Wednesday, February 28, 2018
Hello, everyone. It’s Jazz Age Wednesdays here at Teagan’s Books. I’m blessed to offer you another joint post!
I have actively sought out collaborations with bloggers who work with subjects that are different from my whimsical fiction. So, I was delighted when Dr. Glen Hepker* agreed to work with me on a post. Glen is the author of A Glimpse of Heaven: The Philosophy of True Health*. I have this book and it’s a real gem.
Glen is sharing instructions for breathing exercises, which you’ll find after my new vignette from the Pip-verse. I worked a bit of of it into the story. So let’s ankle back to the Roaring Twenties, for the story Glen inspired.
Pip Meets the Master
Young Lucille Ball
“Come on Pip, this scavenger hunt might turn out to be a real shockdollager. Plus, it could be some free publicity for Wong’s Chinese if we can get the newspaper to do a story about it,” my friend Alastair Wong pleaded. “Even my cousin, Victoria, is excited about it — and she’s pretty hard to impress.”
“Traipsing around the riverfront in the dark just doesn’t sound like fun to me,” I told him. “And your cousin isn’t likely to be tromping through the fog with us.”
I had only met his cousin once. That was in Alastair’s family restaurant. For a moment, I thought she was a doll in an embroidered blue satin dress. You can imagine my shock when the “doll” spoke. Victoria Wong was a very tiny, very ancient woman. She had to be well under five feet tall, and Lord knew how old.
“Hey, if you’ve been hearing all those stories about the haunted part of Savannah, just forget them,” Alastair said with sudden insight. “That’s all bushwa! Savannah is not a haunted city.”
“Alastair Wong, I’ll have you know, I’m no chicken,” I told him defiantly.
“Attagirl! So, you’ll come?” he encouraged and I finally agreed.
The turn out for the scavenger hunt wasn’t as great as Alastair hoped, but I thought it was pretty good. It was supposed to finish at Wong’s Chinese with a free dinner. That meant Alastair was extra busy. After all his fuss talking me into going, he had to leave and go back to the restaurant halfway through the hunt.
Several people remained in the group, but I wasn’t well acquainted with anyone. Before long I ended up getting separated from them. It was my own fault. I wandered away, distracted by a light that seemed to jounce and bounce along in the mist near the river. The next thing I knew, I was alone in the dark, foggy night.
I shivered, suddenly very aware of the cold. I called out to the group. No one answered. The fog got progressively thicker. It seemed to muffle the sound of my voice. Then my flashlight went dim. The faint light slowly extinguished. That’s when I got scared.
Worried about looking like a dumb Dora, I held back the scream that I really wanted to let loose. I choked on my fear. Breathless, I turned when a flicker of light came to my peripheral vision.
The light bobbed but came closer. It was a lantern, so bright that at first, I couldn’t see anything else. Then I saw the strange man who carried it. He wore a robe that left one shoulder bare, although he didn’t seem to notice the cold. His face was in shadows. The fog swirled around his feet as he walked.
Gasping with relief at no longer being alone, I moved toward him.
“Applesauce! Am I glad to see you!” I exclaimed.
He reacted with a bemused smile, but it faded when I sank to the ground in a near swoon. In my panicked state, my breathing had become so erratic that I was dizzy.
He stooped beside me to help me sit up. The man’s single long flowing sleeve fell back as he put two fingers to my forehead. His touch was cold.
It seemed just as strange to me at that moment as it does now, but the instant I looked into his eyes I trusted him.
“You are near to hypothermia. We must get your breathing back in order, yes?” he said.
Shivering, I nodded.
“First you must imagine that there is a sparkling furnace inside your belly,” he instructed in a carefree tone that made me chuckle. “Now relax your shoulders, as you pull your abdomen in ― while breathing in. Good. Now push your abdomen out when breathing out.”
He continued to talk and lead me through his way of breathing for several minutes. The simple fact that I was no longer alone made me feel better. The breathing helped a lot. I felt a new energy.
Abruptly he stood and looked around. With a smile he looked down at me, and placed a lotus blossom in my hands.
“Your friends will be here soon. You are safe. Just stay here, keep breathing as I taught you, and all will be well.”
An Art Nouveau lotus blossom frieze, circa 1915
My eyes followed his and I looked into the night. Not too far away, a small cluster of lights swayed and dipped, drawing closer.
He clapped his hands and my flashlight flickered. Then it came back on with triple brightness. Of course, I was looking directly at it. After that bright flare, the torch went dead again.
For a moment I could only see spots. When my vision cleared, he was gone.
Hearing familiar voices call my name, I yelled back to them. I got to my feet, still holding the lotus blossom. Soon Alastair and his diminutive cousin were at my side.
Alastair looked relieved, and Victoria chided me for always getting into some kind of predicament.
Victoria gasped softly as she beheld the flower in my hands. She held her lantern and slowly walked around me. The light illuminated the ground. More lotus blossoms made a circle around the area where I stood.
She turned to Alastair and whispered something that sounded like, “My boy, only a fool would let this one get away.”
“I see you have met my old master,” Victoria told me.
All I could think was nobody could be older than her, but I remembered my manners. I told them about the man who had been there helping me a moment before.
“He left so suddenly,” I added and described him. “Would that be him?”
Victoria nodded with a knowing smile.
“The lotus blossoms were enough to tell me it was the Master. I studied under him when I was a young girl. You are blessed to have been visited by him.”
I gave my head a shake, trying to make Victoria’s words fall into place and make sense.
“You don’t mean…”
Now back to Dr. Glen Hepker
Glen is also a master instructor of Tai Chi Chuan, Chi Kung, Kung Fu, as well as refined meditation and guided imagery. But I see him blushing, so I’ll stop listing his credentials. You can learn more about him at his blog, Facebook, and Amazon Author Page. If you’re lucky enough to be in Iowa, you can find him at Mason City Tai Chi and Wellness Center*.
As promised, here is the write-up from Glen, in his own words. Relax, learn, enjoy.
Reverse abdominal/diaphragmatic breathing, also know as ‘winter breathing’ or Taoist breathing in TCM/acupuncture theory, warms one up significantly. It also energizes people who suffer from lethargy, or anyone who is tired or sleepy. The opposite breathing practice (more commonly employed in modern times, i.e., people are more likely to be hyper and anxious these days), is coined ‘advance breathing’ or summer breathing/Buddhist breathing. It cools one down from actual heat and/or the heat of anxiety and stress.
In reverse abdominal breathing keep one’s shoulders relaxed as one pulls one’s abdomen in while breathing in, and push one’s abdomen out when breathing out. The simplest congruent guided imagery/visualization, is imagining that there is a sparkling furnace just behind one’s navel (CV8 in acupuncture). Imagine that the breathing fans the sparkling furnace more and more skillfully, until one can feel the sparkling furnace at will.
One imagines that one is fanning the furnace primarily with the energy coming in while breathing in, and that once one feels the warmth, one guides the warmth throughout one’s body during the breath out. The “sparkling” feeling of the furnace feels not unlike those sparkling spine-tingling/shivering feelings in sentimental and sweet and innocent loving moments, and also that which many people seem to get sometimes when urinating. In acupuncture theory, this is coined the ‘original chi’ (that which we were born with), which resides in the kidneys in healthy individuals. But the goal is to abundantly strengthen the furnace, and then learn to circulate the splendid energy, using the healthful logic of acupuncture theory.
The key to success in this reverse breathing is to absolutely keep doing it (in each instance/setting) until it works, nothing less than realization of the success of warmth. When successful, one will still feel and be aware of the cold, but it becomes less and less of an agitation. Having faith in this practice is of help – our psychological outlook is important, i.e., to not hinder a positive placebo effect. But any placebo effect only complements the practice, vs. in any fashion implying that the practice doesn’t, unto itself, really work.
One of the most important things to remember is that these arts/practices are true skills, i.e., taking time and effort –AND there is always room for improvement (which may the greatest of blessings, IF we embrace the notion).
Advance abdominal breathing is simply like pretending one’s lungs are in one’s abdomen, i.e., with the shoulders relaxed, breathe in push one’s abdomen out, breathe out pull it in. As I said, most people benefit more from this, in our modern times it is succinctly believed that more people than not, are anxious, stressed, and tense, vs. the opposite. Anxiety is like heat, and overt heat can be damaging as such, i.e., as viewed in TCM/acupuncture theory.
The most basic complementary guided imagery for this breathing, is similar. One imagines that one fans the sparkling furnace and learns to feel the furnace at will. (Through regular practice over a couple of months, most people can learn to have all-of-the-time diaphragmatic breathing – nothing more helpful and healthful.) With this breathing, one imagines bringing fresh cooling energy in with the breath in, and sending the stagnant inflammation/heat out with the breath out.
Everyone always has some level of stress, no matter how relaxed, but advance breathing can abbreviate the stress to next to nothing, especially congruent with one of our types of guided imagery, of which there are more than a dozen of these ages-old techniques. Tongue-in-cheek, we traditionally say, that one can never learn to levitate, walk through walls, be two places at once, or be invisible, without all-of-the-time diaphragmatic breathing and fanning of the sparkling furnace, learning to feel the furnace at will.
Brightest of blessings, Glen
I appreciate your visit. You are pos-i-lutely the cat’s pajamas!
Now, for my own shameless self-promotion… Here are the links to the books about Pip and her friends.
Murder at the Bijou — Three Ingredients I
This is a work of fiction. Characters, names, places, and incidents are either the product of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously, and any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, business establishments, locales, or events is entirely coincidental.
Copyright © 2018 by Teagan Ríordáin Geneviene
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