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
We are always cultivating and/or using our energy. We move, which requires energy. We eat which is taking energy into our bodies. We absorb countless sense impressions all day long which impact us, generally below the level of our awareness. Are our movements free and opening our meridians or energy channels? Or are our movements tense, impeding the flow of QI? Do we consume good energy or merely calories? Are we overwhelmed with what our work, social and living environments throw at us?
So we must
Qi gong is a system of exercises where we gather, direct and cultivate our energy. Becoming aware of our Qi, we become attuned to how we use our bodies, our minds and our energy. Can you afford not to pay attention to your health? Spring into Health and sign up for our next Sunlight Qi Gong class which begins Tuesday April 4th, 2017 at the Takoma Park, MD Community Center. Class size is limited.
First you build your practice,
then your practice builds you.
In the beginning, especially with solo practice, the results are difficult to notice. During class, an energy field arises from the practice of us all. We are carried along and at the same time contribute to the work of others. Alone we must trust that the Qi will arrive if we gently persist. One day at a time we practice. Below the level of our awareness, our energy system is being built. Then one morning, we notice the arrival of the Qi. Just keep practicing and nourishing your Qi. Slowly, gently one movement at a time the practice builds you.
Begin Where You Are
When practicing Qi Gong, align the body and mind with the breath. Standing silently, find your feet on the Earth and be supported by this energy. Gently erect, allow the head’s natural alignment to be free and suspended atop the spine. Rooted in the Earth, stand with feet parallel and shoulder width apart. Be still, with a slight bend in the legs allowing the knee joints to be free. With arms hanging from relaxed shoulders, let the elbows and arm pits be open. Direct your attention inward and find your breath. Simply stand, breathing, releasing unnecessary tension with each exhale. Breathe in fresh energy. With mind calm and alert, you are ready to direct your movements with attention. Enjoy these moments prior to movement, tuning the body, mind and breath.
From this calm, conscious and concentrated state, breathe in as you begin to move, keeping your attention in the hands. Begin moving slowly. The Mandarin term for this is Man Dong or “slow motion.” By moving with a gentle slow motion, it is possible to direct the energy. Man Dong allows you to notice tension in the body. Tension indicates an area of energy blockage. When the tension is released, healing begins. By truly beginning where you are, everything changes; energy is cultivated and freed. You are truly in your body, in the present moment.
At some point the attention will wander. When you notice this, be gentle with any judgement. Rather treat this as an opportunity to choose bring your awareness back, to your breath, to your body, to this moment. Simply come back to where you are and begin again.
Sunlight Qi Gong class begins April 4th, 2017. Register here: https://apm.activecommunities.com/takomaparkrecreation/Activity_Search/qi-gong-sunlight/5096
I have learned Qi Gong by practicing Qi Gong. First I practiced in class, then at home I practiced between classes. Building a daily practice was not easy. Yet I wanted the health benefits that Master Li assured me were available IF I cultivated my Qi. With my intention to improve my health my heart & mind, I vowed to practice each morning.
Then each morning the resistance to practice greeted me. “I don’t have the time for this.” and various doubts arose. More days than not, I began to practice. One morning I experienced a vivid sensation in my hands. Strong, like electricity, I could feel it as I moved my hands about my body practicing the Gu Dang Qi Gong form I was studying. This powerful experience of Qi gave me proof that my efforts were bearing fruit. Still the resistance tried to keep me from practicing. But I began to notice that after a few minutes of practice, my thoughts turned to “how could I not do this every day.” Now I simply practice each morning and throughout my day.
Set your intention, select a time and face your resistance. You are not alone. Gentle persistence pays dividends in health, peace and focus. Let us journey together, one day at a time.
Remember - Your Health is is Your Hands!
Happy New Year!
At this time of reflection & celebration how many of us yearn for better health? We resolve to loose weight, exercise more or to eat better. Worthy resolutions indeed. How often do we fail to achieve these goals? How do we unlock these old habits and build new ones?
What is a habit - a conditioned response to stimuli, situations and perhaps even society. Frank Sheldon, a friend and Alexander Technique Teacher, once told me: Our habits have kept us alive this long. The nervous system is, therefore, loath to give them up without an overwhelmingly good reason. Create the conditions that give the nervous system an overwhelmingly good reason.
The first question I ask myself is why do I want to cease a particular habit or to cultivate a new one. In and of itself this answer while founded in my heart is not enough to facilitate the change. Change requires energy. Qi Gong cultivates energy, increases health and calms the body. A gentle way to enliven our health in the New Year.
For myself the change really began when I took a class. Taking a class is a longer term commitment to the practice. Coupled with the collective energy cultivated from a group doing Qi Gong together and the changes is accelerated. New energy patterns have been developed and ripples throughout our being. I have seen this throughout my studies and now with teaching. Curious?
Our next class: Moon Light Qi Gong begins January 10th at the Takoma Park Community Center. Class size is limited. Sign up here today. Let us create the conditions together to give our systems & our health the energy needed to change.
Photo courtesy of NASA Gooddard Space Flight Center
Reflections on leading Qi Gong during the 2011 Women's Retreat.
I am viewing photos from our women’s retreat in February on the Mannatee River, south of Tampa, Florida. Memories flood back of the beautiful mornings doing Qi Gong at sunrise together under palm trees hanging with Spanish moss. What a wonderful way to greet the new day, in silence, moving our bodies with the warm breezes. Some people have difficulty being completely still, just observing the breath coming into the body and going out. While I love sitting meditation and do it every day, I also incorporate Qi Gong and other forms of moving meditation. I suppose the ultimate delight would be to live in mindful awareness of our breath, our body, feelings, mind and actions every moment of the day. Most of us need both concentrated periods of mindfulness and also reminders, mindfulness bells, during the day that help us become aware whatever we are doing.
Yoga, Tai Chi and Qi Gong are all forms of mindful movement, ways to focus on and be as fully aware of our breath and the movement of energy in our body as possible. The gentler forms appeal most to me now, as arthritis reminds me that kneeling, certain bends and stretches are no longer helpful. So, my husband and I usually practice a twenty minute session of movements together, varying them and ending with a “word for the day” written in the air in large calligraphy with our arms and imaginary ink flowing from our fingers.
The most ideal conditions existed at this retreat – to do Qi Gong together in a beautiful setting in the morning sunrise, bringing the energy of earth, air, water and sun into our bodies.
Good morning, sun. I know you are there behind the clouds, giving us life and energy.
Our next class begins Tuesday January 10, 2017 at the Takoma Park Community Center.
Now is the time we've been practicing for. - Zenju Earthlyn Manual
Where are you? Where do you want to be? What are you willing to do to get there?
All that we are is the manifestation of our past actions. How is your health? Be honest.
Our habits have provided the energy to arrive where we are. Energy is required to change. Qi Gong is a practice to cultivate our life energy or Qi. The movements are gentle, easy to learn and effective. Over time, my daily practice moved from something I had to do to something I could not do without. Besides my morning practice, I pause through out the day to bask in the joy of these healing movements.
A guiding aphorism for me has been: Establish the possible and move gradually towards the impossible. Slowly my practice evolves. Steadily my energy and flexibility have increased. Now in addition to enjoying my personal practice, I learn deeper by sharing the ancient practices of Qi Gong with others. Our next class begins April 4, 2017 at the Takoma Park Recreation Center. Registration is here: Sunlight Qi Gong
Change requires energy.
Qi Gong cultivates our life energy.
The time to practice is Now!
The beautiful gentle flowing movements of Qi Gong are incredibility powerful and nourishing. Why is this? The understanding beneath these movements guide and assist the practitioner to open & unblock the meridians or energy pathways of the body. Simple yet profound changes ensue. As one practices over time, these subtle energy shifts continue to foster peace in our body and mind. Practicing Qi Gong allows us to care for both the physical and the psychological aspects of our stressful lives.
Today I practiced with Master Li in the park. Always a wonderful way to begin a Sunday, any day. We were practicing the 12 Postures which is a form I learned from him many years ago and practice regularly. Today I was able to observe progress I have made with these exercises and also where I need to deepen my learning. Subtleties of form are frequently missed and I can see after I have worked with them.
I've seen this in other Qi Gong form and also in music. I learn. I think I know what I am doing. Then with another lesson, I see more. Over and over, this wheel of learning turns. Dedicated disciplined daily practice makes this possible. Slowly the energy blockages are released.