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  1. For me at least, the change was undeniable. Maybe 10 years ago, I had stubbornly allowed pain under my right ribs to go undiagnosed and untreated, for a year, maybe closer to two. At first it was just light chronic pain, but after that long a time, it had gotten to where I almost couldn't ignore it anymore. Happened to see a chiropractor at the time for a back injury, and mentioned it, and was given a flush recipe that included lemon juice, coca cola, and olive oil. It was the most disgusting concoction I'd ever drank up to that point. When I woke up the next morning, I took citrate of magnesium, and proceeded to spend a great deal of the morning on the toilet. The green stuff was kind of interesting, but what fascinated me was that I was completely pain free for the first time in a very long time. It was bliss, it was so unmistakeably different from what I'd gotten used to. I was pain-free for three days before light symptoms returned. I tried it again a week or so after the first time, and the pain was pretty much gone. Initially, I had to keep using it every few months to stay out of pain, until one day I realized that I needed to just change my diet. I can't swear that if I'd been examined by an M.D. that they would've taken my gallbladder out (what I learned about the symptoms I had, I can suspect it.) I don't know what other people experience and if it's got a belief/hype aspect to it. I don't think it's for everybody, and I don't think it's a long-term solution (it really drained my energy for 1-2 days afterwards). I do think it has applications, though, and it was effective for me.
  2. Thanks for sharing that, both posts. Those are some nice videos of Retuinskih and the other guy (hopefully he has a name!) I'm not sure I'd call it a truly fair comparison between the results of the approaches yet, as the clips you've chosen catch Sonnon and crew in teaching/talking mode, and the Russians while they are in performing mode. You know what I mean, it's not quite apples and apples. I'm not quite sure what I can add to the discussion on energy/physical skills, except maybe this. At the moment, I look at the former as involving as being natural, but more like a deeper (EM?) level of proprioception, as compared the structural end which comprises your awareness of position in space and all that. The more you train to chip away at the armoring preventing you from accessing either end of that spectrum, the more you expose the squishy (or solid) golden center underneath to more and more of the real world outside, and its influences. Whether you're moving physically or sitting still and meditating, a squishy center is at risk of being pushed and pulled like taffy by those influences. I believe its important feedback though, even being pushed that way. I don't suspect that that center can grow and evolve the way it was meant to hiding behind the armor all the time. You asked early on if the value of Sonnon's programs outweigh his marketing techniques. I haven't answered that yet, and my answer is yes. And yes, there are also plenty of ways to train without going through him. I've run into several individuals who train ROSS in my various travels, but I can't offer any contacts. I'm sure they have material on the web you can order, but you'll want to eventually find an instructor or training group. You'll find pieces of his system all over the place. You'll find versions of intuflow in Hawaiian hula culture, belly dance, tai chi warmups, you name it. Yoga is clearly everywhere these days, and you've already studied that. If you're book oriented, check out Structural Yoga Therapy if you want to see a book that describes two of the three aspects of his system. They've had clubs in the middle east for centuries so there's a whole culture to be drawn upon there, and you can order clubbells directly from torque if you're not handy with steel and rubber/polyurethane crafts. You can piece it all back together that way from what people share. It could take a while to put it back together the way you want it, but it will undoubtedly be an amazing, unforgettable journey, because you will have earned with your sweat everything you encounter. Or, you can work with the dvds that make sense and fit your goals, try the training protocols and see how they work for you... and just not drink the koolaid. You don't need to believe in Sonnon.. you only need to believe that what you really want is possible for you, and that you can get it by fueling discipline with passion. (Some people need the allure of "Russian secrets" or "Taoist secrets" or whatever to incent them to get off their *sses and train. Some people don't.) I would like to recommend that when you do decide on the direction of your training, that you put some 'skin in the game'. Dive into the shallow end, invest some of your money as well as your sweat. It sounds like you're working with just what you can get for free off the net, or borrow from friends. There's always some value in that, but you'll find that you do better if you put a little bit of you on the line. Whoever you end up studying with. I've never regretted paying hard earned money for exactly what I was after at the time.
  3. It would probably be fairer to say "seem to have responded." Without meeting and getting to know the person behind the persona, one can only make educated guesses. All we really have to make that guess is the content (what they decided to share), and the manner that they decided to share it - what they thought would reach their audience. If nothing else, I actually admire folks who risk that judgment and put themselves out there anyway. Maybe it's not perfect, but it allows different ideas to become accessible to people who might not've had the opportunity otherwise. Those are two things that Americans definitely suck at! Stillness is definitely not encouraged in our culture. We distract ourselves so much that when we stop moving, what we were distracting ourselves from comes to the surface like a thousand three year olds tugging on your shirt. Most of the time, better to physically exhaust an american first. My guess is that they suck at flow in groups for much the same reason. We encourage the success and development of the individual over development of the larger group. But I also guess that the best way to help americans find that by helping them remove what gets in the way of their personal flow first. And I'm with you on the drum circle experience. I haven't done it in years, but I still have my drum (one weekend, our drum circle even made our drums together. Very cool!) But it's incredible when you make that shift. Its one thing to 'know' that I am connected to something bigger than me. But then you feel it. I'm not sure I would separate energy skills from physical skills. What happens to you depends more on the kind of person you are. If you're the kind of person who would say they were empathic by nature, and/or kind of malleable in the face of stronger personalities (and a rather large share of new agers/healers are in my experience) then yes, it absolutely matters, and it might be better to go with DVDs and books over live training until you find yourself in a place where you're really comfortable with what you've seen and can trust enough to study live with a person. (You'll probably grow frustrated with them someday anyway, but learning how to deal with that, and as a result refining your personality boundaries, is just as important a skill as any other) If you have a pretty good handle on who you are when you're around others, it's a little different. Its more like 'this person seems to have been where I'd like to go. I'm willing to give what they're teaching a go to see what happens.' and it's more like learning a skill than absorbing a part of their personality. If your personality changes, it's a result of having new skills and life experiences. You do expose yourself more to the personality of the teacher going that route, but you stay or go with that teacher based on results. I will say that it's so much easier to learn when you've got someone with experience nearby, who can give you feedback on things that might take you years of solitary study to notice, much less unravel on your own. Tradeoffs... I'd agree with that. The way I see it, they're all fundamentally the same thing... systems and techniques that were designed to identify and remove baggage. Its only a question of which one(s) best address our unique collection of restrictions, and which one(s) we can convince ourselves to actually do every day. I know you were directing this at someone else, but could you post a few of those videos/websites to this thread? I'd like to see what you're seeing.
  4. What's interesting to ponder is, when someone gets to the point where they can take something like a slavic health system and combine it with qigong and feldenkrais, and gives up the job in the steel mill or the desk job to teach it out... I have this sneaking suspicion they'll probably end in the same position as Sonnon is now. Searching for the best way to reach people, and despite their efforts, having their personality and errors along the way subject to intense scrutiny. What fun! These are great questions you're asking, and as you follow that passion, I suspect you're going to find some really fascinating things. The few cents I have on the subject isn't all that unique. There's that saying that goes something like, 'don't follow in the footsteps of a teacher, instead, seek what they sought.' Sonnon's methods of conveying what he's learned/marketing/whatever don't resonate with certain people. That's fair. But, if we back away from the personality and the system, and the techniques and origins... what are we really after here? it's intriguing, the idea of an experience of this thing he's calling 'flow'. Thing is, expression of 'flow' is unique to an individual. Physical feats may or may not be one person's expression of flow, although physical blockages are easier to start with for most people (vs. trying to get a westerner to cultivate their internal environment with microcosmic orbit or fusion exercises or something). We're not going to find a teacher who can give us our experience of it. And we'll certainly never experience it by mindlessly copying one. What we do find, though, is that there are a lot of people and a lot of systems out there that are rather good at locating and unraveling impediments to flow. Things that prevent us from expressing our inner genius in whatever endeavor we're pursuing. Sonnon's system in at least this one respect is just like every other system out there. It's what he found in his search to deal with what got in his way. And, you could add, the rest of it are some of the possibilities that he's been able to explore as a result of working through away some of his own impediments. Same as Mantak Chia. Same as (insert system founder here). But its my feeling that the only thing that matters is what we do in our search to get rid of what's in our way. That may involve digesting an existing system out there, or it may involve experimentally piecing one together as Taobums tend to do. Beyond the personality of who happens to have the information we need, it's getting rid of what separates us from (flow, the experience of qi, the present moment, insert system buzzword here) that matters. Its the results of our disciplined exploration and application, of a given technique/system/teacher that resonates with us that matters. Does it effectively help us through some of what blocks our way? Does it integrate well with who we are, or otherwise make sense to us? As long as the personality stuff doesn't interfere with the results I'm after, I'm good to go.
  5. That'd be a pretty common experience, actually. You've just bored with the ways our society encourages us to distract ourselves from what's real - meditation just woke you up to that. And I'm excited for you. Infinite possibility awaits in these "pauses". See if you can head out to your favorite nature trail, climb the mountain, or something out away from people, and go sit on a big rock. And think. And then not think. And feel... feel the breeze. Feel the sun on your face, the mist or the rain, the rock under my butt, the mosquito as its drawing blood, the water sloshing in your mouth and down your throat as you take a drink. Feel what's real. Eventually, you'll be able to follow those feelings inside, and find something that you're passionate about again. Something that adds to your life, and the lives of those around you. You'll eventually find you can go out on dates, watch movies and masturbate again (not necessarily concurrently! ) But it'll be because you're engaged in life again.. you're not using it to distract yourself from something deep and important coming from inside you.
  6. Fruitarianism

  7. The Deadly Huashan Hiking Trail

    Y'all haven't seen anything until you see the monk doing tai chi chuan right up to the edge of his peak. Its amazing! Yes, its a dangerous place. But absolutely breathtaking.
  8. Yoga or Chi Kung

    Conditioning - including but not limited to cardio - is a necessary part of training. As I understand it, the old time teachers didn't have to worry about that so much because the hard work required in their lives (fieldhand, blacksmith, etc) provided a great deal of that conditioning. The more the east becomes like the sedentary west, the more they'll find they need to do it, too. I actually just read a biography of Bill Bowerman a few days ago (past U of Oregon track coach, Olympic caliber) who highlighted the same point in an argument with a New Zealand coach, who was teasing Bowerman about incorporating weight training for his athletes. Bowerman made the point that, at that time, they were still mostly working fields and baling hay in the fields of NZ, and that if his athletes were doing the same, he wouldn't bother.
  9. Yoga or Chi Kung

    My impression is that, from a physical standpoint, qigong is a little more focused on joint health, and yoga is more focused on the connective tissue health. Both are important when it comes to flexibility. If your joints are in good shape, diving into yoga will probably give you faster results. If they're not, qigong might be a safer option to start with, and work the yoga in as you start to feel better.
  10. Finding Time

    I remember I used to sit in my high school chemistry class and practice a hypnotic script that I learned (only thing I knew about at the time) Nothing fancy, just putting my awareness in my feet, relaxing what I could sitting here, then moving up and down the body. Not to put myself to sleep to escape a dull class, just to practice. I found it much more refreshing (and fewer scholastic side effects) than sleeping. I found it was easier to memorize things too. Working the inner smile would be a great way to spend the time. I agree about the sleeping thing, but like mentioned, you don't have to go nuts with it. Just get up 10-15 minutes earlier, and use the extra time for your practices. In a very short while, you'll find that you naturally need less sleep, and have more energy for school, sports, etc.
  11. RMAX powered IMA

    I bought this a few weeks ago (after seeing this thread, actually). So I haven't had time to integrate it yet. But the technique and principles seem quite sound. I've taken the weeklong Iron Shirt class with HT, and from a martial/structural perspective, this video makes the lecture in that class make a lot more sense. Worth it, in my opinion.
  12. Rebuilding Cartilage

    I was told a couple years ago by a tracker student that I could either take glucosamine pills off the shelf, or I could just start eating animal cartilage, that it was the same stuff. So I just started doing that, focusing on chicken knuckles and branching out from there a bit (that also got me in the habit of going for marrow too). Obviously, pasture fed animals whenever possible. I liked this link on it.. sounds like the good ol' home brew be good for the joints, too!
  13. Z-health

    Yeah, but I'm willing to bet you can overdo any system, yoga or otherwise, and cause problems. The only safe and effective system of stretching I can recommend from experience is active isolated stretching by Aaron Mattes. And I injured myself in that system too, misapplying the principles and going a little faster than I could accomodate at the time! Don't get me wrong, I got a ton out of it. But it doesn't address much in the way of joint mobility issues (you get a little), which is why I left it behind, and only use fragments of that system as necessary. I got away from yoga too initially, because many instructors near where I lived then were teaching it like the articles you describe, sacrificing health to get into poses they weren't ready for. Yoga instructors were second only to waitresses in terms of imbalanced/injured clients I saw, and it turned me off for a looong time. But... I'm open to it again, because I've seen how dramatic an impact its had on my recovery time from workouts. I think it just depends on the instructor you have.
  14. Z-health

    Well, yeah, but that's hardly a secret. The original release of the program (before WW) was even called Zdorvye, which was on the product list until very recently. Anyway, you know what Z-health is now. Same material in a different wrapper.
  15. Z-health

    Oh you wouldn't like Z-Health. I read his manual... it was warrior wellness with a little body flow. (Cobb used to be a student of Sonnon's.)