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Is Life A Random Event?

By Kenneth Cohen

Chan Si Gong may be translated Coiling Silk or Reeling Silk Qigong. The term refers to the slow turning of a silk cocoon (produced by the silkworm caterpillar) as one pulls the silk thread. By analogy, in Coiling Silk Qigong when parts of the body turn slowly on an axis, energy knots dissolve and qi flows. At the start of a recent Coiling Silk workshop in British Columbia, Canada, a group of ravens suddenly began to perform a concert of croaks, gurgles, caws, and some unusual melodious songs (which they probably learned from other birds that ravens are known to mimic). A beautiful affirmation from a bird sacred to the First Nations people of that area. Then, when the songs were over, a caterpillar suddenly dropped from the roof to the exact center of the teaching space, a relative of the Asian silkworm! A random event? I don’t think so.

Many qigong students have noted that the more they progress in qigong, the more inexplicable, meaningful coincidences (synchronicities) occur. You practice the Deer Animal Frolic in a meadow, and a deer wanders out of the forest to observe you. You learn a new qigong method, and without knowing about this, a friend gives you a book on the subject. You think, “I would love to meet that Tai Chi teacher people have been talking about,” and you realize you are standing next to her in the bookstore. In the Chinese language, such destined meetings are called yuan fen, a term that I like to translate as “karmic affinity.” The Swiss psychiatrist and author, Carl Jung had a great explanation for synchronicity based his theory of “archetypes”: images that arise from the depths of the collective unconscious. When archetypes are activated because of personal insight, powerful dreams, or a lesson that the universe intends to give you, these archetypes constellate to themselves meaningfully related events. The deer inside you draws the deer out of the woods. The wise elder in you attracts the elder you wish to meet, and so on.

The connections between synchronous events are not a result of cause and effect; they are thus “acausal.”  Synchronicity reminds us that causality is only one way of understanding connections between phenomena, and a very limited one at that, as it requires narrowing the field of vision and ignoring mysterious interconnections that exist between all phenomena (think of the Hollywood movie “Groundhog Day”). Rather than causality, perhaps events and phenomena are connected by “correspondence.” Spring flowers, hummingbirds, green color, the rising sun, the east direction, and the feeling of inspiration and new beginnings are all interconnected, but not because one causes the other. To put it simply, life is based on relationship not dissection or the meaningless movement that occurs when one billiard ball hits another. As Einstein said, “God does not play dice with the universe.”

ken_cohenKen Cohen is a world-renowned Qigong and Tai Chi Master.  He is the winner of the Lifetime Achievement Award in Energy Medicine, and his work has been sponsored by Health Canada, the Mayo Clinic, and numerous conferences. Ken speaks the Chinese language and has 45 years experience in natural healing arts.

Join Ken for his Hollyhock Program, The Way of Qi Gong, on Cortes Island, September 4 – 8, 2013

Misty Isles Sea Kayak Adventure


Late summer, when this program takes place, a sense of tranquility returns to the island. The yachts start heading south and the weather is often very calm. The birds and wildlife that have spent the summer away to feed and breed begin to return to these protected waters.  This is the perfect time to learn how to paddle safely and comfortably as you navigate the friendly waters surrounding Cortes Island.

Start each day departing Hollyhock on a 43-soot schooner mothership carrying kayaks and lunch.  Professional kayak Guide and Instructor, Michael Moore, will lead you into the deep quiet of nature where you can discover more about the area’s true beauty and history, in peaceful harmony with the ocean’s gentle ebb and flow.

Mike_MooreMike Moore is a ship’s Navigation Officer whose voyages have taken him from the High Arctic to Antarctica. He has been a kayak instructor and guide on Cortes Island for more than twenty years.

Join Mike for Sea Kayaking Adventures, at Hollyhock on and around Cortes Island, Sept 8-13, 2013.

Sail, Paddle, Barbeque and Stargaze

Bottomless Oyster Bar sound good after a day on the water?  On Hollyhock’s Adventure Program, Bill Ophoff and Rex Weyler will guide you on an adventure-cational trip as rich as the diverse marine life you will be in.  Discover First Nations shellfish harvesting, the rhythym of the ocean and other natural magic like bioiluminescence.  Have a peak at how to shuck an oyster with Bill:

Join Bill and Rex for the Hollyhock Adventure Program, August 25 – 30, 2013, at Hollyhock on Cortes and Desolation Sound.

Nature, the Greatest Teacher

Upcoming Hollyhock Presenter, Mark Coleman speaks about nature bringing our attention to the present to foster mindfulness.  Nature truly is the greatest teacher.  Check out the short video below:

Mark’s Hollyhock program, Awake in the Wild, runs August 18 – 23rd, 2013 on Cortes Island.



by Sara Genn

Perfect Places To Hang Out In The Woods

two, 9 x 12 inches, watercolour on arches paper, 2010

An Inukshuk is a stone landmark used as a milestone by the Inuit of the Canadian Arctic. Though varying in shape and size, most are comprised of rocks placed and balanced on top of one another, and symbolize safety, hope and friendship on the barren tundra of the Canadian North.

“Obos” is a Japanese term for a pile of rocks on top of one another. The obos merely says, “I was here.” A balanced, obvious rock pile, the obos is the creation of human hands. Also, if it is knocked down or desecrated, it is easily rebuilt. It serves as a symbolic sanctuary, a place of refuge and contemplation, a hideout, a shrine, a place of new direction.

“If an object or expression can bring about, within us, a sense of serene melancholy and a spiritual longing, then that object could be said to be wabi-sabi.” (Andrew Juniper, from his book “Wabi Sabi: The Japanese Art of Impermanence”)

Genn_SaraSara Genn’s paintings showcase a lifelong exploration of design and colour relationships, and vibrate with quiet rhythms and light effects. Her work blurs the line between the natural and internal world. Born in Canada, Sara has resided in New York City for the past 9 years.

Explore the processes by which deeper painterly concepts are discovered by using plein air painting as a springboard to the world of abstraction.  Join Sara and her father Robert for their Hollyhock Program, Painting: From Plein-Air to Abstraction, August 14 – 18, 2013.