I wrote the following a year or so ago for my Medical Qigong Practitioner course with Jeff Barnard at North Star Institute in Pacific Grove. It’s a bit out of date (my all girl bluegrass band “Nipple Creek” has since broken up). But I consider this blog an extension of my quest for self expression. Jeff is a great teacher, with knowledge of qigong, native american healing as well as training as a Paramedic. If you live in the Santa Cruz area, I also highly recommend my first teacher, Marcy Reynolds. Qigong is an ancient system of exercises and meditations to cultivate energy. There are many different forms and practices, originating in ancient Siberian shamanism, and later influenced by Taoist and Buddhist traditions.
What Qigong Means to Me:
When I went to my first qigong class about 10 years ago, I had no idea what it would come to mean to me. In fact, I don’t remember what prompted me to go, besides seeing a flier. Qigong is a way for me to get physical exercise, emotionally recharge and reset, and to embark on spiritual explorations of myself and the universe. It is a discipline that is its own reward. Qigong allows me to practice to become the best possible version of myself. One that is grounded, relaxed, integrated and free.
One area I am working on is self expression. Clearing the throat chakra is one aspect of this. After a recent chakric meditation my double* made a very free strong exclamation that reminded me of how my excited two year old sometimes exclaims. The manner of expression was the message. A few days later a long time friend and fellow student of old-time and bluegrass music informed me that our “band” was playing at her graduation party. We’ve had two actual gigs now! It is a band that has been in the making for about 10 years as we have both been learning our respective instruments. I kept my double’s “yalp” as an inspiration through the stress of singing and playing music for people, and the reward of satisfaction at our success. Without qigong I probably wouldn’t have noticed the feeling of my 3 dantiens connecting as we rehearsed one night, or the feeling of freedom opening up in my picking arm after long practice. I also felt my throat was more free while singing.
Another area of personal growth that comes to mind for me also illustrates the beautiful and gentle way qigong can transform our lives. I realized a few months ago that I no longer find myself in the pantry insatiably gobbling chocolate chips- to the point where it was very difficult to stop. This is a behavior that began out of boredom in elementary school and followed me through college and my 20s. Imagine my astonishment that it left me without my even realizing it! I didn’t work on this specifically with qigong, but I feel that qigong had a positive effect on it. In fact my general lifestyle has become much more healthy since embarking on my qigong journey. I would be tempted to think that I “grew out of it”, but age doesn’t always lead to improved habits, as any alcoholic will attest.
A final reason that I love qigong is that it allows me to transcend the time that I was born into- the modern technocratic age, and lets me share in fundamentally human experiences. I feel this especially with standing meditation. It is a profound gift to learn to connect with the ground, sky, and environment around me. It gives me a connection to the innate and unchanging potential of humanity. I also believe that this kind of education is my best hope of survival through any upheaval that may be looming on the horizon. Collectively these individual awakenings are our best hope for survival as a species
* this is refering to a meditation in which we imagine an energetic “double”