Bleeding, Brainwaves and Biofeedback

Beyond Biofeedback

Excerpted from Beyond Biofeedback, a record of Elmer and Alyce Green’s research on theta brainwave training, which they describe as an accelerated form of meditation.

When Jack Schwarz was in his early teens, he saw a stage hypnotist enter a self-induced trance and then push pins into his arm while he talked about the power of mind to control pain and bleeding. Jack had the normal response to pain until he saw that demonstration, and then, for no particular reason, he knew that he would be able to do the same thing. He got some pins and tried it, and sure enough he could turn pain off. What a conversation piece, he thought.

Jack said that at first he never tired of amazing his friends. He developed a cocky attitude, in spite of the fact that he had not had to develop his skills, but “woke up one morning and found all the diplomas were on the wall.” He could stop pain, stop bleeding, influence people through hypnosis, remove pains in other people by putting his hands on them and thinking about the pain going away, and could often “guess” other people’s thoughts precisely.

We did not make a focused effort to interrogate Jack when we began the laboratory work. As with Swami Rama, we asked him to tell us what he would like to demonstrate. Dale and Alyce wired him in the same way we prepared college-student subjects in other research. When he sat down in the experimental room he produced an envelope with two 6-inch steel sailmaker’s needles. Continue reading Bleeding, Brainwaves and Biofeedback

Senate Proposes “Health Tax” on Fittest Americans

In a revamped health care system envisioned by senators, people would be required to carry health insurance just like motorists must get auto coverage now. The government would provide subsidies for the poor and many middle-class families, but those who still refuse to sign up would face fines of more than $1,000.

The details were unveiled Thursday July 2, in a health care overhaul bill supported by key Senate Democrats looking to fulfill President Barack Obama’s top domestic priority.

Called “shared responsibility payments,” the fines would offset at least half the cost of basic medical coverage, according to the legislation. The goal is to nudge people to sign up for coverage when they are healthy, not wait until they get sick.
[continued at The Seattle Times]

If you were given a choice, would you vote for or against this proposal? Why?

Chi Gong 101: How to Feel Your Chi Energy

A Simple Guide In Plain English

Introduction

  • Chi (qi) is an ancient Chinese term, which can be translated as energy. Like energy, the word chi is used in both abstract and concrete terms, and applied to both general concepts and specific phenomena. In other words, chi is ambiguous. (People who use the term often have a specific meaning in mind.)
  • In the broadest sense of the word, chi is generally understood to be pervasive, present in everyone and everything, but it is not uniformly distributed.
  • Chi moves freely around the universe, assuming various forms along the way. Disciplines such as Chi Kung (Qigong) and Feng Shui purport to observe and manipulate chi, for the specific benefit of human life.

Continue reading Chi Gong 101: How to Feel Your Chi Energy

These Tough Guys Did Martial Arts…For Health

Do you know how martial artists spell irony? R-B-S-D.

RBSD, or reality-based self-defense, is a blanket term for martial arts training that purports to focus on practical applications. In truth, however, these applications—gross motor skills such as the straight punch and Thai-style knee strike—can only be deemed “practical” within a fiat-based reality.

Reality as measured by the CDC is strikingly different. Among the leading causes of death in 2005, assault ranks in 15th place—behind heart disease, diabetes, and a host of other illnesses. In the USA, death by suicide is 50% more common than homicide. Statistically speaking, influenza is far deadlier than any fatigue-clad RBSD play-warrior, or the threats they would prepare you to face.

Despite the indisputable fact that sickness is the greatest danger to the average person, martial arts for health have somehow earned a bad reputation. Continue reading These Tough Guys Did Martial Arts…For Health

When and Why to Quit Kata Practice

For how long should we continue to practice our kata? Many senseis would simply answer: forever. Personally, I do not have forever to spare. Neither do you, I’d guess.

What do you have? A long list of responsibilities and interests, including but certainly not limited to karate (or other martial arts). You have a desire to maximize the benefits of your practice, while minimizing the costs. And you want to know when, if ever, you should quit your kata.

Simply put, you can justifiably quit when the costs of practice exceed the benefits. Here are a few of the potential, proposed and actual benefits of kata training.

Benefits of Kata Practice

Kata as a Memory Aid
The most frequently cited justification of kata is as a mnemonic device. The kata serves as a living dictionary of fighting techniques and sequences. Continue reading When and Why to Quit Kata Practice

The Taiji Solution to Weight Loss and Fiscal Solvency

Many long-term students of Taiji enjoy improvements in their metabolic and kinesthetic efficiency. They burn fewer calories, and expend less effort, to accomplish the same amount of work, whether that “work” consists of repeating the Taiji forms or any other activity.

When food is scarce and plain, this efficiency is an obvious benefit. For most people living in developed countries today, however, food is abundant and tasty. To a person who has become addicted to eating—as the majority of Americans are, studies show—this hard-earned fruition of Taiji is actually a problem: it makes you fat. (Technically, eating the food makes you fat, but let us ignore that detail, as everyone does.)

Dedicating oneself to longer and more strenuous practice might seem like an intelligent solution. Unfortunately, this is likely to accelerate the efficiency gains, exacerbating the problem in the long run. If we choose to define physical fitness as effort and exertion, then Taiji is a lousy fitness routine.

A comfortable and plausible short-term solution: redefine success as failure, and vice-versa. Prioritize effort expended, rather than work accomplished. Sure, your new Taiji may be less functional, but at least you’ll look good doing it!

The more responsible, but less appealing solution is to start eating within your means: to consume calories in accordance with physical needs, rather than insatiable desires. In the meantime, returning to one’s target weight requires a disciplined starvation diet, in conjunction with regular exercise.

Can we view this scenario as a metaphor for the United States economy? Continue reading The Taiji Solution to Weight Loss and Fiscal Solvency

Return of the Jedi: Five Questions with a Neigong Expert

內功 neigong (pronounced nay-gung): the science of observing, strengthening and directing bio-energy, or chi.

The Magus of Java

A repository of extraordinary skills such as telekinesis, pyrogenesis, telepathy, remote viewing and levitation, the esoteric Eastern school known as Mo-Pai has been described as a real-life order of Jedi Knights. Some have even speculated that its history inspired George Lucas’ script for Attack of the Clones.

Among the ancient neigong lineages still in existence today, the Mo-Pai is characterized by an unusual openness. The school and its headmaster, known by the alias “John Chang”, has been the subject of two recent books and a video documentary.

Jim McMillan, who identifies himself as a longtime disciple of John Chang, has graciously agreed to share a few of his experiences with Martial Development readers: Continue reading Return of the Jedi: Five Questions with a Neigong Expert

Qigong and Energy Arts Forum – July 2008

Welcome to the fourth edition of Qigong and Energy Arts Forum, a regularly updated collection of the best new articles on qigong (chi kung), reiki, ayurveda, kundalini yoga, and other related disciplines.

Why Energy Healing Is Often Considered “Woo-Woo” by Loolwa Khazzoom (Dancing with Pain)
The vast majority of people who would say that energy work or energy medicine is “woo woo” are also people who hold strong religious beliefs. For example, Christians believe that there was a man who lived in a whale…

The Key to Natural Healing by Anmol Mehta (Mastery of Meditation, Enlightenment and Kundalini Yoga)
The key to natural healing is to be positive, relaxed and at peace mentally. The concepts of you are not your body, and the body’s fantastic inbuilt healing capacities greatly help facilitate this state… Continue reading Qigong and Energy Arts Forum – July 2008

The Rise and Fall of Mesmerism

The Cure Within: A History of Mind-Body Medicine

The following passage is excerpted from “The Cure Within: A History of Mind-Body Medicine” by Anne Harringtona recent addition to my recommended reading list.

The End of Medical Exorcism in Europe

Appreciating the interweaving religious, philosophical and political stakes [in 18th century medicine] is important, because it can help us make sense of an episode whose significance we might otherwise misinterpret: the showdown between the German exorcist Father Johann Joseph Gassner and the Viennese physician Anton Mesmer.

Johann Joseph Gassner

Gassner was an exorcist whose ability to cast out devils was legendary. People came from all over to be healed, and in dramatic public performances—witnessed by crowds from all sectors of society—Gassner would oblige. Official records were made; competent witnesses testified to the extraordinary happenings. All agreed on the basic facts. On being presented with a supplicant, Gassner would typically wave a crucifix over his or her body and demand in Latin that, if the disease he was seeing had a “preternatural” source, this fact must be made manifest. The patient would then typically collapse into convulsions, and Gassner would proceed to exorcise the offending spirit.

Sometimes he added flourishes to this basic routine: in one dramatic instance, for example, he ordered the demon inside a woman to increase the poor woman’s heartbeat and then to slow it down. Continue reading The Rise and Fall of Mesmerism