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Is It Tao or Dao?

Is it Tao te Ching or Dao de Jing? The spelling of Chinese words is confusing and inconsistent. Here’s an explanation.

Chinese writing consists of simplified images called pictograms, which represent words. Many Chinese pictograms combine two or more images. So the word for forest is simply a few trees combined into one pictogram. The choices within a pictogram can say a lot more about a word than what Western letters communicate.

A good example of this is the word Tao, the Way (seen above). It combines the image of taking a step and that of a head. You walk using your head – both when choosing a direction and in learning from the walk. One could say that it’s a way for mind and body to align. A spiritual path, if you will.

Pictograms illustrate the meaning of a word while analyzing the history and origin of the word. But it doesn’t help much in pronunciation or spelling.

The Western alphabet is all about pronunciation. In Western language, there is pretty much a consensus about how each letter is pronounced. Chinese pronunciation isn’t based on the Western letters and their sounds; in fact, the Chinese have sounds that differ slightly from the ones we are accustomed to. Again, Tao is a good example.

The sound for “T” is pronounced somewhere between a “T” and a “D” in our ears, somewhere between the unvoiced and voiced consonant. It was translated as “Tao” in the late 19th/early 20th centuries using a Romanization system called Wade-Giles. “Dao” was later transcribed into the Western alphabet using a Chinese adaptation called Pinyin.

The “unvoiced T––voiced D” is far from the only difference in transcriptions. Here are other differences in Tao’s transmutation:

Wade-Giles

Tao te Ching

Lao Tzu

Chi

I ching

T’ai chi   

Pinyin 

Dao de Jing

Lao zi

Qi

Yi jing

Taiji

English

Scripture of the Way

Founder of Taoism

Energy

Book of changes

Great art of boxing

And the list continues.

The mystery of pictograms lives on.

 

 

Inner Space––The New Frontier

Carol Burnett as Miss. Wiggins

Empower the Space in your Pelvis  

 

Remember Carol Burnett’s secretary character, Wanda Wiggins, played opposite Tim Conway?

She was a constant distraction to her boss, Mr. Tudball. In addition to having an exceptionally low IQ, her blonde curls, fitted skirt, baby-doll sway back and turned in legs left Mr.Tudball persistently bewildered and distracted.

It was as if she never fully stood up from her chair before she would shuffle across the floor in her black pumps, cowishly chewing her gum, readying herself to take notations perched beside the bosses desk. We would all giggle at the obliviousness of her presence.

Her posture told her story. She clearly had no interest in asserting herself physically or mentally, and though she had a nice enough hair-do, manicure and outfit, she had no real objectives beyond that.

Perhaps we were all giggling at our own propensity to embody the same unexceptional disimpassioned attitude. Don’t we all fantasize about how much easier life would be if we just didn’t care so much about being outstanding?  

 

If you’re over forty, you can (occasionally) relate to Miss. Wiggins’ squatty posture when you try to stand up after sitting too long at your desk. In the last two inches of getting to your feet your body creaks in retaliation before allowing a fully upright stance. If you’re over fifty you may not even make it to fully upright!

It’s as if the space in your hips and lower back silently shrunk while you were busying yourself in your seat, right?

This shortening of the iliopsoas muscle––which travels through the hip joints from inner thighs to lower back­­––can lead to the downward spiral of our fitness. Age and job demands can cause us to shadow Miss. Wiggins or it can be the agitant we need to lengthen the Iliopsoas into an upward spiral.

Sitting encourages tension in your iliopsoas muscles because the muscles become shortened, differing from its elongated standing state. The iliopsoas muscles also collect tension from their responsibility to direct your movement––physically, mentally or emotionally––and they become over-controlling when compressed inward for too long.

Balanced muscle use inspires purposeful alignment and attention.

Sitting tasks need standing time-outs to restore the space in your pelvis. When you fully elongate your iliopsoas muscles you place your torso precisely atop your pelvis. In that moment you are absolutely present in time and space––an opportunity for mental discernment and spiritual awakening. You are standing in your strength.

 

In the Tao te Ching it states:

The Master does his job and then stops.
He understands that the universe is forever out of control,
And that trying to dominate events
Goes against the current of things (Tao).

 

Many of us, unlike Miss. Wiggins, do pass through this aligned state, often unconsciously, and experience a sense of self and purpose in the world when doing so. To support this aligned state consciously unite the core trilogy of your physicality: abdominals, inner thighs and buttock muscles.

You may, or may not, meet tension in your iliopsoas muscles when standing up out of a chair (yet!). But by following these simple steps you will ward off thwarting their upstanding value. This is how you know your iliopsoas muscles are in their fully elongated uprightness:
·      Ground through your heels to stand up, lean your torso onto your abdominal muscles and keep it there as your pelvis travels forward.
·      To adjust your pelvis forward press your hip bones forward until you feel your buttock muscles naturally engage.
·      When your buttocks naturally engage stop the forward press, and gently rotate your inner thighs toward your central plumb line to replace the iliopsoas muscles’ compressed grip.

When your core trilogy is united experience the silence of the moment. Recognize the inner space you have created in your center and the renewed vitality you instantly possess. This space is the Creator in you––your Spirit Self.

 

The Tao te Ching continues:

Tao in the world is like a river flowing home to the sea.

 

Making decisions from this silent space is making choices from the inherent wisdom you were born with, combined with the gathered information you studied to possess. The intelligence that lives in your body and your mind are united for your greatest good. You are living in your strength.

 

To learn how to release tension in minutes check out this FREE video!

Relax the Need to Be Heard

Find the Innocence of Listening

You know that sinking feeling you get when you have your hand up in a class or round table talk and the mediator isn’t calling on you? You have something relevant to say, but the powers that be silence you.

Typically for me, after recognizing that the dialogue was going to continue without my contribution, my hand would come down and I’d sit stoically stewing in, what felt like, their disregard. And this is where it would end.

More recently, rather than focusing on being disregarded, I started to deliberately take a step back and focus on regarding them. I’ve become curious about what IS being said. Does my point work with or against the conversation? Is there something I could learn from listening here rather than talking? Is my comment still relevant after they have finished discussing their perspective of the issue?

The outcome consistently surprises me. When the discussion slows down, the mediator addresses me and asks, “Did you have something to add Tammy?” With eager delight I speak my mind, I’m heard with genuine interest, and I feel honored.

When I let go of the need for others to respond to me, they became interested.

 

“Not needing to make things happen, one understands deeply.

Needing to make things happen, one learns about practical matters…”

Being disregarded is an old story in my life. It is not what is happening in my life now, but the old wound can easily be triggered. I have had to learn how to step back from this trigger––the need to feel heard and considered––to successfully develop in my career and relationships.

I suspect that I am not alone in this trigger!

Here’s what to do to unplug the trigger’s charge:

  •      First, take advantage of the stoic posture. Chin dropped and drawn inward shortening the throat, while the neck is elongated toward the sky like a swan, giving you the same alignment you would use if taking an actual step backward. Then rather than filling your neck and throat with stoic anger, open the crown of your head with innocence and wonder.
  •       Second, relax your eyes back in their eye sockets, remember that they are floating in water like when we float on a blow up raft in a pool, and listen from that receded and relaxed place.
  •      Lastly, recognize the added space between the eyebrows. This space focuses you to observe openly and you instantly enjoy receiving from the other(s).

When speaking we make things happen––yang––when listening we allow things to happen––yin. On one side we are giving, on the other side we are receiving, both are essential for a dialogue. Needing one over the other brings an imbalance to the dialogue that can turn the communication spout off or cause defensive responses.

 

“… Core and surface are parts of the same whole.

It is in being open and innocent that the

Possibility of understanding arises.”

Tao Te Ching

This became apparent in my daily life when I started to address my newly adopted parrot, whom has shown signs of mishandling, with receded soft eyes rather than gregarious let’s-be-friends eyes, she instantly started purring. She clearly felt more comfortable when I was in a listening posture. I believe she felt no expectations to be or do something she didn’t want when I was listening. It was a breakthrough in our relationship.

If listening is what creates trust in a relationship, perhaps we could all learn to soften our gaze and open our crown to the wonder of innocence.

 

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Peaceful Duck

THE UNIVERSAL LAW OF PAUSE

Peaceful Duck

When We Stop Chasing It––We Experience It.

Allowing myself to sleep in past 6AM, a gesture that I don’t often make to myself, I listened to my two cats scampering about in a determined crazy-cat frenzy. If you’re a cat owner, you know that untamed state that possesses our sweet kitties and then mutates them into wild beasts?

I indulged in a mattress belly flop, half awake and half asleep, in that magical subconscious paradigm.

“Do that which is not done by doing.
Make that which is not made by making.
Taste that which cannot be distinguished by taste.
Hold the same regard for the few and the many.
Requite the unkind with kindness…”

As I listened to their industrious pitter-patter for a long luxurious moment, I handed over my current labor-intensive chase to create my perfect world, to their obvious commitment to do the same. At this particular time in my life the culmination of life altering events were coming to fruition at once.

I was involved in the last days of the last editorial read of my first book’s deadline. I had just adopted an Amazon Parrot to join my already befriended Conure of 18 years. Both had been in the works for years.

The pressure to finesse the perfect book and the perfect birdhouse were both rooted in creating alignment in the world. The book’s focus being alignment between mind and body, the bird focus being alignment between adversaries––cats and birds.

When I finally decided to get up and face my day’s demands, what I found gave me pause.
I had created my dream! It had arrived!

A tiny sparrow was motionless on my kitchen floor. One of the cats had clearly captured it and brought it in from the terrace. I know this because, though I sleep with the terrace door open the curtain is closed, so the bird did not fly in.

Startled, of course, I tried to access the situation. Was the bird hurt?

I had heard that handling the bird would ostracise the sparrow from its’ flock. For that reason I placed a clean dish towel over it, swiped it up from the floor, and brought it to a pot of dirt back out on the terrace to offer a safe and familiar resting place.

As my towel was raised from the sparrow, it quickly flew away. All was well in the world. In fact, it was perfect.

All that ruckus I had listened to in my hesitancy to get up and start my daily dream chase, was the innocent witnessing of my dream being realized.

My cats had plenty of time to annihilate the bird, (I know this because they’re great mousers) but they didn’t. They choose to play with the sparrow (it was that sparrows lucky day!). Much like their mama—me—plays with the parrots.

When I reflected back on my mattress belly flop I recalled how open my pelvis was to the bed and how my quadriceps extended in a relaxed surrender away from the determination that fuels my gut’s passion. I was in a state of what Tao calls “non-doing” receptivity. I allowed the cats to be at the helm of the household’s direction.

“… Thus, one of integral virtue desires what is not connected with desire,
Sets no value on the rare goods of the world,
Learns what is not learned through learning,
And induces people to return to that which they have overlooked.”
Tao te Ching

It was a moment of trust.

So accustomed to using my quadriceps to drive my passions forward, this incident reminded me that, yes my quadriceps’ actions produce my future forward, but my quadriceps’ release recognizes that yesterday’s future is now.

Balance giving and receiving to move forward tirelessly.

 

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GIVE UP ON PERFECTION… and embrace certainty.

A child shrugs their shoulders in a quick up-down motion to communicate, I dun’no? They’re not worried about not knowing.

As an adult, the worry of not knowing can raise our shoulders with such a silent eerie creep that they freeze in that position. When we finally notice their up-tightness, we worry that if they drop so will everything we’ve worked for.

If we’re working to be an expert at something it’s important to remember:

An expert is a student.

As a student and Minister of Tao, I’ve learned that mind body relationships are central in order to effectively cultivate healing. The significance of our shoulder’s grip is twofold. The tension of a shrug relates to shouldering the uncertainty of our value; the freeze of a shrug relates to bearing the weight of unresolved moments of crisis.

“Darkness within darkness.

The gateway to all understanding.”

Tao te Ching

So What is Crisis?

Tao recognizes crisis as a plummet of both physical and spiritual energies. The belief is that we are spiritual-physical beings born with 0% spiritual awareness that develops as we mature, and 100% physical vitality that diminishes as we age. When our spiritual awareness and physical vitality collide and collapse we suffer crisis.

Mid-life crisis is an example of how these opposing influences affect us. If we do not develop spiritual awareness the lines cross without ever embodying wholeness or a true sense of Self, and the descending of our physical vitality create a defeated experience––crisis.

If we develop spiritual awareness and dissolve our self-inflicted distortions, the lines cross after a sense of wholeness is achieved. Awareness nurtures the body, extending our physical vitality well into our golden years, to experience a graceful, happy and long life.

Although mid-life is an anticipated time for crisis, crisis’ happens at any age.

How Crisis Can Lead To Certainty

Trauma from abuse, accident or loss, disappointment from rejection, failure or loneliness, exhaust physical vitality and can stunt spiritual awareness. In these moments of crisis, doubt about our self-worth, belonging and rightness can easily come into question.

For example, when I got fired from a job that had felt like a second home for 30-years, my first reaction was that I was a loser! If they didn’t see my worth in 30-years what chance did I have of succeeding elsewhere? And you guessed it, my shoulders did the upward creep!

If we have a way of weighing in with ourselves so we understand the nature of our doubt we can begin to create change.

Uncertainty around trauma is expressed through the carriage of your shoulders.

As the widest aspect of our skeletal frame, our shoulders’ posture illustrate the amount of space we are familiar with and feel worthy to occupy in the world; as well as, expressing the amount of heart we are accustomed to showing in ourselves.

The meaning of shoulder tension:

  •   Lifted tension––uncertain you know what is right.
  •   Dropped tension––necessity to be right!
  •   Narrow placement––discomfort in being seen in the world.
  •   Wide placement––comfort in being seen in the world.
  •   Rotated forward––uncertain in matters of the heart.
  •   Rotated backward––demonstrative in matters of the heart.

Relaxed, dropped, widely placed, non-rotated shoulders show comfort in being seen and open curiosity in matters of the head and heart.

This neutral placement stabilizes both mind and body. But we all circulate through these tense shoulder positions as we experience challenging situations in life. The posture you want to pay most attention to is the one that is consciously limiting you (physical discomfort) or unconsciously leading you (emotional uncertainty).

Deliberately surrendering shoulder tension unearths certainty.

Use your breath to surrender the misplacement that accompanies the need to be perfect, and surrender your shoulders neutrally. Certainty is on the other side of, I dun ‘no. A certainty in your own value.

Unraveling the tension of uncertainty takes more strength than rallying brute force in mind or body. You have to continually reorganize the habits your mind and body use to avoid the feeling of not knowing.

I could have fought for that 30-year job, after all their accusations were false. Once my tense shoulders dropped, I could stop reacting and see the bigger picture. I recognized that they had done me a favor. It was time for me to leave home and bring my message to a larger audience.

Going from familiar discomfort to unfamiliar comfort takes believing in your spiritual wisdom. Becoming aware of this inherent wisdom is what makes your life path yours.

Learn to Surrender Tension in 8-Minutes with this FREE video exercise.