Kaleo Ching
Elise Dirlam Ching


The Creative Art of Living, Dying, and Renewal: Your Journey through Stories, Qigong Meditation, Journaling, and Art

Through Qigong practices, hypnotherapy and guided imagery, journaling, and art for transformation, this book invites the reader to contemplate the continuum of living, dying, and renewal within this life and beyond. Drawing on their 23 years of teaching processes for personal transformation, as well as their experience as artists, massage/acupressure therapists, hypnotherapists, and Qigong practitioners, Elise and Kaleo have witnessed many others on their personal journeys of dying, transformation, and rebirth – facing terminal illness or loss of a loved one, letting go of old lifestyles and embracing new, connecting with past lives and future dreams. These stories and experiences come together in this book to engage the reader on his or her own body/mind/spirit journey.

Part one, written like a novel about four characters in Muncie, Indiana, and the San Francisco Bay area, is based on people the authors have known and imagined. Alex, a respected anesthesiologist and recovering-Catholic-turned-atheist, dies suddenly and unprepared. His wife, Julia, mourning hs loss, begins her spiritual search blending Buddhism and Christianity. She develops terminal illness and has time to face death with mindfulness. Chris/Krishna endeavors to face the dance of life and death after almost dying himself. He becomes a hospice volunteer, and his first client is Julia. He eventually moves to Berkeley to become a Doctor of Ministry student and encounters life, death, and renewal through the transformation of his ego-attachments and his spiritual path of shamanic and yoga practices. Jessica, Alex and Julia’s daughter, moves to the Bay area to study and deepen her massage/energy-healing practice. She reconnects with Krishna, and they first meet at Peet’s Coffee. Her issues of dying and renewal arise from the deaths of her parents, her relationship issues with Krishna and other men, physical injury, childhood sexual abuse, and inner conflict. For her own healing she becomes a Qigong practitioner and engages in art for transformation. Following each character’s story are questions and journaling and art processes prompting the reader’s own journey of reflection and self-discovery, including such themes as having an intimate conversation with a dear friend about your spiritual beliefs, supporting a loved one who is dying, and finding wisdom and empowerment in one’s own vulnerability and aging.

Part two, then, integrates Qigong exercises, meditations, Five Element principles, sounds, and colors for healing, and the Aloha Qigong form as tools for approaching issues of living, dying, and renewal. Hypnotherapy, such as past-life and future-life journeys, journaling, and simple art exercises engage the reader in a personal journey of healing and transformation. Always the aim is to inspire the reader’s own exploration in relationship to life’s important questions and to foster awareness of the life-death continuum connecting the cosmos within and the cosmos beyond.

Included are photos of the Aloha Qigong sequence, students’ art, and a gallery of the authors' poetry and art – all reflecting the journey of living, dying, and renewal.

At local bookstores, Sagrada Sacred Arts, Barnes and Noble, or Amazon

Excerpts from The Creative Art of Living, Dying, and Renewal

  • Excerpt 1: Alex’s Story
    Excerpts from The Creative Art of Living, Dying, and Renewal: Your Journey through Stories, Qigong Meditation, Journaling, and Art

    Excerpt 1: Alex’s Story

    Then the Big Change.

    One midweek evening Julia comes home late after a poetry club meeting. When she enters the living room, he-who-had-been-I makes no move to greet her but slumps inertly in the easy chair.

    I watch her from outside my body. Not mine anymore. I feel concerned but detached. I know what’s happening, but it feels like a dream. I watch her. Julia sees my hand the oddest shade of pale gray on the ruby-red chair arm. She stands as frozen as a startled animal. Her breathing hangs suspended at the top of an inhalation. An otherworldly stillness fills the room. For a moment, everything, even the old grandfather clock, which has been ticking through the depth of every night we’ve spent together in this house, stops.

    Suspended in that moment, she notes the details. That book on Insight Meditation lies where it’s fallen on the floor. I observe that I can hear her thoughts as if she were speaking them.

    “When did he become interested in that?” floats through her mind.

    She seems removed from her experience too, but not as much as I am.

    I am a cone on the retina of the eye of the universe.

    I am the narrator of my own demise reporting a scene I helped create but cannot change or touch.

  • Excerpt 2: Jessica’s Story's Reflections: Body Image
    Excerpts from The Creative Art of Living, Dying, and Renewal: Your Journey through Stories, Qigong Meditation, Journaling, and Art

    Excerpt 2: Jessica’s Story's Reflections: Body Image

    Imagine Julia as she nears death. She looks through a photo album of herself in childhood, of her wedding to Alex, of them as young parents. She looks at herself in a mirror. She sees her bald head, the pallor of her face, her thin body. She sees how it’s changed with age over the years. She might talk to her body and thank it for serving her for fifty years—how she cherished it—making love to Alex, giving birth to children, breathing in meditation, moving in Qigong.

    Now imagine Jessica looking in a mirror. She sees her left hip, the imbalance, the irregularities of muscle and bone, the scars. She also sees the healing that has taken place over the months, the lessons she has learned. Perhaps she sees a kinder, more compassionate face looking back at her from the mirror.

    In a mirror look at your body. What does it say? How do you feel about its aging? What senses and activities has your body most enjoyed? How have these changed with time?

    Write/draw/collage your body image.

  • Excerpt 3: Sensing Qi Exercise: Qi Suction Fingers and Art
    Excerpts from The Creative Art of Living, Dying, and Renewal: Your Journey through Stories, Qigong Meditation, Journaling, and Art

    Excerpt 3: Sensing Qi Exercise: Qi Suction Fingers and Art

    Observe one of your writing/collage/drawings that asks for your attention. What color, image, or group of words calls to you? Now shake your hands to activate the meridians, and point your Qi fingers into the area. Feel the Qi beams entering into the color, image, or group of words until you feel an energetic connection, like a magnetic suction. Then pull your fingers apart, and feel the opening, like a doorway, in this area of your art. Now close your eyes, breathe, and repeat this process. What do you perceive? What emerges from the subconscious layers of your art piece? A new image, a sound, a dream, a memory?

    Now let the subterranean messages invite you to change your art piece. What new images, colors, or textures emerge? What old ones become buried beneath the new?

  • Excerpt 4: Explorations with the Five Elements
    Excerpts from The Creative Art of Living, Dying, and Renewal: Your Journey through Stories, Qigong Meditation, Journaling, and Art

    Excerpt 4: Explorations with the Five Elements

    When we do Qigong, we are aware of the Five Elements within us, pulsing through our bodies’ organ-meridians, sense organs, tissues, fluids, diurnal rhythms, and emotions. The Five Elements nourish and support us in the environment where we practice Qigong. Metal is the Qi from the air we breathe, as well as the inspiration of the heavens smiling down on us. Water is in earth’s deep wells, her rivers, lakes, seas, rain, and snow. It is in and around each one of our cells. Our bodies and the surface of the earth are both 75 percent water. Wood is in the vegetation that surrounds us, feeding us fresh oxygen, invigorating us, encouraging us to grow, reach, and aspire. Fire is in the sun that warms us and the stars that guide us and that, from their explosive deaths, release the elements that form us. Fire warms our bodies so that Qi, fluids, and blood may move. Earth grounds, supports, and nourishes us, takes our old Qi and recycles it, is the home we all share.

    When the Five Elements are out of balance in our bodies and lives, negative symptoms arise. Qigong meditation, breathing, inner healing sounds, and acupressure can help restore balance. The Five Element meditations included in this chapter are intended to enhance your journey of living, dying, and renewal.

  • Excerpt 5: The Arrow: Poem and Collage by Elise
    Excerpts from The Creative Art of Living, Dying, and Renewal: Your Journey through Stories, Qigong Meditation, Journaling, and Art

    Excerpt 5: The Arrow: Poem and Collage by Elise

    The Arrow

    Poem and collage by Elise

    The Arrow - collage by Elise

    Women robed in blessings of the deer
    keep the earth
    as kindly as their mothers
    while men honor antlers
    in ritual and work
    and all grow strong on flesh and spirit.

    The arrow like a vow seizes the heart
    and the hunter’s priceless eye
    does not blink as the red muscle
    flickers and goes out.
    The heart of man and woman
    dies a little too
    for sharing souls is not an easy matter.

    But the setting sun
    tugs the little deaths
    to the other side of darkness
    where the last beat meets
    the first in holy union
    and the stars that give night
    and steer the dreamer
    do not protest the sun but run
    like bears to den at dawning

“An original book generously filled with life-transforming guidance using evocative stories, profound questions, and engaging collage-journaling explorations. It creatively opens many exciting doors to your spiritual growth with profound Qigong, healing sounds, acupressure, hypnotherapy and meditation techniques for healing your body, emotions, and soul.”

Michael Reed Gach, Ph.D. is founder of the Acupressure Institute and author of Acupressure’s Potent Points, Acu-Yoga, and Acupressure for Emotional Healing.

“Elise and Kaleo Ching have been my teachers, colleagues and co-explorers on the road of art and healing, energy medicine, and guided imagery for many years. This incredible book is a real teacher and valuable tool for anyone interested in living, dying and rebirth.”

Michael Samuels, MD, has been proponent of guided imagery and art with patients for more than forty years and is author of Healing with the Arts.

“In this profound, compelling book, Kaleo and Elise Ching present an original synthesis of practical wisdom traditions to help us discover the ethereal thread that links living, dying, and renewal.”

Michael J. Gelb, author of How to Think Like Leonardo da Vinci: Seven Steps to Genius Every Day.

“A very beautiful, evocative, engaging, and inspiring work! This book is a holistic, interactive, reflective experience to rebirth your life across multiple dimensions.”

Kevin Cashman, is a CEO, leadership coach, and author of Leadership from the Inside Out.

“Kaleo and Elise Ching's creativity and understanding lead the reader to connect with his or her own inner spirit and inspiration. Their voices carry the authenticity of those who truly walk the path of their traditions… Separately magnificent, together magical. A book to take time with, reflect on, and use to harvest one's own inner wisdom and knowing.”

Cheryl Canfield is a Certified Clinical Hypnotherapist and author of Profound Healing.

The Creative Art of Living, Dying, and Renewal cover

Elise Dirlam Ching and Kaleo Ching
North Atlantic Books, 2014
224 pages

Qi and Grace: An Embodied Lord's Prayer

Speaking in chorus with the 2,000 year old utterance of Jesus’ Our Father prayer and moving in harmony with the ancient practice of Qigong, Abba-Imma Qigong blends Judeo-Christian and Daoist/Chinese Medicine wisdom and compassion for self and others. This embodied Lord's Prayer invokes and honors Abba-Imma, the Father-Mother God, the Divine Source, the Universal Spirit. It enhances your intimacy with the Divine beyond and within.

Qi and Grace: An Embodied Lord’s Prayer reveals the meaning and practice of Abba-Imma Qigong. It includes Reverend Steve Harms’ explanations of the linguistic and historical contexts for his revitalized wording of the Lord’s Prayer and photos with instructions of the Abba-Imma Qigong form by Kaleo Ching. View the accompanying Qigong video at kaleoching.com or peacejourney.org

Available from Sagrada Sacred Arts or Amazon.com

“The Lord’s Prayer has been part of my spiritual tradition since I was a child, and I have never experienced it so uniquely as when praying the Abba-Imma Qigong with my whole being – body, mind, spirit, heart. It is like floating gently on the river of life in communion with all creation, all beings on earth, in the heavens and beyond!”

Marlene DeNardo, MA Spirituality and Culture, spiritual and retreat director

Qi and Grace: An Embodied Lord's Prayer

Elise & Kaleo Ching with Rev. Steve Harms
Kaleonahe Press, 2015
50 pages with photos

Chi and Creativity: Vital Energy and Your Inner Artist

Inspire Creativity by Cultivating the Universal Energy of Chi

The capacity to create is part of being human, whether that means making art, writing, teaching, cooking for friends, gardening, giving a massage, nurturing relationships, or following a spiritual path. Nourishing and maximizing your vital energy, or Chi, is an essential part of fulfilling your human potential. Chi and Creativity shows you how to use a wide range of strategies to harness the power of and cultivate the inner artist. It includes explorations in Chi awareness, including five element alchemy, self-help acupressure, Chi Kung movement and meditation, and Taoist breathing techniques, which open channels for guided imagery, journaling, and art. This integrative process generates inspiration, awe, and energy for living a creative life. Chi and Creativity is an excellent companion for artists, writers, healers, massage therapists, meditators, teachers, psychotherapists, hypnotherapists, and seekers.

At local bookstores, Sagrada Sacred Arts, Barnes and Noble, or Amazon

Excerpts from Chi and Creativity

  • Excerpt 1: Chi Interactions
    Excerpts from Chi and Creativity: Vital Energy and Your Inner Artist

    Excerpt 1: Chi Interactions

    Everything is Chi. Chi fields, vibrations, and waves are everywhere. The chortling of our dog, Teekkona, as we massage her is the sound of Chi. The warmth in her body created by massage is the flow of Chi. The adoration in her eyes is the look of Chi.

    The action and interaction of massage generate and direct Chi. The healing connection between giver and receiver transmits Chi. The healing energy in the room is cumulative Chi.

    We all have Chi. We all use Chi. We all share Chi.

    Everyone has a Chi field or vibrational energy or aura. It reflects the diet, life style, experiences, attitude, and openness or guardedness of the person. It reflects the person’s culture, age, generation, gender. People’s Chi fields may vibrate with depression or inspiration, with fear or determination, with anger or motivation, with disconnectedness or joy, with worry or centeredness. Some may reflect deficiency – a need to be filled, nurtured, indulged. Some may reflect excess – hyperactivity, intense emotion, dominance. Some may reflect abundance – love to give, faith to share.

  • Excerpt 2: In Harmony With Nature
    Excerpts from Chi and Creativity: Vital Energy and Your Inner Artist

    Excerpt 2: In Harmony With Nature

    Whenever you do Zhan Zhuang (standing) meditation in a comfortable, nurturing, healthy natural setting, you enhance the benefits of the practice. Feeling your feet spreading on the firm earth enhances grounding and centering. Breathing fresh air Chi in rhythm with the breath of nature enhances your exchange of Chi with the environment. Meditation beneath the open sky stimulates your receptivity to heavenly Chi.

    Wherever you choose to go in nature, make sure the environment is comfortable, not too warm, cool, windy, or wet. Dress appropriately for the climate. Stand or sit on earth that is level and firm in a place where you feel safe and at home. Bring your journal with you to record your awareness.

    The following explorations also invite you to connect with the five elements through nature: with metal through the Chi of the fresh natural air you inhale in Tan Tien breathing, with earth as Gaia, with fire as the rising sun at dawn, with wood as the tree, with water as the river.

  • Excerpt 3: Foundations of Tiger’s Breath Chi Kung
    Excerpts from Chi and Creativity: Vital Energy and Your Inner Artist

    Excerpt 3: Foundations of Tiger’s Breath Chi Kung

    Chi Kung penetrates deeply into the layers of the body, beneath the skin, fascia, and muscles, into the inner pulse of organs, the surge of Chi in meridians, and the tracks of the ancestors in the twisting paths of DNA. Chi Kung’s roots go back 5,000 years. Its quest continues to beckon, promising glimpses into deep mysteries, discoveries of profound value, and personal revelations embedded in universal truths.

    The ancient principles and practices of Chi Kung persist through eons of secrecy. They endure the scrutiny of contemporary science. They straddle the chasm between science and spirituality, bowing respectfully to both, yet not dependent on any test or school, any dogma or belief, for their durability.

    Chi Kung is like its spiritual source, the Tao. It is not any one thing. It cannot be pinned down. It changes. It is change. Yet you can count on it. It has continuity. It endures – as long as anyone is around to keep its wisdom alive. And even if not, the entire universe is an expression of Chi Kung, the work of Chi.

“A groundbreaking, transformative guide to open your healing energy and cultivate your personal growth. My hands tingle knowing what Chi and Creativity offers through practical exercises for enhancing your vitality and awakening your spiritual well-being.”

Michael Reed Gach, Ph.D. is founder of the Acupressure Institute and author of Acupressure’s Potent Points, Acu-Yoga, and Acupressure for Emotional Healing.

“The best book on the subject: I am so grateful that I found this book. Because chi is a relatively abstract and foreign concept, describing it in words can be a challenge. Elise Dirlam Ching and Kaleo Ching have successfully bridged the gap between language and practice to foster understanding of chi’s ancient principles. In spite of the book’s voluminous size, its feel is unintimidating and the presentation of its information inspiring and accessible. If you want to learn about chi and/or chi kung, this book is utterly essential.”

Audrey Marie Marrs (with Charles Ferguson) produced Inside Job which won the Academy Award for Best Documentary (Feature) in 2010.

Chi and Creativity-an exploration into new frontiers through an authentic, modern-day shamanic practice. This book offers practices with far-reaching healing power for life enhancement. Elise and Kaleo Ching blend the healing aspects of Taoist internal alchemy, Chi Kung, guided imagery, and art. They demystify, reveal, and ingeniously combine esoteric teachings that have never been put together into one book.”

Gilles Marin is director of the Chi Nei Tsang Institute, and author of Healing from Within with Chi Nei Tsang and Five Elements, Six Conditions.

“The purity and integrity of the Chings’ life journey flows into these books and through them to others. The result is a courting, a drawing out, of the healer and the artist in each of us. The experiences shared and offered help to inspire and release the Spirit in us. They evoke and they empower. To experience them is a form of prayer.”

Matthew Fox is founder of the University of Creation Spirituality and author of Original Blessing, The Reinvention of Work, and Creativity: Where the Divine and the Human Meet.

“Elise Dirlam Ching and Kaleo Ching have created amazing resources for teachers, retreat facilitators, and any individual engaged in a creative spiritual process of self-development and global awareness. It is clear that these two live the process they teach. Their detailed and knowledgeable presentation of the material is animated and inspired by the inclusion of deeply personal journal entries, art, and poetry. These books are timeless and valuable treasures.”

Adriana Diaz is author of Freeing the Creative Spirit.

Chi and Creativity cover

Elise Dirlam Ching and Kaleo Ching
Blue Snake Books, 2007
320 pages

Faces of Your Soul: Rituals in Art, Maskmaking, and Guided Imagery with Ancestors, Spirit Guides, and Totem Animals

Faces of Your Soul takes you on a journey of inner adventure, sacred guidance, and self-empowerment. With this experiential, hands-on book you’ll learn to manifest your own transformative process. Guided imagery leads you through a shamanic exploration of subconscious realms. Journal writing, art, and maskmaking give voice and form to your inner mysteries and hidden wisdom. Based on the authors’ many years of experience as artists, writers, and teachers of the holistic process of guided imagery, qigong movement and meditation, and art, this book resonates with their unique blend of Eastern, Western, and nature wisdom.

At local bookstores, Sagrada Sacred Arts, Barnes and Noble, or Amazon

Excerpts from Faces of Your Soul

  • Excerpt 1: Universal Spirit Meditation
    Excerpts from Faces of Your Soul: Rituals in Art, Maskmaking, and Guided Imagery with Ancestors, Spirit Guides, and Totem Animals

    Excerpt 1: Universal Spirit Meditation

    Go to a serene place in nature and assume a meditative posture familiar to you. As your eyes gently close, let your mind receive the comfort of your haven. Feel the temperature around you. Let your feet spread over the soft welcoming earth beneath you. Let your spirit enter into the spaciousness of your inner being. Breathe softly, deeply. Do you smell a fragrance, hear a sound, see a color? Inhaling, allow your breath to enter your nostrils and glide up into your mind’s eye. Listen to the sound, the vibration of your mind. Listen as your breath opens like a blossoming lotus, spreading, expanding, then pressing gently into the inner lining of your cranium and releasing. Ask the Universal Spirit for clarity and vision on your journey, and let go.


    Let go, and the breath falls like gentle rain, the rain of Hawai‘i, ka ua li‘ili‘i. Breath glides into your throat and descends into the spaciousness of your heart. What are the colors, the sounds of gentle rain as it falls in your chest? Breath expands, pressing gently into the cavern walls of your inner ribs, then softly releases. Ask the Universal Spirit for understanding and compassion on your journey, and let go.

    Let go, and the breath falls like gentle rain, ka ua li‘ili‘i, through your body. What is the sound of rain falling into the ocean in your pelvis? What are the temperatures and textures as it descends deep within? Can you feel the embryo of creativity in the cavern of your pelvis? Hear its breathing? Can you feel your breath as it travels like a wave across the spacious ocean-a wave spreading-and pressing gently into the muscular walls of your pelvis-and then releasing, with kindness? Ask the Universal Spirit for abundance and creativity on your journey, and let go.

    Breath falls like gentle rain through your legs, washing and cleansing, descending into Gaia, the mother. Can you feel her kindness and love? Pause now and enjoy her embrace.

    As you inhale, your breath ascends. What is the fragrance of Gaia as it ascends lightly through your body and into the heavens? Exhaling, allow this fragrance to descend from the heavens. What is the sensation of gentle rain falling from the heavens, entering your body, cleansing and purifying, then flowing into the basin of your pelvis?

    Your breath is soft as you inhale. Gratitude travels into every cell in your body. Breathe gently, then release the blessings of your mind, heart, and body into the world.

  • Excerpt 2: Totem Animal
    Excerpts from Faces of Your Soul: Rituals in Art, Maskmaking, and Guided Imagery with Ancestors, Spirit Guides, and Totem Animals

    Excerpt 2: Totem Animal

    Guided Imagery: Meeting Your Totem Animal

    Close your eyes and enter meditation. Your breath is natural, soft, fluid. It carries you gently into the lower world. You find yourself walking on a trail in the wilderness. It guides you to the entrance of a cave. Observe the opening of this cave and your surroundings. Enter the cave and notice its interior. You discover the tunnel leading into the earth. It feels safe and inviting and you descend into this tunnel. As you go deeper, be aware of your breath. Each breath takes you deeper down this passage. What does it smell like? The fragrance brings you deeper still, until you see a light at the end of this tunnel. Approach it and move into the light. As you emerge into the terrain of the lower world, feel your consciousness shift.

    What is the setting in which you find yourself? You see a trail leading off into hiding. Does it move through the underbrush, around rocks, through sand dunes or mounds of snow, into the deep forest, between mountains? Where does it disappear? Follow it.

    Jane with drum

    Along the trail, you find animal traces. Are they feathers, fur, or scales? Do you see pellets or scat? Do you smell the aroma of some animal’s urine or rank animal body? Do you hear hooting or growling, sighing or screeching, purring or slithering? You see tracks. Are they the bear’s – long, almost humanoid, but with the piercings of sharp claws? Are they the wolf’s – doglike but so large and with front toes parallel? Are they the heart-shaped tracks of the deer, the webbed tracks of the river otter, or the winding traces of a snake? Follow these tracks.

    In this world of the wilderness, your whole body and all your instincts are alive. You stop, sensing a movement in the distance. Do you freeze and watch silently like a deer or crouch down like a canine in anticipation?

    The creature you have been following is coming toward you. As it nears, notice what sort of animal it is. Is it covered in fur, scales, feathers, or bare skin? Watch it carefully. See how it moves as it comes even closer. You can tell by the way it approaches that it is friendly. Feel its breath as you come face to face. Look deeply into its eyes. What do you see?

    You understand that this animal is an ally. What attributes and powers does this ally have? It also has its own language, its own way of expression. How does it communicate to you-through movements, sounds, eye contact? What shifts do you feel as you bond with this ally?


    You feel your ally’s sense of loyalty and caring. It gives you a token of remembrance. What is it?

    Ask your ally what signals you can use to summon each other. Perhaps it offers a certain sound to let you know it is near. Perhaps you have a name or song by which to summon it.

    Thank your power animal and take your leave, knowing you will be in close contact.

    Return through the tunnel, ascending the same way you came. Reenter the cave. You might want to etch your communication symbols on the wall of the cave. Emerge through the opening in the earth. Return along the trail through the wilderness until you come back into the room.

    Journaling: Totem Animal

    Journal about your experiences with your totem animal. Was its identity a surprise? What associations do you have with this animal? What special abilities are carried by its species? What are its animal ways that can help you with your own life? What are its obvious meanings and lessons? What are its secrets? What are the nuances of your relationship that make it an extremely personal one for you? How can you nurture your relationship? What were your token of remembrance and your signals for summoning each other?

    Art: Totem Animal’s Appearance

    Now that you have met your animal ally, it’s time to get to know it better. Take time during the following few days to draw or sketch it. Try different techniques.

    You may want to draw the semblance of your ally. Draw it from imagination and memory or from a lifelike representation, such as a photograph. If your animal ally is accessible, go to a place where you can observe it-owls by night or early morning, elks at the refuge, reptiles at the vivarium, sea otters at the shoreline, big cats at the zoo, native wild animals at the local wildlife sanctuary.


    As you dialogue with the animal through art, notice how this close-up relationship changes your awareness. Drawing a bald eagle-the arrangement of individual tail feathers, the slope of shoulders and breadth of chest, the talons in the feet holding a warm dead mouse, the curve of yellow beak, the stretch of narrow tongue, the shadows around the golden eye-allows an intimate entrance into the animal’s life. Expressing through color, shape, and form its wild cry, the spreading of its wings, the joy of gliding on air currents, its wide view from above brings you closer to its world.

    Unless you have been very closely acquainted with this animal before, once you have experienced this intimate interaction, your relationship will reach a new level of understanding and appreciation. This interaction nurtures a deeper appreciation: of the animal as an individual representative of its species; of the wild nature of the living earth; of the wilderness of your own inner being.

    Art: Totem Animal’s Energy

    Another way to get to know your animal better is to explore through art its energetic being.

    With an array of art materials before you, begin your process. You may want to express the energy, sound, textures of your ally.


    Feel your totem animal. Do you want to bond with its power, its focus, its wild instinct? Do you want to express its fierce roar, its agility, or its speed? What colors, shapes, forms are inspired as the falcon veers and dives at 200 mph. for its prey, as the tiger pounces and plays with its cubs, as the wolf howls, as the otter swims? How would you convey the heat and danger of the fire-breathing dragon, or the galloping sounds of the unicorn, or the power of the talons of the owl as it crushes its prey, or the cuteness of the bunny?

    Look at the wonderful art materials before you. These are vibrant sticks of energy. The sienna dusty chalk pastel may feel like the desert wind that the golden eagle rides. The charcoal flakes and powder may feel like ashes that birth the phoenix. The watery Caran d’Ache crayons may feel like the slippery skin of the playful seal in water. The greasy, thick oil pastels may feel like the walls of the den of an animal. Mix them with massage oil and they feel like a slick pup emerging from its mother’s womb.

    You can put your hand into these textures of colors and energies and express the nature and instinct of your animal ally. Your hand playing with chalk, charcoal, or oil crayon will arouse your own animal instincts and allow you to bond more deeply with the animal.

  • Excerpt 3: Sculpting the Mask
    Excerpts from Faces of Your Soul: Rituals in Art, Maskmaking, and Guided Imagery with Ancestors, Spirit Guides, and Totem Animals

    Excerpt 3: Sculpting the Mask

    Kaleo’s Journal: The Process of Maskmaking

    Kaleo and Jane

    I call on my ancestors for guidance. Our process begins. I, the maker of your mask, honor you, the giver of the mask, as we enter into our inner dialogue.

    Ancestors watch over us as I apply plaster gauze to your face. Touching, listening, responding to your energy, I massage the wet warm skin of gauze onto the flesh and bone of your facial sculpture. I feel your inner face as well as the outer one

    What do you need? Do you feel safe? How can this gentle facial massage encourage you to enter and sink into trust? What images, sensations, emotions are emerging from your subconscious? All my senses are alert and receive clues from your body/mind about what this experience is like for you.


    You, as maskgiver, question: Can I still my body, still my mind? Can I surrender to the nurturing fingers, to the warm wet plaster on my face? Am I vulnerable? Am I afraid? Will I like the impression of my face? Will the mask reveal an ancestor? What images will emerge from the silence and the darkness?

    As you drop deeper in meditation, I feel your ancestors stirring within you.

    As the mask on your face comes to completion, it is time for you to emerge. To release the mask, you engage your breath. Inhaling, you draw your breath into your abdomen. Exhaling, you settle into the comfort of the pelvic bowl. Then, inhaling, you draw your breath into your sacrum and up your spinal column. Your breath migrates into your throat and mouth, softening your tongue and chin. It now enters the space between your skull and skin. As you exhale, your breath expands gently and presses into the inner lining of your mask, shedding this new skin.

    As your mask peels off, it reveals the wonders of the universe, your ances- tors’ legacy, the door of your heart.

“There is no other work which so eloquently speaks for the art and healing movement. It is rare that the holistic ideal of body-mind-spirit integration is so fully realized and so joyfully celebrated. In Faces of Your Soul, the Chings make connections between inner and outer; East and West; healing and spirit which can serve everyone from the beginning seeker of creativity and self-discovery to the most sophisticated visual and performing artists. In reading Faces of Your Soul we encounter powerful stories, powerful insights and powerful tools for transformation.”

Michael Grady is chairperson of the Arts and Consciousness Program at John F. Kennedy University.

“Overflowing with creative ideas, Faces of Your Soul is a wonderful collage of systems of healing knowledge and wisdom, integrated with art. There is nothing like this anywhere. The Chings are deep souls who have mastered a startling variety of therapeutic, artistic and spiritual traditions. Adding insights from their fascinating and poignant life experiences, many of which are exquisitely communicated in this book, they’ve created an amazing blend. The Appendix Gallery of Kaleo’s stunning masks combined with Elise’s profound poetry is a metaphor for the sublime effectiveness of this synergistic collaboration. Pouring their hearts into this project over many years, they’ve created something transcending an outstanding book, having the potential to guide many readers to life transforming experiences.”

Randal Churchill is director of Hypnotherapy Training Institute and author of Regression Hypnotherapy: Transcripts of Transformation and Become the Dream.

Faces of Your Soul reflects the authors’ understanding and embodied practice of a wide range of healing and expressive art traditions from around the world, resulting in a harmonious blend of deep body wisdom, emotional strength, and intuitive clarity that is transformative and definitely not to be missed!”

Jeremy Taylor, M.A., D. Min. is co-founder of the International Association for the Study of Dreams and author of Dreamwork, Where People Fly and Water Runs Up Hill, and The Living Labyrinth.

Faces of Your Soul cover

Elise Dirlam Ching and Kaleo Ching
North Atlantic Books, 2006
Foreword by Matthew Fox
260 pages

Sharing the Maskmaking Journey: A “Faces of Your Soul” Teacher’s Manual

Sharing the Maskmaking Journey is designed to assist and inspire, practically and philosophically, those who wish to lead others in the maskmaking process. While Faces of Your Soul (North Atlantic Books, 2006) offers, among a range of exploratory endeavors, the experiential process of making a mask, Sharing the Masmaking Journey is a handbook for leading others in this adventure. It contains detailed information concerning promotion, planning, written materials, set-up, and supplies, as well as personal explorations to deepen the teacher/facilitator’s inner awareness. As is customary with Elise and Kaleo’s books, this manual is not just about the doing of teaching maskmaking but about being a wise and empathic guide.

Available from Amazon.com

Excerpts from Sharing the Maskmaking Journey

  • Excerpt 1: The Student-Teacher Relationship
    Excerpts from Sharing the Maskmaking Journey: A Faces of Your Soul Teacher’s Manual

    Excerpt 1: The Student-Teacher Relationship

    For you as teachers, we urge you to teach from the integration of your soul, mind, heart, and body. Express from your soul, focus with your mind, expand with your heart, create with your body. Then inspire others to feel their bodies and emotions; to want to deepen their understanding of their souls; to give themselves permission to take risks and empower themselves through creativity; to seek comfort and guidance in the spiritual realm. Inspire your students to move with a sense of exploration, to dive in with a sense of discovery, and to create with freedom, awe, and joy. Inspire your students to trust their deepest selves and to reach for their highest selves.

    Embrace your students with the structure of your class, its space, its timing, its plan. Nurture them with abundance. Inspire them with enthusiasm. Encourage them to push the margins of awareness while you care for them with patience and timing. At the same time take care of yourself as teacher through knowing your boundaries and respecting you own time, space, and privacy, just as you respect those of others. This is the fine art of Yang and Yin balance applied to the soul work of teaching – practicing abundance with boundaries.

  • Excerpt 2: Creating Sacred Space
    Excerpts from Sharing the Maskmaking Journey: A Faces of Your Soul Teacher’s Manual

    Excerpt 2: Creating Sacred Space

    Imagine. You are at the head of the room about to begin teaching. Students are gathered in a circle and sit ready and eager on meditation cushions. Tables and chairs wait in the background, ready to be arranged for maskmaking. The room is large and quiet with clear but gentle lighting adapted by rheostats. The hardwood floor is covered by a nice clean, comfortable carpet. At the end of the room is a large art sink with hot and cold running water. The walls are covered with freshly painted white art board ready to receive new art projects. Dark drapes wait to be pulled over large windows to provide darkness for a slide presentation or guided imagery journey. It is a warm day and the windows are open. There is a good possibility of making the mask molds in dappled sunlight on the deck outside. A gentle breeze carries in the fresh fertile aromas of the surrounding redwood forest. A Steller’s Jay chirps. Squirrels chatter. An occasion deer wanders by.

    Reality. There is the ideal, and then there is reality and how you adjust to its quirks.

From one teacher to another…

“Kaleo understands the delicate details of teaching a class such as this as well as the down-to-the-bones that every teacher or soon to be teacher will need to know. Everything is laid out clearly, step by step with clear explanations. I am an art teacher of 15 years and was highly impressed by the presentation of this book. It will help you get deeper into the mask making process than ever before in a wise, compassionate way.”

Amazon.com five-star review by Ninochca

An EXCELLENT Resource for Teaching and Facilitating Transformative Artmaking Classes and Workshops!

“This book is an EXCELLENT resource for teachers and facilitators who want to help people really connect with their creativity, through the journey process of maskmaking! Kaleo and Elise share with readers their many years of experiential wisdom and most valuable insights into the teaching process, guiding people on how to be most effective in engaging students and workshop participants in the creative process. I have had the great fortune of witnessing Kaleo and Elise teach many groups, and have to say that this book is one of the best resources you will find on teaching Transformative Arts!”

Amazon.com five-star review by See Hear Share

A Heartfelt Tool

“This book is intended for those who have already read the Chings’ prior book Faces of Your Soul, have experience creating masks, and would like to develop their own workshops using the mask-making journey.

Having taken classes from Kaleo and Elise, I can unequivocally state that they are gifted teachers who readily share their vast knowledge and open their hearts to their students. This book reflects both great attention to details, including the subtle ones that make a class successful, and an appreciation for the sacredness of the process. I highly recommend it for any teachers or healers who are considering embarking on this journey.”

Amazon.com five-star review by D. Hall, San Francisco

Mask Making and great teaching tool!

“Such a great book for not only some to the most simple, concise mask making steps I’ve ever found, the book offers so much more that can allow anyone to take mask making to a whole new level. Excellent tool and reference for teaching as well, as beautifully written.”

Amazon.com five-star review by R. Gilian, Emeryville, CA

“This is a beautiful, great book that can take you on a journey of your soul. Use for inspiration in your creative process.”

Amazon.com five-star review by ajinor45

Sharing the Maskmaking Journey

Elise Dirlam Ching and Kaleo Ching
Kaleonahe Press, 2011
86 pages with color photos

Healing Buddha Palms Chi Kung

Healing Buddha Palms Chi Kung is a Taoist practice that is an especially powerful tool for healers and Chi Kung practitioners to build and conserve their own Chi while channeling Chi from both the Earth and the Universe. This practice stimulates our twelve internal organs and their meridians, the eight Extraordinary Channels which are our reservoirs of Chi.

In this manual and its corresponding DVD, Gilles Marin and Elise and Kaleo Ching guide you through the subtle yet powerful Buddha Palms sequence. The book provides in depth step-by-step instruction with color photos and relations to meridian points. It also includes introductory information and seven guided meditations.

Available from the Chi Nei Tsang Institute or Amazon.com

Excerpts from Healing Buddha Palms Chi Kung

  • Excerpt 1: What Is Healing Buddha Palms Chi Kung?
    Excerpts from Healing Buddha Palms Chi Kung

    Excerpt 1: What Is Healing Buddha Palms Chi Kung?

    Healing Buddha Palms Chi Kung is an ancient Taoist practice that is an especially powerful tool for healers and Chi Kung practitioners to build and conserve their own Chi, at the same time opening to channel Chi from the Earth, the known Universe, and the Cosmos beyond. Gilles finds the Healing Buddha Palms Chi Kung is one of the most important exercises for practitioners of Chi Nei Tsang. Kaleo finds it an essential complement to his work with clients through acupressure, Hawaiian Lomilomi massage, and soul journeys (“Hōkū O Ke Kai”) through hypnotherapy. Elise finds that it helps her to ground and center and to open her chakras for leading groups on guided imagery journeys.

    Healing Buddha Palms Chi Kung cleanses and stimulates our twelve internal organs and their meridians, so that Chi flows smoothly and evenly through us. It activates the eight Extraordinary Vessels or Channels, our reservoirs of Chi. It consists of accessing in a systematic and focused way what we call the Three Fundamental Forces of Heavenly (Cosmic, beyond human understanding), Universal (human knowledge), and Earth (the binding force of gravity); the Personal Forces (everything we like most in life that feeds the Spirit); and the Grounding Force (everything that constitutes our support system, including ancestors, lineage, culture). When the Force is out there beyond us, it is not accessible. When we connect with and access it, it becomes Chi for and in our bodies. We actively connect with the Forces through our bones like antennas and feed the Microcosmic Orbit and the rest of ourselves with their energy. This is a practice in harvesting Chi from abundant sources and channeling it through us by cleansing and activating our Chi circuits and stimulating our Chi palms; thus, we don not use up and exhaust our own reserves of Chi in healing work and in life.

  • Excerpt 2: Preparation
    Excerpts from Healing Buddha Palms Chi Kung

    Excerpt 2: Preparation

    Begin with a prayer of intention to your understanding of the Creator. “Prayer” to us means connecting with intention to the Divine, the Cosmic Intelligence, the Universal Spirit. 

    Prayer may also include honoring ancestral sources. These may be your ancestors of blood, culture, spirit, or land. Our ancestors’ blood, bones, flesh, and dreams, are ingredients of the Earth; their DNA lives on through us; they are part of the great Mystery, the unseen realms, the deep intelligence of the Cosmos. When we pray, we tap into the lineage of our ancestors and the collective lineage of the Cosmic source.

    We come from the stars and our terrestrial planet Earth. If you are practicing at the beach, be one with the sea’s shimmering pulse, the Sun’s healing warmth, the impermanent shapes of clouds drifting across the sky, the vibrations of waves thundering against the shore beneath your feet. If you are practicing in the balmy evening, feel the gravitational tugs and receive the gifts of light and Chi from the Moon, the stars, and the distant galaxies. If you are practicing in a temple or sacred site, listen and fill with the prayers resonating through its layers of history.

Healing Buddha Palms Chi Kung

Elise Dirlam Ching, Kaleo Ching, and Gilles Marin
Chi Nei Tsang Institute, 2009
50 pages with photos and accompanying
   video by Gilles Marin