“QiGong is essentially a philosophy for living life with mindfulness, an awareness of the present that leads to better understanding of ourselves, others, and the world in which we live. Our first priority must be to cultivate a heart that is at once peaceful, strong, and courageous. Focusing our intention on such a heart is QiGong that can be practiced everywhere, all the time!
In Chinese medicine and philosophy, all mental activities are understood to be associated with particular internal organs, thus affecting the whole body. The mind connects with the heart; the soul connects with the lungs; the ethereal soul connects with the liver; the intention connects with the spleen; and the will connects with the kidneys. Among these five relationships, the mind-heart association is most important, because the mind supports the animation of our whole body: our appearance, facial expressions, bodily gestures, speech, response, and overall consciousness. It is also the source of our mental and emotional states. Disturbances of the heart/mind show up immediately in our bodies. When we’re frightened, our hearts beat faster and our breathing becomes short and shallow. Love can make our hearts tremble, while anger makes our eyes fierce and our faces red.”
– Master Liu He, Jade Woman Qigong: The Healing Power of Taoist Medicine for Every Woman
On December 24th, 2011 I spent the entire day in sweet labor of my first loaf of bread. Have you ever made whole grain bread?
Two weeks before the experience I bought the only used bread-making book in the store and lucked out with a very reasonable, experienced, and humble teacher for the endeavor. Illustrations of how-to and answers to common questions gave me encouragement and the healthy perspective of playfulness. Let go of the expectations of a particular perfectness! And most importantly, keep baking.
At each step I noticed I was willing for the the whole thing to fall apart. I felt sure this was the beginning of my baking at least two times a week, so what would a few crumbly or fallen loaves matter? The book, my teacher, recommended making only ‘the learner loaf’ recipe for awhile to be better able to notice ongoing discoveries and differences, and make the most of the challenges that come up.
My first loaf of whole grain bread was delicious and turned out wonderfully! I was pleased and also wanted to be careful to be humble just like my teacher, knowing that each of ‘the learner loaves’ to come would be an important experience no matter what the result.
The practice of bread-making is so much like the practice of QiGong! The movement and meditation, the learning within the same form, the patience, the observation…
I haven’t made a loaf since.
It was a significant and enriching experience. I tell myself and others that I want to do it again, but I choose not to for all kinds of reasons. Not enough time! Maybe the flour I bought hasn’t kept well? I just bought a loaf from the store so after I finish that.
Baking bread may require clarity about what I really value doing and the follow-through or discipline to make it happen. Just like QiGong.
I like to say that to better know what QiGong is it is important to practice, not just read about it. QiGong is different for each person, and is different throughout time for each person. Still, when offering a class or sharing a short description about the practice of QiGong, I manage to find some words and I realize the value of connecting through language. A few words can shift apprehension into curiosity and open the way to starting a practice.
My friend and colleague shared an article with me that discusses QiGong in a way that is very accessible and thorough. I don’t have an association with Master Wu or the Blue Willow World Healing Center but this writing contains primary and potent information:
In particular, I was thinking about Master Wu’s comments that:
Yes, our lives are short – no matter how long we live, compared with the long stream of the time of the Universe, our lives are just a momentary sparkle. Sometimes, when people physically die, their spirits remain very much alive. The quality of our lives is not measured by the time we spend in this world, but how we learn to transform our personal emotional energy into a force that can help others.
When teaching Turtle Longevity QiGong I encounter an exploration of the word “longevity” that I link to Master Wu’s thoughts. Longevity is not the quantity of years but the knowing and acceptance of death as a part of a cycle, that is followed by rebirth.