Photo by Wally Pachoka
Yesterday we had three different Qi Gong practice sessions. During our ongoing morning practice we did about 15 minutes of Qi Gong. This was shorter than usual but we knew we would be sharing Qi Gong twice during the Day of Mindfulness we were offering. Our morning session was close to 30 invigorating minutes. Coupled with the meditations we were practicing my body, mind and spirit were ready for anything.
Nice to be flexible enough that when an unintended idea was offered I went with the flow. In doing so we all benefited. If always I could be this flexible. Progress not perfection is the guiding thought in my life. When we began the afternoon session of Qi Gong I was grateful. The qi was alive in me and I think within the other practitioners. Slowly guiding the qi, playing within the forms and opening up my thinking was vital to the happiness, contentment and peace I was observing.
Such a difference from the rigid man I once was. Daily practice has slowly changed me. Nothing is softer or more flexible than water, yet nothing can resist it. One day may we all be like water.
Recently Stanford’s Jeffery Pfeffer has elaborated on studies showing that workplace stress is the number 5 cause of death in the US. Number FIVE!
This fact alone is enough to do something to relieve your on the job stress.
What does this do to one’s focus, productivity and teamwork?
“People can only do effective and productive work when they know how best to manage energy, time and attention. All three are vital if one wants to be productive on a daily basis and succeed in their endeavors.” (Tony Schwartz, author of The Power of Full Engagement). In our new class Energize Your Work, we will focus on managing energy and attention with proven practices and strategies, which allows for a better use of time. Drawing from our personal experience with mindfulness traditions & the healing art of Qi Gong*, we will guide participants to cultivate positive responses and serenity to ongoing professional pressures. By nourishing energies with Qi Gong and mindfulness practices throughout the work day benefits will extend throughout participants lives and the lives of those they serve.
By learning how to improve responses to stress, better decisions are made, more effective leadership is developed and a longer healthier life becomes available..
Think you're too busy to take this course? Think again.
Think you’re too stressed? Probably.
There’s good news for you - Energize Your Work class begins in May and will be useful to you and your colleagues, no matter what type of work you do.
Class begins Wednesday May 2 at 7 pm at the Takoma Park Community Center. For more information and to register.
Renewal is the hallmark of Spring.
Everywhere we look, we observe new sprouts rising out of the Earth, buds and flowers on trees and the birds returning from there winter havens.
Where have you been all winter?
More importantly, how have you been cultivating your health during the cold days of winter?
Tap into the powerful vital energy of spring by joining Opening Up to Spring Saturday April 21, 2018 9am to 3:30pm at the Blueberry Gardens. When we use a serene focused mind to guide our movements in this beautiful flowing form, our energy soars. Besides the energy boost, participants report improved health and productivity, better sleep and emotions, and a slowing down of dis-ease. Your Health Is In Your Hands.
The best time to plant a tree is 20 years ago. The second best time is now. - Chinese Proverb
The same holds true for our health. Now is the time we have been waiting for. Your health is in your hands. With these simple Qi Gong exercises we will improve health, strength, balance and flexibility. What are you waiting for? Sign up for Energy Circles Qi Gong today. Register by clicking on this link.
Can it really be that simple?
We have generations of information, practice and results that illustrate the healing benefits of Qi Gong, Tai Qi, and the Alexander Technique. How we do what we do cultivates energy flow or blocks our flow. Today we practiced alongside Sligo Creek on this warm beautiful spring morning. Supported by the Earth we gently moved through our routine. Seeing the blue skies as my hands gathered Qi, the gentle breeze and flow of the creek reminding me to let go. One movement at a time, our balance and flexibility blossomed both within and without. There are many opportunities to learn and deepen your practice this spring.
Is 2018 the year you were going to take positive action regarding your health, creativity and life?
Then let us Spring Into Action together!
Joann & I are excited to be offering several opportunities regarding Mindfulness and Qi Gong. Take one positive step and sign-up for one of these opportunities today. After all Your Health is in Your Hands.
1. Energize your Life Qi Gong classes begin April 10 at the Takoma Park Community Center 7-8pm on Tuesdays. Register TODAY, as there are limited spaces https://apm.activecommunities.com/takomaparkrecreation/Activity_Search/qi-gong-energy-circles/5719
2.Relax and renew at the day of "Opening up to Spring" on Saturday, April 21 at Blueberry Gardens in Ashton, MD http://www.qicircles.com/workshops/2018/4/21/opening-up-to-spring
3. For women, register for "Celebrate Life: Nourishing Happiness in the Present Moment" meditation retreat at Claymont Court, WV the weekend of May 4-6 by emailing Joann at email@example.com.
4. A NEW class will be offered by Patrick https://apm.activecommunities.com/takomaparkrecreation/Activity_Search/qi-gong-energize-your-work/5725at the Takoma Park Community Center - "Energize your Work" on Wednesdays May 2- May 23. In this class Mindfulness & Qi Gong exercises will be introduced along with strategies to integrate them in to our work day. Decrease stress while increasing focus, happiness & productivity. https://apm.activecommunities.com/takomaparkrecreation/Activity_Search/qi-gong-energize-your-work/5725
5. Finally a Day of Mindfulness at Rehoboth Beach, DE on Saturday May 19. After a wonderful workshop in the fall we have been invited back. Register at http://www.qicircles.com/workshops/2017/12/21/water-reflecting
Remember always: Your Health Is In Your Hands.
This is a special day for me, an auspicious day. A good day to reflect on gratitude for my body, my parents, my life.
Our meditation reading this morning was from Thich Nhat Hanh’s The Other Shore (p. 38): “Today physicists agree that matter is not solid but full of space. The atoms that make up our body are mostly space, and are not static at all – they have electrons orbiting a nucleus at thousands of kilometers a second. Looking deeply into our feelings, we see something similar. Feelings are fields of energy and are constantly changing. In the same way, our perceptions, mental formations and consciousness are also ever-changing, flowing rivers.”
How true this is! I can feel the flow of energy in my body, mind and feelings, especially during Qi Gong practice, meditation, dance and deep connections with other people and nature. It becomes more obvious as we age that our bodies are not static, immobile, unchanging. We change in every muscle, every cell every moment. How exciting that quantum physics is able to explain to us today what meditators have experienced in their own bodies for centuries. Movement, change, space where we see only solid mass.
I can see my body as a flowing river of energy, my feelings as sparks of energy that change so quickly, my life as energy that is being constantly transformed and connected to other forms of energy, other people, experiences and forms of life. The teaching that we are never born and never die makes sense.
What a joy to experience the flow of life today, to feel gratitude for each precious moment.
As the New Year begins, many of us reflect on the state of our lives. Pondering improvements in our lives, even making resolutions about them is wonderful. But how do we move forward with these as actions? Particularly as they pertain to our health. Our lives are busy, often draining. Yet we have a renewable source of energy - Qi - available to us. The problem is we do not always create the time and space to make ourselves available to cultivate our Qi.
Let 2018, be the year you truly cultivate your Qi Gong practice, or yoga or whatever healthy exercise works for you. Establish what is possible for you to commit to daily. Or six days a week, even five. Develop a regular ongoing practice and then expand the practice as you harvest the benefits. Each day Joann & I practice Qi Gong, generally together. The rewards have been ample. You too can have an energized life if you take your health into your hands.
Classes are listed here on the Workshops page, and private lessons are available. How can we assist you in developing your Qi?
Photo of Joann & I practicing Monkey Playing by Annelise Ratner
How do I induce my Qi flow? Simply by letting go.
As I breathe out, my body is ready to receive oxygen. As I move gently, tension is released and Qi moves. Movements that open me as I inhale allow the energy to move and as I continue to move through my exhalation the Qi follows. Simple. Paying attention to my movements and directing the energy flow with the mind enhances my health and well being.
Releasing and receiving, releasing and receiving; no great understanding is needed to do this, yet great understanding may be realized when I pay attention. One breath at a time, one movement at a time we tune our system. Energy blockages that are released enable vital life energy of Qi to flow. After reading this, simply allow your body to sway back and forth while following your breathing. When you sense your body wants to move in another way, simply allow this spontaneous motion to guide your Qi. Nothing to learn, just release and receive; release and receive the flow.
Energy is everywhere. Am I open? Am I willing to release?
‘Tis the season - am I ready to release?
Before our second session of Five Animal Play class this week, I was feeling tired from a day of travel until midnight and experiencing pain from an oncoming bout of cystitis. I took the necessary medical measures, drank copious amounts of water and heard my husband saying that he could teach the class on his own if necessary. However, medication relieved the pain by 6:00pm and I wanted to be present in the class, to receive and give whatever energy possible.
What happened is what happens in every class - we benefit as much as the students from an hour of practice together. I also received the added benefit of my body, mind and spirit feeling better, being held by the field of healing Qi energy created by the group. The lesson I learned yet again - we benefit from gentle practice, even during illness or weakness. We can benefit from others’ energy when we are not able to generate much at all on our own. I have witnessed this in many forms over the past month - in meditation circles, Qi Gong classes, spiritual meetings where the intention is strong to heal and help heal others.
In The Healing Promise of Qi by Roger Jahnke (p. 259), a book several Qi Gong teachers are studying together, he says “When you practice with a group there is a distinct awareness that it is easier to do your practice, and the internal effect of your practice tends to be more evident.”
He also teaches that Qi is unlimited and can be applied across great distances. “In fact, the Qi Chang - healing field - of all who practice Qi Gong is always present because there are always people doing Qi Gong in the world.” There are also always people praying, meditating, loving, practicing compassion and kindness toward animals, children, neighbors, friends and loved ones.
We have a choice every moment to plug into this energy, to choose life, to choose healing, to choose love. Why not take a couple minutes to practice Qi Gong right now? You'll be glad you did.
I woke this morning with an abnormal amount of noise in my head. Various interactions from past days, still unresolved, perhaps complicated by the general increase of societal pressures. As I began to journal I was quickly grateful that this is not my normal waking state. Since journaling was not relieving the noise I decided to move into my morning Qi Gong practice.
Indecision arose to tease me. Should I practice indoors or practice along Sligo Creek. Where was Joann when I needed her? She's in Florida co-leading a women's meditation retreat. The choice was mine alone. Part of me just wanted to go somewhere and get pancakes - again not my normal morning process. Definitely I was in need of Qi cultivation, more so than usual and tossing obstacles in my path.
Anyone who has practiced Qi Gong or sitting meditation knows that practicing with others enhances the experience. Without my favorite practice partner I knew I had to head to Sligo Creek. The gently flowing water has a resonant effect on my being. I have read and experienced that practicing near flowing water helps the internal Qi to move through the meridians. Arriving at the creek, I began my practice. Indecision, distracting thoughts and the pursuit of pancakes continued to haunt me.
Gathering Qi with Nourishing the Bone Marrow exercise, I began to hold thoughts of gratitude as I gently moved. Grateful for Takoma Park, for America, for my wife and my teachers. Still the thoughts drifted beyond my choice. Continuing with my regular warm-ups I hoped for relief andquiet as silence seemed so far away. Slowly the discipline developed over decades began to balance the distortion. Sensing I needed to cultivate my yin energy I began Moon Light Qi Gong, a form developed by Master Nianzu Li. In the fourth movement, aptly titled Yearning, I noticed my attention was focusing, my mind quieting. I continued to practice, then took a slow walk along the creek.
I am grateful for the discipline that carries me when present, lost, alone or with others. Life is very precious.
Currently I am taking a class on Soaring Crane Qi Gong with Peggy Li. A wonderful instructor fluent in the practice and the theory. Wonderful to practice in a group situation where I can be a student again. A group of people practicing Qi Gong always generatesa stronger energy field.
Finding myself struggling at times to take in the material. This past Tuesday as our Five Animal Play Qi Gong class begun, I was able to remind myself of my recent experiences and extend a bit more good will to those students new to the practice.
Offering them the notion of suspending their disbelief. Experiment & work with the movements, your breath and experience what is possible. Practice again and again and note the changes. Better to practice 10 minutes a day every day, than 2 hours once a week.
I’m grateful for all of my teachers and the practices they have offered to me that have changed our lives. One breath at a time. Your health, your energy is in your hands. Your health is in the choices you make, the habits you break. Tasting the energy of the Universe with gratitude, patience and wonder ... one moment at a time.
Photo by Glyn Lowe
Irresistible is rarely easy or rational - Seth Godin
Qi Gong is gentle, subtle and not rational to my mind. At least in the beginning.
Now I can not live without Qi gong.
Energy freely available if and when I am open, that is, nonresistant.
Presence within my body
with mind directing movement & energy
while observing the breath.
Energy flows, pools and is stored.
Resist not Energy.
Today, our monthly gathering of Qi Gong teachers coincided with the Solar Eclipse. We took a break from discussing and practicing transmitting Qi to receive the powerful energy generated by eclipse. We stood in awe of the power of the Universe, knowing that energy is available to us all when we allow ourselves to open.
Our best time to gather Qi at Sligo Creek is early in the morning. Just as the sun peeks through the trees and touches the rocks and flowing water of the creek, we begin “Worship,” the fourth movement of Sunlight Qi Gong. We recently taught these six slow, gentle movements which energize Yang, vibrant summer energy and practice them often upon awakening. The gently changing light and sound of the creek enhance the waking energy in our bodies. This morning, just as I raised my arms into the “prayer” position and lifted my left leg, the sun burst through the trees onto the rock in front of me, resulting in this photo. One morning we were joined by a tiny deer curled among the rocks on the other side of the creek watching our movements, other mornings people passing by have joined. Often cardinals, ducks and sometimes an egret will appear, giving us a chance to observe their gentle, concentrated motions, following nature rather than trying to dominate it. All are welcome.
If you would like to join us, we are usually near Kennebec Ave between 7:00-8:00am. We enjoy working with our students at Takoma recreation center, but our “Five Animal Play” class doesn’t begin until October 10.
Practicing qigong is so simple and so powerful. You cannot do it wrong. You can only do it good, better, or best. ~Chunyi Lin
Balance. It seems as if I have always been looking for balance. In how I use my body, my emotions and, yes, even my bank account. With the training I've received in the Alexander Technique, my awareness of how I use myself was raised considerably. Learning Qi Gong and Tai Chi, I've had many opportunities to incorporate my AT training and substantially increase my Qi flow.
Recently my life has been out of balance. We decided to have our home painted, and this decision led to many other decisions and a lot of work. Good work, mind you, but work that took weeks of time and effort. Letting go of hundreds of books and recorded music. During this process, I frequently experienced decision fatigue, was often emotionally lost in memories and generally tired. We did maintain our daily practices of journaling, Qi Gong and Meditation. No matter how busy, we both dedicate at least 90 minutes daily to these activities first thing in the morning. Even though recently I have felt out of balance, without our morning practice I would have been lost.
We also decided to teach Five Animal Play Qi Gong this fall at the Takoma Park Recreation Center. We've always loved many parts of this form, but there is one exercise in the Crane form that we've neglected until recently - the Crane Stretching It's Wings Behind. A very difficult, yet simple exercise which addresses balance. As does The Crane Stretching Its Wings which I've practiced for over 10 years. I decided it was time to re-learn this exercise.
We've incorporated Crane Stretching its Wings Behind into our daily warm-ups for the past month. In the past week, I've been addressing the exercise throughout my day. As a break from my guitar practice in particular. Today while enjoying a very fruitful guitar practice, I began The Crane Stretching Its Wings Behind. After pausing to direct my alignment with the AT directions, I began to move. Stretching first with my right leg and both arms extended behind me and then the left. The fourth time through this exercise, my hands came alive with Qi. I noticed my shoulders were relaxed, allowing my arm pits to open easily, which is important for the heart channel which begins here. My balance was graceful and the energy flowed. This is the first time I've experienced the simple power of this exercise, but trust that it will not be my last.
How are you stretching your practice? Finding your balance?
Photo taken from our Sunlight Qi Gong Class this past Spring.
Practicing Master Nianzu Li's Sunlight Qi Gong form on the beach at sunrise invigorates, informs and illumines my body, mind and spirit. We have been practicing this form for years and I continue to deepen my understanding. The spaciousness of practicing on the beach combined with the rolling surf and rising sun opens my being.
Looking into the Sun's ball of energy while the waves dance effortlessly before us, facilitates the sense of finding, gathering, directing and cultivating Qi. At one point, in part five of Sunlight Qi Gong - Sun Rays, I realize my hands are somewhat stiff, grasping even. Directing the thought of "let go" to my hands, they release just as a wave topples to the shore. Being in the midst of the cycles of the sun and crescent moon still visible about us; watching the water respond to energy patterns of which I am unaware, I move in awe and humility. Will I ever master this form? For today this does not matter.
Can I let go and allow myself to just move in this moment? Smiling in my heart, gently breathing in, surrounded by Qi, I release like the waves before me. Let go, let go and even let go some more. Suddenly I hear Master Li's voice arise in my thoughts "Shoong," the Mandarin term without a clear English translation. He has imparted shoong to us, his students. My work is to nourish and develop this seed in my practice, my life, in all that I do. What would it be like to play guitar with "shoong?" Smiling, releasing ....
To watch the sunrise from the bottom of the sea.
Arriving on the beach at 5:40 am today we were once again blessed to observe the sunrise. Clouds changing colors over a gentle surf and sea birds chantingtheir sutras to greet the day. Gently we began our Qi Gong practice, standing rooted to the Earth, motivated to cultivate our energy for ourselves and the world. Breathing as our arms floated towards the sky, breathing out and letting go. Rooted, our energy rising, Joann & I continue to practice.
Be at here on the Atlantic Ocean, the Andaman Sea in Maylasia, Sligo Creek or Pine Lake back home practicing by water and sunrise always offers great energy and joy. Moving effortlessly, gathering, directing and circulating Qi impacts all that I am. I am ever so grateful for the gift of practice and to share this with my favorite person in the whole world.
This Saturday May 20th we will be offering a Day of Mindfulness. Join us for Qi Gong, meditation and silence. More information available here.
Health minded people
Practice Qi Gong every day
Set intention now
Practicing With Our Teacher - Nainzu Li
Spring warmth has brought our teacher back to Sligo Creek Park on Sunday mornings for his free Qi Gong class. We were delighted to see him after several cold, windy mornings practicing on our own. He faced the rising sun, quietly did the "triple regulation" of his body (relaxed, calm, centered), his breathing (slow, regular, peaceful) and his mind (focused, concentrated on body and breath, ready to guide his motions). Then he led us slowly ("Man Dong!") through the gentle movements greeting the sunrise. Nianzu Li offered teacher training over a four year period that allowed us to study with him intensely and become certified Qi Gong teachers. He is delighted that we are teaching Sunlight Qi Gong at the Takoma Park Community Center now. (Tuesdays at 7:00-8:00pm.) Registration available at: https://apm.activecommunities.com/takomaparkrecreation/Activity_Search/qi-gong-sunlight/5096