Medical Qigong Career

I had the awesome realization that I should focus on Medical Qigong (chi gong) as a career right now.  I’ve been planning to go to school (probably Five Branches) and get a Masters Degree in TCM (Traditional Chinese Medicine). I still plan do this, but to lose the pressure of feeling behind (the program is 4 years and $50K, and I couldn’t start for about 2 years- young children to raise, and I’m not shipping them off to daycare).  And then I’d likely have to start my own acupuncture practice, start paying a sizable student loan back… Yikes!  I’m certified as Medical Qigong Practitioner (MQP) right now, and I’d like to continue with more advanced certifications.  But for now I need to start practicing.  I have the MQP certification and a massage table. Will travel. Start with friends. Focus on continuing my personal cultivation.  Realize I don’t need 5 pHds to get started.  The beauty of this realization is that it creates a shift in my mindset, but not much in my immediate path.  If anything it will make me more prepared for TCM school and getting scholarships.

Since I started this post a few weeks ago, I have had the pleasure of doing a treatment for a good friend.  It was wonderful for me. I got to do qigong, plus it really jump started my learning.  And I think it really benefited her.  So, friends, who is next? I’m offering 1 complementary treatment to get my practice started! After that my rates will be ridiculously affordable.

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A Brave New World

Since the dawn of human history, the population has been growing.  At first it did so exceedingly slowly, with seemingly endless resources at our disposal.  Over the last few centuries population growth has rapidly accelerated.  Many people believe that this growth is exponential, and if you isolate the last century or 2, it is. However, we are reaching the carrying capacity of the earth, and the curve is actually beginning to level off.  This is logistical population growth, following a sigmoidal or S-Shaped curve (For example).  The population is projected to reach a stable level of somewhere around 10 billion people by around 2050.

The mechanism of this leveling off is called the demographic transition.  In the developing world, birth rates are high, as are death rates.  First death rates decrease, mostly through improved sanitation.  This creates a population bulge for a few generations.  Once people realize they don’t need to have 8 children for 3 to survive, the birth rate also decreases. This happened in the US at around the turn of the 20th century.  This process is currently happening around the world.  Incidentally, the most surefire way to decrease birth rates more quickly is educating women.

So we are living in an historically unprecedented time for our species.  The panoply of world problems facing us is almost too terrifying to consider.  However, if we are able to live through this time of population stabilization, we may actually be able to craft a world that works for everyone.   I optimistically envision a fair distribution of resources, a managed ecosphere for maximum food production with minimum impact (for example, permaculture), and preservation of wild places.  At minimum, all people need clean water, ample healthy food, shelter, access to medical care.  This would largely end the call for warfare (if we can silence or ignore warmongering profiteers).  Like it or not, we are living through this critical time in the evolution of our humanity.  I don’t think it is too melodramatic to say that survival will require an evolution of our collective heart-mind, rather than our physical bodies.

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Tag- you’re it!

I recently created my very own 3 word tag-line: Create Vibrant Health.  This acts as an “anchor” to keep myself on my chosen course (as well as helping to define that course).  It gives me something to compare with possible courses of action, and make good choices.  It also acts on more than one level: to encourage my own healthy path (eating a Primal diet, fitting in qigong, other excercise…); it works on the level of my goal to facilitate vibrant health in others as a Medical Qigong Practitioner, and my goal as a human who wants a healthy thriving planet for my children to enjoy.  I have to thank Dean at Being Primal for the idea of creating a powerful, personal 3 word tag-line.  Go ahead and make up your own. I’d love to hear them!

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What is this all about?

As I progress with my goal of writing a blog a week, a few things are becoming clear.

1. I need a way to keep myself on track for 1 blog per week.  Am I really doing 1 a week? Honestly, I don’t know.

2. Why would anyone want to read this? What is the point? Most blogs that I frequent share factual information and provide research as well as just opinions.  And they usually have a topic!

I’m giving myself a year to try it out.  (I said I would, and I’m sticking to it.)  After that I may write a more focused topical blog, or quit. Possible upcoming topics include: natural parenting, marriage, primal eating, qigong and energy medicine, home birth, home school…

3. Formatting makes blogs easier to read. (note bold) Also pictures, links… Getting the visual aspect of this sucker down. Figuring out what I can do with this free platform.

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I turned 35 this week, and naturally am taking stock of my life. I’m definitely in a good place.  It seems like a lot of things are in alignment. It is the year of the dragon again (my birth year). I don’t know much about astrology (Chinese or otherwise), but this seems cool.  Julia is 3 months old. Done with the “4th trimester”, and its been a year since she was conceived.  Steve and I are very busy taking care of the family, but making time for each other as well.  My career has been mostly on hold for a while- working part time, raising kids, figuring out what to do with the rest of my working life.  I’m planning to go back to school for Acupuncture and Chinese Medicine in two years or so.  Sometimes it is frustrating that I will be over 40 when I start my “real” career.  At least I’ve found something that I love.  In the mean time, I’d like to start doing Medical Qigong treatments. (I finished getting certified as a Medical Qigong Practitioner right before my pregnancy, and I’m just getting back to it.)

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What’s a Mother to do?

One of the biggest challenges of early motherhood is the nearly complete loss of personal time.  Added to hormonal swings and sleep deprivation (lucky here) and the “baby blues” are nearly a given. (Don’t worry folks, I don’t have Post Partum Depression.) I do have times of extreme irritability, coupled with a loss of access to my normal mood stabilizing routine.  For instance, when I was 4 months pregnant with Julia, I went to a retreat with Amma, and learned her IAM meditation.  I practiced it nearly every morning until Julia was born.  (I missed about 3 days pre-birth, and would generally have a “bad” day at those times.) Now Julia is nearly 3 months old (I attribute her extremely sweet disposition at least in part to her in-utero meditation).  I’ve gotten to meditate a grand total of 2 or 3 times since she was born!  I try not to worry about it too much, since I know this time is short in the grand scheme of things.

Another issue is exercise.  I’ve seen those power moms out there pushing their jogging strollers with another kid strapped on their back or front, and I’ve done my share of kid toting walks.  But pushing a stroller and baby wearing both stress my back, and as a constant state, are exhausting!  Nursing is also hard on my back- its hard not to have terribly slouchy, twisted posture while sitting and nursing. (Lying down is better.) I’d love to be able to slip out to a yoga class, or go on a walk unencumbered sometime! (Hopefully soon.)

But now I’ll stop complaining, and list what I can do.

Breathe– this always available. heck, we do it all the time. Add awareness, possibly a visualization or mantra… AAHHHHHHhhhhhhhh

Qigong: Not as universally available, but easier to “fit in the cracks”, usually when Julia is napping and I’m playing with Viola. I can do this for a few minutes between pushes on the swing, practice posture in line at the grocery store…

Go Outside: a little sunlight and fresh air work wonders.

Call or visit a friend– this is great, but I wish I had more friends close by.

I’d love to hear from other new moms about what you do to keep your sanity.

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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”

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