Spring 2016 Qigong Retreat in Nature

Balance Your Physical, Chi, and Emotional Energies - and Your Life

Spring is the time of year when Earth's yang energies of activity and growth emerge from Winter's yin energies of quiet and rest.

Spring rarely comes forth in a smooth, steady manner. Instead, it typically arrives chaotically in fits and starts, alternating between periods of warm and cold, activity and quiet, and acceleration and deceleration.

As a result, it can be difficult to maintain your inner balance during Spring.

From a larger life perspective, the energetic chaos of Spring is similar to the chaos we experience whenever the circumstances of our lives change radically and quickly. Thus if you learn tools for how to better balance your energies in Spring, you can apply those tools to how to better balance your life in times of dramatic change.

In this retreat, we will teach you such tools. We'll explore how to use these tools to balance your physical, chi, and emotional energies in Spring and beyond.

Does Spring Affect You? Have You Ever Noticed?

Many - if not most - people find Spring to be one of the most beautiful and enjoyable times of the year. In New England, one way many people get through our long Winter is by looking forward to the warmth and green of Spring.

Perhaps for these reasons, it can come as a surprise to people when they sometimes or regularly feel stuck, tired, frustrated, or otherwise out-of-sync in Spring.

This can result from the difficulties of trying to follow the many swings of the season's energies - warm to cold to warm, active to quiet to active, forward toward Summer and backward to Winter - over and over again, sometimes even within the same day.

If your energies - physical, chi, emotional, and mental - are not strong, nimble, and responsive enough, then sometimes you can feel bounced around by or stuck somewhere in the middle of these swings.

Another reason people can feel off in Spring is because they find it hard to let go of Winter and to gear up to be more active.

Others get caught up in the active emerging energies, lose their grounding, and get and/or feel carried away or bounced around by such energies.

How to Move Toward Better Balance in Spring - and All Year Round

In this retreat, for the first time we will begin to explore how you personally can evaluate how in or out of balance you are energetically in Spring - or any other time of year.

We'll also explore how you can use the following two tools together to move you toward better balance.

One tool is the movements of Dragon & Tiger qigong. You can use these moves to balance your body's energies in various ways - up and down, right and left, forward and back, and in and out.

The other tool is to immerse yourself in nature to observe how it maintains equilibrium in Spring, and to align yourself with and use Spring's energies to do so yourself.

We'll explore how you can use these tools together to help you better tune into and balance:

  • your physical energies, i.e. your body. Can you maintain "dynamic balance", i.e. better physical balance while your body is in constant motion?
     
  • your etheric energies, i.e. the chi that runs your body;
     
  • your "lower" emotional energies which tend to come more to the fore in Spring, i.e. anger, frustration, depression, and generally feeling out of sorts.
     
  • the "higher" emotional energy of compassion which also naturally comes more to the fore in Spring.

For more information, see What We Will Teach.

Prerequisite:

The only prerequisite is that you know the seven movements of Dragon & Tiger qigong.

Please Join Us

We invite you to retreat with us deep into nature at the serene, remote, and harmonious Stump Sprouts Retreat Center in the hills of western Massachusetts.

You'll be accompanied by a small group of 20 to 35 like-minded people, including two instructors with a deep well of experience.

You’ll enjoy good food and good company and have time to learn, relax, and come into better balance in Spring.

Topics of Interest

Earth And Her Five Seasons As Our Teacher

The Taoist perspective is that Earth is our “great yin” or mother from which all life in our physical world springs.

We have much to learn from her about how to live as natural beings in harmony with ourselves and the web of life she nurtures.

In particular, her Five Seasons offer us many lessons about how to let go and flow with life and change.

One of the most direct ways to study with her is to learn to feel, explore, and enhance the ways that our chi flows into her and her chi flows into us.

These flows between her and us occur directly, as well as indirectly through her web of life that surrounds us and into which we are integrally connected.

Qigong practices are a wonderful vehicle that we can use to explore these chi flows.

While most of us initially practice qigong to develop and understand our own energies, a natural outgrowth of such practice is that we begin to become aware of how we are connected to and affected by the energies of what’s around us, including Earth’s.

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Dragon & Tiger Qigong: An Ideal Vehicle

The Dragon & Tiger qigong system is an ideal vehicle for exploring how your energies and those in the environment around you interact.

Those interactions especially occur in the chi field that immediately surrounds your body - the field known as the chi body in our Taoist Water tradition and as the etheric field or body in some Western traditions.

Playing with the energies within this field is Dragon & Tiger’s specialty.

The system consists of a set of seven invigorating-yet-calming, gentle flowing exercises.

In each exercise you move your hands in a particular pattern through your etheric field to stimulate it and in turn stimulate the energies within your physical body.

You consciously send your own energies out into the environment around your field and draw energies back in from the environment.

When you practice in a setting where the energies of nature are strong, then by its design Dragon & Tiger gives you direct and immediate access to those energies.

You just need to learn how to work with them.

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Who May Attend

To participate you must already know the seven movements of Dragon & Tiger.

If you don't know the movements now, and would like to attend future retreats, there are a variety of ways that you can learn them:

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What We Will Teach In This Retreat

In this retreat we will for the first time explore how to use Dragon & Tiger qigong and your ability to tune into nature around you to help you balance your own energy and life.

We will teach:

  • a summary version of how to feel and center yourself in your lower dantian, especially in Move 7 of Dragon and Tiger qigong. We explored this subject in depth in our Winter 2016 retreat. A sense of being centered is a key to finding better balance.
     
  • how you can assess the state of balance at any time of your physical, chi, emotional, and mental energies.
     
  • how to gain and maintain "dynamic balance", i.e. better physical balance while your body is in constant motion, whether in the Dragon & Tiger movements or everyday life activities. Without good dynamic balance it is difficult to effectively address other energies.
     
  • how our Taoist Water Tradition and Traditional Chinese Medicine view and categorize the energies that are naturally associated with and are predominant in Spring, including physical, chi and emotional energies.
     
  • how to tune into the chi energies that are prevalent in Spring, such as the energy which rises up out of Earth to enable things to grow. We'll observe how nature maintains balance among these Spring energies and other energies which move to the background in Spring.
     
  • how you can use the movements of Dragon & Tiger to align yourself with Nature's chi energies and similarly balance your own.
     
  • how to tune into the emotional energies which are more likely to arise in Spring within you, starting with "lower frequency" emotional energies such as anger, frustration, depression, and generally feeling out of sorts.
     
  • how you can use Dragon & Tiger movements to help release and clear those lower emotional energies to bring you toward better emotional balance.
     
  • how to tune into the "higher frequency" emotional energy within you of compassion, which is most naturally available to you in Spring. We won’t try to teach sophisticated ideas about compassion as that’s beyond our expertise, but as a group we'll feel for and explore what the energy of compassion feels like inside and outside of us.
     
  • how to do a practice that our teacher Bruce Frantzis showed us of taking in compassion from Earth and Nature around us, and sending compassion back out to them.

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Schedule

Friday, April 7

 4:30 to 7 pm

Arrival and Check-in (and individual exploration of the land)

 5:30 to 6:45

If you are in the early stages of learning to feel chi: between your hands; along the pathways of your body in the Dragon & Tiger movements; or in the environment around you, then:

We highly recommend that you attend a group teaching with Kathryn to help improve your capacities in this regard.

If you are able to easily feel chi in these ways, then:

You are welcome to join Bill for a session where he will offer suggestions to the group and people individually for how to improve their Dragon & Tiger movements.

 7 to 8

Dinner

 8:15 to 9:45

Evening Session

Saturday, April 8

7 to 8 am

Morning practice or rest (unstructured)

 8 to 9

Breakfast

 9:30 to Noon

Morning session

 12:30 to 1:30 pm

Lunch

 1:30 to 3 pm

Free time / Rest

 3 to 5:30

Afternoon session

 6 to 7

Dinner

 7 to 10

Free Time

Sunday, April 9

 7 to 8 am

Morning practice or rest (unstructured)

 8 to 9

Breakfast

 9:30 to 12:30 pm

Morning session

 12:45 to 1:30

Lunch

 1:45

Depart

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Location: Stump Sprouts Retreat Center

  • 64 West Hill Road, Hawley, MA 01339
  • www.StumpSprouts.com
  • stumpsprouts@stumpsprouts.com
  • (413) 339-4265 - ask for Lloyd or Suzanne

We’re thrilled to have found Stump Sprouts. It’s a very, very special place.

When you get there, you’ll find a place that’s vibrant and alive.

Through over 30 years of love and hard work, our hosts, Lloyd and Suzanne, have created a comfortable, simple, hand-crafted place of learning and lodging that is a model of harmony and sustainability.

Stump Sprouts is a jewel of a place, Its buildings sit on the shoulder of a tall hill and look out over a high meadow to forestland beyond and below. From those buildings you have access to the Center’s 350 acres, through which you are free to ramble.

Stump Sprouts pulses with the rhythms of life.  Earth’s seasons flow through in timeless cycles. There is much to learn about chi here.

Ours will be the only group at the Center this weekend, which will enhance our sense of retreat even more.

For more information on the Stump Sprouts Retreat Center, visit www.StumpSprouts.com.

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Travel & Directions

Stump Sprouts is located 2 hours and 30 minutes by car west of Boston and 3 hours and 45 minutes north of New York City.

Directions to Stump Sprouts: Please click here and read carefully the information provided by Lloyd and Suzanne.

Travel Assistance / Ride Sharing: We’re sorry, but at this time, we do not have the staffing we need to be able to help you organize your travel to and from Stump Sprouts.

We do encourage you to organize ride sharing with your friends, if you can. As we get close to the time of the retreat, we will make an effort to connect folks who'd like to give or receive a ride.

We understand the tension between trying to retreat to nature and having to drive a car in order to do so. Over time we hope to find ways to ease this tension.

Nearest Airport:  Bradley International Airport (BDL) between Hartford, CT and Springfield, MA (1.5 hours away by car)

Nearest Train Station: Springfield or Amherst, MA (both 1 hour away by car)

Nearest Bus Station: Northampton, MA or Greenfield, MA (both 45 minutes away by car)

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Food

Lloyd and Suzanne have been preparing food for groups for 25 years.

They specialize in home-grown or locally produced food whenever possible.

Meals are made from scratch and feature fresh fruits and vegetables.

For each meal they provide a wide variety of foods, including vegan, vegetarian, and gluten-free options.

At some meals there will be meat available for those who eat it.

If you have other dietary needs, before you register please contact Lloyd directly and he will tell you what, if anything, he can do for you.

You can contact Lloyd at (413) 339-4265 or
stumpsprouts@stumpsprouts.com

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Accommodations - On-Site Indoors

You may attend the retreat and stay indoors on-site as described in this section.

To find out about camping on-site in a tent, please click here or scroll down to the next section.

Please click here for information about staying or camping off-site at accommodations nearby. The accommodations indoors at Stump Sprouts are rather rustic, so some people prefer to stay nearby.

Please direct all questions about on-site indoor lodging or camping to us at Toward Harmony. Please DO NOT contact Stump Sprouts.

Rooms and bedding are simple, very relaxed, clean, and comfortable. The mattresses are thin so if you like a softer bed please bring extra cushioning to put on your bed.

All rooms have a double bed in them, and most have a single or bunk bed as well.

We will house two people per room. Each person in a room will have their own bed.

If you stay on-site, then all of your meals will be provided, including: dinner on Friday evening; breakfast, lunch, and dinner on Saturday, and breakfast and lunch on Sunday.

If you wish to share a room with someone you know, then each of you when you register should let us know that is your preference. If the two of you wish to share a double bed, then also please let us know that and we'll honor your request, if possible.

Some rooms have three or four beds, so if you'd like to share a room with two or three other people who you know, each of you when you register should let us know.

You will need to bring your own pillow, towel, and sheets and blankets (or sleeping bag). Exceptions will be made for those traveling by air or other public transportation.

Please let us know when you register if you have reasons for not being able to bring yours.

During cold weather Stump Sprouts is heated entirely with wood. It is cozy but not tropical. Please bring extra blankets if you tend to get chilly in the night.

Bathrooms are unisex, and accommodate 1 person at a time.

3 to 4 people will share each bathroom / shower.

We will do our best to honor requests of couples wishing to stay together, or others who wish to room together.

Unless otherwise requested, we will house women with women and men with men.

The earlier you register, the more likely we’ll be able to honor your request.

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Accommodations - On-Site Camping

You may attend the retreat and camp in a tent on-site as described in this section, stay on-site indoors as described in the previous section, or stay or camp off-site at accommodations nearby as described in the next section.

Please direct all questions about on-site indoor lodging or camping to us at Toward Harmony. Please DO NOT contact Stump Sprouts.

On the Stump Sprouts property there are several gorgeous spots available for tent camping.

If you'd like to bring your tent and use one of these spots, then please register for on-site tent camping.

If you camp on-site, then all of your meals will be provided, including: dinner on Friday evening; breakfast, lunch, and dinner on Saturday, and breakfast and lunch on Sunday.

You also will have access to the bathrooms and showers in the Stump Sprouts lodge and farmhouse.

Please be sure that you have good equipment and are an experienced tent camper, because we likely will not have room for you indoors once you commit to camping. If we have extreme weather that would make it dangerous you to be outdoors in a tent, then you will be allowed to sleep on the floor in a common area of the lodge or farmhouse.

The fees for staying indoors on-site or camping on-site are the same.

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Accommodations - Nearby

You may attend the retreat and stay or camp off-site at accommodations nearby as described in this section or stay indoors or camp in a tent on-site at Stump Sprouts as described in the previous two sections. The accommodations at Stump Sprouts are rather rustic, so some people prefer to stay nearby.

Bed and Breakfasts

There are various small "bed and breakfast" accommodations near Stump Sprouts.

There is one that our students have tried and liked. It is in the neighboring town of Charlemont, 7 miles away, a 15-minute drive.

Hawk Mountain Lodge - (800) 532-7483 -
www.hawkmountainlodge.com

There are others in the area that neither we nor our students have tried yet, such as the Cavalier Cottage on the outskirts of Charlemont (www.cavaliercottage.com)

Camping

There are a few places to camp near Stump Sprouts that we have identified. Both are in the neighboring town of Charlemont, 7 miles away, a 15-minute drive. None of our students have tried them yet.

Mohawk Trail State Forest -
http://www.massgov/eea/agencies/dcr/massparks/region-west/mohawk-trail-state-forest.html

Country Aire Campground - 413-625-2996 -
www.countryairecampground.com

Meals

If you stay off-site, then the following meals will be provided for you at Stump Sprouts; dinner on Friday evening, lunch on Saturday, and lunch on Sunday.

When you register you'll be offered an option to purchase additional meals to eat on-site. Saturday dinner costs $16. Saturday and Sunday breakfasts cost $8 each.

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Fees - If You Stay on-Site

We can accommodate on-site at Stump Sprouts only 18 people indoors and 6 camping in tents.

So please register early to ensure you will have a spot.

For information on Day Use Fees, please click here.

Full On-Site Fee: includes Instruction, Food & Lodging

  • $445 if you pay by March 19
  • $490 if you pay after March 19

Discounted On-Site Fee: for those eligible

  • $395 if you pay by March 19
  • $435 if you pay after March 19

You are eligible for these discounted rates if:

  • your total family income (before deductions) is less than $40,000 a year, OR
  • you are a full-time student

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Fees - If You Stay Or Live Nearby

You may attend the retreat on a day use basis.

For the fees listed below, we'll provide you with instruction, dinner on Friday, and lunches on Saturday & Sunday. You provide your own accommodations off-site, your breakfasts, and your own Saturday dinner.

If you like, you may purchase additional meals to eat on-site. Saturday dinner costs $16. Saturday and Sunday breakfasts cost $8 each.

Full Day Use Fee: Instruction & One Meal a Day

  • $370 if you pay by March 19
  • $405 if you pay after March 19

Discounted Day Use Fee: for those eligible

  • $320 if you pay by March 19
  • $350 if you pay after March 19

You are eligible for these discounted rates if:

  • your total family income (before deductions) is less than $40,000 a year, OR
  • you are a full-time student

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Registration

You may register for this event online or by phone.

Last Day to Register

Registration will close at midnight on Tuesday, April 4, or sooner if we run out of spaces.

If you are interested in registering after April 4, please contact us (413-586-8880 or info@towardharmony.com) to inquire about whether any special arrangements are possible.

Online Registration

When you register online you may:

  • pay online with a credit card;
  • pay online with a PayPal account; or
  • send us a check, unless you register after March 26.

If you register after March 26, you must pay either with a credit card or a PayPal account or contact us (413-586-8880 or info@towardharmony.com) to make special arrangements.

Please CLICK HERE TO REGISTER ONLINE for this retreat.

Phone Registration

You may call us at 413-586-8880 and register by phone.

You may pay with a credit card or PayPal account. If you do, your payment will be paid through PayPal, just as if you had registered online.

If you register on or before March 26, then you may also pay us with a check, which must be sent to us so that it arrives within 4 business days after you register.

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Friday Arrivals And Activities

We encourage you - if at all possible - to arrive, check in, and get settled into your accommodations between 4:30 and 5 p.m. on Friday.

This will allow you to see, greet, and get your feet on the land during daylight, so that you will have a good sense of place before going to bed on Friday night.

From 5:30 to 6:45 we will hold the first group session of the retreat.

We will offer the following:

If you are in the early stages of learning to feel chi: between your hands; along the pathways of your body in the Dragon & Tiger movements; or in the environment around you, then:

We highly recommend that you attend a group teaching with Kathryn to help improve your capacities in this regard.

If you are able to easily feel chi in these ways, then:

You are welcome to join Bill for a session where he will offer suggestions to the group and people individually for how to improve their Dragon & Tiger movements.

Our first group session that we expect everyone to attend will be after dinner.

Dinner will be held from 7 to 8, and we’ll hold that group learning session from 8:15 to 9:45 p.m.

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What To Bring

If You're Staying On-Site, Please Bring:

  • pillow
  • sheets and blankets or sleeping bag
  • towel
  • tent, if you're camping

Everyone, Please Bring:

  • warm clothes, including layers including layers (average Spring temperatures range from the 30’s at night to the 50’s and 60’s during the day)
  • slippers or heavy socks (we will have indoor sessions without shoes)
  • outdoor shoes/boots
  • outdoor clothing, including rain gear (We will hold some outdoor practice sessions. If it is raining during those sessions, you will have the option to practice outside or in. If you opt to practice outside, you’ll need rain gear.)
  • flashlight
  • sunscreen
  • water-bottle or travel mug
  • personal toiletries
  • insect repellent
  • hat for protection from the sun

Please DO NOT bring

  • Fragrances or scented body products, to which some of our students are very sensitive
  • Alcohol or recreational drugs (these interfere with your ability to learn to feel chi clearly)

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Refund Policy

  • If you pay for the retreat and are not able to attend due to an illness, emergency, or other circumstances beyond your control, and we are able to to fill your space with another student, then we will refund in full the fee you paid, minus a $100 administrative fee. If we are not able to fill your space, then we will refund half of your fee.
  • If you pay for the retreat and decide not to attend for any other reason, if we are able to fill your space with another student, then we will refund in full the fee you paid, minus a $100 administrative fee. Otherwise, we will not refund any of your fee.

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