May 27, 2013

Happiness & Zen in the Garden Highlights

Happy Day to ALL!


Happiness is a state that requires one to be willing to change, if happiness is to be enduring.

I suspect we can all remember times when we were “happy” in a given relationship, be it with a lover, on a sports team, or in a job, and then something changed. A person’s needs may change relative to ours, a new player on a team can radically shift the balance, or management may change.

One who is only happy at high noon, has not learned to harmonize with reality; change is the only constant in the universe.

Our theme for Saturday’s zen In The Garden workshop was “Managing Your Fire”. Fire is an element that is undeniably related to change, in and around us.

I felt this was an important concept to help people understand better since the most common cause of doctors visits has been reported to be fatigue; adrenal exhaustion from overexertion is among the most common imbalances in people today.

In many ways, being happy boils down to one’s ability to manage their inner-fire; too little and one is depressive; too much and one is anxious, then fanatical, then manic.

Tapping In together

In the photo above, you can see my students and I “Tapping-In”. This is a method I use to harmonize my coaching clients with me, and groups too. We all needed a good drawing stick for our exercises today, so I put them to work as instruments.

We had an absolutely beautiful “Tap-In” experience together. I set a base rhythm, and as we harmonized, I just let go of leading and let the group develop its own body-mind.

We went into and out of harmony in waves, and with each wave, our ability to be “One” with each other grew. By about 20 minutes of tapping and chanting, we were like legs on a centipede, moving with unobstructed harmony. It was deeply peaceful and relaxing. It was primal.

rattle healing
While we were chanting and tapping-In, I did some balancing work on everyone’s energy fields. I find it helpful to balance people’s energy fields when working with stones on uneven terrain with creatures about. When a person’s energy field is balanced, their body, emotions, and mind are in resonance, allowing their instincts and intuition to influence them more easily.

We spent a few hours in my stone circle harmonizing, and dialoguing on the meaning of fire and the fire element in our lives. I asked each student to share what fire means to him or her in the experience of his or her own life.

We then shared how we express/experience ourselves when we have too much, or too little of the fire principle active within us.

Lessons in sand

As part of our workshop, I had the students draw the key symbols that represent the unfolding of the created universe and showed how the octaves of vibration can be broken into categories named after the elements of earth, water, fire, air, and ether (space).

We talked about how they work together, and how fire influences each of the other elements. When one has a working knowledge of how nature works, within and around them, they have a functional tool kit they can use to create enduring happiness for themselves as a daily practice.

Lunch break
By the time this photo was taken at our lunch break, I had given everyone practical teachings on the mechanics of breathing, and how that relates to the fire principle within us. We also covered breathing mechanics and lifting mechanics, with many special exercises showing how important breathing and lifting skills are for lifting stones in nature.

I think some of my students were more worried about rattlesnakes than they were about their breathing. Learning to monitor and control our own breathing is an essential “happiness making tool”.

Awesome food
As is our normal procedure at zen In The Garden, we all shared out food. And, as per normal, it was awesome!

Everyone really seemed to enjoy lunch and the time out of the sun. Vidya made a beautiful corn bread for us too. It was an incredibly beautiful, sunny day of about 80 degrees, and there were plenty of sunburns going around by lunchtime.

Rickard and  Dinara stack
This was an amazing stackwith multiple stacks and a beautiful complement from the wood element. It was created with a beautiful umbilical cord to Ryan Hughes’ mandala, which is still going strong since the last zen In The Garden workshop.

The one and only Troy Casey, The Certified Health Nut was with us once again for a great day together. I love Troy and it’s always great when we can get together and play a little.

Troy LOVES big stones and FIRE. This man is like a comet, streaking across the garden…but somehow he manages to continually surprise me.

Some time ago at a workshop together at my home, he put up a huge stack of heavy stones very fast. I thought for sure it would go down in no time…it stood pretty for months and many storms…Troy surprised me!

Troy Casey stack
Here you can see Troy’s mega-stack. This is Troy creating happiness for himself! There are a lot of very heavy stones there. But you should see this stack live! It’s badass!

Troy’s looking very good too. He’s been really applying his CHEK lifestyle principles in his life and for a guy beating the door down on 50, he’s doing something very right! Great to share the day with you Troy!

Paul and Kris
Kris Timpert, CHEK 4 and PPS Mentor flew in from New Jersey to share a day in the garden with us. She has been doing some corrective upper cervical and sacral rehab lately and needed to be careful not to put too much torque on her neck lifting heavy rocks.

Kris made a lovely stack of stones in the garden, and then enjoyed the view from my office patio, overlooking the lake as she drew some healing art for her dear friend who had just passed away that morning. Thanks for coming Kris! So lovely to see you!!

Angie Lustrick came straight to zen In The Garden from a week long advanced shamanic training. She was glowing with yin-chi energy and ready for some big rock lifting.

Angie stack 1

In one of our exercises for learning to manage our fire, Angie picked up a great big stone. It probably weighed as much or more than she does! Here you can see Angie building one of several stacks she built. Thanks for sharing another great zen In The Garden day with us Angie!

James Goodlate, CHEK HLC3 from Miami, and his beautiful partner Kim Nelli (Get Fit for Birth) joined us for the day.


James worked long and hard on this beautiful complex stack. He started with nice big stones, and then, as he was getting some nice height, over she went and down the hill with rolling thunder! He started again…and a while later…rolling thunder again!

James stack

With the willingness of a happy boy, he pursued and created a very beautiful addition to the garden. It’s like a little city. You’ve have to see each side to really appreciate all the details. Great job James and a great day with you!

Kim Nelli

Kim Nelli was a real mover and shaker in the zen garden for sure. She put up several stacks. She really surprised me with how much work she could do. Great job Kim!

Paul stack 1
Here I am with one of my creations for the day. I think I managed to put three up in total while keeping an eye on everyone. I really love all the odd angles in this one. It was actually quite hard to build because there was very little room to stand on atop the big base stone. I

t was also very hard to get on top of it because every time I tried to get my body weight over the edge to pull myself up, my shoulder was banging against the stack…very dangerous.

I ended up having to hold a heavy rock in one hand and as I reached out past the base stone, I shifted my center of gravity, using the stone in my lead-hand as a fulcrum to move my center of gravity forward and up. This allowed me to “cheat the space” and not bang the stack.

Vidya was everywhere during the event; she was cooking, filming, shooting photos, building all sorts of stacks, guiding…she was everywhere, like the ether!

Vidya stack

Here is Vidya and Kris sharing a happy ending of a fantastic day!


Thank you Vidya for all your love and support and for making the day easy and beautifully flowing! I’m still high off that corn bread!!

As I walked around and spoke to my students about their experience for the day, I asked them what really stuck out for you today that you can take home and use each day. The most common answer I got was, “I really felt the joy of being a child, being playful again and I realized how good that feels.”

That gave me a great sense of joy because I’ve learned that I’m much more productive and balanced as a person when I give myself time to let the little boy out of me.

There is something so elementary about rocks, dirt, plants, creatures, sticks, rattling, chanting, banging sticks in harmony to create music together and eating good food together.

These experiences open the gateways to times and places in our lives when we were experiencing unbound play, pleasure-full creation without fear of judgment.

I went home to enjoy a sauna in my “Health Mate Infra Red Sauna“, which has been a real joy for us all. It feels as though it just melts the stress of the day right out of me and I sleep more deeply in general from using it.

If you want to know more about my experiences with my Health Mate IR sauna, please click here to see my recent blog post about them.

I hope you have enjoyed the few posts I’ve shared on creating happiness in your life. My next blog topic will be Dr. Movement.

Love and chi,
Paul Chek