Reiki Chiang Mai, journey to Mount Kurama Kyoto, Japan on a pilgrimage to Mikao Usui the founder of modern day Reiki Healing, known to the west.
Sensei Usui was a spiritual seeker and spiritual teacher in the early part of the 20th century, during his deeper spiritual development and journey he had discovered that he had gained the power to use healing energy, known today in the west as Reiki. In this day and age his spiritual teachings are obscure and not clearly known, though his Reiki healing practices still live on and this is the focus on those that connect with this compassionate man’s teachings. His journey was not an easy one, though he had developed a power of compassion, which led him to receive the Reiki healing phenomena, which has spread throughout the modern world.
Reiki trip to Kyoto
I somehow had the desire to fulfill a journey some time back and that journey was to lead me and my family to visit Japan in April 2017, it was like I was summoned or invited to come by a strange calling, I had this same experience some years ago in my journey travelling in India, for a pilgrimage to the Yoga masters I had studied or was influenced by. Teaching Reiki for many years in Chiang Mai, has finally allowed me to connect to the founder Usui Sensei of Reiki, place of awakening and I have a deep sense of gratitude for this auspicious blessing.
We arrived in Osaka from Thailand and internally I had a wonderful feeling to finally arrive in Japan for the first time in my life, we stayed 2 nights in Osaka before heading to the beautiful city of Kyoto, we were blessed. Originally we were going to travel around to see as many places as possible, though somehow deep inside I knew that was not necessary, we decide to spend most of our time in Kyoto and it was a delight to embrace the deep spiritual tradition and culture of this wonderful city.
Reiki birth place Mt Kurama
Trip to Mt Kurama the birth place, of Usui Sensei Reiki awakening. The birth of Usui Sensei’s Reiki happened in this very scenic area north of Kyoto, we took the Eizan country train to Kurama and we were excited to arrive at the Kurama train station, the base of the Reiki nature trail in Mount Kurama. We proceeded to the stairs leading to the main entrance leading to the trail, at the entrance there is a vegetarian restaurant to the right, as it was time for lunch we decided to eat before ascending into the mountain.
After lunch we started onward on our pilgrimage on the Reiki nature trail, we started to climb the steps and the area is special and has a great feeling about it, we all enjoyed the specialness of being here. There are various shrines and temples along the way, I would suppose that Usui Sensei would have spent some time at most of these places, practicing his meditations, the walk is relaxing and we truly admired all the things that the trail had to offer along the way, we reached the major temple on the trail named Kumara dera a Tendai Buddhist temple, Usui himself was a Tendai Buddhist according the inscription on his grave stone, here at this temple you have a view over the tops of the Kurama mountain area, located here is a major power point shaped in triangle tiles at the forecourt of the temple, there are various power points along the trail and we all took the opportunity to stand at this center, maybe we were lucky and we received some blessings just for trying, I returned again to its center for another opportunity to stand on the power spot, before we started moving along the trail.
Going along the trial we saw the roots of the cedar trees coming out of the earth and this leads to a isolated shrine known as Osugi Gongen, we nearly miss this one as the path split into two, though luckily we took the right path leading to Osugi Gongen, this is where some say that Usui had his Reiki meditation experience, his awakening to the Reiki healing power which so many practice today, the next shrine a little further down the trail known as Okunoin Mao-den is also known by some where Usui received the power of Reiki healing, this shrine was more busier then Osugi Gongen and was taken care of a lot more, maybe due to the donations left by those that came before, we paid our respect at both and I spent a few moments in meditation inside both of these shrines, though not long enough to experience anything too mystical this time, when we got home we took a look at the photos taken and we noticed some strange bright lights even side of me, at first I thought I had been blessed but on closer inspection it seems it may have been a trick of light or something like that. It was a blessing that we finally managed to be in such a lovely place in northern Kyoto we did the final decent to the other side to a little town known as kilbune, a very pretty area and another 20 minutes walk to get to the train station heading back to the city of Kyoto, I know one I will return to savior just one more time, this very scared place..
Hatha Yoga Chiang Mai; Yoga asana (yoga postures) help to balance and harmonize the body, mind and emotions, yoga improves circulation of blood and oxygen throughout the whole body, removing knots and blocks psychically and energetically, Yoga helps to activate more energy flow throughout the whole system benefiting the vital organs the endocrine system, the nervous system the skeletal and muscular structure.
Yoga helps to improve the body’s flexibility and is a tonic for the mind as it improves focus and concentration. Yoga asana also helps inspire spiritual development if practice correctly. Hatha Yoga can also improve our sense of wellbeing and feeling grounded, allowing us to experience our earthly connection in a natural and more beneficial way, bear in mind that we have the gravitation pull of this planet, which has a big influence on how we live and without this force we would not be able to practice the physical aspects of Yoga.
Yoga can help to eliminate our vices that hold us back in our evolutionary development, bringing us to higher levels of states of well being and correct living, therefore Yoga works and develops our physical, mental, emotional, vitality, psychic and spiritual potential.
Yoga is a Sanskrit word yuj meaning to join to unify, this is more relative to the spiritual practices of Yoga allowing individual consciousness to merge with universal or cosmic consciousness and on a practical level Yoga signifies balance of body, mind and emotions, which leads to improvement in our health and how we interact with those around us. Primaraly Hatha Yoga works on the outer aspects, such as the physical body and how we reflect our personality to the outer world, gradual progression will improve our physical conditions, our health and we start to experience an improvement in our personality, the practice has to be approached with the right mind and intention for the benefits to take its lasting effects.
Yoga helps to calm the mind and relax the body to prepare us for higher yoga practices; it helps focus the mind for improvement of consciousness, leading to meditation and higher states of consciousness.
We offer Hatha Yoga classes in Chiang Mai to those with experience and we also offer down to earth Yoga beginner’s courses, for those that wish to start their journey, in this profound spiritual science.
Some questions answered about Chi kung (Qigong) for a future Burmese magazine article...
Q; How and why did you get into Qigong.
A; I originally started to practice Yoga meditation 5 years prior to starting Qigong and somehow that led me to the alternative side of other practices, my interest really came about due to the fact that I starting to learn Tai Chi my primary interest at the time and this included Qigong as part of the practice.
Q; What is your favorite part about doing Qigong?
A; My favorite part these days is teaching Qigong to others and the positive feedback that people give about the Qigong practice, their improvement to their health, energy and life style, this inspires me to become a better teacher also.
Q; What is the one move you would recommend for someone starting out in Qigong? Is there a name (especially for those who can't attend a class)?
A; One of the roots of Qigong (Chi Kung) is the breath, so I would always recommend students in our classes to develop their breathing potential, this allows for more beneficial aspects of the practice to manifest. In our classes we teach students to go to the root of the breathing and suggest students to develop this kind of breathing as part of their lives. We call this kind of breathing abdominal, Tai Chi, Qigong or baby breathing, just like a younger child would breathe, naturally. One method we teach in our classes is to position both hands one on top the other at the navel, close the eyes and breathe so when you inhale the abdomen expands and when you exhale it contracts. This teaches us to breathe correctly and helps to eliminate build up of tension in the mind and body. This can be practice outside of the class room environment and a highly suggested practice one can utalize in their daily lives.
Q; How is Qigong different from other types of breathing exercises or breathing techniques?
A; Generally most holistic healing systems overlap and there could be elements that are similar though the approach may be slightly different, but the goal is in harmony with one and other. One of the differences that exists, lies in the approach on how we work with the body, this is the physical bodily exercises in the Qigong practice, the exercises are simple and repetitive, though affective in opening the potential of our breath and energy system, this allows for correct utilization of the breathing mechanism and gives more control over our body and mind, in the foundations of physical Yoga (asana) for example we are working with the breath under more demanding bodily posturing, lifting the breath from the solar plexus and diaphragm, this could be more challenging for a beginner of Yoga, in Qigong we are connecting the breath just below the navel area and it is more softer and more subtle, so easier to master even for those with limited experience.
Q; What are some of the health benefits that you experienced?
A; Mainly the benefits for me have been an improved connection with my breathing (abdominal) which has become part of my natural breathing process in my life, helping me to manage stress and anxiety; also Chi Kung has given me a more conscious awareness of my body and the subtle signals that it sends, strengthening of my immune system and ovarall improvement physically, mentally and emotionally, allowing me to become a good friend to my own body and have respect for myself and my life.
Q; Do Qigong and meditation go hand-in-hand? How is it similar or different?
A; Definitely, in ancient times in China people practice Qigong to harmonize themselves with themselves, their surroundings, nature and the cosmos, a major concept of Qigong is to be able to meditate consciously, meaning to always be in a state of meditational contemplation, hence Qigong is a active way to meditate, they realized that to make the breath calm the body and mind also responds and manifest stillness, which becomes a conscious awareness of who we really are, meditation is the core of Qigong it can be known as a moving Meditation similar to Tai Chi Chuan. As Qigong developed the practices became more physical which has led to modern day Qigong, in the beginning the practice was focused on the meditation as the foundation of the practice and not too involved with the physical aspects of how Qigong has become.
Q; What do you do to achieve your optimal health (besides Chi Kung. etc. tai chi, yoga and meditation, etc)
A; I try and keep a healthy diet, try and respect my energy by not over working myself, use exercise, meditation on a daily basis and retire to bed and get up early whenever possible.
Q; Mindfulness is a very popular concept now. Does Chi Kung help you become more mindful? How?
A; Yes Qigong helps one to introspect and become more mindful, the exercises are of a simple nature, so there is no compromise of one's ego, the movements in Qigong help to increase the flow of energy within, so that we experience that power, connecting to the breath helps to regulate our autonomic nervous system removing stress and inducing a more calm and relaxed state of body and mind, Qigong incorporates meditation in some of its standing poses which increases our potential to become more mindful, we connect with the vital organs and become aware of the energy lines within the body helping to connect with our physical state and our physical condition so we respect ourselves more in a more conscious way. Being mindful helps the Qigong practitioner connect with the power within and gives the potential to use that power to improve their health and their energy overall. The key is to keep things simple and exercise regularly.
Q; How can one use Chi Kung to overcome emotions like anger, jealousy, anxiety, depression, etc?
A; Qigong masters over a thousand years ago, discovered that our deep rooted negative emotions were the root causes of our imbalances and sicknesses, they also realized that these negative emotions store in our vital organs and eventually accumulate into sickness. In our Qigong classes we work directly with these ancient practices which involve using simple movements with our body to improve the circulation of energy in the body, plus we work with colour and sound to increase the potential of this circulation, this is an important element of Qigong practice. As we learn to harmonize ourselves by doing Qigong practice on a regular basis, we learn and help to balance and heal or transform our negative emotions and feelings, giving as more access to power of energy for a more fulfilling life.
Q; What do you think the purpose of life is?
To let go… of our pre conceived ideas and our conditioning. To discover peace and to experience, heaven on earth (peace of mind).
Q; What is your favorite life motto? quote?
A; Health is wealth!! Sometimes I suggest to my students: Always believe in yourself and in your life, learn to trust yourself so you learn to trust in your journey and in your evolutionary process, in that trust it leads you to, who you really are.
Qigong can benefit people young and old, it helps to improve your health, it strengthens the mind and body, it slows down the aging process and helps us to live longer, it can also lead to a higher understanding of yourself and your surroundings, for those that are in Chiang Mai Thailand, we welcome you to come and enroll in our simple Qigong course, so you get a flavor of what Qigong is about.
As yoga started to progress and develop, we come to the next stage of its evolution; we come to a great author and sage known as Pantajali who is said to have lived around 400 BC. His first work was the Mahābhāṣya, a treatise on Sanskrit grammar and it is believed he possibly had authored a book on medicine called Charakapratisanskrita, though this is not certain.
In the Yoga world he is known especially for his work known as the Yoga Sutras written around 400BC. The Yoga Sutras are part of the Samkhya philosophy which was created by Rishi Kaplia a Vedic sage who lived around 600BC, apparently the Buddha studied Samkhya philosophy on his quest for truth, Samkhya was a very popular teaching during this time and one of the concepts was, that belief in God was not a necessary component in one’s spiritual practices (sadana), this was similar to the Buddha’s teaching which came later on, however Patanjali suggested the need to have a belief of God as part of one’s spiritual sadana, which is connected to devotional Yoga called Bhakti Yoga, the Yoga Strutras could have emerged and be influenced by the other philosophies including Buddhism, which were present during the time of it’s writing.
THE 8 LIMBS of YOGA by Patanjali, the 8 fundamental stages of Yogic spiritual development
1. Yama: Social conduct; The Yamas help to harmonize external relationship; Satya (Truthfulness) – Ahimsa – (Non Violence) – Asteya – (Honesty) Brahmacharya (Sexual Control) – Aparigraha (Non Possessiveness)
2. Niyama: Personal conduct; The Niyamas to harmonize our inner feelings and emotions: Shaucha (Cleanliness) – Santosha (Contentment) – Tapah (Austerity) – Swadhyana (Self Study) – Ishwara Pranidhana (Surrender to Divine Will)
3. Asana: Yoga Postures; The Asanas that are relative to this limb is a balanced sitting pose like padmasasna (Lotus Pose) and Siddhasana (Perfect Pose) , basically a comfortable meditation sitting posture.
4. Pranayama: Yogic breathing techniques; to focus the internal human forces, to regulate the mind.
5. Pratyahara: Withdrawal of the senses; to gather within and to regulating the fluctuation of consciousness so awareness can become more internalized via yogic meditation techniques.
6. Dharana: Concentration of the mind; the step before real meditation happens, total mental focus . Mantra can help induce this stage. Dhrana needs consistency of practice to be achieved.
7. Dhyana: Meditation; Once we manage to steady the fluctuations, mental, emotional and psychic substances of the mind in Dharana we proceed into a state of meditation.
8. Samadhi: Super conscious awareness; there are different levels of Samadhi in the Katha Upanishad (111:10) it states. When the 5 senses of perception together with the mind are at rest, even when the intellect has ceased to function, that say the sages, is the supreme state.
The first 5 stages are relative to external practices which prepare the body and mind, helping to dissolve and remove external distractions for higher level practices. The last 3 stages integrate the internal yoga practices for deeper development of our spiritual potential, helping to rise above unbalanced thoughts and psychic disturbance in the mind. These steps of Yoga are really for advanced aspirants, as there needs to a lot of preparation, so these steps leading to higher consciousness are achieved.
To be continued The Roots of Yoga pt 3
The roots of Yoga were first developed some 5000 to 10,000 years ago in northern regions of India by the Indus-Sarasvati civilization that date back some 12,000 years, one of the largest and most advanced of all ancient civilizations. The Indus-Sarasavati people had a variety of spiritual practices, including worship of the mother goddess Shakti and Lord Shiva, which are symbols of duality and the feminine and mescaline energy concepts potrayed in Tantra and Daoism, similar concepts were known in ancient China as Ying and Yang made popular by the arts of Qigong and later by Tai Chi Chuan, worship of nature and animals was also known to exist as part of thier spiritual practices.
The word Yoga meaning to join and unify, applies union, was first mentioned in the Rig Vedas (praised knowledge) an ancient text, one of the first spiritual texts in human history written in Vedic Sanskrit in around 1700–1100 BCE and originally only taught via orally tradition, which has become the development of Hinduism still being practice today in modern India.
Rig Vedas consists of:
* Hymns to the deities especially Lord Indra the king of Gods , is the oldest part of the Rig Veda
* Brahmanas, commentaries on the hymns
* Aranyaka or "forest books" based on the philosophy behind ritual sacrifice
*Upanishads also known as the Vedānta, the foundation of Hindu religious beliefs and considered to be one of the most important works of Indian culture and religion.
The 3 foundations of Vedic Yoga
1. Mantra Yoga – Speech – Rig Veda – Earth
Mantra, recitation of spiritual Vedic Sanskrit sounds: Transformation of the mind, to internalize to deeper layers of consciousness.
2. Prana Yoga – Prana – Yajur Veda – Atmosphere
Development of our internal and vital energies: Internal transformation via specialized Yoga techniques.
3. Dhyana Yoga – Mind – Sama Veda – Heaven
Yoga meditation the final steps, before full transformation – leading to higher states know as Samadhi:
Yoga meditation; the development of higher and cosmic intelligence, the understanding of truth.
We will look further in the development of Yoga in Roots of Yoga Pt 2.