April 26, 2017 at 2:06 am #1460
Wall Street Journal Monday 4/24/2017 front page of Lifestyle Section
A Business Professor’s Fitness Secret: Qigong
At the University of Michigan or on the road, a negotiation expert uses the Chinese practice as the linchpin of his routine
George Siedel, a professor at the University of Michigan’s Ross School of Business in Ann Arbor, trains alongside students and faculty at the school’s Och Fitness Center. ‘You have no excuse to miss a workout when the gym is steps from the classroom,’ he says. Photo: Trever Long for The Wall Street Journal
Jen MurphyApril 22, 2017 7:00 a.m. ET
“Slow is strong,” says George Siedel, a professor at the University of Michigan’s Ross School of Business in Ann Arbor. The 72-year-old is a disciple of qigong, (pronounced chee-gong), a Chinese practice based on gentle movements, meditation and breathing. He was introduced to qigong in 1992 while teaching in Beijing. “Locals would gather each morning in the parks to do this odd dance,” he says.
Mr. Siedel travels at least two months a year lecturing on negotiations and liked how he could practice qigong anywhere. He also incorporates elements of tai chi—similar to qigong but with more structured movements—and credits his routine of dance-like exercises, performed at a snaillike pace, for improving his golf and tennis games.
At home in Ann Arbor, Mr. Siedel complements his moving meditation with training at the state-of-the-art Och Fitness Center, located in the business school, steps from his classroom. “There’s no excuse to skip a workout,” he says. Sticking to a routine on the road, however, proved daunting. While Mr. Siedel is disciplined about his daily qigong and stretching routine, cardio and strength pose a challenge. “I hate using hotel gyms,” he explains. “But I was putting on pounds.”
Last summer, a trainer at Och Fitness Center created an equipment-free routine that he could do in a hotel room comprised of body-weight and resistance-band exercises and interval work for cardio. Still, he missed the motivation of a trainer.
Mr. Siedel received an Amazon Echo speaker for Christmas last year and jokes that the device’s voice assistant app, Alexa, has become his new workout buddy. Alexa calls out when to start and stop exercises and even compliments him with phrases such as, “You’re as buff as a superhero” or “If I had eyes I’d say you looked jacked.”
“It sounds silly, but it really keeps me motivated,” he says. “I think my partner Nancy gets jealous.”
Traditional qigong exercises are based on the natural movements and postures of the tiger, deer, bear, monkey and, in this case, a variation of the crane. Mr. Siedel says the moving meditation has improved his golf and tennis games. Photo: Trever Long for The Wall Street Journal
Mr. Siedel starts each workout with six tai chi-inspired warm-up exercises he learned at a free seminar on campus. Each exercise is based on an animal movement. He then does qigong for about 15 minutes. For example, to perform weaving snake, he clasps his hands above his heads and weaves them to the floor and then back above his head, forming a figure eight. “The exercises challenge my balance,” he says.
If he is in Ann Arbor, he does cardio on the elliptical machine. On the road, Alexa commands him through a circuit that includes five minutes of jumping jacks and high knees, five minutes of pulsing squats and mountain climbers and five minutes of burpees and lunges. He rests for 90 seconds between each group of exercises.
Every other day he adds an additional 20 minutes of strength training to the routine, either using equipment at Och Fitness Center or resistance bands on the road. He runs through a series of stretches after each workout
Mr. Siedel spends four months a year in Sonoma, Calif., with his partner. They often go on walks and he tries to play tennis and golf as much as possible.
Mr. Siedel grew up eating a meat-and-potatoes diet. “After dinner we’d dip bread in a grease-filled skillet as a treat,” he says. “I’m not sure how I’m still alive.” He jokes that he’s now a pescatarian with “social carnivore” tendencies. “When I have a chance to try unique cuisines abroad or am dining out at work functions, I enjoy meat,” he says. He starts the day with a baby aspirin, a multivitamin, a cup of coffee and steel-cut oatmeal mixed with blueberries and cranberries. On campus, he frequents the business school’s cafe for the salad bar. Dinner is fish with vegetables and a glass of wine, followed by nuts and dark chocolate. He splurges on a post-golf India Pale Ale or two with friends.
The Cost & Gear
Mr. Siedel pays $360 a year for his Och Fitness Center membership. One-hour personal training sessions cost $60. He occasionally treats himself to a one-hour massage, $85. His resistance bands cost $30. The Amazon Echo speaker retails for $180 and works with the free voice assistant Alexa app, which he can access from his smartphone. “It’s kind of like using a walkie talkie,” he says. He isn’t brand loyal. “I’m a pretty cheap guy. I buy whatever is on sale.”
When working out, Mr. Siedel prefers TV to music. ESPN is his go-to station. “Watching sports, particularly University of Michigan football, amps me up,” he says.
The Case for Qigong
The slow movements of qigong, a traditional Chinese health practice believed to decrease stress and increase energy, are deceptive, says Ken Nelson, a yoga and qigong instructor based in Lenox, Mass.
“It looks like nothing is happening, but mindful movement has many physical benefits,” he says. “Controlled motions improve motor coordination. When you slow down, you really work the small, stabilizing muscles in the feet, ankles, legs, which improves balance.” Dr. Nelson says the practice is also great for attention training and calming the mind.
Qigong, which translates to energy cultivation, can be thought of as energy exercise, he says. Like in yoga, qigong links the breath to the movement. The free-form practice often involves a single move repeated. Qigong is a major component of Chinese martial arts, such as, tai chi, which involves a series of movements executed in a particular alignment.
Dr. Nelson says the beauty of qigong is that it’s accessible to anyone. “You can practice in your business clothes at your desk or outside in your pajamas in the backyard,” he says.June 5, 2017 at 6:56 am #1556
Sorry, but I think it’s worth watching as well this short documentary; it’s also still avaible for free.
At the center of Derman’s book is Benedict de Spinoza’s ‘Ethics, Demonstrated in Geometrical Order’.
It’s tries to develop a kind of system of emotional alchemy.
Sorry for my broken English.
HOWDYJune 6, 2017 at 5:49 pm #1560
Quants : most humans in the West are conditioned to understand life materially as if it were a big machine. Here with Quants they notice that some things are happening that are not part of the machine, they try to explain them with a different type of mechanical explanations.
But … life is real, there is free will. Anything can happen.
What people see reflects their own state of consciousness, if you experience yourself as nothing more than machine then you explain the world in that way.
Ayn Rand for instance totally rejected this because she existed at a higher state of consciousness, she experienced her own free will and saw the immense value of it.
But … such things are meaningless to those who exist as part of the matrix of subconscious mechanical functioning, like the animals.June 8, 2017 at 4:38 am #1562
…Ayn Rand for instance totally rejected this because she existed at a higher state of consciousness?
Ayn Rand talks about drugs :
“I do not approve of the so-called hippies, but I do not approve of any government control over drugs. The government does not have the right to tell any individual what to do with his or her health and life. You probably know that I received a prescription for the stimulant Benzedrine, or “speed.” I can say rationally that it increases my happiness and my productivity. For example, some time ago I went to Studio 54, because I love to dance on speed. I took fifteen speed pills, and I got into a contest with Liza Minnelli over who could roar most like a jaguar. She simply sounded like a stupid lion.
Then the inside of my head began to sound like a jet engine and so I went to the bathroom. I took maybe ten more speed pills and sat in a stall and wrote a new chapter of “Atlas Shrugged.” Perhaps twenty-five thousand words, all on toilet paper. I cannot include these words in a new edition, alas, because I did not write them so much as encode them on the toilet paper by biting it.
As I write this, I am drinking speed, and you cannot stop me. You cannot stop me, America, with your altruism and your Alan Alda and your Fresca cans biting at my skin. I shall speed across this country like a great high-speed train and the U.S. shall be forever changed in my wake.
Yes, I am both a speedboat and a speed train, and I will mix metaphors if I wish and bend language to my own reality like rails of garbage steel. Because Ronald Reagan has deposed Jimmy Carter, and I predict that by 2013 my influence will be profound, and a new generation of leaders will hallow my name, and devotion to self-interest and capitalism and the free market will not be the exception but the rule, and these leaders will naturally share my disapproval of religion, my support of abortion rights, and my love of Godiva chocolates. I have to stop writing now, because I have chewed through my typewriter.
Talk to you next week, readers of “Parade,” and remember to send me your favorite ways to spice up Hamburger Helper.”June 25, 2017 at 3:20 pm #1605June 25, 2017 at 5:28 pm #1607
Mankind is poised between collective insect life and true individuals. There is a rather boring power struggle endlessly going on between the two.June 25, 2017 at 6:08 pm #1608
Sorry for my broken English.
What might seem for some quite scary is that, it seems that, in the end morality is only necessary for the show and self discipline; otherwise it doesn’t matter at all.June 26, 2017 at 11:02 pm #1610
Morality is an ambiguous term and is sometimes understood to mean merely external rules of behavior without reference to the inner or spiritual essence. In Daoism there is a kind of moral or ethical view that is based on the understanding of the relationship between the development of certain inner qualities and the overall energetic and spiritual development of the individual. Here are some quotes from Mantak Chia’s Awaken Healing Light of the Tao.
“In the early stages of the Universal Tao system, students begin absorbing and transforming energy for the development of the physical, energy, and soul bodies. Cultivating the virtues and compassion is the other half of the practice, which refines the relationship among these bodies. The more virtuous energy you develop, the more easily you will be able to clear your channels of any blockages to your energy flow as you transform and refine your energy by circulating it in the Microcosmic orbit.”
“Taoists revere compassion as the highest form of virtue because its basis is empathy, not sympathy, and it elevates the consciousness beyond human weakness.”
“The difference between empathy and compassion … is that compassion is not an emotion or feeling, but a higher state of consciousness that naturally radiates the best human qualities. Taoists regard compassion as the finest form of chi.”June 27, 2017 at 10:27 am #1611
Filling yourself up with higher and higher cosmic energy … is not really going to work.
Do you know who you are ? Are you even looking ?
We are so accustomed to the idea of buying Ferraris and Fur Coats to solve problems that we naturally transfer this idea to spirituality, instead it is more and more cosmic energies.
But energetic states are only a small beginning. Who lives inside this state ? How can we live in illumination ? How do we become present inside ? How do we become alive inside ?
I am afraid few people have the answer or recognize the problem. After all they have a cosmic lamborghini and for a monkey they think it’s enough.
However it is not enough to save you from death.July 14, 2017 at 11:49 am #1638
Aquila is a constellation on the celestial equator. Its name is Latin for ‘eagle’ and it represents the bird who carried Zeus/Jupiter’s thunderbolts in Greco-Roman mythology.
The Garuda is a large legendary bird, bird-like creature, or humanoid bird that appears in both Hindu and Buddhist mythology. Garuda is the mount (vahana) of the Lord Vishnu. Garuda is the Hindu name for the constellation Aquila.
In Tibetan Buddhism and Bön, Zhitro (Standard Tibetan: ཞི་ཁྲོ) is the name referring to a cycle or mandala of 100 peaceful (zhi) and wrathful (khro) tantric deities and of a genre of scriptures and associated tantric practices which focus on those deities which represent the purified elements of the body and mind. These hundred peaceful and wrathful deities are believed to manifest to a deceased person following the dissolution of the body and consciousness in the intermediate state, or bardo, between death and rebirth. The best-known, though by no means only, example of this genre of texts and practices is commonly known as the Kar-ling Zhitro cycle after Karma Lingpa, the tertön who (re)discovered or revealed this collection of texts. The text which is well known in the west as “Tibetan Book of the Dead” (though more properly called “The Great Liberation by Hearing in the Intermediate State”) forms one section of Karma Lingpa’s Zhitro cycle.
This would seem to be something quite involuntary, but my opinion is that there isn’t any reason to be proud (devamana) if one becomes an initiate through substance abuse/intoxicants without any real discipline.
…how do we become alive inside…
I still think that Castanedan recapitulation should be central practice as long it’s not developed as a fluently functioning faculty.
To deal with the full kundalini family (kula kundalini) probably can only mean literal death for any average human being, but I cannot guarantee.
In ‘The Eagle’s Gift’ Castaneda (actually person called Don Genaro) also makes supposedly humorous remark that the Eagle doesn’t only lay (luminous) eggs but (energetic) turds, which are then there as disturbance.
Sorry for my broken English.
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