2/28/10

temperature apartment good

it's possible to control the temperature well in the apartment in which i am staying, at least in my room. i managed a practice with good breath this morning.

2/27/10

meditation lunch temple

this morning i went into town to join the meditation group. we enjoyed a tasty lunch afterwards. the good doctor took me to a realtor with the idea of helping me find an apartment. at the moment, though, i need to find a flat to share. afterwards we went to Longhua Temple, possibly the largest Buddhist temple here. i had not visited it before. i will have to go back with my camera another day. the statues where among the most beautiful i have yet seen. the original temple dates from 242 AD. the present structures follow the style of the Northern Song Dynasty of 977 AD, but the structures where rebuilt in the Qing Dynasty in the late 1800s. it is the largest, most complete and most ancient temple complex in the city.

2/25/10

apartment city braces

i'm in the process of moving to a different apartment. the mats are rolled up in boxes. by mid month i may be in an apartment in the city rather than in the suburbs as now. who knows, if i find an apartment to share near the shala i could practice in the teacher's room more often. my teeth have responded to the braces such that once more i now have straight teeth. wo-hoo!

2/23/10

an hour sequence

i practiced an hour this morning - warm up poses, half of standing sequence, handstand and closing sequence. i the evening i have been doing twists and chest opening seated asanas without vinyasas for about 20 minutes.

2/21/10

short standing asanas

this week i'm continuing with a short practice of standing asanas in the morning and short chest opening asanas in the evening. spring has sprung; the weather is warmer. i found a freeware with which it is easier to upload music to the iTouch than with iTunes, so i have placed a lot of good music in it now. i forgot i had these cartoons sent to me by N. whose iPhone created them. the first one represents her and the second me.

2/19/10

report laugh steps

i don't have much to report today other than i'm working hard. my lower back hurts a bit from so much sitting at the computer. in the evenings i spontaneously do a lot of dropback practice to help that. i occasionally go to www.failblog.org to laugh. i liked the clip of someone feeling so cool wearing his dark sunglasses on a stage that he didn't see the steps when walking off it. the caption was that sometimes you have to sacrifice to look cool.

2/17/10

fireworks outside window


i was able to capture these two pictures of fireworks outside my window last night. i think last night was the last day of the official celebrations, so there were extra rounds of fireworks around everywhere until midnight.

on my first try to capture the pictures, all the photos came out black. in my hurry in the darkness, i did not remove the lense cap. doh. i bought a new cap recently to replace one that fell every time the camera was handled. if the old one was on, it would have fallen and enabled more pictures. heh.
regarding practice, it was standing poses in the morning and seated poses in the evening, each during a half hour period. it's probably an unusual routine. however, one yogini, SnowWhite, told me she once resorted to a similar routine during an intensely busy period in her life.

2/16/10

short music labor

i've been doing short one half hour practices in the morning, then doing a few asanas in the late afternoon this week. the rest of the day has been spent on intense creative labors. listening to music helps, mainly Mozart and Bach. funny that despite that the labor is related to graphics i can't think of something to put here in the blog. oh, i thought of something. how about this? haha.

2/14/10

fireworks

for the first time in my life i saw fireworks exploding outside my window, at a distance of 10 feet from me. i'm on the 11th floor and that is the height the fireworks reached before exploding into their array of colors. i was dumbfounded and mesmerized so i did not photograph them and just enjoyed them. it was beautiful. i asked myself if the window was enough protection, whether there was any danger of something exploding inside, or igniting flammable things. there have been fireworks everywhere over the weekend. they leave a mess on the floor, but are very cheerful.

practiced largest repair

i practiced an hour and a half this morning, my mind giving discourses constantly. after practice i decided to go into town. i had read that Chinese visit the Buddhist temples at certain times of the year. i had forgotten that New Year's day would be one of them. two weeks ago i had lost a black 18 bead bracelet i obtained in PutuoShan. it was not expensive, but i attached some meaning about its loss to the ongoings in my life. i was determined to go to a temple and find a replacement for it. yesterday, while on the way to purchase a gift for my host i stopped at the Jing'An temple which is in the middle of the city. after adding some incense to the pyre and paying my respects to Shakyamuni and Guanyin, i looked for the temple store in which to buy the bracelet. the place is being renovated, so there wasn't a store inside the temple. so i thought i would go to the largest temple in the city, Jade Buddha Temple. i knew i was near when i could hear a comotion of people.


the line to go to the temple went around the block and then three blocks down. heh. not all the time was lost. i spotted an architectural site, this unusual residential tower in which the architects designed an end piece to resemble a stone mountain - cave windows and all. talk about getting literal inspiration from nature for our work.

i decided then to go back to Jing'An temple and find one of the Buddhist stores located about two blocks from it, which i have visited before. there i found two bracelets. they warmed my heart. it's strange to explain. they restore feelings of comfort in me, a sense i can repair things. maybe in the coming month i will go back to PutuoShan on the overnight boat and obtain a new bracelet. for now, these are cool. against the red they remind me it's Valentine's, so Happy Valentines.

2/13/10

新年快乐. Xin Nian Kuai Le!

新年快乐. Xin Nian Kuai Le! Happy New Year. it's New Year's Eve in the Chinese calendar. the meaning of it to people here is like Thanksgiving or Christmas in the US, a time for families to gather together. my colleague W. invited a my colleague A. and I to dinner with her husband and family. A. had to go to be with her family up north because of an illness in her family. traditionally, it's customary to spend the evening with the parents of one of the spouses, and then the next day go to the in-laws. however, W. says that nowadays they just mix all of the parents together in one dinner. there was a nice meal of about 9 different dishes, 4 of them vegetarian from which i ate. W's father and i shared some local apple wine served warm, with ginger slices in it. the temperature has dropped to freezing, so the warm wine was a treat. fireworks were everywhere in the sky during the taxi ride back home. they don't wait until midnight but start at sundown. it's quite cheerful. they continue around my apartment, although my community is more isolated than where we were.

2/11/10

from a cafe

i'm writing from a cafe in the city. seems a bunch of us decided to work today from the cafe, owned by one of our colleagues. it's fun to be in a place where music from all over the world is piped and there is yummy food and drinks brought to our table as we work on a project. i may be visiting this cafe often in the coming months. i'm working on some graphics for a presentation. other than this, my experiences in the last few days have become quite instrospective.

2/9/10

bag UD variation


i got a sleeping bag to keep my legs warm when in meditation at night before going to sleep. i hear these are a must if you go on retreat. the weather is getting warmer, though.

i thought i'd try this variation of Urdhva Danurasana today. it may look cool, but the height of the chair made it painful to get into it. however, the back felt good afterwards.

2/6/10

yoga demonstration at celebration

here is the video clip of my yoga presentation a week ago at our annual celebration. it was taken by a colleague with a handheld camera. it takes 11 minutes to watch. i found a free trial software to convert it to a format that can be uploaded. with file size reduction the result is a bit grainy. unfortunately the conversion software put its watermark on every frame. (for those unfamiliar with watching a video in a blog - to view, click on the lower left of the frame, where the gray triangular arrow shape is located.) i attempted to load the entire video in one fell scoop but this service provider hiccuped, so i divided it into three videos. enjoy.

video
video
video

2/5/10

practice kurmasana zen

i haven't blogged much this week. it's probably tied to my inability to practice this past week. actually i'm thinking of practicing a bit this evening before going to sleep, following a little what Grimmly is doing.

my colleague T. showed me a video of David Swenson doing Kurmasana and asked me what the health benefits of the position was. he asked me if i would talk during one of our tea breaks, when we discuss topics in design, about the benefits of various yoga positions. it's a good idea, but i'll have to ask permission to do so, since i think the topics are supposed to be architecture related. i don't have Lino Miele's book with me and that is the best source that describes the health benefits of each asana. so i would have to rely on my memory, or see if i find information in the internet on the health benefits of particular asanas.

my colleague asked me to mention some statistics he heard today. 1% of the population of the city we live in, Shanghai, contracts cancer. it is probably due to lifestyle and environmental issues. that means one in a hundred people contract the disease here. food for thought, that we need to stay healthy, exercise, handle our stress, and (cough) avoid smoking. that last one is probably an inside joke. smoking seems like a birthright around these parts.

last week the meditation teacher attempted to correlate two of the paths of Buddhism that we find in China - Zen (or Chan) and Mahayanan (or Pureland). the greater number of practitioners here follow Mahayanan, which involves recitations of sutras during the entire meditation period. Zen schools are dedicated to quiet meditation, where you have to face the mind. that's my introduction to the subject. what the teacher said was that the role of Zen is to make you reach your pure heart. when you practice the essence taught in the heart sutra (no eyes, no ears, no nose, no smell, no touch, no object of mind...) you reach your heart and the senses become acute. in those moments, one sense can perceive what another sense usually does. so you could theoretically "see" with an ear.

so Zen opens the heart. the role of the Mahayanan practice is to transport you to another realm, to make you cross a bridge or take a boat over a river. well, i think that is what he said. frankly, the tradition i was handed down so far is Zen. i accept learning another practice of Buddhism. however, reading Zen Baggage, a Pilgrim through China, by Bill Porter, i learn that there are several monasteries of Zen active here. Zen practice may be active in those communities, but they may be in remote locations and available to monks. lay practitioners can access it when going on retreats. when i lived in California, Zen communities where more accessible to lay practitioners. but not here, so consequently, it is a form less practiced. practicing Buddhism is encouraged here because it is believed to foster social stability. i would add that it helps fill a void in people's lives that cannot be filled by consumerism or by acquiring material things.

2/3/10

pictures start converting

i've posted all of the pictures on PutuoShan. next week is the start of Spring Festival and i have plans to visit Japan, where i plan to visit Tokyo and Kyoto. my yoga practices at home have been difficult and distracted. i have been working to the wee evening hours. i received the video of the yoga performance but need to find some freeware to convert mts to mp3 format so that it can be posted.

and since i'm rambling this morning, here's some more blab. Back Bay Yoga in Boston is hosting a weekend taller with Kate O'Donnell. here's a link to their programs. the announcement included this snapshot. it makes me think that with all of the temple-photography i tend to do, i should at least do one photo of me in front of a gate or temple in warrior pose or sumethin'. it would mean i'd need to take with me the tripod...

2/2/10

Fayu Temple at Putuo Shan

Fayu Temple is located on the north east side of the island of Putuo Shan, at the base of the stairs that lead to the mountain temple of Huiji. it was begun during the Ming Dynasty (1368-1644). it is the second largest complex in the island. the buildings are very large in scale and hug the mountainside among lofty and ancient trees. it started as a Zen Buddhism temple and was later dedicated to Guanyin.

bridge at the entrance to the temple

lions that guard the gates

carved stone

the protectors of the Buddha of the Future

Shakyamuni Buddha

Guanyin

representations of different aparitions of Guanyin

behind the central Guanyin statue, on the back of the main temple, there is a giant statue of Guanyin standing, with hundreds of sculptures around it. i did not have a wide enough angle on my camera to capture this remarkable ensemble. this is as complex as a Baroque era European religious sculpture, in my opinion. i imagine that the way to really appreciate it would be when the doors in the back of the temple are open and it can be viewed from a distance. looking at it up close is simply a mesmerizing experience.

details of the doors

the restored rafters under the roof

the yellow glazed tile of the roof of a small temple

detail of a window

a beautiful thousand hands Guanyin statue. you can read this website for more a description on the legend of how the thousand hands Guanyin statue concept developed.

three Buddhas statues of Shakyamuni. my nephew asked me during the Christmas holiday why in Buddhism they repeat the statues to a same person or deity, within a same temple. i did not know how to answer at that time. here is an example of what he means. i remember visiting a temple in Yangshuo that had three giant Buddha statues such as these; then the walls were lined with thousands of small golden statues. i reflected that maybe people commissioned the small statues in remembrance of their loved ones that had died, when they hired the temple to conduct ceremonies in their memory. these statues may have been placed in the temple in remembrance. this would explain the meaning of small statues that line the walls of some temples. it does not explain why the central temple would contain three or five statues of the Buddha side by side. three and five may be auspicious numbers, but still i don't have an answer at the moment.

below are beautiful carvings in stone. these appeared to me to be created recently and they seem to depict typical life. i don't detect the story of the Buddha in it.

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