Our universe and everything included in it is ultimately energy. This is true not only for physical objects, but also for abstract phenomena such as communication and intention. Thus, if we wish to develop and change ourselves in a solid way the process has to start in our own energy and the ambient one - and there are many ways to go.
With Garden of Feathers you find what may be the widest and most qualified energy practice in Sweden, from both asian and european traditions. During courses and the basic educational year that is organized by Thorwald you work in the chinese tradition och learn qigong, tai chi, zen meditation and mindfulness. You find information about the courses/meetings here, and about the year here.
Other methods for energy practice come from Correllian Nativist Wicca, a spiritual tradition built on old european and north american traditions. The methods are chakra based without noteworthy physical movements. Here we practice in a way very different from qigong etc. and have other purposes. You will get to know these forceful and very varied tools within the framework of the tarot and rune courses and during our multi-day courses.
Sub-areas in the chinese tradition
Zen meditation & traditional Buddhist mindfulness
Humans all over the world have meditated for thousands of years and the diversity of meditation techniques is huge. The meditation variant taught by Garden of Feathers comes from zen buddhism and is named shikantaza, which is japanese and means 'nothing but sitting'. Shikantaza is influenced by taoism and its core concept wu-wei, 'unintentional action'. This meditation practice is easy to understand and from one point of view simple: by concentration shall the practitioner reach a condition of freedom from thoughts, silence and general emptiness of mind.
It is important to realize that meditation gives several effects: on the one hand it heals the body, on the other it develops us mentally and spiritually. Its pure physical effects are so far relatively unknown in the west, and the healing process can be summarized like this: in a quiet and empty mind we generate low-frequency brain waves at delta, theta, and alfa level (0,5-2 Hz, 3-7 Hz respective 8-13 Hz) and when these appear the body reacts and start spontaneous healing processes. Never will the link between body and mind be more obvious!
If you choose to learn about meditation through us, you will get a good overall picture of how it effects us on every level. The practice is of course the most important thing, but we do emphasize the theory behind. As meditation (and mindfulness, see below) are excellent for distance learning we have created such a course for a minimum of 12 weeks.
Mindfulness is the extension of meditation, that is, a tool for concentration and spiritual progress at every moment in life except during meditation. When we are meditating we sit in a quiet room with mind focus - but what and how do we do afterwards, when everyday tasks need to be handled? You will learn about this. It must be emphasized that western mindfulness of today is only the top of the classic buddhist iceberg - it is almost exclusively about stress reduction, while smrti - as the original system is called - targets our spiritual development. When you become familiar with mindfulness through Garden of Feathers you get the traditional, real art.
Qigong (Taoist, Buddhist & Medical)
Qi means 'energy' and gong means 'work' or 'skill'. Thus, when you practice qigong you work with energy - with the one that is inside you and around you and with the total, inclusive energy field, in which we live from birth to death.
Qigong began to be practiced in Taoism about 3,500 years ago, and by time it should become one of four parts of Traditional Chinese Medicine (alongside acupuncture, tuina massage and herbal medicine). Further, qigong can itself be divided into five main branches in which it is practiced for many different purposes - and within these branches there are thousands of qigong forms! We teach forms from the Taoist, Buddhist and Medical branches. Thus you get the opportunity for a wide qigong base with forms that emphasize several different aspects. Also, you get good theoretical knowledge of the qi concept, qigong history, the effects of qigong etc.
- Health qigong
- Ba Duanjin (The eight pieces of brocades) variant I
- Ba Duanjin variant II
- Taiji gong / Smiling Heart qigong
- Xiang gong
- Lian qi bafa gong (sitting form)
- Taoistisk tempelqigong (sitting form)
- Dao yin shu
- Ma Bu
Tai chi / Taiji (24-form)
Tai chi (sometimes Taiji) has been called "the qigong cousin" and is an effective method to reach relaxation and harmony. The movement pattern in tai chi is foreign to most people and can be perceived as difficult since it is created by a relaxed yet dynamic body. However, almost everyone become fond of tai chi once the necessary "keys" are found - if not sooner!
Except that tai chi introduces a new way to use the body, the training is known to provide strength to the legs thanks to the low positions, and to straighten and strengthen the back, torso, and neck. In addition, it focuses balance, flexibility, coordination and concentration.
Tai chi can be translated to 'the highest power'. The system is not particularly old if we consider the ancient Chinese history; the earliest evidences come from the 17th century when an officer in the Chinese army noticed the fight potential in qigong and began to add steps in the qigong forms. Thus, tai chi is originally one of China's many martial arts.
Internal energy practice based on Correllian Nativist Wicca methods
We have many energy centers in the body, mainly known as acupuncture points. However, there are also the seven large centers, known as chakras (the word chakra is sanskrit (Old Indian) and means 'wheel'). We can consider the chakras as "psychic muscles"; as we can exercise our physical muscles and thus prepare them for more demanding work, we can exercise the chakras to make them perform their respective tasks easier and more efficient. Holistically this means that strong and flowing chakras develop our inner self, our relations to ourselves and to other humans, and our being in everyday life. It also develop thitherto foreign abilities and characteristics. That abstract energy practice creates such concrete changes is the fact that this method leans on.