intake of approximately 475 mg in 1900 to 175 mg in 1987.[2]

Why is magnesium important?

Magnesium is one the most abundant minerals found in our bodies.  It is essential for the functioning of over 300 different enzymes in the body, particularly those that produce, transport, store, and utilize energy.   Imagine, for a bleak moment, what would befall the world’s plants (and some photosynthesizing bacteria) without adequate sunlight…goodbye, springtime resurgence of new life energy and regeneration.  Ugh!  This is on par with what would happen to your body without sufficient levels of magnesium.  All the DNA and RNA in each one of the approximately 10 trillion cells in our bodies require magnesium for growth and development, the functioning of all our nerves and muscles (including our heart muscle and all the muscles that line our digestive tract and blood vessels), and the regulation of serotonin (the neurotransmitter responsible for regulation of mood, appetite, sleep, muscle contraction, and cognitive functions like memory and learning) depend on adequate levels of magnesium.

Which health concerns are associated with magnesium deficiency?

Here is an incomplete list of health conditions associated with magnesium deficiency:  Various mental and emotional imbalances (e.g. anxiety and panic attacks, attention deficit disorder, depression, irritability, bipolar disorder, sleep disorders, PMS), Alzheimer’s disease, asthma, blood sugar imbalances, chronic fatigue syndrome, constipation, diabetes mellitus, fibromyalgia, heart disease, hypertension, hyperthyroid, infertility, inflammation, lead toxicity, malabsorption, nerve problems and muscle spasms (e.g. migraines, leg and foot cramps, gastrointestinal cramps, generalized muscle aches and pains), obstetrical problems, osteoporosis, oxidative damage and sudden infant death syndrome.  Phew!

How can I make sure I am getting enough magnesium?

Magnesium is found in abundance in whole, unprocessed foods (especially in green vegetables, chlorella, sea vegetables, whole grains and legumes).  First and foremost, reduce your intake of packaged, processed and refined foods, and focus more on home cooked meals, always moving towards a whole foods lifestyle.  It is also important to be aware that as your intake of dietary calcium, vitamin D, animal protein and alcohol increases, so does your body’s magnesium requirements.  Also, a number of drugs (e.g. antibiotics, chemotherapeutic drugs, cyclosporine, corticosteroids, and long term use of laxatives) have been shown to induce magnesium deficiency.  Along with a well-balanced diet (with a minimal of 300 mg daily, while striving for 600-800 mg a day, from whole food sources), we recommend supplementing with a biological dose of magnesium, about 150 mg (as opposed to a substantially larger pharmacologic dose which is unlikely to be utilized by the body), taken in split doses through out the day.  Given that thiamine is critical for magnesium metabolism, and that several studies show that magnesium is synergistic (more powerful) when partnered with vitamin B6, finding a combination supplement (Magnesium with thiamine and B6) is a good idea.

Case in point

A 35 year old woman came to us suffering from 6 months of prolonged PMS (experiencing 2 weeks of painful, swollen breasts and abdominal bloating, sugar cravings and the resulting discomforts of living as though on an emotional rollercoaster), dysmenorrhea (with debilitating uterine cramps that radiated down to the upper thighs, low back pain, muscle weakness and light headedness), and mild insomnia due to night time rumination (excessive worrying at night as soon as the head hits the pillow).  Although she already had many great health habits firmly in place (clean diet with healthy food choices, regular and varied exercise, and consistent stress management practices), she needed some counseling on her on eating lean protein at every meal to help balance mood and blood sugar (thereby reducing sugar cravings), and more support around avoiding her known food sensitivities (namely gluten and dairy).  We recommended a rotation of freshly ground seeds (flax/pumpkin and sesame/sunflower) and essential fatty acids (fish oil and evening primrose oil) with her menstrual cycle to help regulate her hormones.  We also suggested she begin taking 150 mg of a combination magnesium powder (dissolved in warm water), taken in a single dose before bed (to help calm her over active mind).  After just one month, the magnesium helped regulate her body’s water balance so that both the swollen breasts and abdominal bloating were no longer an issue.  With her hormones closer to a balanced state, her emotional lability (easily aroused and unpredictable emotions) shortened to just two days before bleeding.  As for muscle cramping, her menstrual cramping reduced to more a tolerable level with no pain radiating to her upper thighs.  Both she and her family feel grateful and relieved!  From this brief symptom picture, we already have clues that show us that our patient is likely to need long term support of her digestive system, her liver function, endocrine system, Qi (vital energy) and blood flow, and in addressing the deep seated fear that arises when she is in a vulnerable state, keeping her up at night…the healing journey continues!

In conclusion…

At Blue Willow, we passionately believe in the power of the triad to find and address underlying imbalances that are contributing to your experience of any troubling or uncomfortable symptoms.  Three is indeed, the magic number!  Most of you are familiar with the concept of layers of healing — meaning true healing only occurs once balance is restored to the body, mind and spirit.  In traditional Chinese medicine, we emphasize drawing on the strength of Three Treasures within each of us, our Jing, Qi and Shen (essence, vital energy and spirit), to return to a place of optimal health. At Blue Willow, we believe in establishing a long term relationship with each person seeking our support, so that we may offer the deepest and most comprehensive levels of care we can.  If you are over-stressed, experience anxiety, fatigue, muscle pain, muscle spasms, or PMS, you may do well to consider supplementing with magnesium for a month to see if you can reduce some of your uncomfortable symptoms.  More importantly, we hope you will consider the potent, scientifically demonstrated health promoting effects of just this one mineral – magnificent magnesium – and will begin to implement some daily lifestyle changes that will help ensure optimal health for your body, your community, and your planet.

© 2013 Karin Taylor Wu, ND

[1] Standing Committee on the Scientific Evaluation of Dietary Reference Intakes.  Dietary Reference Intakes for Calcium, Phosphorus, Magnesium, Vitamin D, and Fluoride. Washington, DC National Academy of Sciences, 1997.

[2] Magnesium deficiency in the pathogenesis of disease, New York: Plenum Press, 1980.