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Move #1
Quieting the Heart



Quieting the Heart is the tonic—the first musical note. It is the foundation state. Quieting the Heart enriches all other moves. When the heart becomes quiet, your Mind also settles down.

How to quiet the heart?

Simply relax. Be loose. Empty your mind. Forget yourself.

Now bring your attention to the area of your heart: not only your physical heart, but also an energetic field surrounding your heart at the center of your chest. Ease into this place.


Imagination can help. Imagine the quiet of a bright moon shining over a silent lake. The bright moon and the lake are inside your heart.

Now imagine that your heart field is opening, very slowly, and a clear mist is rising from your heart. Ask yourself, “How does it feel?”

Combining Age and Youth

When your heart quiets, you see more clearly. It is easy to demonstrate this. Slowly open your eyes and observe. You needn’t do anything. Things naturally become clearer. This is a new way of perceiving with your heart, and your eyes, and your mind simultaneously. You see, feelingly.

Now return to the exuberance of your youth. The two states merge. You possess the wisdom of age and this bubbling vitality. It is a gift, available to you, anywhere, anytime.

Laughing Heart as an Elixer or Tincture

There are many tributaries to Laughing Heart. Imagine yourself doing what you love most. You can think of Laughing Heart as a special tincture or elixir that you simply add to what you already love to do.

Now, Stop, Look, and Go! Pause to experience this gift of life and savor the radiance of this special moment with gratefulness for your life. You might want to replay this extraordinary video by Brother David Steindl-Rast. (“Stop. Look. Go.” Note: please scroll down.)

How do you know you are in a Laughing Heart state?

Here’s a check list. Note: It is the combination of these elements that gives Laughing Heart its unique quality. How many of these qualities can you experience simultaneously? See if you can catch the special flavor.

[__]   Deep relaxation

[__]   Loose and agile (the key to relaxation!)

[__]   Open-Hearted

[__]   No stress, no worries

[__]   Flowing

[__]   Connected

[__]   Vital Spiraling Energy or Life Force

[__]   Mentally alive and alert

[__]   Balanced (emotionally and energetically)

[__]   Loving

[__]   Resilient

[__]   Confident

[__]   Courageous

[__]   Timeless

[__]   Befriending Uncertainty  

[__]   Grateful

Printable PDF Checklist


Author’s commentary

When practicing the qigong forms in these videos it is interesting to explore them as metaphors for the ebb and flow of life. See what you can discover.

Li Jing – Calming the Heart
Return to Spring by Li Junfeng
Awakening the Soul by Li Junfeng

Quieting the Heart tonifies and sharpens all the senses. You can see and feel more clearly and expansively. Your intuition deepens. Thus Quieting the Heart is closely linked to the next Move–Finding Your Power.

Emotive Reaction Range? Hints: mystery, not knowing, wonder, surprise, suppliance, grateful/gratitude

  1. Traveling Without Jet Lag–Comments from Qigong Grandmaster Li Junfeng

    The essential point Master Li makes is there is no silver bullet: you can’t manipulate or medicate your way out of jet lag while traveling. But you can learn how to relax and open yourself to a free source of energy of the universe (qi and love). Relaxing and rejuvenating in this way are in fact one and the same. With practice your Laughing Heart becomes integral within your life; you can naturally relax in circumstances or conditions that previously were extremely stressful. Master Li remarks that when he was younger–he is now 79– he had difficulty adjusting in the first three days after arrival in a long journey. But now as he ages, he is more relaxed and adaptive– one might even suggest younger in this respect.

  2. Yesterday Angela and I visited the Peabody/Exeter Museum and there was an exhibition on the moon. The moon is closely associated with Laughing Heart. Since ancient times across many cultures it is a source of fertility, creativity, and regeneration. Here is the stunning video, Moonwalk, that is on display. It illustrates the connection of quieting the heart, balance, and action.

  3. The Heart of the Sufi

    “When our heart is at peace, we cannot lose the way.” These are the words of an ancient Sufi in the extraordinary film, “Bab’Aziz (The Prince Who Contemplated His Soul.” It is the third part of a trilogy by the Tunisian director, Nacer Khemir. “We see with the eyes of the heart, feelingly,” the Sufi continues.

    The embracing philosophy of Sufism, in particular the transcendent role of heart, is expressed eloquently by the famous Sufi master, Ibn Arabi (, ):

    “My heart can be pasture for deer and a convent for monks, a temple for idols and a Kaaba for the pilgrims. It is both the tables of the Torah and the Koran. It professes the religion of Love wherever its caravans are heading. Love is my law. Love is my faith.”

  4. The Heart/Mind Bright as a Mirror

    I asked my friend, Ruth, who tried Quieting the Heart for the first time what was her experience in 15 seconds,

    “Everything appears brighter” she replied.
    Why does everything appear brighter, I asked? What is happening?

    When the qi transforms as in the practice of Quieting the Heart, as expressed poetically in the Chinese language, it becomes “quiet as the moon, clear like water, and bright like a mirror.

    That evening I recalled this extraordinary koan that seems somehow beautifully connected:

    Blue Cliff Record # 82—Ta Lung’s Hard and Fast Body of Reality

    A monk asked a teacher, “When the physical body perishes and decomposes; what is the hard and fast (everlasting) body of reality?”

    The teacher replied, “The mountain flowers bloom like brocade; the valley streams are brimming blue as indigo.”

  5. Quieting the Heart in Managing Performance Anxiety

    I am learning the way of Big Heart Intelligence. It is a very powerful and versatile tool that can be applied in many different ways to address many different challenges. I am struck by its power and versatility. It resonates very deeply with me and leads me to wonder if it could assist others and me with performance anxiety.

    Music was my first love. I started playing the piano at age 4 and the flute at age 7. I enjoyed it and it came rather easy for me. I had a lot of support for my musical education as I was born into a musical family. My mother was a gifted soprano and my father played four different instruments; the banjo, the clarinet, the alto saxophone and the piano. He would accompany my mother on occasion.

    Whenever we would visit family or friends that had a piano, my father always told them that I played the piano and they would ask me to play for them. I hated this but said nothing. Over time the possibility of having to perform for people generated a source of dread. As soon as we entered someone’s home I would scan their living room to see if there was a piano and breathed a sigh of relief when I did not see the instrument. However, one night, I was asked to play and made one mistake. When we returned home, my father asked, “why did you make a mistake?” I responded that I did not like to play for strangers and that it makes me nervous. To this he asked, “Why are you nervous? If I played as well as you do, I would want to play for others all of the time.” It was at this moment when piano performance anxiety solidified. I had less performance anxiety with the flute and it became my love. Plus the flute did not have the same performance history as the piano attached to it. I grew as a musician and performed in recitals, and took my certification exams at the Settlement Music School where I studied both instruments. I did well but continued to suffer with and through the performance anxiety.

    In 2001, after a 26-year musical hiatus, I returned to formal music study. Since I had braces as an adult I decided to study the piano. I returned to the Settlement Music School and worked with a wonderful teacher. I was delighted to have her as my teacher and she was delighted to have me as her student. We began to work on Bach’s Piano Concerto in F minor arranged for two pianos/four hands. After we had worked on it for a while she announced that she wanted us to perform it in an upcoming recital. I could not believe it but I reluctantly agreed. The old performance anxiety returned and returned with a vengeance. On the recital stage, my hands shook uncontrollably, my palms were sweaty and my heart raced. I tried to play the opening few notes and I had to stop. I could not go through with it. This never happened previously. I could not believe it, my teacher was shocked, and my two daughters were sad. However, through the encouragement and support of my teacher, my children, my choir director and my church I continued to play and it got a little easier to perform as time passed.

    I have learned over the years that performing artists have a gift and gifts are to be shared. When we give freely our heart is quiet, open and our focus is on others. I never had the opportunity to learn this in my youth and was denied the agency to share my gift freely with others. As a result the focus was placed on me, my error, and perhaps, how that embarrassed him/the family.

    Every performing artist who suffers with performance anxiety has their own unique story but I think it would be interesting to explore how quieting the heart create a positive chain reaction that can help people free themselves of anxiety and replace it with joy.

    Ruth Perry, M.D.

  6. “A man’s work is nothing except this slow trek to rediscover, through the detours of art, those two or three great and simple images in whose presence his heart first opened.”
    Albert Camus

    This above sculpture by a youthful Michelangelo captures the quietude and original innocence of Laughing Heart.

    Sculpture (1564) of Michelangelo by Michelangelo’s nephew, Daniele Da Volterra (1509-1566). From the Medici-granducal collections

  7. The Eye/Heart Connection

    The eye is the gateway of the Heart. The following video shows in four minutes that it is possible to connect perfect strangers from different cultures, speaking different languages, divided by harsh circumstances, simply by connecting their hearts via their eyes. Fears, doubts, uncertainties, barriers all melt away. And what remains is a sense of connection, belonging, and common humanity. If four minutes can begin to bridge the divide of immigration, what other domains of dissension, discord, or suffering will begin to heal by this simple exercise?

  8. A Chance Encounter–Epiphanies

    After our first class an elderly lady approached me and we walked together for a while.
    “I loved the Resilience Reflex Ball”. I had such a ball in my childhood,” she observed. “The neighbor had a wall; I would hit the ball against the wall, and it would come back to me. I did not know exactly where or when or how it would play. I loved that sense of having no expectations. I was simply in the moment.”

    And then three thoughts came to me, seriatim as they usually do.
    • “No expectations” is one of the ‘royal’ moves of artful negotiators. It is also one of the keys to unlocking the mysteries of integral resilience. No Expectations, No Assumptions.
    • Memory. How interesting that even the image of the Resilience Reflex Ball carried her back to her childhood. Is it possible that movement along with music are powerful ambassadors to early memory?
    • Original Innocence. Angela tells me that when she practices she feels “ageless.” Suddenly I recalled the meeting of St. Francis with Pope Innocence III (played by Alec Guinness) in the great old movie by Franco Zeffirelli, Brother Son, Sister Moon on the life of St. Francis. St. Francis is in rags and has come to petition the Pope to aid his humble rural church. The festooned Pope is deeply moved and looking kindly down on St. Francis observes, “In our preoccupation with original sin, you remind us of something even more important– our original innocence.” We have the flavor of it when we play with the Reflex Resilience Ball.

  9. Lucianno Pavorotti—A Great Soul

    Ron Howard’s recent movie introduces the Extraordinary Lucianno Pavorotti who connected his Great Heart to the hearts of millions.

    Here are two lovely arias from his early years when he was just embarking:
    • Brooklyn Academy Recital– (first Per la gloria d’adorarvi)
    • Calve Selve (Handel)–

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