Request from Masuru Emoto: Water Prayer for Fukushima Reactor

A request appeared in my email inbox this morning via Ann Reeves, a wonderful sound therapist whose crystal singing bowl workshop I experienced last year. She passes on a request from Masuru Emoto, who works with the energies of water to help bring peace and healing to the planet. We all know at this point that energy follows thought, right? Here's an example from Dr. Emoto's Peace Project website, so you can check this out for yourself.

Today, Dr. Emoto's Peace Project team asks that those who are willing work together to send positive thoughts and love to the waters of the Fukushima nuclear reactor in order to help offset the negative impact of the leaks that have now developed in the Fukushima facility.

I know this may seem a little bit extra woo. I would ask that you open your minds, and even if you don't believe or you don't see this by noon, do the prayer anyway. It couldn't hurt, right?

From Take Action for Japan: Emoto Peace Project: To All People Around the World: Please Send Your Prayers of Love and Gratitude to Water at the Nuclear Plants in Fukushima, Japan!

(Explanation and instructions below taken from Dr. Emoto's site - continue reading or go here.)

By the massive earthquakes of Magnitude 9 and surreal massive tsunamis, more than 10,000 people are still missing…even now… It has been 16 days already since the disaster happened. What makes it worse is that water at the reactors of Fukushima Nuclear Plants started to leak, and it’s contaminating the ocean, air and water molecule of surrounding areas. 

Human wisdom has not been able to do much to solve the problem, but we are only trying to cool down the anger of radioactive materials in the reactors by discharging water to them.

Is there really nothing else to do?

I think there is. During over twenty year research of hado measuring and water crystal photographic technology, I have been witnessing that water can turn positive when it receives pure vibration of human prayer no matter how far away it is.
Energy formula of Albert Einstein, E=MC2 really means that Energy = number of people and the square of people’s consciousness.

Now is the time to understand the true meaning. Let us all join the prayer ceremony as fellow citizens of the planet earth.   I would like to ask all people, not just in Japan, but all around the world to please help us to find a way out the crisis of this planet!!
The prayer procedure is as follows.

Name of ceremony:
“Let’s send our thoughts of love and gratitude to all water in the nuclear plants in Fukushima

Day and Time:
March 31st, 2011 (Thursday)
12:00 noon in each time zone

Please say the following phrase:
“The water of Fukushima Nuclear Plant, 
we are sorry to make you suffer. 

Please forgive us.  We thank you, and we love you.” 

Please say it aloud or in your mind. Repeat it three times as you put your hands together in a prayer position. Please offer your sincere prayer. 

Thank you very much from my heart.

With love and gratitude,
Masaru Emoto 
Messenger of Water

Quick Question: Why Do My Bones Crack When I Do Tai Chi?

Once you start to get into tai chi, you will probably find that snap, crackle and pop are not just part of a nutritious breakfast - they are sounds that accompany almost every workout. Where do these sounds come from? And is it okay to be snapping, crackling and popping?

Before I answer the question, I just want to caution you that cracking, snapping, and popping in your joints is not okay if it is accompanied by sharp pain - or any kind of pain, really. Ask your teacher for help if you ever experience any kind of pain during tai chi. If the popping is painless, then you are experiencing something totally normal and even great. 

According to a rather old article published at Scientific American online, cracking sounds can relate to one of two causes: a release of gas from the fluid that naturally cushions your joints, or a snapping of tendons and ligaments back into their correct places as you move the joint. I tend to think that the snapping and crackling you get during tai chi is much more likely to be the latter rather than the former. 

The thing to understand about your joints is that over time, the ligaments that connect bone to bone in your skeleton and the tendons that connect your muscles to your bones become tighter. A small degree of tightening over time can be the result of aging, but it is more usually related to sedentary behaviour. When you don't acheive a full range of motion in each joint on a regular basis, the ligaments and tendons naturally get shorter. Reason number one million that your body is a use it or lose it proposition.

To get an idea of what I'm talking about, take a look at this x-ray of a healthy human hand:

See the black spaces between the joints of the fingers?  Those aren't empty: they are occupied by cartilage, which doesn't tend to show up on an x-ray. This spaciousness between the joints is what you want. With that cushion of cartilage in place, your bones won't rub on each other, and chances are the joint will remain healthy and pain-free. 

When your tendons and ligaments get tight, they draw the two ends of the bones together. Eventually, what you get is compression of the joint. The cartilage thins, and you end up with rubbing between the ends of the bones. 

This is an x-ray of the finger of a person with osteoarthritis

The official word on osteoarthritis to date suggests that it is of mysterious origin, but I've been taught that the major cause is the drawing together of the joints because of tendon and ligament tightening.

When it comes to the spine, this tightening can be quite dramatic. Here's a normal cervical spine - aka neck. Look at the spaces between the vertebrae. Each of those spaces contains a cushion of cartilage that contains fluid to ease the impact of any jarring that occurs to the spine. These cushions are also called "discs."

You've probably heard of "herniated" or "slipped" discs. These occur when the spaces between the vertebrae become narrow, and the disc is squished out of place, or tears and the fluid leaks out. This is an MRI image of a herniated disc (source).

See that bulge? That's the edge of the disk squishing up against the spinal cord. Yikes, right? This kind of squishing occurs because the tendons and ligaments along the spine become tight over time. The medical community will tell you that this is a consequence of aging, but more properly it is a consequence of a lifetime of not moving enough.

The whole point here is that if you stretch the tendons and ligaments, you can increase the space between the joints. Tai chi is great for all your joints - I've used it to stay pain free despite some extremely serious joint injuries. It is especially wonderful for achieving increased range of motion through the hips and shoulders, and for stretching out the spine. I'd be willing to bet that the bone cracking you experience during tai chi is most intense in the shoulders, hips, back and neck.

That cracking is the tendons and ligaments popping back into place as you elongate your joints. It can also be the bones themselves popping back into correct alignment - the tendons and ligaments can pull them out of place when they are tight. 

At first, these noises can be a bit disturbing. Over time, though, you'll come to look forward to them. Hey, people pay a lot of money to chiropractors to achieve the same effect! Once you get the hang of stretching in tai chi, you can put yourself back in alignment fairly reliably. If your back or neck feels out of whack, a quick tai chi set will usually remedy it.

Your joints will thank you.

Tai Chi and Taoism

Somebody recently found my blog by searching for the answer to the question, "How does tai chi utilize Taoist philosophy and teachings?" It's a good question, and one that deserves at least an attempt at an answer. (Whoever you were, I hope you find your way back here at some point!)

I should preface this post by saying that I have not done a great deal of intellectual study of Taoism. I took a University course in it once, with a professor from China. It was a wonderful experience, but in retrospect one of the worst possible ways to learn about Taoism. For many years, I resisted reading about Taoism actively because I felt I was learning so much about it by practicing tai chi. The understandings I'm sharing in this post are based much more on my experiences as a tai chi practitioner (studying, for what it's worth, under a Taoist monk) as they are on anything I might have read.

The short (and smartass) answer to the question, "How does tai chi utilize Taoist philosophy and teachings?" is to say that tai chi is a Taoist teaching.  But I don't think this answers the spirit of the question.

The long answer:

Taoism is a complex and multifaceted philosophy or - more properly - spiritual path that encompasses an amazing number of different practices. (Herbalism, physical exercises, meditation, sexual practices - the list goes on and on.) Some of these involve increasing longevity. Some of these involve achieving union or harmony with the universe. You could argue that in Taoism, long life and union with the Tao are sort of the same goal.

You might be thinking, "but what is the Tao?"  The idea here is that there is an innate original source ("Tao") that underlies all of reality as we understand it. All beings - from gods to rocks - are an effect of this original source. All follow patterns and paths that can work in harmony with this original Tao.

Working in harmony with the Tao is a great thing to do. Working against it invites strife, upset, indigestion, global catastrophes - the list goes on and on.

The natural world is innately aligned with Tao. This is why the masters copied animals when they devised many of their meditation and exercise techniques. A tree grows in harmony with its environment, and even in harmony with the pressures placed upon it. It doesn't struggle and complain and wish it was somewhere else, or a different type of tree. It naturally conforms to its role.

As human beings, we have a unique form of consciousness that allows us to really mess up adhering to what is most natural. And yet, that same unique form of consciousness can, if we allow it to, transcend the perception of everyday reality and merge with the Tao. Here are a few examples of things that can interfere with your ability to do what's natural and to perceive Tao:

Physical Issues

  • urban living
  • pollution
  • junk food
  • staying indoors, climate-controlled environments
  • artificial electromagnetic charges (from anything that plugs in or uses batteries)
  • exposure to chemicals 
  • prolonged periods of inactivity; sitting for hours at a time
  • habitual physical tension
  • addictions
  • illness
  • injury
This is not to say that you should avoid all of these things at all costs. Chances are you are not in a position to avoid any of these things at all times in your life; if you're lucky, you can avoid one or two.

Mental / Emotional Issues

  • stress (from all of the above and more)
  • intense analytical thought
  • mental and emotional habits your parents taught you
  • mental and emotional habits your culture has taught you
  • exposure to commercialism / consumer culture
  • exposure to repetitive / bland / destructive ideas 
  • compulsions
  • emotional overreactions
  • exposure to emotional triggers
  • an intense focus on the material / commonly acknowledged "reality"
  • a habit of pessimism
  • mental / emotional illness
Again, it's almost impossible for any of us to escape most of the items on this second list at all times. Like the many heads of the hydra, these tend to crop up at the precise moment when you think you've defeated them all. 

The fact is, we live in difficult times. Never have there been so many shiny traps for consciousness, reaching out to us at every turn. But the thing is, we also live in amazing times. I believe that never have there been so many brilliant teachers and techniques available to us to break through those traps. Even if you can't quit your day job and you like urban living and you had a crappy childhood or bad experiences or all too human emotional issues, tools like tai chi are available to help you scrub away the negative effects of all this modern living. And among the plethora of spiritual and physical practices available today, tai chi is, I think, a uniquely powerful way of allowing us to effectively achieve the breakthroughs we might be craving.

But back to these two lists. 

All of the items on these lists work, in different ways, to keep you in a superficial perceptual mode that does not allow you to open to the wide, generous and expansive reality of the Tao. Let's take a couple of examples from the first list. You get up in the morning in your house. You stumble around, jar yourself awake with a hot shower or maybe a cup of coffee. You get into your car before you're ready to greet the day, and the next thing you know, you're at your work desk, a computer monitor two feet away from your face, and a phone cradled on your shoulder. By the time you get home, you're feeling both tired and wired. Tired wins out, and you spend the evening on the couch in front of the television, where you face an endless round of commercials telling you what you should desire.

Your shoulder hurts, your upper back is hunched, your neck is tight, and your soul is crying in a corner. 

Because it is a physical practice, tai chi can help release the tensions that you build up during the day. The stretching and increased range of motion you achieve through tai chi helps undo some of purely physical aspect of those tensions. More than that, tai chi helps to correct your energy. Throughout the day, you draw chi or vital life energy up into your head and neck, especially if your work is sedentary or based on analytical / mental tasks. Because you work your legs in tai chi, you draw those energies back down into the rest of your body, where they belong, and you reconnect with the energies of the earth. Through tai chi, you can feel like you are fully merged with your physical body, instead of floating slightly above it like you might feel you are at the end of a hard day of work.

Returning your physical equilibrium is a part of returning to a more natural state of being. In this more relaxed, more connected state, you are more in touch with Tao.

If you have any chronic illness or pain from injuries, over time, tai chi can help release them. 

Similarly, think about what happened the last time you were really upset about something or someone. Your mind probably would not stop thinking about it. On a physical level, you probably felt terrible: maybe you had bad digestion, or tightness in your chest. Perhaps your breathing felt laboured. Maybe you got a headache. We are always disconnected from what's natural when we are in this frenzied state.

In a background way, most of us carry emotional tensions that we don't even recognize. Worry, concern, anger, frustration, and despair are all examples of emotional habits that can sit with us, like devils on our shoulders, for years. These old friends worm themselves into our lives so completely that we think of low level emotional upset as totally normal. This type of emotional habit is insidious, since it is very difficult to let go, and if we do manage to loosen its stranglehold, we can feel that we are losing ourselves.

And yet, these emotional habits keep us from recognizing the true nature of reality. We see through a filter - and chances are it isn't rose-coloured. 

When you perform tai chi, you aren't just moving your body: you are also engaging your mind. By focusing your thoughts on the here and now as you step, push from the feet, and move the whole body all together, you give space to yourself to simply be. As you move the body, the mind learns the habit of calming down. What was flying through your thoughts and disturbing your emotions when you start a tai chi workout is often a non-issue by the time you're done. The more you practice, the more you are creating new mental and emotional habits. You learn that you don't have to feel upset all the time - not even in a background way. You learn that you can change the terms on which you meet the world. There are no rules except the ones you've created, or adopted from others.

In this way, you leave room for the expansiveness you need in order to meet the Tao. 

And what does it feel like, to touch the creative force behind the entire universe?

Allow me to get down off my flying dragon long enough to tell you.

(Just kidding.)

Obviously no one who is here on earth has truly achieved this goal 100% - or else they would have transcended this earthly plane. But I can say that I think most people meet the Tao in tiny increments, and doing tai chi can take you a very long way down the path. I can say that in meditation and in tai chi, I regularly feel surrounded by a warm, benevolent, and occasionally downright mischievous force that invites me to relax, be sharp and alert in my mind and body, and always, always softer than I am. To meet the Tao in even a limited way is to feel better, not in a sedated, shut down way, but in a way that is open, generous, compassionate, strong, and aware. Tai chi allows you to move closer to being loose like a jungle cat; powerful like an ocean wave; as constant as the movements of the planets; steadfast as an oak. 

Filters off, and tensions released, we can start to gain insight into the true nature of reality. That is how tai chi helps you get closer to the Tao. That is how tai chi is part of Taoist practice and philosophy.