When friends and family were giving up things for Lent, I decided to try a different approach to test my willpower. (Because let’s face it, the two days--er, should I say 36 hours-- I tried going without dairy really did not go well.) I had been sporadically practicing Qigong ever since last summer, when I visited the Spring Forest Qigong center right in good ole' Eden Prarie MN. I went there with an open mind, and my experience was powerful. I told a woman named Jackie some very basic facts about myself, and she seemed to have known me for years. Except she wasn't a psychic trying to tell me my future--she was reading my energy and seeing me; really seeing me, and knowing why I was there. After our brief consultation and some light energy work via Qissage (kind of like massage of the energy channels), Master Lin came in. Master Lin is a world-renown Qigong Master and the founder of Spring Forest Qigong. He's written several books and his philiosophy is "a healer in every home and a world without pain." He read my energy briefly and explained where there were blockages in my body. Shortly thereafter, Jackie re-entered and showed me three basic Qigong exercises to practice at home in order to better balance my Qi and remove these energy blockages in my body.
Qigong believes that there is no such thing as good energy or bad energy, but rather too much energy. And when that energy cannot flow freely throughout the body--when it gets blocked--this causes any number of ailments from allergies and asthma to depression and anxiety. This intrigued me, as the need to balance my energy has become increasingly important to me. I also became interested in Qigong due to a growing interest in the theories presented by EMDR; the notion that emotions are stored in our physical bodies and need to be processed for our energy to flow smoothly and our mind and body to be healthy.
Qigong exercises are kind of like moving meditations. The first one they teach you is The Balancing of Yin and Yang. It's a simple movement you do while closing your eyes, breathing in a specific way, and visualizing specific things. The others use different movements and different visualizations, but they are all positive and require a general state of relaxation.
My experience at SFQ was absolutely amazing. Keeping up the exercises I was taught, however, was not. Although they also gave me a DVD of the exercises to guide me in my moving meditations, I maybe did the brief and simple exercises once or twice a week. I somehow always had an excuse not to do them, and I especially would blow them off if I was particularly stressed or frazzled. Of course, when I feel that stressed, I know that's when I need to meditate and practice Qigong the most.
So I made a pact with myself that I would practice Qigong for a minimum of five minutes a day. If I was in the groove and felt like continuing, then I would; if not, I would require my five minute minimum and be content with it. After 30 Days, I can genuinely say......
that I feel the same feelings, but less intensely.
The little amount of this practice that I have been doing is not going to revolutionize my mind or turn me into a Zen master, and I know that. Every thought I have is not going to be calm, harmonious, and blissful. In fact, starting this 30 Day task has not made me any less stressed out or high strung. (Some days, the mere thought that I hadn't completed my exercises for the day seemed to make me feel more frantic.) But it has lessened the sensations or effects of anxiety on my body. Whereas before I might literally feel the panic in my body, I can say with confidence that I've experienced fewer headaches and random pains. I can sense that I am anxious, but it's almost as if it doesn't permeate quite as deeply as before--it doesn't get to my entire physical body. It sorts itself out before it causes me actual pain.
I know Qigong may seem a bit strange to some people, but just as yoga or meditation have made their way into our western culture, I hope we can all continue to learn and explore how Qigong can help balance our bodies and minds. If we can reset our energy for just a few minutes a day and see results, it only seems logical that more time spent in balance will improve the quality of our day-to-day lives.